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Phylum Cnidaria > Class Anthozoa > Subclass Zoantharia/Hexacorallia > Order Scleractinia
Acroporid corals
Family Acroporidae
updated Nov 2019
if you learn only 3 things about them ...
They include some of the fastest-growing hard corals.
Branching species are fragile, don't touch them.
Branching species often shelter a variety of small animals. Look for them.

Where seen? Corals belonging to the Family Acroporidae are seen on many of our Southern shores. On undisturbed shores, often more colonies, larger colonies, and a wider range of species are encountered.

Of the reef-building corals, the Family Acroporidae has the largest number of species and includes some of the fastest-growing corals. Members of the family are fast-growing, opportunistic and highly successful in reproduction.

Generally, the family is usually dominant in almost every reef in terms of numbers and variety of species. Where there is good light and water circulation, Acropora displaces other groups of corals. Acropora and Montipora together account for one-third of reef-building (hermatypic) coral species.

Features: Most members of the family have an axial corallite at the end of the branch. New corallites (called secondary or radial corallites) bud off along the sides while the axial corallite continues to grow upwards on the tip of the branch. All members of the family contain symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae). The axial corallite lacks zooxanthellae but grows rapidly as it is fed by other areas of the colony. The tips are often white or brightly coloured.

The various species have various colony shapes including thin plates, encrusting layers or boulder-shaped colonies. The most familiar are those that branch into bushy or flat 'table-top' shapes.

Status and threats: Some of members of Family Acroporidae recorded for Singapore are listed as threatened on the IUCN global listing.

Some acropora coral form table-like colonies.
Raffles Lighthouse, Jun 07

Most members have an axial corallite.
Sisters Island, Dec 05

Some montipora corals are plate-like.
Sisters Island, Dec 05

Some Acroporidae corals on Singapore shores

Montipora corals
Montipora sp.
Acropora corals
Acropora sp.
Pebble corals
Astreopora sp.
Colonies: branching, thin plates.
Colony: branching to form
bushy or tabletop-like structures.
Colonies: boulder-shaped
or encrusting.
Corallites not raised,
in some, corallites are embedded.
Raised corallites. Axial corallite
(at the tip) is tubular,
other corallites are pocket shaped..
Corallites conical and evenly spaced, coral colony surface appears pebbled.
May be confused
with Porites.
May be confused
with Pocillopora.
May be confused
with Turbinaria, Echinopora,
and Leptastrea

Family Acroporidae recorded for Singapore
  Acropora sp. (Acropora corals) with list of species recorded for Singapore

Astreopora sp. (Pebble corals) with list of species recorded for Singapore

Montipora sp. (Montipora corals) with list of species recorded for Singapore




  • Danwei Huang, Karenne P. P. Tun, L. M Chou and Peter A. Todd. 30 Dec 2009. An inventory of zooxanthellate sclerectinian corals in Singapore including 33 new records (pdf). Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement No. 22: 69-80.
  • Veron, Jen. 2000. Corals of the World Australian Institute of Marine Science, Australia. 3 volumes.
  • Chou, L. M., 1998. A Guide to the Coral Reef Life of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 128 pages.
  • Erhardt, Harry and Daniel Knop. 2005. Corals: Indo-Pacific Field Guide IKAN-Unterwasserachiv, Frankfurt. 305 pp.
  • Borneman, Eric H. 2001. Aquarium Corals: Selection, Husbandry and Natural History T.F. H Publications. 464 pp
  • Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore. National Council on the Environment. 163pp.
  • Ng, P. K. L. & Y. C. Wee, 1994. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened Plants and Animals of Singapore. The Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore. 343 pp.
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