By Bob Goemans
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Trachyphyllia geoffroyi

(Audouin, 1826)

Open Brain/Folded Brain Coral

Likely Reef Tank Suitable

Range: Throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific and Red Sea

Natural Environment: Depending upon age of the specimen, it is found in two different environments. While quite immature, this photosynthetic stony coral with large fleshy polyps is attached to hard substrates of various kinds. As it grows larger and heavier, it breaks free and becomes a free-living coral and are then generally found on muddy lagoon and reef slope bottoms where gentle water flow and moderate light exists. Sometimes they are also found on sandy and coral rubble bottoms and/or in protected seagrass beds that experience gentle water flows and low light conditions. Tentacles are usually displayed at night when feeding on available plankton. Various colored specimens/combinations abound, including highly fluorescent colors, e.g., red, pink, green, and blue.

General Husbandry: This is a hardy stony coral and commonly found in the trade! It will do well if placed in an area that receives gentle water flow and moderate light. I find those that are red in color better placed in shady areas or at least those areas receiving indirect light. For those that are green, tan or brown, they seem to prefer slightly more light, and should be placed in areas receiving low to moderate direct light. Furthermore, its important not to place them where disturbed sand or debris will collect on their surface, as that requires much of the animal’s energy to slough it off and may become weakened if it has to continuously do so and then become susceptible to white-band disease or bleaching. If so, tissue recession soon follows.

As for feeding, its feeding tentacles are usually displayed at night, but if it senses food entering the aquarium during the daytime, those tentacles may be displayed. If so, and only then should feeding be tried, otherwise food will go to waste. If the time is right, I recommend directly dosing the tentacles with meaty foodstuffs, e.g., fortified brine shrimp, mysis, rotifers, and/or products containing Cyclop-eeze. Feeding, in my opinion, should not occur more than once per week, as more seems to cause odd growth forms, sometimes leading to its demise.

Another possible aspect to keep in mind is that there have been reports that in aquariums containing leather corals such as Sinularia species, Trachyphyllia species do not fair well, possibly because of the chemicals released by Sinularia species. Nevertheless, I have not seen such behavior in my aquariums.


Always select a specimen that does not have any kind of alga growth on any of its exposed skeleton surface, as it will cause the tissue to recede, usually leading to the animals demise sooner or later. Furthermore, this species is occasionally found tasty by some tangs and angelfish, so be forewarned. And do not remove a specimen with highly inflated tissue areas from the water as the weight of the water in the polyp may damage or tear its flesh lose from its skeleton. Gently shake the specimen and allow the flesh to retract somewhat before removing.

 Trachyphyllia geoffroyi (Open Brain/Folded Brain Coral)
Photo © Bob Goemans
Rhizotrochus typus Mithrax sculptus
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