By Bob Goemans
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Cynarina deshayesiana

(Michelin, 1850)

Meat Coral, Open Meat Coral, Knob Coral

Likely Reef Tank Suitable

Range: Central Indo-Pacific Ocean and Red Sea

Natural Environment: This mostly circular in shape photosynthetic stony coral with a single large fleshy polyp generally inhabits protected reef environments, where it’s sometimes found attached to walls under overhangs, yet usually found free-living on sandy or muddy bottoms where gentle currents exist. Its tentacles are usually only displayed at night when they feed on available plankton. Often found in various color combinations, including highly fluorescent colors, e.g., red, orange, pink, and greens.

General Husbandry: This beautiful and very hardy photosynthetic stony coral is frequently seen in the trade, although usually quite expensive. Placement of the specimen is of importance, yet requires little on-going intervention from the aquarist to remain healthy thereafter. Moderate light is preferred, as this species does not like direct bright light! Also, gentle water currents are required for carrying food to it when in the feeding mode, or its waste away. Swift currents will damage the large polyp, causing it to withdraw and lead to its demise from lack of nutrition.

It should also not be located where disturbed sand would cover its large polyp, as this may cause it to become stressed when sloughing off excessive sand particles. It may also be placed about half way up in the aquarium in a shady and secure area, however, the weight of its very large single polyp should not excessively overlap the area its skeleton as it may tear the polyp, especially if it receives more than gentle water movement.

As to direct feeding, it will accept meaty-type foods, such as fortified brine shrimp, mysis, small pieces of enriched marine fish/shrimp flesh, rotifers, and/or products containing Cyclop-eeze or similar type products. Nevertheless, it should only occur when its feeding tentacles are displayed, which in the wild are at night. In my aquariums, I occasionally use a freeze-dried krill squished between my fingertips in the aquarium water to bring forth its feeding tentacles. In my opinion, direct feeding should not occur more than once every couple of weeks, as I’ve seen this coral go through some odd shaped changes a day or two after feeding, and then become somewhat poor looking for a week thereafter.

Originally described as Carophyllia deshayesiana by Michelin (1850) and later as Acanthophyllia deshayesiana by Wells, (1937), as noted by Sprung in his book tilted "Corals, A Quick Reference Guide." Often misidentified as Scolymia vitiensis.

Do not remove a specimen with highly inflated tissue from the water as the weight of the water in the polyp may damage or tear its flesh. Gently shake the specimen and allow the flesh to retract somewhat before removing.

This is a hardy stony coral and fairly common in the trade. Water quality requirements are: Calcium 380 - 430 mg/l, Alkalinity 3.5 meq/l, pH 8.1 - 8.2, Specific Gravity 1.024 - 1.026, and a temperature range of 74 to 82°F (23 - 27°C).

 Cynarina deshayesiana (Meat Coral, Open Meat Coral, Knob Coral)
Photo © Bob Goemans
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Ocean Nutrition