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Marine Invertebrate of the Month
Issue: June 2010

Mycedium elephantotus

(PALLAS 1766)

IOM T 0610

Bob Goemans

Common Names: Plate coral, green-eyed cup coral, elephant nose coral, peacock coral

Phylum: Cnidaria

Class: Anthozoa

Order: Scleractinia

Family: Pectiniidae

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

Natural Environment: Generally inhabits shallow fore reefs to deeper areas where they become more plate-like, and often found on or near the edges of overhangs and steep drop-offs. These areas receive a variety of different light intensities and water flows, yet most specimen

Captive Care: This is a photosynthetic stony coral that is often collected in areas having different levels of light intensity, so some experimentation may be needed as to placement before deciding upon a permanent location in the aquarium. Nevertheless, a fairly bright area preferably lit with metal halides or strong fluorescent lamps should initially be chosen, and the specimen should be placed somewhat vertically to replicate how they grow in the wild. Space between it and other corals must be provided, as it will extend feeding tentacles at night along with sweeper tentacles. The specimen should be placed in an area away from other corals with moderate to intense lighting with moderate water flow. However, be careful to watch the specimen for its initial response to the light intensity—if it bleaches or turns dark, it should be moved. Keep in mind it can form large plate-like or encrusting structures, sometimes 6 or 10 feet across in the wild, so provide sufficient space for growth. Hand feeding during daylight hours is possible if the food stimulates the polyps to expand their feeding tentacles. I use freeze-dried krill, which I rub between my fingers in the aquarium water to encourage many of my night-feeding corals to put forth their feeding tentacles. I then feed very small amounts of various meaty foods using a small turkey baster. This generally occurs right before the main lighting system turns off to allow more time for the feeding tentacles to uptake their food without too much interference from the fishes and shrimp in my aquariums. This is a hardy, disease-resistant, and fairly fast-growing coral, yet not overly common in the trade.

Water Requirements: Calcium 380 to 430 mg/l, alkalinity 2.5 to 3.0 meq/l, pH 8.1 to 8.2, specific gravity 1.025, phosphate < .015 mg/l, and a temperature range of 74° to 83°F.

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