Like many other corals, acropora feed on plankton. However, it gets most of its nutrients from microscopic algae called zooxanthellae, which live in the coral's own tissues. A close symbiosis exists between the two. Under the effect of the sun's rays and thanks to the carbon dioxide released by the coral, the algae grow on the surface of the polyps, bringing them nutrients that are vital to the construction of the skeleton.
There are probably close to 150 species of coral in the Acropora genus. These colonies have many branches, which allows them to grow rapidly (several cm a year for certain species), unlike other more massive forms.
As a result, the acropora contribute greatly to the building of coral reefs. Depending on the species, bushy acropora colonies can grow anywhere from a few dozen centimetres to more than 1 metre in height while species that grow in tables can reach up to 5 metres in diameter.
Acropora 'bushes' are often refuges for many species of animals: fish, crustaceans, worms and molluscs.
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