The Outer Reef Habitat

Outer reefs of the Indo-Pacific are the home of the most widely available giant clam, Tridacna derasa, which is an adaptable species that can be recommended to any aquarist. This is a good species to accompany SPS corals. Dartfishes, such as the Common Firefish, Nemateleotris magnified, and the Purple Firefish, N. decora, occur here in pairs, and shoals of anthias hover in the strong currents. (See the discussion of anthias in Chapter Ten before attempting these fish, however.) The striking Purple Dottyback, Pseudochromisporphyreus, is often found in this habitat on drop-offs and fore-reef slopes. This and many other pseudochromids are now being propagated in hatcheries. SPS CORALS. Small-polyped scleractinian corals reach their greatest abundance and vigor on the fore reef, where bright light, nutrient-poor conditions and strong turbulence are the rule. They are rapidly becoming popular with hobbyists in the United States, although European aquarists have been keeping and propagating them for years. In contrast with their large-polyped counterparts, SPS corals ex-

218 Natural Reef Aquariums

Acropora Formosa

the individual polyps are grouped together to create a rounded, massive colony with a honeycomb surface, may be appropriate for a variety of aquarium microhabitats. CORAL DISTRIBUTION AND AQUACULTURE. Dr.

Bruce Carlson of the Waikiki Aquarium outlined the distribution, based on his observations, of corals in Fiji and Palau.2 In the lagoon, where the water is rather turbid, were found Plerogyra sinuosa, Euphyllia an cor a, Heliofungia actini-formis, Goniopora, Pavona, and Favites. In shallower, cleaner water, stands of Anacropora, preferring high light and low water movement, dominated. In Turtle Grass, Catalaphyl-lia jardinei and Montipora digitata were the commonest species. On the reef flat, Seriatopora, a widespread species, Stylophora, Pontes cylindrical Goniopora, Caulastrea fur cat a, Acropora austera, and A. formosa occurred. On the outer-reef slope, table forms of Acropora dominated.

(The Waikiki Aquarium has over 50 stony coral species in its public exhibits, many of which were cultured at the hibit a branching form and can be readily propagated by aquarium from tiny fragments collected in the sea. Dr. Carl-removing fragments and securing them to an appropriate substrate with underwater epoxy. Under proper care, the fragments readily develop into new colonies. SPS corals are usually hermaphroditic, and sexual reproduction is often simultaneous among the majority of the species in a given area, a phenomenon thought to be under the control of environmental factors such as temperature, photoperiod, and lunar cycles.

SPS corals include the genera Acropora, Pocillopora, Seriatoporar, Stylophora, Hydnophora, Pavona, Anacropora, Porites, Favites, Favia, and Goniastrea. The first three have received the majority of attention, and there are many species in cultivation. Favia and Favites are two similar genera usually called Closed Brain Coral. These hardy corals, in which

Beautiful tangle of Indo-Pacific staghorns and other corals: a habitat that demands an aquarist's keenest skills to replicate,

2 Bruce Carlson, remarks presented to the 1995 Southwest Marine Conference in Costa Mesa, California.

Pseudanthias Squamipinnis

Lyretail Anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis)

Chapter Eight 219

Aquarium and Fish Care Tactics

Aquarium and Fish Care Tactics

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