By Bob Goemans
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Echinophyllia aspera

(Ellis & Solander, 1788)

Plate Coral, Scroll Coral, Chalice Coral, Flat Lettuce Coral

Likely Reef Tank Suitable

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: This is a fairly common photosynthetic stony coral found in most reef environments, especially in the lower reef slopes and fringing reef areas. Tends to form encrusting plates and folds, with its surface having rounded ridges. Its corallites are slightly raised and warty in appearance. Depending upon location the species can be brown, green, or shades of red and/or orange.

General Husbandry: This is a very hardy coral, however, does need to be placed in areas receiving moderate to bright light, i.e., 4 - 5 watts/gal via fluorescent or metal halides, and at least moderate water movement to remain healthy. It also tends to keep its original coloration even under varying amounts of light in captivity. As to feeding, it will do exceptionally well without any direct feeding, yet for those that want to try, various extremely fine/tiny meaty foods can be placed on its tentacles when displayed during the nighttime hours.

And even though this is a fairly common species in the wild, it is only occasionally available in the trade. And when found in local shops, is often misidentified. In fact, the species in the photo was specifically ordered from a noted collector, and has been in several different tanks over the past three years. In well-monitored tanks, it was said to grow quickly. But when moved to a local shop where water quality, e.g., calcium and alkalinity, were rarely ever monitored (if that), its growth slowed considerably.

When moved from there to a customer’s tank with carefully monitored and adjusted as needed water quality, its growth greatly accelerated, though it appears to be quite fragile around its outer plate edges. Therefore, I highly recommend keeping the calcium and alkalinity within a balanced state, along with the proper level of magnesium in relation to the existing specific gravity.

It is said those in this family can develop sweeper tentacles, therefore thought to be quite aggressive. Nevertheless, I have personally never seen sweeper tentacles on this specimen, which I’ve seen quite often, whether that was during the day or at night/evenings. Yet I do advise sufficient space be given, as this species under the right conditions can be quite fast growing and can quickly shade any species below it. It also is capable of chemical aggression; therefore some thought should be given to its 'downstream’ neighbors and the use of activated carbon in the system.

 Echinophyllia aspera (Plate Coral, Scroll Coral, Chalice Coral, Flat Lettuce Coral)
Photo © Bob Goemans
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