Common Name: Encrusting leather coral Colour: Yellow or brown
Distinguishing Characteristics: Encrusting thin sheets with long polyps that resemble those of leather corals (Sarcophyton spp. ) The sheets are extremely soft and fragile with consistency like Xenia and Anthelia. Strong pungent odor when lifted out of water
Natural Habitat: Alcyo n in m (Pa reryth ropod in m) fit I vu m ft i Ivu m is common in the Red Sea while Alcyonium (Parerythropodium) membranaceum occurs in the Indo-Pacific. Wide ranging, but most abundant in shallow lagoons in turbid water. Encrusts dead coral fragments and gravel.
Aquarium Care: Alcyonium membranaceum and A. fulvum fulvum are easy to grow and propagate in aquariums. They prefer intense light and strong water motion and will encrust rocks, glass, and anything else in their way very rapidly. They can become a problem species because of this rapid growth. Give plenty of room, as they can harm stony corals and encrust over them. Like Xenia spp., Alcyonium (Parerythropodium) does not ship well, but once it is established in the aquarium trade it should be widely available as tank raised specimens. It is curious that the branchy forms of Alcyonium (i.e.. "Colt Corals") are very durable in shipping, while this encrusting type is not. Also, the smell of the encrusting Alcyonium (Parerythropodium) is quite like that of Xenia spp., which ship poorly, and quite unlike branchy Alcyonium,, which have a different, slight odor. They feed well on minute food particles such as brine shrimp nauplii or Daphnia (Wilkens, 1986), but do not need to be fed.
Reproduction: Most commonly asexual by growth of the encrusting mat, from which new polyps arise. Sexual reproduction unknown from aquaria. In studies conducted in the wild, colonies of Alcyonium Parerythropodium fulvum fulvum begin to re pro-
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