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/The Best Livestock For Your Reef Aquarium:

Brain, Meat, Pineapple  Corals,  Family Mussidae, Pt. 1

To: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8,

By Bob Fenner

Acanthastrea ishgakiensis and Lobophyllium hemprichii, Malaysia

Family Mussidae Ortmann 1890. 

Variously called Meat and Brain corals for obvious common characteristics: large "meaty" polyps, wandering valley-like arrangement of corallites like the sulci of grey matter. All have distinctive thick columellae and corallite walls with toothed septa. All Zooxanthellate; thirteen/fourteen genera; eight/nine in the Indo-Pacific; four in the Atlantic; genus Scolymia in both.


Thirteen genera. Eight in the Indo-Pacific, four in the Atlantic and Scolymia which is found in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (Though the Indo-Pacific Scolymia have been removed to the genus Acanthophyllia by some: https://reefbuilders.com/2009/06/04/acanthophyllia-deshayesiana-indo-pacific-scolymia-officially-recognized/).  

Selection: Take care to examine prospective purchases carefully. Avoid those with obvious damage, such as skeletal breaks, algae growing on exposed parts of the skeleton as showing in the Lobophyllia at right.

Aquarium Care:

Other than the genera Acanthastrea, Scolymia and Lobophyllia, not much used in the aquarium interest... due to slow growth, stinging propensity (my mesenterial filaments). Not hard to keep... most requiring not much light, water circulation. Need to be wide-spaced from other sedentary invertebrates. Though all are hermatypic, photosynthetic, most are voracious feeders of meaty foods. 

Genus Acanthastrea Milne Edwards and Haime 1848. Typically are made up of flat colonies that are either massive or encrusting. Corallites as individual circles to elongate in structure. Septa with tall, thick teeth.

Acanthastrea echinata (Dana 1846) Pineapple Coral. Circular colonies tat are typically boulder-like. Septa with long, pointed teeth (most easily seen in live specimens). Brown, green to brightly colored. The most common member of the genus, though this one not all that often seen. Maldives photo and close-up.

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The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

Acanthastrea faviaformis (Veron 2000). Distinctive septa-costae with thick teeth. All dirty brown in color. Upper Red Sea photo.

Acanthastrea hillae Wells 1955. Encrusting usually. Colonies to  more than five feet in diameter, with irregular shaped corallites. Contrasting colored walls and oral discs. Bunaken, Sulawesi, Indonesia pix.

Acanthastrea ishigakiensis Veron 1990. Hemispherical, small boulder-like colonies up to a foot and a half in width. Most are blue-grey in color with oral discs of contrasting color. Usually fleshy in appearance. Colonies in Bunaken/Sulawesi/Indonesia, Pulau Redang, Malaysia and the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea below.
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Genus Acanthophyllia (Wells 1937):

Yo Bob      10/27/13
Mussid ID corr.s, Indo-Pacific Scolymia are now Acanthophyllia

Hi Bob,
<Hey Jules... now am humming the Beatles tune... A to middle C>
It was nice seeing you last weekend, as always.
<Ahh, a very nice time indeed>
I was just browsing Google looking at some coral photos to help illustrate the answer to a taxonomic question someone sent me, and I happened to notice that you have a very special photo on your site-- I know, you probably are thinking that all of your photos are special. They are, but this one is particularly so. I have attached it here.
<Will look for... oh, I see you explain below>
You use to illustrate Scolymia, hence the name you gave the photo, but it is not Scolymia. It is Acanthophyllia deshayesiana. It is a common, high-value import from Indonesia, usually imported as Scolymia, sometimes as Cynarina, but now legally only as Acanthophyllia. Long story. The are many many photographs of this coral in aquariums since it is a very popular aquarium coral. There are to the best of my knowledge no published photographs of it taken in the wild. Hence my interest in your photo.
<Ahh, thank you>
You listed Raja Ampat as the locality. Do you remember the depth and any other details?
<Aye yi yi... I barely remember what I made for bfast this AM. Many years... decades back, I showed some discipline in labeling just finished rolls of film with such notes... >
Even the "Cynarina lacrymalis" featured just above the Acanthophyllia, also photographed at Raja Ampat, is likely a special photo. I believe it shows Indophyllia macassarensis, which is sometimes not easy to distinguish from Cynarina lacrymalis, and sometimes not easy to distinguish from Acanthophyllia deshayesiana. If you look at my book Corals A Quick Reference Guide you will see that I grouped these three species into the genus Cynarina, which is what I suspect will ultimately happen on the taxonomic front, though it may take many years.
<Am very inclined to beg you to look through my (many, Way too many) totally unidentified Cnid. pix, let alone my likely mis-id'ds>
With your permission I would like to forward a copy of this photo to Charlie Veron. He has recently recognized the validity of this coral (after many years of me beating him over the head about it because he refused to separate it from Cynarina lacrymalis). He has lots of good AQUARIUM photos of it to illustrate his online version of Corals of the World, but he has no underwater photos from the natural setting. I am sure he would love to feature your photo.
Best Regards, Julian
<Ah, certainly... I will take a quick look on my HD and attach the original here for all's use; actually three others labeled in the same series. Cheers, BobF>

Acanthophyllia deshayisiana Bali 2014. Formerly Cynarina lacrymalis according to Veron 2000; Indo-Pacific. Bali 2014

Genus Blastomussa Wells 1961. Colonies are phaceloid (polyps on separate column-like branches growing from a common center). or subplocoid (polyps having a gap between them or at least not fused at their walls). Fleshy to the point of not being able to make out corallite characteristics when live. Septa with lobed teeth that slope to oral discs. Compare with the Faviid genus Caulastrea whose polyps lack lobed teeth and lack fleshy mantles.  Prefer low light and current conditions. 

Bigger PIX:
The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.
Blastomussa merleti Wells 1961. Small corallites Under 7mm. in diameter). Septa in two cycles, the larger looking like white teeth. Mantles generally greatly expanded by day (tentacles out only at night). Aquarium images. Easily fragmented. A synonym of B. loyae according to Veron, 2000. 

Blastomussa wellsi Wijsman-Best 1973. Pineapple Coral. Phaceloid colonies. Polyps 9-14 mm. in diameter. Numerous colors, often with contrasting centers. Here under culture at Dick Perrin's Tropicorium and in an aquarium. 

To: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8,

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