Scientific Names Plerogyra sinuosa Dana 1846 Physogyra lichtensteini Edwards and Haime 1851

Common Names: Bubble Coral, Pearl Coral, Bladder Coral

Colour: Usually whitish gray, bluish gray, or brown. Sometimes green, especially the unidentified Plerogyra species described below. Plerogyra sinuosa often has a "cats-eye" appearance in the bubbles.

Distinguishing Characteristics: Three species of bubble corals are imported from Indonesia, Plerogyra sinuosa (Dana, 1846), Pbysogyra lichtensteini Edwards and Haime, 1851, and an unidentified Plerogyra sp. All have bubble-like polyp vesicles, light capturing structures that expand during the day. At night the tentacles expand to capture prey. The most common variety, Plerogyra sinuosa, has large, smooth, round bubbles and huge, sharp exseit septa. Colonies are phaceloid to flabello-meandroicl.

Unidentified Plerogyra sp. sometimes called "Octobubble or Pearl Coral". J.C. Delbeek.

A second Plerogyra species is also common, and differs from P. sinuosa by having numerous, large "pimples" on the bubbles, and the bubbles are smaller than in P. sinuosa, affording a very different appearance. This distinct species is sometimes called "Octobubble Coral" in the aquarium trade. Another distinction of this species is the width and shape of the skeleton. Colonies are primarily meandroid, seldom phaceloid, with the branches being about as wide as in Euphyllia ancora or E. divisa.

Plerogyra Sinuosa Habbitat

Unidentified Plerogyra sp. close-up. view. J.C. Delbeek.

Bubble Coral Pearl Green

The third Bubble Coral, Physogyra lichtensteini, is seldom collected. It forms massive, meandroid colonies, which do not have easily collectible side branches or phaceloid columns as in Plerogyra species. Generally small, whole colonies are collected. The bubbles are smaller and more numerous than in Plerogyra sinuosa, but are also round and smooth.

Physogyra lichtensteini. J. Sprung.

Plerogyra Sinuosa

Physogyra lichtensteini, close-up. S.W. Michael.

Low Lying Corals Indo Pacific

Natural Habitat: In the Indo-Pacific and Australia region, the three Bubble Coral species are most common in turbid bays and lagoons, but may also occur on the reef in deep water or under overhangs. They are shade species, most often attached on vertical walls.

Aquarium Care: Aquarium care is the same for the three species. They like bright light but tolerate dim light. They are hardy, but not as hardy as other corals, Cyncirina or Catalapbyllia, for example, primarily because they are easily injured by the large septa tearing the fragile, water-filled tissue. Once established, however, they grow well. Established colonies of Plerogyra sinuosa may develop really enormous bubbles, over 5 cm (2 in.) across.

Aquarium Reproduction: In Plerogyra species it is common for

Plerogyra sinuosa night appearance, tentacles expanded for prey capture. J.C. Delbeek.

Hardy Aquarium Corals

new polyps to bud along the walls around the base of the colony, as in Euphyllia spp. These buds may be clipped off, and they quickly grow into a recognizable Bubble Coral when removed from the shade of their parent and properly illuminated. Physogyra is so rare in captivity that no record of reproduction has been published or witnessed by the authors, but it is likely to be the same as for Plerogyra. Veron (1986) reports that Physogyra has separate sexes and is a broadcast spawner; the same probably applies to Plerogyra.

Family Mussidae Ortmann, 1890

Scientific Name: Blastomussa we/fe/Wijsman-Best, 1973

Common Names: None (Sometimes called Favia or Brain Coral)

Colour: Some very colourful morphs exist, including fiery red, orange, and brilliant green, also brown with grey or green centers

Distinguishing Characteristics: The polyps expand like mushroom anemones, obscuring any trace of the skeleton, which is made up of separate corallite columns connected by epitheca. Two species, Blastomussa merleti (Wells, 1961) and B. wellsi, Wijsman-Best, 1973 are imported. Blastomussa merleti has corallites around 5 mm in diameter, while B. wellsi has larger, 10 mm or greater diameter corallites.

Similar Species: Could possibly be mistaken for Caulastrea or Favia when partly expanded. But unmistakable when polyps are closed or fully expanded. Blastomussa wellsi may Lie confused with corallimorpharia when expanded.

A beautiful red colony of Blastomussa wellsi. J. Sprung.


Natural Habitat: Blastomussa is a rare import from Indonesia. It lives in very turbid water along coastal reefs and bays, and on deep reef slopes.

Aquarium Care: It should be placed in medium or bright, indirect light, as can be found at either side, near the bottom, or in the middle of the aquarium if the specimen is positioned with the polyps facing sideways instead of up. Tolerates dim light. Does not tolerate very bright light. The current should be mild. Blastomussa grows well and can be propagated easily. It rejects most foods offered, but may eat bacteria or DOC.

Aquarium Reproduction: There are no reports of reproduction in captivity, aside from budding or fragmentation. Polyps of the two species readily attach to new substrates and bud off daughter polyps, which remain on the new substrate if the original colony is repositioned (R. Bull, pers. comm.). Individual polyps or groups of polyps may be severed from the main colony with a sharp scissors or a knife as in Caulastrea.

Scientific Name: Cynarina lacrymalis Briiggemann, 1877

Common Names: Button Coral, Doughnut Coral, Meat Polyp, Tooth Coral, Modern Tooth Coral, Phonograph Coral, Flat Brain

Colour: Translucent brown or grey, often with white and green stripes on the surface and within the tissue. The sharp-toothed skeleton can be seen through the tissue.

Poly Structure

Cynarina lacrymal is at 45 m (150 ft.) in Fiji. B. Carlson.

Cynarina lacrymal is in a home aquarium. J.C. Delbeek.

Cynarina lacrymalis. Note the swollen, transparent bladder-like structures characteristic of this species. These appear to serve a light absorbing function, as polyp vesicles do in Plerogyra. J.C. Delbeek.

Cynarina LacrymalisPoly Structure

Distinguishing Characteristics: Polyp expands tremendously with water. Skeleton is typically about 5 cm (2 in.) across, and polyp expands to as much as 35 cm (14 in.) across. Like other mussids, Cynarina lacrymalis has large-lobed teeth on the septa, but they are especially large in Cynarina. The expanded polyp appears to be divided into sections that swell almost like the bubbles in Plerogyra. These "psedotentacles" clearly serve a light-absorbing function. At night the coral looks completely different with the true tentacles expanded and the fleshy polyp contracted.

Scolymia Species

Similar Species: Scolymia spp. see photos. Scolymia are large, round solitary polyps, but the tissue is much thicker and tougher

Scolymia sp., probably S. vitiensis, photographed in New Guinea. S.W. Michael.

A rare red morph of Scolymia austral is from the Whitsunday Islands, Australia. Photographed under green light, which enhances the natural fluorescence. J. Sprung.

A fantastic red morph of the unidentified coral probably a

Cynarina sp., described in the text.

The skeleton is barely 7.6 cm (3 in.) in diameter, and the polyp is 35 cm (14 in.) in diameter! J. Sprung.

A green morph of the same species daytime appearance. J. Sprung.

Night The Tentacles

Night appearance, tentacles expanded. This coral feeds well and expands like this during the day when food is placed in the water. J. Sprung.

Physogyra Lichtensteini

than Cynarina, and the skeleton has smaller, more numerous "teeth". Usually Scolymia species do not expand as tremendously as Cynarina, but some specimens do. Scolymia vitiensis is an occasional import from Indonesia, which can be green, brown or reddish. Scolymia australis, see photo, is similar. This red specimen is also extremely unusual. Green or brown are more typical colours.

Another coral, which may be a new species of Cynarina (Veron, 1986, reports there are two), Scolymia, or possibly a new genus, is an uncommon import from Indonesia. It expands like Cynarina and has a skeleton more like Cynarina than Scolymia, but distinct from C. lacrymalis. The tissue is thick and tough and not translucent, more like Scolymia than Cynarina. It also does not form the large bubble-like swollen sections typical of C. lacrymalis, but it does form small sections, particularly at the edge of the expanded polyp, giving it an appearance distinct from Scolymia. At night when it expands the tentacles it looks like C. lacrymalis. All of the specimens we have seen appear to be free-living, with a cone shaped base. The colouration is like Scolymia. brown, green, grey, or red. In our experience this coral always has pale, whitish areas around the mouth that may fluoresce green under blue light. Brilliant red specimens are a rare treasure.

Natural Habitat: Cynarina lacrymalis occurs on inshore reefs and hardbottoms in turbid water, usually 5 m (15 ft.) deep or greater. They may be found free-living on muddy sediments, or firmly attached on the hardbottom, nearly always facing straight up, or attached under overhangs. Seldom are the specimens as beautifully expanded as they are in our aquariums. Scolymia occur in the same habitat, usually attached on reefs with some vertical profile, often shaded. The unknown coral is usually free-living.

Aquarium Care: This is a very hardy coral that can be recommended to the beginner. It is easy to keep even with standard output fluorescent lights. Cynarina lacrymalis prefers low to medium levels of light, and little or no current. At night, when the tentacles come out, it is effective at capturing prey, and the nematocysts which it uses for this purpose are veiy potent. Be aware that Cynarina may capture and eat fish! Feeding is not necessary, but occasional feedings are appreciated, resulting in more rapid growth and larger expansion of the polyp during the day. If you place a Trachyphyllia next to the Cynarina, you should notice that neither harms the other. Cynarina lacrymalis is harmed w V

by mushroom anemones placed next to it, and may be harmed by other corals. It seldom is the winner in a territorial battle; it either is

unaffected or it loses. In our experience, Cynarina lacrymalis prefers to be located either mid-way down in the tank or on the bottom, where the light may be less intense than at the surface, or indirect. It will open up huge when placed in very still water. Cynarina may expand as large as 35 cm (14 in.) in diameter under fluorescent lighting. Care for the similar Scolymia species is essentially the same as for Cynarina and other mussidae, with one exception. Scolymia species are much more sensitive to stings from neighboring corals or anemones of any kind. Use caution when placing them! They quickly suffer injury, and often die from seemingly minor encounters. The mystery coral that resembles both Cynarina and Scolymia is not so delicate. In fact it is one of the hardiest corals! Its reaction to neighboring corals and anemones is another of the distinguishing characteristics that separate it from Scolymia and C. lacrymalis. This coral is a "universal" type with respect to burning neighbors. In general it does not harm other corals and other corals do not harm it. It even tolerates corallimorpharians and doesn't bother them. It feeds well, expanding tentacles during the day at the slightest scent of food.

Aquarium Reproduction: Not reported. Colonies with two or three "heads" (polyps) are occasional, indicating the possibility of buds forming around the base, though it is likely that they arise from division of the polyp as it grows. Scolymia spp. are hermaphroditic broadcast spawners (Richmond and Hunter, 1990), and it is possible that this characteristic applies to Cynarina spp., since they are closely related.

Scientific Name: Lobophyllia de Blainville, 1830

Common Names: Meat Coral, Brain Coral, Tooth Coral, Modern Meat Coral, Modern Tooth Coral, Root Coral

Colour: Shaded specimens tend to have brilliant colours such as red, orange or green. In turbid water such colours are common even in unshaded specimens. The most brightly illuminated specimens tend to be pale brown or gray, with hints of green or red. Grayish spots or lines are common features.

Distinguishing Characteristics: A sharp spiny skeleton is the origin of the name Tooth Coral. Thick fleshy polyps that are often red, is presumably the origin of the name Meat Coral. Lobophyllia

Lobophyllia hemp rich H morph with textured surface. J.C. Delbeek.

Red morph of Lobophyllia hemprichiitaken in 18 m (60 ft.) of water in Fiji. B. Carlson.

Lobophyllia hataii in a dealer's holding tank. J.C. Delbeek.

The same specimen after 6 months in a home aquarium. J.C. Delbeek.

SMESiSir ft' r>


Stony Corals

colonies are mostly composed of large, separate, rounded polyp columns, i.e. phaceloid, but division of these polyps into two, three, or four daughter polyps makes colonies appear meandro-phaceloid or flabello-meandroid. Common species available are: Z. hemprichii (Ehrenberg, 1834), L. corymbosa (Forskal, 1775 ), and L. bataii Yabe, Sugiyama and Eguchi, 1936.

Similar Species: Sympbyllia. A distinct groove running along the top of the tissue walls in Sympbyllia distinguishes that genus, and its colonies are meandroid. Small Sympbyllia colonies are less distinct. Small Lobopbyllia can be confused with Scalymia.

Natural Habitat: Lobopbyllia are common reef inhabitants, both on inshore reefs or lagoon areas and on outer reefs. They occupy all light zones, but are typically found growing attached on vertical walls (i.e. on the side of a coral bommie), or shaded by an

7 j overhanging ledge.

Aquarium Care: Lobopbyllia are hardy in the aquarium. They feed well at night and seem to do best when offered an occasional morsel of food, such as fish or shrimp, about once a month. Tissue recession is the most common problem, and it is easily prevented (see troubleshooting guide, chapter 10). Lobopbyllia is sensitive to stings from neighbors, and irritation by browsing fish.

in a brightly illuminated tank using metal halide, place Lobopbyllia near the bottom in full light (unshaded). In tanks using fluorescent light, place Lobopbyllia midway in the tank or near the surface. If placing near the surface, tilt the coral so that it rests more vertically than horizontally.

Aquarium Reproduction: Not reported. The separate columns (polyps) can be broken off, and the coral may thus be propagated. It is possible that Lobopbyllia forms daughter colonies by the formation of polyp uballs" or loose septa. Lobopbyllia are hermaphroditic broadcast spawners (Veron, 1986). They spawn in the fall on the Great Barrier Reef, and in June in Okinawa

(Richmond and Hunter, 1990).

Scientific Name: Symphyllia Edwards and Haime, 1848

Common Names: Meat Coral, Tooth Coral, Brain Coral Colour: Brown, green, red. Sometimes with grayish lines or spots.


Overhanging Coral

Symphyilia sp. 1.2 m (4 ft.) across, in 1.5 (5 ft.) of water in the Solomon Islands. B Carlson.

A fully expanded Symphyilia valenciennesii. This species can easily be confused with Lobophyllia hataii. J. Sprung.

Distinguishing Characteristics: A sharp, spiny skeleton lies under the thick fleshy polyp of Symphyilia, as in Lobophyllia spp. Colonies are meandroid. A distinctive grove runs along the tops of the valley walls. Symphyilia valenciennesii {Edwards and Haime, 1849), an uncommon import from Indonesia, is shaped like a large flower, the lobes arranged like petals with very noticeable sharp spines when the thick tissue is retracted. Small specimens may just be rounded, without petals. The valleys are so wide in this species that a groove on the walls is usually not apparent. Other species available include S. recta (Dana, 1846), S. radians Edwards and Haime, 1849, and S. agaricia Edwards and Haime, 1849.

Similar Species: Lobophyllia spp.

Natural Habitat: These corals occur in shallow and deep water, in turbid lagoons and in clear outer reef zones. Typically they occur shaded by a ledge, or attached on vertical walls so that they receive indirect light.

Aquarium Care: Care is the same as for Lobopbyllia.

Aquarium Reproduction: Same as for Lobopbyllia. except that colonies are meandroid, so breaking off a branch usually means cutting through coral tissue.

Family: Merulinidae Verrill, 1866

Scientific Name: Hydnophora Fischer de Waldheim, 1807

Common Names: Acropora, Branch coral

Colour: Green, yellow (when bleaching), or brown. Sometimes very fluorescent green.

Distinguishing Characteristics: The hydnophores that characterize this genus are conical mounds formed at the intersection between common walls of adjacent corallites. It has these hydnophores all over the surface, and the tentacles and mouths can be seen between them. Colonies may be encrusting, massive, or branched. The hydnophores of H. rigida (Dana, 1846) and H. exesa (Pallas, 1766), two branching species, do resemble the raised, tubular corallites typical of Acropora species, and they are often mistakenly called Acropora because of the branched colony shape.

Hydnophora rigida, J. Sprung.

Hydnophora Exesa Green Fluo

Hydnophora rígida, polyps contracted to show hydnophores. J. Sprung.

Similar Species: Hydnophora exesa and H. pilosa Veron, 1985 are encrusting but also form branches. Hydnophora rígida is branched only, not encrusting. Generally only fragmented branche \s are collected, not whole colonies, so the encrusting nature becomes apparent only with growth in the aquarium. H. rígida is the most common import. Hydnophora microconos (Lamarck, 1816) is occasionally imported. It has a rounded, massive colony shape only.

Natural Habitat: Lagoons and protected reef slopes (Veron, 1986).

Aquarium Care: Hydnophora species are hardy under the right conditions, but do not adapt well to all aquariums, so we cannot recommend them to beginners. They prefer medium to very bright illumination and strong or at least intermittently strong currents. If the light is too dim the colony will bleach. They grow rapidly under strong illumination and readily attach to the rocks. They will take small foods such as brine shrimp or worms.

Aquarium Reproduction: Not reported in captivity. Members of the family Merulinidae are hermaphrodites and probably all release gametes for external fertilization (Veron, 1986). Though thick and quite hard, branches can be fragmented, and even small fragments recover well and grow into new colonies.

Turf Scrubber Reef Tank

Family Faviidae Gregory, 1900

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The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The word aquarium originates from the ancient Latin language, aqua meaning water and the suffix rium meaning place or building. Aquariums are beautiful and look good anywhere! Home aquariums are becoming more and more popular, it is a hobby that many people are flocking too and fish shops are on the rise. Fish are generally easy to keep although do they need quite a bit of attention. Puppies and kittens were the typical pet but now fish are becoming more and more frequent in house holds. In recent years fish shops have noticed a great increase in the rise of people wanting to purchase aquariums and fish, the boom has been great for local shops as the fish industry hasnt been such a great industry before now.

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  • Edward
    How do plerogyra sinuosa eat?
    8 years ago

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