Micromussa Coral Care
Micromussa are one of the most popular large polyp stony corals ever since some amazing specimens started showing up from Australia about a decade ago. Originally, a baseball sized colony in a basic color like red or green would fetch over $1000 on eBay. The coral collector market instantly gravitated to these corals. Over the years the prices have come down greatly and there are now a much greater variety of colors.
There are two species of Micromussa that are commonly seen in the hobby. There is the Micromussa lordhowensis which was formerly known as Acanthastrea lordhowensis, and then there is the amakusensis species that always was a Micromussa.
Micromussa are found all over the Indo-Pacific. They are found throughout the islands of the Indo-pacific including Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, and the Great Barrier Reef. Almost all of the Micromussa we have here at Tidal Gardens is from either Indonesia or Australia.
Micromussa DO NOT require very much light. In fact, I am willing to bet people tend to struggle a bit with these corals because they are providing too much light. We recommend low to medium light something in the range of 25 to 50 PAR. I’ve seen them in many different types of aquariums under many types of light and the ones in the dimmest seemed to be happiest.
Micromussa are very responsive to light. So far, we have had success growing them under a variety of lighting conditions, however it is clear that any change in light results in dramatic color differences in the corals themselves. Many corals will adapt their color to the lighting conditions provided, however the extent to which Micromussa can change sets it apart. It is possible for them to turn from a red color to yellow in under 24 hours.
It may require significant trial and error with different light profiles to achieve a particular color. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I have had the best color expression in the systems here with very old T5 fluorescents, some which are over a year old.
Lighting is a loaded topic, and certainly deserving of its own discussion. Understanding lighting for the reef aquarium is not only needed for the health of the animals but will drastically affect the appearance of the animals in your tank. The video below is a great place to start if you want to learn more about reef aquarium lighting.
As for flow and placement, there are a couple of things I look for. Micromussa do not require a ton of flow, so I look to provide just enough so detritus does not settle on them. Most of the time hobbyists place Micros towards the bottom of the tank so it is important that they get enough flow to keep them clean. On the other hand, I think feeding is important for long term health so preferably the flow can slowed during feeding time to allow the coral to grab pieces out of the water column.
Micromussa can be fed a mix of meaty foods such as pieces of krill or mysis shrimp. They are relatively small in size so larger pieces of food are not suitable. When I observe Micromussa whether it is lordhowensis or amakusensis, I am looking to see very fat inflated polyps with tentacles constantly extended. We feed a mix of frozen shrimp here at Tidal Gardens. Our blend is pretty basic, mainly mysis shrimp and krill with a little bit of rotifers. You can also feed a high quality dry coral pellet food, but be careful not to overfeed dry food of any kind because it is possible to burn the coral if too much is fed at once. One particular brand I know recommends something like a single pellet per polyp so if you decide to go that route, less is more.
In terms of propagation, Micromussa been successfully fragmented however asexual reproduction in this way is a slow process. Despite their appearance, they are relatively slow growing. This is a shame because they are a very uncommonly imported coral and are not seen for sale too often. Propagation efforts would go a long way in increasing the supply of Micromussa.
So what kind of tank is Micromussa for? Normally I would say a mixed reef, but I really think that these corals would do a lot better in a tank that is dimly lit which would make it less suitable for light loving corals like Acropora and Montipora. I’d say this coral would fare best in an LPS dominated tank with similar low light corals like Blastomussa and possibly even some non-photosynthetic corals that appreciate regular feedings and slightly elevated nutrient levels.
If you decide to ramp up feeding, it is a good idea to also test for Phosphates and Nitrates which are basic pollution metrics. Micromussa can tolerate slightly elevated Nitrates, in fact, they might even like it, but once they reach levels approaching 30 to 50 parts per million things can go down hill fast and cause tissue recession. Similarly, corals do need a little bit of phosphate in the water but elevated levels can cause algae blooms which can have a negative effect on all of your corals.
That does it for this coral spotlight on Micromussa a.k.a. the artist formerly known as Acanthastrea. Hopefully you found this article helpful. Happy Reefing!