By Bob Goemans
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Stylophora pistillata

Esper, 1797

Cluster Coral, Smooth Cauliflower Coral, Cat’s Paw

Likely Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable

Range: Indo-West Pacific Ocean: Widespread.

Natural Environment: Inhabits fore-reefs where there is strong wave action and usually seen at depths between 3 to 50 feet (1 - 15 m).

General Husbandry: Common in the trade.

As to placement in the aquarium, moderate water movement and bright light is necessary to keep this commonly found coral looking its best.

Some forethought needs to be given to newly received specimens as to their initial lighting requirements as they may come from a wide range of depths! Therefore, begin by placing the specimen where it will receive moderate light, e.g., PAR 300 - 350. Move to slightly higher PAR levels only after becoming fully acclimated to initial surrounding conditions. Patience is the key with specimens that come from unknown environments.

Capable of producing its nutritional needs via photosynthesis, yet benefits from once or twice a week feedings of various plankton-like foods, such as Oyster eggs, cyclops, baby brine shrimp, Spirulina, enriched adult brine shrimp and mysis.

Even though deemed 'peaceful' it has short 1 inch (2.5 cm) sweeper tentacles, therefore give sufficient distance between it and neighboring corals.

Maricultured specimens available.


    Kingdom: Animalia

    Phylum: Cnidaria

    Class: Anthozoa

    Subclass: Hexacorallia

    Order: Scleractinia

    Family: Pocilloporidae

    Genus: Stylophora

FYI: In the wild, usually pink, cream, blue or green and forms branching colonies with blunt ends. Very fast growing.

Experience Level: Intermediate

Diet: Photosynthetic/Plankton feeder

Temperament: Peaceful

Aquarium Environment: Reef or fish-only aquarium

Coral Safe: With caution

Fish Safe: Yes

Invertebrate Safe: Yes

Acclimation Time: 30 minutes+

Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy

Calcium (Ca): 380 - 430 mg/l

Alkalinity: 2.5 - 3.0 meq/l

Phosphate (PO4): <0.05 mg/l

Magnesium (Mg): approx. 1350 mg/l (relate to specific gravity)

Strontium (Sr) 8 - 10 mg/l

Temperature Range: 72 - 83°F (23 - 28°C)

Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons

Lighting: PAR 350 - 450+

Water Movement: WM 2 - 3

Specific Gravity: 1.023 - 1.025

pH: 8.0 - 8.4

Iodine/Trace Elements Monitor/as necessary to maintain quality seawater.

 Stylophora pistillata (Cluster Coral, Smooth Cauliflower Coral, Cat’s Paw)
Photo © Wayne Shang
 Stylophora pistillata (Cluster Coral, Smooth Cauliflower Coral, Cat’s Paw)
Photo © Wikimedia
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Aquarium Systems (Instant Ocean)