A cake that leaves no one indifferent.

Under the scientific name acropora microclados and native from the Australian reefs, the super famous and coveted Strawberry Shortcake is a coral that catches your attention. Perhaps because of its high price or delicacy, it is yet rare in aquariums.

This acropora microclados, a coral that has been imported for longer than a decade, admits many morphs or variations, but they all have a common characteristic: the unique contrast between the colors green and red. I have seen them in bright green with red polyps, light green with pinkish polyps, and even the so-called reverse, with red/pink tissue and green polyp. But it was not until the publication of 2009 MACNA, where Joe Caparatta (Unique Corals) introduced it under the name that has become so popular: Strawberry Shortcake, or SSC for those who like to abbreviate. Since then, the Strawberry Shortcake acropora has accumulated numerous competitors and I've come to see acroporas nasuta and acroporas latistella that were trying to steal its name or a part of it.

It all began here.

The frags from Unique Corals soon arised the hobbyist's interest in this jewel. A strong fuchsia colour on polyps that sharply contrasts with the green of the surrounding tissue. The name they chose was a complete success, their resemblance to strawberries is undeniable.

These corals soon occupied the top positions in sales volume, and six years later the demand far exceeded the available supply.

Strawberry Shortcake frag
Strawberry shortcake latistella

It was such a successful coral that soon arose imitators.

An example is this acropora latistella, which with an undeniable resemblance rivals in beauty. This is an original piece of Indonesia, recently introduced and with little information, except that it requires a very intense light to develop those pink hues with yellow/green polyps. Well adapted individuals may get to show blue hues on the top of the radial corallites.

ORA could not miss the banquet.

Because the feast of strawberries yields profit for everyone. Reference farm in USA, ORA Farm, issued this awesome specimen in 2013. It seems to be a acropora microclados, but with more muted colors and reduced contrast between them. Since the SSC of Unique Corals is a registered name, ORA had to toe the line with only the word “Shortcake”, a bit insipid cake in my opinion.

ORA shortcake acropora
Acropora microclados

The importance of a fine choice.

And just to see the look that has a acropora microclados “common”, one of many that populate the Australian reef. It is easy to find these species on the upper ledges of the reef, in areas with strong agitation, very exposed to the sun. They grow up in table-shaped form with quite messy and sometimes irregular tips, until they reach a diameter of about one meter.

This Strawberry Shortcake is a little permissive acropora. If you put it in a place that is not of its liking, it will soon lose its beautiful color and turn brown. In this sense, lighting plays a key role.

Strawberry Shortcake under high illumination
Strawberry Shortcake under low illumination

In these two pictures you can see the same acropora SSC under two different lightings. The one on he left, at the top of the aquarium and under strong light intensity, has lost much of the green hue, yielding an intense fuchsia. The piece on the right is located at the bottom of an aquarium, with a medium-high lighting, which makes green hue predominate.

This species is particularly grateful when placed under a metal halide lamp, not very near the surface, under strong and variable current water. It is in these circumstances that tend to show the color balance and intensity that has made them so popular.