Bonsai! When I see that word all I can think about is John Belushi in a Saturday Night Live skit waving a sharp samurai sword perilously close to a nonchalant Buck Henry. Belushi actually hit Henry during one of these skits, going down as one of the more memorable moments in SNL history.


But I digress. When a reef keeper sees the word Bonsai he or she typically thinks of a purple coral with green polyps. The most well-know morph is the GARF Purple Bonsai. GARF stands for Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation and was a pioneer in the reef keeping business, known for its research to help advance the reef keeping hobby. Nonetheless, their Bonasi was a must-have coral and is still much sought after by serious SPS collectors.


Purple Bonsai


The GARF Purple Bonsai stands out due to it’s solid purple coloration and bright green polyps. It is actually an Acropora valida and other strains such as the ORA Tri-Color Valida are primarily purple with green polyps and a greenish or brown base.


The Purple Bonsai requires moderate to strong lighting and will do fine when given the proper PAR under T5s, metal halides and LEDs. I would recommend placing a frag in the top half of the tank, which is where I have one under a 400W 20,000K Radium bulb. As for circulation, medium to strong flow is required to keep the coral happy.


Overall, the Purple Bonsai is a beautiful edition to any reef tank that will thrive when the proper calcium (400-440 ppm), alkalinity (8-9 dkh) and magnesium levels (1300-1400 ppm) are maintained. Give one a try the next time you are in the market for a new frag.



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If you are looking for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles as well as my book, A ReefBum’s Guide To Keeping an SPS Reef Tank: A Blueprint For Success. Additionally, you can see all of my reef tank videos online now as well as my Live HD Webcam. And if you are interested in purchasing affordable SPS frags that are pest-free and homegrown, you can visit my SPS Frag store.


Happy reef keeping!