Torch Coral, Green Trumpet Coral, Column Brain CoralCaulastrea echinulataPhoto Courstesy: John Rice
True to its name, the Trumpet Coral has polyps that have a 'trumpet-like' shape!
The polyps of the Trumpet Coral Caulastrea echinulata grow close together and are shaped like the horn of a trumpet. Each Trumpet polyp grows on its own stalk, yet they are tightly compacted. This species gets its common name from the the fact that the oral disc is "deeper" inside, and the corallite walls are taller than those on other Caulastrea species. Some common names these corals are know for are Trumpet Coral, Torch Coral, Green Trumpet Coral, Spruce Caulastrea, and Column Brain Coral.
The top of each stalk of C. echinulata has polyps with long meandering thin corallites that form a number of interesting shapes. For instance, corallites can look like a stretched out letter "B" or number "3", have an hour glass shape, or have even more complex curves and twists, usually with several mouths.
The Trumpet Coral is generally a solid color, usually grayish green, with very little difference in the color of the center polyp. It is very similar to its close relative, the Candycane Coral C. furcata, but there are some distinctions that can be picked out with a discerning eye. The main differences in appearance are that the trumpet is generally less colorful, and the polyps extend further from the skeleton at the edges giving it the look of a trumpet. Also, the trumpets' polyps are much more closely packed to give the appearance of one large coral. Another close relative, the Bullseye Coral C. curvata is even more openly branched than the Trumpet Coral. It is also captive propagated and readily available in some very attractive varieties.
The C. Echinulata is easy to care for, it can be recommended to beginners. It likes a medium to low water movement and low to moderate lighting. These corals will expand in the morning before the lights are turned on and put out a circle of long tentacles similar to the pistols in a flower. Very interesting to watch! They can be fed when the tentacles extend but it is not necessary to do so. It is semi-aggressive if it is close to other corals.
Species: Caulastrea echinulata
Caulastrea Coral Information: The Trumpet Coral Caulastrea echinulata was described by Edwards and Haime in 1849. Some common names these corals are know for are Trumpet Coral, Torch Coral, Green Trumpet Coral, Spruce Caulastrea, and Column Brain Coral. The C. Echinulata has been propagated in captivity.
Where Caulastrea Corals Are Found: C. echinulata are found in the Western Pacific to Japan and then south to Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
Caulastrea Coral Habitat: The Caulastrea genus are primarily found on protected reef slopes with sandy substrate in shallow, bright water with a surging water flow. C. echinulata is an exception, found in deeper waters than the others in lagoons and flat substrates.
The C. echinulata is on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species as VU (Vulnerable).
What do Caulastrea Corals look like: The Trumpet Coral C. echinulata is a branching formation coral with the top of each branch having polyps with long meandering thin corallites. For instance, the corallite can look like a stretched out number "3", an hour glass, a thin and stretched out letter "B" as well as even more complex curves and twists, usually with several mouths. This species gets its name "trumpet" from the the fact that the oral disc is "deeper" inside, since the corallite walls are taller than the other species. That coupled with the fleshy tops of its more oval polyp heads, and you have what looks like a "trumpet".
The polyps are wildly shaped with twists and turns within each corallite or polyp. They are not as commonly round or oval unless young. Those irregularly shaped polyps are tightly packed. When fully expanded the fleshy polyps press together looking more like a solid, non-branching coral. With the rounder corallites, the polyps are 10-12 mm in diameter.
The Trumpet Coral is generally a solid color, sometimes with striations, and with very little difference in the color of the center polyp. They can be a brownish pink to gray, and sometimes an aquacultured pale green with only a slight contrast in the center of the polyp. C. echinulata is not quite as colorful the Candycane Coral C. furcata.
|Differences between: Candycane Corals and Trumpet Corals|
Candycane Coral polyps are
more colorful and loosely packed
Trumpet Coral polyps extend out
like a trumpet and are tightly packed
Photo Courstesy: John Rice
Caulastrea Coral Care: The C. Echinulata is easy to care for, it can be recommended to beginners. Low to moderate lighting and a medium to low water flow is recommended. They are very sensitive to metal halides, lighting from these sources needs to be indirect. Also, make sure that detritus does not build up between the colony branches.
These corals will expand in the morning before the lights are turned on and put out a circle of long tentacles similar to the pistols in a flower. Very interesting to watch! They can be fed when the tentacles extend but it is not necessary to do so.
Caulastrea Coral Feeding: The Caulastrea 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 some of their nutrients. They also capture planktonic organisms, food particles from the water column, and can absorb dissolved organic matter.
In captivity, they can be fed when their tentacles are out, but they will come out during the day if food is detected. Feed finely minced seafood of any kind as well as mysis, and similar sized foods. They do need to be fed at the very least twice a week, and grow quite well with regular feedings. It does help to turn the water pumps off during feeding.
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 Caulastrea 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
A well-feed live rock/reef environment is what is needed for your Trumpet Coral, along with some fish for organic matter production. A mature tank is recommended.
|Quick Reference Chart|
Be sure to have proper water movement and provide sufficient lighting. It likes a medium to low water flow and low to moderate lighting. They are very sensitive to metal halides, and need to have indirect lighting from these sources. These corals will expand in the morning before the lights are turned on and put out a circle of long tentacles similar to the pistols in a flower. They can be fed when the tentacles extend but it is not necessary to do so. This is a semi-aggressive species when close to other corals.
- Minimum Tank Size / Length: Nano tanks and larger
- Marine Lighting: Low to moderate
- Temperature: 74° - 83° F (23° - 28° C)
- Salinity / Specific Gravity: 1.023 - 1.025
- Water Movement: Moderate / turbulent, surging currents are said to help increase polyp division.
- Water Region: All areas of the aquarium, depending on lighting.
Caulastrea corals can be semi-aggressive when close to other corals, so do need some distance between themselves and others. In general, saying that a coral is peaceful due to shorter tentacles is not completely accurate. The Trumpet Corals may only have 2" sweeper tentacles, but they pack a bigger "punch" or stronger sting than many other corals with 6" sweeper tentacles. When the 6" sweepers from other corals hit C. enchinulata, they will be harmed from invading the Trumpet's space.
In the wild, the Caulastrea species are often found with commensal sponges, mollusks, zoanthids and other sessile invertebrates. Zoanthids tend grow in-between the coral's heads, but do not seem to bother the coral.
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 C. Echinulata are hermaphrodites that fertilize externally through mass spawning events. The Caulastrea genus reproduce asexually as well.
In captivity, the C. echinulata can propagate by fragmenting, as well as by intratentacular budding (when a polyp divides into more polyps and then pinches off to a new branch). Propagation is super simple with this genus! Simply cut the branch that the polyp head is on with a bone cutter or something that will cut clean and quickly. The only problem you may have is if you cut too close to the polyp and cause a fracture that tears the polyps flesh. This is a problem when using weak or dull scissors as well. Happily, they should heal with good water flow. Glue the frag to a plug or rock. You can use the 2-part epoxy or underwater putties.
The Caulastrea spp. are fairly hardy but recession is seen at times on one or more polyps in a colony, but that does not mean the whole colony is in danger. Boring worms, sponges, and algae can cause this condition.
Caulastrea Corals for Sale: The Trumpet Coral C. echinulata is very easy to find at pet shops and on line. Online they can run about $30.00 USD or more depending on size and/or color. The C. echinulata has been propagated in captivity. In general, aquacultured specimens are hardier, and have been developed into much more colorful animals, including more intense variations of their colors.
- Animal-World References: Marine and Reef
- 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, Torch Coral, Caulastrea echinulata, Animal Library, Saltwatercorner.com