Elegant Coral, Wonder CoralCatalaphyllia jardineiPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
The Elegance Coral is one of the most beautiful corals available!
The Elegance Coral Catalaphyllia jardinei is probably the most popular large polyp stony (LPS) coral. This is because it is not only extremely attractive, but is easy to care for. It comes in several different colors, and usually has bright pink tips that glow under blue or ultraviolet light. Colors can be fluorescent green with cream tentacles, brown and lime green with blue, orange or purple tipped tentacles, and more. Some colors like lime green are thought to help in UV protection.
This is a common coral that normally rests in the substrate. In the wild, the Elegance Coral lives in both shallow and deeper waters, down to 131 feet (40 m), in areas of gentle turbid water. They have a cone shaped, wedge-like skeletal structure that makes it easy for them to bury into soft substrates. In the ocean, the substrate they like to bury into is soft and often muddy, with sea grasses frequently intertwined with their tentacles.
The Elegance Coral is moderate to care for, and can be recommended to beginners. However, the success of keeping a C. jardenei in captivity depends on a few necessary components. Bury the base in soft sand or mud, away from rocks, to keep the tissue healthy. Position the coral far away from all other organisms as contact with any algae, caulerpa or soft corals, as well as many other LPS will cause tissue recession and death. This coral sends out sweeper tentacles that can be quite strong. They will expand a surprising amount so leave plenty of room (at least 6 inches) around this coral.
In the aquarium, strong currents are not appreciated by the C. jardenei, but some water movement is required. It also requires medium to strong light. Direct metal halides will burn the tissue, but diffused moderate light is appreciated. They can be fed occasionally. Foods 1/4" (6 mm) or smaller will be eaten greedily and will sustain the coral. Larger pieces will be accepted by the coral, but will later be regurgitated. Meeting all these requirements will provide the necessary habitat to provide you with a healthy Elegance Coral that will live a long life.
The family Euphyllidae, "... is a very large family of zooxanthellate scleractinans, that were previously grouped in the family Caryophylliidae (Mather, 1994). It includes such genera as Euphyllia, Catalyphyllia, Nemenzophyllia, Plerogyra, and Physogyra." Source: Tropical Marine Biology II, Classification of Scleractinian (Stony) Corals, by Pierre Madl, University of Vienna, 2001, Revised in Nov. 2002
Distribution / Background Catalaphyllia Coral Information: The Elegance Coral Catalaphyllia jardinei was described by Saville-Kent in 1893. Other names this coral is known for are Elegant Coral and Wonder Coral. The C. jardenei has not been propagated successfully in captivity, yet has budded under optimal circumstances. These corals are not hermatypic, which means they do not contribute to reef structures or reef growth.
Where Catalaphyllia Corals Are Found: C. jardinei are found around Australia on the Great Barrier Reef and Dampier Archipelago. They are also located near Japan and then from Mozambique to Vanuatu.
Catalaphyllia Coral Habitat: The C. jardinei live at depths down to 131 feet (40 M) or shallower in lagoonal and inter-reef areas of gentle turbid water. The substrate they like to bury into is soft and often muddy, with sea grasses often intertwined with the tentacles. They will share space with fungiids and other lagoonal inhabitants. The C. jardenei has very strong stinging tentacles to help capture small prey and to defend themselves against predators.
There is a concern about collection of these corals, as being easy to collect can contribute to over collection. Also in later years, the need to travel out further from shore to obtain specimens adds to travel time, which in turn adds to a poorer survival rate.
Description What do Catalaphyllia Corals look like: The Elegance Coral C. jardinei has a cone shaped, wedge like skeletal structure that makes it easy for them to bury into soft substrates. The bottom is pointed, yet the top where the fleshy polyp is located is very wide with pointy, thin, bone like divisions called septa. The septa forms V shaped valleys. The polyps have long thin tentacles with contrasting tips that can also be bulbous in some specimens. Their fleshy, large oral disc has several mouths over the "valley" of the septa.
Colors can be fluorescent green with cream tentacles, brown and lime green with blue, orange or purple tipped tentacles. and more. Some colors like lime green are thought to help in UV protection. As an interesting side point, marine author Scott Michael photographed black and blue color morphs, indicating there may be many more color combinations in the ocean.
The C. jardenei usually reaches about 12" ( 30 cm) long x 8" (20 cm) wide. When feeding, the individual tentacles can extend 4" (10 cm). Lifespan is unknown.
Difficulty of Care Catalaphyllia Coral Care: The C. jardinei can be moderate to difficult to care for. Providing correct lighting, good gentle, yet turbid water flow, a good location, and almost daily feedings of finely minced food will contribute to their success. Make sure the tentacles are nowhere near live rock where they can be abrased and cut, since this will lead to tissue damage and brown jelly infection. Avoid direct metal halides, unless it is highly diffused.
Elegance Corals with brown pigment are generally healthier and easier to care for. Translucent and clear specimens have already expelled most of their zooxanthellae and will not survive long. If your lighting is aging and dull, the Elegance Coral will expand its tissue to try and absorb light. This polyp expansion is not an indication of growth, but an indication your lighting is too low or old. Measure its skeleton when you acquire your C. jardenei and then again 6 months later to ascertain actual growth.
Foods / Feeding Catalaphyllia Coral Feeding: The Catalaphyllia corals, like other large polyp stony (LPS) corals, have developed several feeding strategies. Through a symbiotic relationship with a marine algae, known as zooxanthellae, they receive many of their nutrients. They also capture planktonic organisms, food particles from the water column, and can absorb dissolved organic matter.
In captivity, these corals are hungry all the time, so feed as needed with various types of foods for optimal health. Never feed your C. jardenei foods that are any larger than .25" (6 mm). Try mysis, krill, brine shrimp and other smaller items. You can also mince a small fish or shrimp into very small pieces and feed the entire organism to your Elegance Coral, since different parts of the animal have varying nutritional qualities. Just be cautious, placing a whole fish or shrimp does result in the animal's grabbing the food, but late at night it is regurgitated. This results in eventual starvation, starting with tissue recession and onset of possible disease. The C. jardenei does eat a lot of food, but it must be the proper small size of 1/4" or smaller.
Aquarium Care Typical water changes of 20% a month, 10% biweekly, or 5% weekly are needed. It has been noted that 5% weekly water changes replenish many of the needed additives and it is ultimately cheaper than purchasing additives for the water. With higher concentrations of coral with calcareous skeletons though, there may be a need put in additional additives to maintain proper levels for good growth.
The following water supplements are suggested for Catalaphyllia species:
- Calcium: 400 to 450 ppm. If a large poly stony (LPS) coral does not have enough calcium, it will not grow. (Seachem makes a calcium additive that states 385 as sufficient)
- Alkalinity: 3.2 TO 4.8 MEQ/L (8 to 11 dKh, 10 is recommended)
- Phosphates: 0, zero. Phosphates are the worst of all and all corals hate them.
- Magnesium: 1200 - 1350. Magnesium makes calcium available, so if your calcium is low, check your magnesium levels before adding any more calcium.
- Strontium: 8 - 10
Aquarium Parameters A well-feed live rock/reef environment is what is needed for your Elegance Coral, along with some fish for organic matter production. Have an open area with soft substrate such as sand or mud. Bury the skeletal base until the oral disc is flush with the soft substrate. A mature tank is recommended.
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Be sure to have proper water movement. Water flow that is too strong can cause the polyps to not extend properly thus inhabiting their ability to capture food. Provide sufficient lighting, they enjoy indirect bright light. Do not place directly under metal halides or its polyps can be damaged, which can lead to rapid tissue necrosis or RTN. Make sure that no other corals can come in contact with your Catalaphyllia. This coral can be aggressive, so leave plenty of room (at least 6 inches) around this coral.
- Minimum Tank Size / Length: 100 gallons (380 L) or larger
- Marine Lighting: Moderate and diffused light, but no direct metal halides.
- Temperature: 74° - 83° F (23° - 28° C)
- Salinity / Specific Gravity: 1.023 - 1.025
- Water Movement: Gentle to Moderate and turbid
- Water Region: Bottom of the aquarium
Compatibility and Social Behaviors Catalaphyllia corals can be aggressive if touching other corals, so leave plenty of room (at least 6 inches) around this coral. The Elegance Coral has very few compatible neighbors. They are sensitive to being touched by algae, especially caulerpa, as well as any soft corals. Others in their family, such as the Anchor Coral Euphyllia ancora will dominate and damage the Elegance Coral. Even a small polyp stony (SPS) coral which is not an aggressive coral, such as the Elephant Skin Coral Pachyseris rugosa, can cause damage to the Elegance Coral.
Keep clownfish away from your Elegance Coral, as the constant wiggling of the fish will cause the coral to not expand and will eventually stress it to death. Bristle worms too, can irritate their flesh and cause infection as well.
C. jardenei can ensnare and sting small fish, especially those without swim bladders that tend to "fall" from level to level in the aquarium. Do not house them with Mandarin Gobies. The Mandarins eventually bump into the tentacles of the Elegance Coral as they look for benthic foods, causing them to be stung and die over several days. This is not a pleasant thing to watch. First welts develop and swell as poisons from the sting slowly kill the victim.
Breeding and Reproduction The large polyp stony (LPS) corals are male and female and can reproduce both sexually and asexually. In the wild they reproduce sexually by releasing eggs and sperm at the same time, resulting in a fertilized egg which then forms into a free-swimming planula larva. Eventually the planula larvae settles onto the substrate, becoming plankters. This then forms a tiny polyp which begins to excrete calcium carbonate and develops into a coral. Planula larvae are extremely vulnerable to predation, and very few survive. Catalaphyllia genus reproduce asexually as well.
The C. jardinei has not been propagated successfully in captivity, yet has budded under optimal circumstances. Physical propagation should not be done. Cutting into the tissue will result in damage that can lead to disease. It is best to feed them well and keep them happy. In optimal conditions, they may form buds which can be harvested.
Potential Problems The Catalaphyllia spp. are fairly hardy, but are susceptible to a few maladies. The C. jardinei is susceptible to brown jelly or protozoan infections, intense lighting, and as a new specimen.
- Brown Jelly
Brown jelly or protozoan infections can infect the rest of the colony if not treated. This brown jelly looks exactly like it sounds, and can be caused by poor water quality and/or tissue damage. To treat, remove the coral to a container with water from the main display, then brush or siphon off any visible brown jelly. Give the coral a freshwater dip in water with the same pH and temperature as the main tank for several minutes to kill a lot of the microorganisms.
Use an antibiotic paste on the infect areas and/or a Lugol's dip. Cyanobacteria and brown jelly infections can be treated with Neomycin sulphite, Kanamycin and other broad-spectrum antibiotics. The pill can be pulverized into a fine powder, mixed with sea water to make a paste, and then applied to the wound, or affected site of the coral with a simple artists brush.
Try to treat the coral with the least stressful method first. Place in a quarantine tank until coral recovers. In worse case scenarios, the ill polyp should be cut off from the rest of the colony.
- Metal Halides
Do not place directly under Metal Halide, or the C. jardinei's polyps can be damaged and can lead to rapid tissue necrosis or RTN.
- New Specimens
Julian Sprung suggests putting your new Elegance Coral in a well aerated and heated 10 gallon quarantine tank with Doxycyline at 50 mg per gallon. Do not use a light during this time, since this medication is photosensitive. Keep the coral in the tank for 3 days and this will help kill any possible bacteria. One other preventative is using Nitrofurazon at 25 to 50 mg per gallon for 3 days.
- Animal-World References: Marine and Reef
- Harry Erhardt and Horst Moosleitner, Marine Atlas Volume 2, Invertebrates (Baensch Marine Atlas), Mergus Verlag GmbH, Revised edition, 2005
- Eric Borneman, Aquarium Corals : Selection, Husbandry, and Natural History , TFH Publications, 2001
- Anthony Calfo, Book of Coral Propagation, Volume 1 Edition 2: Reef Gardening for Aquarists, Reading Trees; 2nd edition, 2007
- J.E.N. Veron, Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific , University of Hawaii Press; 2 Rev Ed edition, 1993
- Ronald L. Shimek, Guide to Marine Invertebrates: 500+ Essential-to-Know Aquarium Species, Microcosm, 2005
- Bob Goemans, Order: Scleractinia, Family Euphylliidae - Catalaphyllia, Animal Library, Saltwatercorner.com
- Saltwater Aquarium Supplements, FishLore.com Tropical Fish Information, Copyright 2007