Tongue Coral Characteristics

Tongue Coral Red Boring Sponge

enough, these white lines fade. Caulastrea ecbinulata and C. curvata also expand well when they receive enough light.

Caulastrea species feed well at night, hut need not be led at all.

Aquarium Reproduction: Individual polyps divide into two, three, or four new polyps, and colonies can proliferate rapidly. In C. furcata and C. curvata, boring sponges and worms weaken the columns, causing branches to fall away from the main colony. Such fragmentation produces daughter colonies. Both species are easy to propagate in aquaria; simply cut or break off one or more columns. Caulastrea furcata is an hermaphroditic broadcast spawner, spawning in November on the Great Barrier Reef (Richmond and Hunter, 1990).

Scientific Name: Fair/a spp. Oken, 1815

Common Names: Pineapple Coral, Brain Coral, Closed Brain

Coral, Moon Coral, Modern Coral

Colour: The colour is usually brown with green highlights, but colonies can also be bright green or occasionally red or orange. Straw coloured colonies have either bleached or are from shallow water in very bright light.

Distinguishing Characteristics: Favia species form massive, hemispherical or flat, encrusting sheet colonies with polyps arranged in a honeycomb-like pattern. The corallites are monocentric and p loco id, and daughter polyps are formed through intratentacular division (Veron, 1986).

Similar Species/Genera: Favites, Goniastrea, Leptoria, Montastrea, Oulopbyllia, Platygyra. See photos. Care is the same for these different members of the family Faviidae. Leptoria, Platygyra, Oulopbyllia, and Goniastrea have species with meandroid polyps, the convolutions affording a brain-like appearance. In the Caribbean, Diploria, Colpopbyllia, and Meandrina also have this appearance, and are likewise called Brain Coral. Leptoria differs from Platygyra by having more meandroid growth and septa with uniform spacing and size (Veron, 1986). Goniastrea has well developed paliform lobes, which Leptoria lacks (Veron, 1986). Oulopbyllia spp. have much wider valleys than Platygyra, Leptoria, and Goniastrea. Favites have monocentric corallites which are cerioid, and differ from Goniastrea by having poorly developed paliform lobes and a regular pattern of septa with finer teeth (Veron,

11 M

Favites abdita. S.W. Michael.

Favites Abdita Common NameOulophyllia CrispaBleached Favites Flexuosa Brain Coral

Favites flexuosa. B. Carlson.

Corallo Favites Abdita Galaxea Fascicularis LinnaeusFavia Maxima

Favia maxima. The giant expanded polyps in this species resemble those of Caulastrea. J.C. Delbeek.

Oulophyllia CrispaFavia Brain Coral Feeding Grooved

Platygyra pini. J.C. Delbeek. Platygyra daedalea. J.C. Delbeek.

Oulophyllia crispa. J. Sprung.

Montastrea cavernosa from the Caribbean, photographed at The New York Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation. J.C. Delbeek.

Montastrea Cavernosa

1986). Montastrea spp. have monocentric, plocoid corallites, as in Favia spp., but differ by forming daughter polyps through extratentacular budding generally, but not always (Veron, 1986). Indo-Pacific Montastrea can be difficult to distinguish from Favia species. Fully expanded living colonies of Favia may be difficult to distinguish from the other genera since the inflated polyps do not reveal the skeletal distinctions underneath.

Natural Habitat: These are common shallow water inhabitants, particularly Goniastrea species, which grow intertidally, but many range into deep water as well.

Aquarium Care: Favia species and the other Faviidae described above are easy to maintain in aquaria, and they may grow and attach to the rock within a few months. They feed well on shrimp

Tongue Coral Care

and blackworms, but need not be fed. Although the tissue does not expand very far off of the skeleton in Faviidae, (2 to 5 cm (1 to 2 in.) only), one must be aware that they can produce amazingly long sweeper tentacles at night to sting neighbors (see chapter 3). They tolerate a wide range of light regimes and appreciate slight currents, which stimulate the polyps to open. Strong illumination enhances growth. Give strong but indirect illumination for best colour development. Placement is facilitated by inserting a plastic screw in the base to form a peg, and inserting the peg in a hole in the rockwork. See aquascaping, chapter 7, for more details about this method.

Corals Asexual Reproduction Budding

Aquarium Reproduction: Asexual reproduction is common in aquaria for members of the family faviidae. A complete polyp with a small amount of skeletal material separates from between polyps on the main colony i.e. polyp "ball". This drops off and attaches to

Polyp "ball" satellite colony forming on a faviid coral. J. Yaiullo and F. Greco.

the substrate (see chapter 3). Sexual reproduction should be possible in aquaria since faviids are hermaphrodites (Veron, 1986). They are broadcast spawners, spawning in November on the Great Barrier Reef, and in June and July in the central pacific (Richmond and Hunter, 1990). In chapter 3 we show a polyp of Faviafragum, a Caribbean species, which settled on the glass in J. Sprung's aquarium, apparently having arisen from a planula. The polyp has formed a skeleton and divided within just a few months of settlement. Although most faviid corals are hermaphroditic broadcast spawners, some species are brooders, and the planulae of some species have zooxanthellae (Fadlallah, 1983; Veron, 1986).


Family Fungiidae Dana, 1846

Scientific Name: Fungia spp. Lamarck, 1801

Common Names: Mushroom Coral, Plate Coral, Disk Coral

Colour: Brown, green, red, or pink, often with a pink mouth, or pink stripes.

Distinguishing Characteristics: There are many different Fungia species, and we do not distinguish them here. Veron (1986) gives a pictorial key to this genus. The different species form round, flat discs or dome-shaped free-living single polyps usually up to several inches (cm) across. Some species can reach diameters of 30 cm (2 ft.) (Veron, 1986).

Fungia sp. J.C Delbeek


Fungiasp. S.W. Michael.

Similar Species: Cycloseris, Diaseris. Fungia grows much larger, may be elongate and has septa with larger teeth (Veron, 1986). Herpolitha is also similar.

Natural Habitat: Fungia species live in shallow lagoons and on reef flats, on sand, mud, gravel, or coral rubble. Initially attached to shell, rock, or the parent Fungia when small, they break away and become free-living. Those from shallow, brightly lit wraters with strong currents tend to be dome-shaped and thicker, while those from deeper or turbid waters with weak currents, tend to be flatter and thinner (Hoeksema and Moka, 1989).

Aquarium Care: Fungia should be placed on the bottom with

slight or pulsed currents and bright light. They walk around a bit, so allowances should be made for this to prevent them from stumbling into something they might sting or be stung by. Strategic placement of small live rocks can pen them in one area. They will accept food but need not be fed.

Aquarium Reproduction: Formation of anthocauli is a common occurrence, and many offspring have been raised in aquaria, even through the second generation (see chapter 3). New colonies have also arisen in aquaria (D. Stuber, pers. comm.), presumably through asexual formation of planulae, but possibly from sexual reproduction. It is known that the sexes are separate, and that fertilization is external, by release of gametes into the water (Veron, 1986). Sexual reproduction in the aquarium has been observed (B. Carlson and A.J. Nilsen, pers. comms.).

Scientific Name: Heliofungia actiniformis (Quoy and Gaimard, 1833)

Common Names: Plate Coral, Sunflower Coral, Disk Coral, Mushroom Coral

Colour: Usually brown with white tips on the tentacles, but also bright green is common, and some colonies have pink tips or even solid pink tentacles. The oral disc has pale stripes.

Distinguishing Characteristics: Looks like an anemone when expanded. Long tubular tentacles. Septa have prominent teeth.

Long Tongue Coral

Heliofungia actiniformis. J.C. Delbeek.

Heliofungia actiniformis in the natural habitat, Whitsunday islands, Australia. Note how this location near a ledge at the base oí a coral bommie would result in partial shade for a portion of the day. J. Sprung.

Similar Species: None; has much larger tentacles than Fungia spp.

Natural Habitat: Heliofungia inhabits shallow, calm lagoons, where it can be found among coral rubble, or on sandy or muddy bottoms. They may be found between coral bommies or adjacent to them, where they receive bright light for several hours when the sun is directly overhead, but are partially shaded for the remainder of the day.

Aquarium Care: Helioju ngia is one ol the most frequently imported corals, and is often one of the first corals that beginners try7 because of its availability. This is unfortunate since it is a delicate coral that should not be recommended to beginners. The puzzling thing about this coral is that it does well in captivity7.

growing and apparently thriving for years sometimes up until the day it dies. When it dies it usually does so very rapidly, and the fouling tissue may drift and land on other corals killing them in a deadly "domino" fashion.

j in the aquarium, Heliofungia should be placed on the bottom. It "likes" sand or gravel on the bottom, and bright light. It will walk, so it should be retained by strategic placement of rocks. Allow 15 cm (6 in.) for expansion— it can swell enormously with water. Best expansion occurs with light currents or surge. Heliofungia will feed, and should be offered small pieces of shrimp or fish about once per month. Heliofungia is easily injured by the stings of other corals, and its habit of wandering complicates this problem. Seemingly minor injuries that should heal sometimes overwhelm this species. It is possible that the lack of some trace substances weakens this coral to lethal attacks of bacteria and protozoans.

Aquarium Reproduction: Budding of new polyps from the underside of this species has been observed by many aquarists. These buds are not anthocauli as seen in the related Fungia and Herpolitha species, being more like the polyp buds seen around the bases of Euphytlia species. Sometimes newly imported Heliofungia have such buds attached. The buds grow and eventually break off at their constricted point of attachment. Under ideal conditions they grow quite rapidly, and the bottom can become a field of Heliofungia. Heliofungia are reported to be hermaphroditic brooders, releasing planula that settle within 2 days (Fadlallah, 1983). However, Veron (1986) suspects that this genus has distinct sexes like other fungiids, and this has been reported for populations on the Great Barrier Reef, where Heliofungia spawns in October and November (Richmond and

Hunter, 1990).

Scientific Name: Herpolitha Umax Houttuyn, 1772

Common Names: Tongue Coral, Sea Mole, Slipper Coral Colour: Usually brown or gray, occasionally green.

Distinguishing Characteristics: It is shaped like a tongue, boomerang, "Y" or "X11, with Fungia-like septa on its surface and a central groove, called the axial furrow, with numerous mouths, both in the axial furrow and across the corallum surface. The axial

furrow extends to the end margins of the corallum. Herpolitba grows to be the heaviest of all free-living corals (Veron, 1986), attaining lengths over 1 m!

Similar Species: Herpolitba weberi has more sharply pointed ends and sparsely located mouths outside of the furrow. Polypbyllia talpina has mouths scattered uniformly over its surface, a less distinct axial furrow, and more abundant tentacles. Fungia (Ctenactis) ecbinata and F. (Ctenactis) simplex are quite similar to Herpolitba Umax, though their large-toothed septa readily distinguish them from it. In addition, Fungia ecbinata has one large mouth in the axial furrow, while F. simplex has multiple mouths, like Herpolitba, but does not have mouths outside of the axial furrow (Veron, 1986).

Natural Habitat: It occurs on sandy, rubble, or muddy bottoms in lagoons and protected reef slopes, often shaded by adjacent coral bommies. It is capable of "walking" by inflating its tissue and lurching forward.

Aquarium Care: Tongue coral is an interesting and hardy species that can be highly recommended to the novice aquarist. It readily adapts to all light regimes, and swells enormously with water when it is really "happy". In the aquarium, place Herpolitba on the bottom, in a light current stream. It likes shade, but be sure that it is not too shaded by corals expanding above it, which may block out too much light. It will probably move around a bit, and its progress can be halted by the strategic placement of small "border' rocks.

Herpolitha Umax in the natural setting, 3m (10 ft.) deep on a sandy/muddy bottom in the

Whitsunday Islands. J. Sprung.

Aquarium Reproduction: This coral reproduces by forming anthocauli, as in other fungiid species. Hobbyists in Europe have reproduced a few generations of Herpolitha, and have traded many offspring. Sexes are probably separate, as in other fungiids.

Scientific Name: Polyphyllia talpina Lamark, 1801

Common Names: Tongue coral, Sea Mole, Slipper Coral

Colour: Brown, gray, or bright green

Distinguishing Characteristics: Polyphyllia is shaped essentially the same as Herpolitha Umax, but with a much fleshier polyp and numerous long tentacles and mouths all over the "tongue", usually

Polyphyllia talpina. J.C. Delbeek.

■i 4 . - *i . > ^ ' t' -[, ^ • ... * • •

Stony Coral Tank Tongue Coral

Polyphyllia talpina. Compare the dimensions of the corallum and the density of the tentacles in these two specimens. We suspect that they are distinct species of Polyphyllia, but they may just be distinct morphs of P. talpina. J. Sprung.

Long Tongue Morph

without a distinct central groove. When fully expanded the carpet of tentacles is all that is visible. Three species exist (Veron, 1986); two are common imports from Indonesia. See photo.

Similar Species: Herpolitha Umax, see previous description.

Natural Habitat: It occupies the same niche as Herpolitha, on sandy or rubble bottoms in lagoons, and protected reef slopes.

Aquarium Care: Polyphyllia talpina is easy to keep in the aquarium. Since it has many mouths all over the top surface, and a carpet of tentacles capable of capturing small prey, it will catch brine shrimp and other fish foods that drift by, but does not need to be fed at all. Light should be bright, but it adapts to lower light levels. Place it on the bottom with slight currents and it will expand enormously. If the light and/or currents are too strong it will not expand.

Aquarium Reproduction: Unknowrn. Loose septa may detach with some tissue and form daughter colonies. Like other fungiids, it may reproduce asexually by forming anthocauli or bud off daughter polyps from around the base. Sexes are probably separate, as in other fungiids.

Family Oculinidae Gray, 1847

Scientific Name: Galaxea fascicularis (Linnaeus, 1767)

Common Names: Crystal Coral, Galaxy Coral, Star Coral, Durian j - j

Coral, Brittle Coral

Galaxea fascicularis. J.C. Delbeek.

Colour: Polyps are usually brown in colour but polyp tips can be white or green.

Distinguishing Characteristics: Galaxea forms large colonies that are lightweight because the skeleton is not very dense. The o o J

polyps of Galaxea are separate from each other, and look like tubes projecting up about 1.25 cm (0.5 in.) off the flat plain


I k * I — * r ' • * * s ' V • • . » - . * m * • a V +

;U 4' v^--- -' v - ■j&'StfF ?h v.vv v v-^^v'ViyVi

_ » i . • * * « i , * • "1 4 n * x ^ ■


(coenosteum) connecting them. Galaxea fascicularis has coral lites up to 5 mm (0.25 in.) diameter or greater, and many septa reaching the center of the coral lite (Veron, 1986).

Similar Species: Galaxea astreata (Lamarck, 1816) has smaller corallites, up to 4.5 mm diameter max., but usually about 3mm, with only eight to twelve septa reaching the center of the coral lite (Veron, 1986).

Natural Habitat: Galaxea is a common import from Indonesia, occurring in nearshore reefs and lagoons in shallow, turbid water.

J. Sprung observed Galaxea growing together with Organ-pipe Coral, (Tubipora musica), and sponges in Australia. Their proximity indicated compatibility between this stony coral and

Organ-pipe Coral. This species is very common over a wide range of habitats and may be the dominant coral on inshore, fringing reefs (Veron, 1986). This coral is often the home of numerous obligate commensal pontoniidnid and alpheid shrimp (e.g. Anapontonia, Plat yea ris, Ischnopontonia and Racilius), and the aquarist may receive some of these unexpected guests in large heads of Gal axe a fasc ic u la ris (Bru ce, 1973).

Aquarium Care: Galaxea grows well once established. It is delicate at first mostly because of injury from the method of collection or from transportation. It is especially prone to "brown jelly" infections. Also, if the usual associated sponges are left on the underside of a colony, their death as a result of poor handling can cause an infection that kills the coral. Damaged colonies often exhibit characteristic tissue loss on the coenosteum (between polyps), though the polyps are intact. Under good conditions this tissue rapidly heals and grows back over the exposed skeleton.

While quite beautiful, Galaxea is one of the least desirable species because it forms extremely elongate sweeper tentacles with a potent sting. A small fragment of this coral can he interesting for variety, but a large colony will dominate much of the aquarium, particularly if placed in a strong current, which causes the sweeper tentacles to stretch. This coral tolerates low current velocities and medium to high liuht intensities.

Aquarium Reproduction: Galaxea has been propagated in aquaria by fragmentation. It is known to broadcast gametes during mass spawnings in November on the Great Barrier Reef and in summer in the central Pacific and Red Sea (Richmond and Hunter, 1990). it can also brood and release zooxanthellae-bearing planulae daily, all year long (Fadlallah, 1983; Veron, 1986).

Family Poritidae Gray, 1842

Scientific Name: Alveopora de Blainville, 1830

Common Names: (She-loves-me-not) Daisy Coral, Goniopora, Ball Coral, Flowerpot Coral, Yoo Stone, Sunflower Coral

Colour: Brown, gray, green, white, or a combination of these.

Distinguishing Characteristics: Alveopora spp. are very similar to Goniopora spp., but differ in the number of tentacles on each

Alveoporasp. S.W. Michael.

Coral Planulae

Alveopora sp. J.C. Delbeek.

Goniopora Djiboutiensis

polyp, 12 for Alveopora and 24 for Goniopora. The tips of the tentacles in Alveopora are typically blunt. The few species available to hobbyists have branched skeletons composed of numerous fingers about 1.25 - 2.5 cm (0.5 to 1 in.) in diameter and 5-7.5 cm (2 to 3 in.) long. The tubular polyps expand several inches, making a spectacular display.

Similar Species: Goniopora spp.

Natural Habitat: Alveopora is not an especially common species, but occurs usually in shallow turbid water in lagoons and coastal reefs with very little wave action, and ranges even into temperate wraters. Some species occur in clear water (Veron, 1986).

Aquarium Care: Alveopora spp. are rare imports from Indonesia or Singapore which, like the similar Goniopora, generally have poor survival in home aquaria. It is likely that the difficulty is related to special trace elements and or dissolved nutrients required by the coral. Once its particular nutritional requirements are discovered, it should be quite easy to maintain. Until that time, it is not recommended for beginners. Fortunately, it is seldom imported. See Goniopora for more information.

Alveopora catalai Wells, 1968 and A. gigas Veron, 1985 occur in turbid or deep water, protected from wave action (Veron, 1986). This suggests that the conditions of medium light levels and little current will afford the best results.

Occasional success with this genus has been reported, and we observed a healthy, three year old colony of Alveopora gigas in Bob Goemans' aquarium. It was maintained under fluorescent lighting, with very slight currents. Strong light and more powerful water motion resulted in poor expansion, and excess food added to the aquarium caused the colony to remain closed for several days (B. Goemans, pers. comm.).

Aquarium Reproduction: In branching species fragmentation could be employed. In the Red Sea, Alveopora daedalea is an hemiaphroclitic brooder from fall to winter (Richmond and Hunter, 1990).

Scientific Name: Goniopora de Blainville, 1830

Common Names: Flowerpot Coral, Daisy Coral, False Brain Coral, Goniopora, Ball Coral, Sunflower Coral, Yoo Stone

Colour: Usually brown or gray with green highlights. May be solid green, purple, or coppery coloured. Purple colonies are usually from very shallow water.

Distinguishing Characteristics: Goniopora spp. can form free-living globes, encrusting sheets, tall columns, and finger-like branches. There are about forty species. All of them have tubular polyps which extend far off of the skeleton like flowers on tall stems. The polyps have 24 oral tentacles. Common species available include: Goniopora stokesi Edwards and Haime, 1851, G. lohata Edwards and Haime, I860, G. tenuidens (Quelch, 1886), G. djiboutiensis Vaughan, 1907, and an unidentified species (?) that

Goniopora lobata. J.C. Delbeek.

Goniopora stokesi. J. Sprung.

Gonioporasp. J. Sprung.

Goniastrea Stokesii Blainville 1830Stokesi Green Flowerpot Coral


appears similar to either G. pandoraensis Veron and Pichon, 1982 or G. jriiticosa Saville-Kent, 1893. Goniopora stoke si forms hemispherical colonies that are usually free-living, but may be attached and encrusting. Asexual reproduction by means of polyp "bair formation is especially common in G. stokesi. In strong currents, the tentacles at the tips of the extremely elongate tubular polyps become long and stringy. Goniopora lobata is similar to G. stokesi, but the tentacles do not become so stringy in currents, though the polyps are equally long. The skeleton differs as well. Goniopora stokesi has a wide columella and ragged walls (Veron, 1986). Goniopora djiboutiensis is very similar to G. lobata, but is distinguished by large oral cones on the living polyps (Veron, 1986). Goniopora tenuidens has long polyps with short tentacles all of similar length, and is typically shades of green or pink. In the unidentified branched Goniopora species ihe branches are about 2-3 cm (0.8-1.2 in.) in diameter with long polyps, typically brown, sometimes with coppery highlights. The oral disc is lighter in colour.

Similar Species: See Alveopora.

Natural Habitat: Given the large number of species, Goniopora can be found in a wide range of habitats ranging from shallow, turbid, nearshore waters, to pristine outer reefs. They generally occur where they are protected from strong wave action. The specimens for the aquarium trade are most commonly collected from turbid lagoons.

Aquarium Care: Goniopora is one of the most readily available genera, and has been so longer than hobbyists have been keeping reef tanks. Despite their apparent hardiness in nature, their record in aquariums has so far been poor. Actually, their habit is deceptive and alluring. They are beautiful corals, with elongated polyps that tempt the hobbyist like so many dasies on stalks. In the aquarium they remain healthy and beautiful for a convincing six to eighteen months, just long enough to assure the hobbyist mat warnings about this genus are unfounded. After about a year they often take a slow, downhill plunge that may last another year or more. During this period the polyps don't expand as they did at first. In the worst case (depending on species) the coral will gradually die. Typically it hangs on but just doesn't expand, and is prone to attack by fish, algae, and infection. Occasionally a hobbyist will have success with a Goniopora species (years in captivity, no decline, reproduction and substantial growth), and this mystery has lead to many assumptions about the species. The most common assumption is that the methods of

This unidentified (?) branched Goniopora sp. from Indonesia resembles both G. pandoraensis and G. fruticosa (see text). J. Sprung.

Goniopora sp. J.C. Delbeek.

collection and handling are responsible for the lack of success with Goniopora, and the occasional success relates to the rare, perfectly collected piece. This is nonsense. If a coral is badly injured by collection or handling, it either dies immediately or recovers. It does not suffer six or more months later. What is happening is best compared to starvation. It is very likely that the missing factor is one or more trace nutrients, and that once this is discovered, and the elements regularly added to the aquarium, Goniopora will suddenly be simple to maintain, as in the example of Acropora species and the addition of strontium chloride solution. Most species of Goniopora do eat food when it is offered, but feeding plankton or other foods is not the complete answer, since many of the success stories have been in the absence of any food additions. The species that fare best in aquariums are G. stokesi, and the branched G. pandoraensis - like species, the latter having the best record of success.

Goniopora are sensitive to changes in the water quality, and retract their polyps to display their displeasure. In nitrate rich water, it is possible that the algae Ostreobium sp. proliferates in the skeleton (Wilkens, 1990), and affects this and other species (see troubleshooting section, chapter 10). It is also possible that some species cannot tolerate accumulation of nitrate or phosphate in the closed system, but this does not explain their general poor record since plenty of colonies have done the year long good display followed by decline in aquaria with very little nitrate and phosphate, and many colonies have remained quite healthy in aquaria with nitrate.

In general, Goniopora species prefer strong currents at least for portions of the clay, and bright light; The branched G.fruticosa-pandoraensis like species tolerates shady conditions. Goniopora specimens that are purple, pink, or bluish come from extremely shallow water with high illumination and strong water motion, and should be placed accordingly in the aquarium.

Positioning of colonies can be facilitated by inserting a plastic screw into the base to form a peg. The peg can then be inserted into a hole in the rockwork. See aquascaping, chapter 7, for more detail about this technique.

For now we recommend that the novice avoid this genus, and that importers order fewer numbers of colonies, until such time that the specific requirement(s) of this genus are worked out.

Aquarium Reproduction: Asexual reproduction in Goniopora stokesi is by budding, and new satellite colonies (polyp "balls'-) form among the polyps of the main colony, dropping off when their skeleton becomes heavy enough to tear them free (see chapter 3). This method of reproduction may occur in other Goniopora species as well. Goniopora species have male and female colonies, and are broadcast spawners (Veron, 1986) in the fall on the Great Barrier Reef, and in the summer in Okinawa (Richmond and Hunter, 1990).

Scientific Name: Pontes spp. Link 1807

Common Names: Finger Coral, Pontes

Colour: Brown, yellow, green, or a combination of these. Often pink or purple in shallow, brightly illuminated zones.

Caulastrea Furcata

Porites sp. J.C. Delbeek.

Pontes spp. often have commensal serpulid fanworms associated with them. J. Sprung.

Distinguishing Characteristics: Colonies often composed of fingers, but may also be encrusting or dome shaped. Polyps are tiny. Porites (Synaraea) rus (Forskal, 1775), which often has fanworms associated with it, is distinctively different in appearance, and resembles Montipora species.

Similar Species: Can resemble some species of Montipora, but the corallites are usually larger than in Montipora and they are filled with septa, while those of Montipora have inward-projecting septal teeth (Veron, 1986). Montipora is rarely imported for the aquarium trade.

Natural Habitat: All tropical and subtropical reef areas. Also common in lagoons, bays, and grassy areas. Most abundant in

areas with strong tidal currents or wave action. Tolerates and seems to prefer extremely bright illumination.

Aquarium Care: Most Parités species available to hobbyists are collected incidentally with another target organism. "Christmas tree worm" rocks are typically live heads of Pontes writh the associated boring serpulid worms. Often these heads are so damaged in shipping and handling that they die, or the hobbyist does not offer adequate lighting to grow the coral and it slowly perishes. The worms appear to derive nutrition from the coral mucus, and clo not survive long after the coral has died (Wilkens, 1990). With strong illumination and strong currents, it is not only possible, but easy to keep these corals and their commensal worms, and even severely damaged colonies can completely recover as long as a few living polyps survive. New coral tissue rapidly sheets over the dead skeleton, closing in over all exposed areas, and forming thousands of new polyps. Such recovery is only possible when the aquarium is free of filamentous algae and coralline algae are dominant, because filamentous algae readily settle on the exposed skeleton and prevent growth of the coral tissue. Pontes is not recommended for the novice, though it is hardy when given really strong illumination and strong water movement. Pontes is one of very few stony corals which, like many soft corals, periodically shed a clear waxy film to remove fouling algae and detritus that settles on its surface. Under low velocity7 water motion it will shed more frequently than when the polyps are really "blowiri in the wind". The branched, "finger coral" varieties grow very rapidly.

Aquarium Reproduction: Fragmentation of branches, or parts of growing plates in encrusting or tier forming species, is easily accomplished. This genus may reproduce by polyp "bail-out" or asexual formation of planulae, since newr colonies have arisen spontaneously in the aquarium ( J. Sprung, pers. obs.). It is also possible that these are from brooded planulae and represent true sexual reproduction. Sexes are separate and planulae are brooded, although many species are also broadcast spawners (Fadlallah, 1983; Richmond and Hunter, 1990).

Pavona cactus. J.C. Delbeek.

Pavona sp. J.C. Delbeek.

Family Agariciidae Gray, 1847

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