View Full Version : Any good reads on acropora identification?

01/14/2010, 03:51 PM
? :)

Keyvan S
01/14/2010, 04:17 PM

01/14/2010, 06:42 PM
I've used that site, but is there any site that tells you how to ID it for yourself? A site listing the differences between one species and another?

01/14/2010, 07:07 PM
most of the differences are microscopic, so unless you have the means of doing that type of inspection you won't have much success id'ing to a species level.

but, in any case, I don't have any more information for you.

01/15/2010, 07:22 AM
Veron's Corals of the World can provide some pretty good info. Been a favorite in my library for many years. Walks you through a pretty darn good taxonomy.

01/15/2010, 08:25 AM
+1 on Veron's. It remains the definitive text for coral taxonomy. The challenge with ID of coral in captivity is their growth forms are not always comparable to that in the wild and coralite form (the basis of coral ID) varies with growth form. Also, over the years I have seen "positively" ID'd Acro passed around that I am convinced are not what they are purported to be. Does it matter? Probably not.

I have several microscopes and and have tried for years to pretend I can ID coral skeletons from my tank. Even with "positive" ID of the colony, it is often a stretch to confirm based on frags and Veron's. As an example, I have what is supposed to be an A. subulata colony, but like many Acropora, it is composed of different growth forms throughout the colony with some portions a perfect match for A. tenuis and others perfect for A. subulata. There is not way for me to positively ID this colony.

Other than a number of more unique growth forming corals (the so called staghorns, for example, are not so hard since their numbers and growth form variations are limited), positive ID of captive grown Acropora is nearly impossible.

01/15/2010, 01:03 PM
I'll look at that book. Thanks for the info.

01/16/2010, 08:40 AM
If you don't like Carden's site (coralsee) then you won't like Veron's key. His key follows the same form, but in more detail and without all the fun pictures. It's also expensive.

Like it or not, the process at coralsee is what has to be done to ID Acropora. As Larry and others pointed out, there's really no way to make an ID of a living Acropora (with only a few exceptions) because the characters that distinguish 2 species are nearly microscopic and hidden by tissue in the living animals.

There are no guides to how to ID them based on living animals because that's not how it's done. The folks in the SPS ID forum will be happy to make guesses and have inane arguments about differences they think they see, but at the end of the day they're just wild guesses. IME they're not even good guesses. Most people only seem to "know" about a dozen of the nearly 400 species and what they learned is from looking at pictures of other corals that weren't properly identified either. A few years ago I asked for opinions on IDs of a couple of ORA corals since they're widely distributed and traceable to a single lineage. I got lots of guesses and a few people were certain they were a given species. Then I tried to key them out properly and even with dead skeletons and a microscope I wasn't able to identify any of them to species. The best I could do was narrow it down to 3-5 likely candidates for each. As I remember, none of the guesses were included in the list of likely candidates and only 2 or 3 of the guesses were even in the same species group as the likely candidates.