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Marine Invertebrate of the Month
Issue: October 2008

Herpolitha limax

(HOUTTUYN 1772)/(ESPER 1797)


Bob Goemans

Common Names: Tongue coral, slipper coral, mole coral

Phylum: Cnidaria

Class: Anthozoa

Order: Scleractinia

Family: Fungiidae

Range: Indo-West Pacific and Red Sea, including western, northern, and eastern coasts of Australia east to Tahiti, and north to Ryukyu Islands

Natural Environment: This is a fairly common elongated free-living photosynthetic stony coral that inhabits fairly shallow soft sand and coral rubble zones on reef slopes and lagoon flats, and interconnected sandy reef areas protected from strong wave motion. It normally take

Captive Care:

This is a very hardy coral that should be set on sandy or course substrate in areas receiving bright light and gentle to moderate water movement. Since they are not aggressive corals, they can touch other corals without inflicting damage. However, the same may not hold true for other species in its vicinity, so distance it from corals in your aquarium that may be aggressive. Keep in mind that this coral is capable of moving by itself, so keep an eye on its location in your aquarium.

This is a photosynthetic stony coral that is very capable of generating its own food supply, so there are no special feeding requirements. Nevertheless, small pieces of marine fish or shrimp flesh can be offered to this species once a week. If there is no feeding response, the food can be removed. I’ve personally found it unnecessary to hand-feed them, as this coral seems to do very well without any special assistance from the hobbyist.

The species is very hardy, but water quality remains an important issue. I recommend keeping calcium and alkalinity parameters within a balanced state, along with the proper level of magnesium in relation to the existing specific gravity.

Water Requirements: Calcium 380 to 430 ppm, alkalinity 3.5 meq/l, pH 8.1 to 8.2, specific gravity 1.024 to 1.026, Mg approx. 1272 ppm, phosphate < .015 ppm, and a temperature range of 75° to 83°F (24° to 28°C).

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