Maze Brain Coral
Brain Coral, Closed Brain Coral, Maze CoralPlatygyra Sp.Photo © Animal-World: Courtesy Greg Rothschild
With its broad twisting, turning walls and valleys, the Maze Brain Coral is truly gorgeous!
The Maze Brain Coral Platygyra sp. has beautifully contrasting walls and valleys. In the wild they form massive colonies that can be either flat or dome shaped. They are thought to be more recently evolved corals, with some of the species differences being more difficult to separate unless they are observed in the same location.
The Platygyra genus are commonly meandroid, meaning they develop valleys. On occasion they may also have cerioid, meaning shared walls, mixed in. Some common names these corals are know for are Maze Brain Coral, Brain Coral, Closed Brain Coral, Ridge Coral, Worm Coral, Maze Coral, Brain Worm Platygyra Coral, and Green Maze Coral.
These corals are similar in appearance to the valley forming Goniastrea species, as well as the Australogyra and Leptoria genera. However the Platygyra genus differ from Goniastrea in that they lack protruding rounded lobes originating from the septa. They differ from Leptoria in that they are much less sinuous with wider valleys and heavier corallite walls, and from Australogyra which has a branching growth form.
The Brain Maze Coral or Maze Coral P. lamellina is the most common species in the trade, which could be due to its abundance in the shallower waters. P. daedalea is another commonly available species. Others include P. sinensis and P. pini.
The Platygyra genus is one of those great corals that will keep its original color under various lighting intensities. Typically the walls are brown or dark gray with the valleys being gray or green, though there is a wide variation of the colors. They can range from red and green or white and chocolate brown color combinations.
This genus is moderate to care for. They are not as hardy as other members of the Flaviidae family, and are more likely to bleach and have tissue loss from stress. However once acclimated, if you provide these corals with regular feedings, they will grow quickly. The Platygyra genus has been propagated in captivity on local levels.
Distribution / Background Platygyra Coral Information: The Platygyra genus was described by Ehrenberg in 1834. There are approximately 26 nominal species, 9 of which are true species with 5 being found around Australia. The nine true species are: P. contorta, P. crosslandi, P. daedalea, P. lamellina, P. pini, P. ryukyuensis, P. sinensis, P. verweyi, and P. yaeyamaensis.
Some common names these corals are know for are Brain Coral, Closed Brain Coral, Ridge Coral, Worm Coral, Maze Coral, Brain Worm Platygyra Coral, Maze Brain Coral, and Green Maze Coral. The Platygyra genus has been propagated in captivity on local levels.
Where Platygyra Corals Are Found:The Platygyra genus are found in the Indo-West Pacific, the Red Sea to Madagascar, Egypt to Indonesia, Japan to New Caledonia and Australia, Mozambique, Somalia to Fiji, Ryukyu Islands to Australia and Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka to Papua New Guinea.
Platygyra Coral Habitat: The Platygyra genus are found on back reef flats, reef flats, and backwater areas, at depths from 10 - 131 feet (3 - 40 m).
- Platygyra contorta: Least Concern (LC)
- Platygyra crosslandi: Near Threatened (NT)
- Platygyra daedalea: Least Concern (LC)
- Platygyra lamellina: Near Threatened (NT)
- Platygyra pini: Least Concern (LC)
- Platygyra ryukyuensis: Near Threatened (NT)
- Platygyra sinensis: Least Concern (LC)
- Platygyra verweyi: Near Threatened (NT)
- Platygyra yaeyamaensis: Vulnerable (VU)
Description What do Platygyra Corals look like: The Platygyra genus form huge colonies that are either flat or dome shaped. The corallite walls twist and turn throughout the coral and share walls. They do not have protruding rounded lobes originating from the septa like the Goniastrea genus. They also have rough septal teeth and corallite walls. The corallite walls are also heavier with the valleys being less twisting and wider than Leptoria corals.
Typically, the walls are brown or dark gray with gray or green valleys though there is a wide variation of the colors. Colors include green, white, cream, pink, gray, and brown, and can have a bright or dull hues.
Descriptions of the species most likely acquired in the aquarium trade:
- P. lamellina is the most common species in the trade, which could be due to it's abundance in the shallower waters. It has walls that twist and turn yet can encrust on nearby surfaces, including the aquarium wall. The septa or teeth protrude like P. daedalea, except they are more uniform and rounded. This is especially noticeable when looking at the skeletal structure. They usually have brown walls with green or gray valleys, but are not as bright as P. daedalea.
- P. daedalea is the most diverse as far as locations on the reef, and is also common in the aquarium trade. It has a mound formation that is also encrusting with valleys that are 2 to 3 cm long and .5 to .6 cm wide. A colony can grow up to 1 m or more. They have twisting and curving walls that can also be a little straighter (not totally straight, but relatively straight) with a ragged appearance due to the protruding septa. Typical colors are bright with brown walls and green or gray valleys. The brown walls can look almost orange and the gray valleys can look pink under the correct lighting.
- P. sinensis have thin septa with valleys that are not long and winding like other species. The valleys are also smaller and form irregular round or oval shapes, yet can be longer and stretched out with one or more mouths in the center of each polyp. They have dull or bright colors, thus a wide variation of color combination.
- P. pini has a similar look to P. sinensis except the corallite walls are fleshier and rounder. The valleys are also smaller and form irregular round or oval shapes, yet can be longer and stretched out with one or more mouths in the center of each polyp. The colors are gray or yellow to brown with green or cream centers.
Difficulty of Care Platygyra Coral Care: A Brain Maze Coral or Maze Coral is moderate to care for. They are not as hardy as other members of the Flaviidae family, and are more likely to bleach and have tissue loss from stress. If you receive one in a shipment, it is wise to flush the coral with fresh sea water. They produce a lot of mucus that can foul the water and cause stress, leading to disease. Like other members of the Faviidae family, the polyps tentacles come out at night to feed.
Foods / Feeding Platygyra Coral Feeding: The Platygyra genus, 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 some of their nutrients. They also capture planktonic organisms, food particles from the water column, and can absorb dissolved organic matter.
In captivity, the Brain Maze Coral needs to be fed at night when their tentacles are out. Feed rotifers, newly hatched brine shrimp, mysis, and zooplankton type foods, including foods for filter feeders. They do need to be fed at the very least, once a week, and grow quite well with regular feedings.
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. They secrete mucus, so along with a good water flow, carbon may be used.
The following water supplements are suggested for Platygyra species:
- Calcium: 400 to 430 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: 3.5 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
|Quick Reference Chart|
Be sure to have proper water movement and provide sufficient lighting. It needs moderate to high light and a moderate water movement for the best health. This is a semi-aggressive species, and does need distance between it and other corals.
- Minimum Tank Size / Length: 50 gallons (190 L) or larger
- Marine Lighting: Moderate to high
- Temperature: 75° - 83° F (24° - 28° C)
- Salinity / Specific Gravity: 1.024 - 1.026
- Water Movement: Moderate
- Water Region: Bottom of the aquarium
Compatibility and Social Behaviors The Platygyra genus is semi-aggressive with other genera.They do need distance between them and other corals due to their long sweeper tentacles that extend at night.
Breeding and Reproduction The large polyp stony (LPS) corals are are hermaphrodites, male and female within the same organism, 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. The Platygyra genus are hermaphrodites that fertilize externally through mass spawning events, and this genus reproduce asexually as well.
In captivity, the Platygyra genus can propagate by fragmenting, by extratentacular budding (budding on the outside edges and sides of the colony), or intratentacular budding (when a polyp divides into 2 polyps). They will also use polyp bailout and polyp balls to reproduce.
Propagation should be similar to other Faviidae. Start with a fully acclimated specimen. Using a dremel or similarly powerful tool, cut at least 10 to 20 corallites (polyp heads). Cut this from the bottom where it may flare out, since the bone is less dense there. Make sure the frag has good water flow to help it heal.
Availability Platygyra Corals for Sale: The Brain Maze Coral Platygyra genus is very easy to find at pet shops and on line. Online they can run about $35.00 to $60.00 USD or more depending on size and/or color. Usually corals that are for sale from this genus are just identified as "Platygyra sp.".
- 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
- Bob Goemans, Caulastrea, Diploastrea, Diploria, Favia, Favites, Leptoria, Platygyra, Montastraea, and others - Family Faviidae, Animal Library, Saltwatercorner.com