Rear derailleurs don't care whats up in front and vice versa. Rear derailleurs don't care about the number of cogs in the back, but front derailleurs care about the number of chain rings (you can get a triple derailleur to play nice with a double chainring, but you should probably get the right part to begin with).
Speeds are mostly marketing though, as higher speed chains are narrower than lower speed chains (the only times speeds matter are in chain selection (too little speeds and the chain may be too fat), cassette (duh) and if you're using indexed shifters the shifters need to be matched to the speeds (and the appropriate cable pulls of the derailleurs)) - everywhere else, if the chain fits, it should work. For example, if you put an 8 speed chain in a FD designed for a 10 speed derailleur, it will probably rub but if you put a 9 speed chain in an 8 speed system, everything should be fine. However, using a "9 speed" front derailleur with an 8 speed system is fine (a 7 or 8 speed FD would work fine too). The only thing that matters is how much cable the shifters need to pull, and where the derailleur is mounted (top pull, etc.).
Things you need to check:
- Cable pull (In this case, you need a Shimano mountain front derailleur, not a road FD (else, index shifting won't work). Also, top pull (though your derailleur will probably be dual pull - this is dependent how the frame was designed to pull the cable). )
- Double or Triple compatibility (In this case, triple - the cages are shaped differently)
- Size of largest chain ring, and gaps in sizes to other chain rings (The cages are shaped to clear the largest chain ring, so if its too big or small, the cage won't position properly for good shifting. If the gaps are too big, you'll have trouble shifting between them (If you didn't customize your chainrings, chances are you're fine).)
- Mounting (Diameter of seat tube mounting point or if you have another type of mount, that. Also, top swing. If you can't mount it, you can't use it. )
- Chain slope (Chainstay angle - If you have the wrong one, the chain might hit the cage no matter how you adjust it.)
All these things are specified in the data sheet for the derailleur models.
Typically, you don't need to be spendy on the front derailleur (especially if you were running acera before) - I doubt you'd gain anything from doing so, other than something slightly prettier and a bit lighter of a wallet. Chances are that getting the FD set up properly (good cable routing, cables in good condition, positioning and adjustments done properly) even if its a cheap one (which I do suggest, the Shimano Tourney) is a better spend of money than just slapping an expensive FD like a Deore one on.
A cheap option is a Shimano Tourney front derailleur. This is what I'd probably go for provided your crankset is within spec, but you can choose any "7 speed", "8 speed" or "9 speed" Shimano mountain bike derailleur which is top swing, dual/bottom pull which fits the appropriate criteria above. You can probably run into your LBS and get them to give you the right Tourney FD for under 15 dollars. They may have a 7, 8 or 9 speed Alivio/Acera one laying around at the same price as well, so you could grab that instead.
Sheldon Brown, as usual, has a better description than I do.
What is the model of the Acera FD you have right now, and what is your crankset?