Hello everyone. So after uploading the pictures from the last post, I got a flood of e-mails asking for the corals. From hobbyists to importers, they were all excited. Unfortunately, all the corals from the last post and this post have been exported already. Some are from six months ago. So if you are one of my customers looking at this blog, please remember these corals I no longer have.
I once joked around how I wanted to name our future children after corals. I told my wife how about naming our future son "Acropora", laughing. Surprisingly she came back and said that she would be ok if we had a daughter and named her "Cynarina". I was like, wow Cynarina is a beautiful coral and maybe a beautiful name! Can you imagine, as she is growing up, "yah my parents named me after a coral, how geeky is that"! But only a reefer would know such things, others only would think that it is a unique name. I'm going to think about this more seriously when the time comes.
Meanwhile lets have a look at one of most sought after and beautiful corals in the reefs, the Cynarina lacrymalis, also known as button or meat corals because they expand into huge masses when fully opened. The one pictured above was a exceptional case in beauty and in size. It was the biggest cynarina I have ever seen, and the most beautiful too. The skeleton itself must have been at least four inches across, big for a cynarina. The color was insane, metallic pink/red! Probably will never see another one again - unbelievable!
You can always tell the difference between a cynarina and a donut by the translucent tissue. Normally the large set of teeth can be seen through the tissue on the cynarinas. The teeth on the donuts are even and can't be seen through the meat.
The color are always green and pink to orange. This unusual one has both pink and green!
A rare set of twins. It is possible that this used to be one coral, then it split into two.
In the past Cynarinas lacrymalis have been mistaken for a close relative, the donuts - also sometimes known as meat corals. I can see why as certain cynarinas do look very similar to the donuts. The above one is an exception in that the tissue was not translucent, thus making it look more like a donut than ever!
For a long time this other meat coral was known as a Scolymia. Then the fish and wildlife started recognizing it as a cynarina sp. It caused all kinds of headaches for the exporters, as even the fish and wildlife officers weren't quite sure. One thing about the fish and wildlife in the US, if they are not sure they confiscate it. If you argue, then you get more in trouble. Any exporter or importer reading this would certainly understand what I'm talking about. Now recently this coral has been "officially" recognized as "Acanthophyllia desheysiana". We will see how long that will last. Acanthophyllia desheysiana is an old term that is synonymous with Cynarina lacrymalis.
These Acanthophyllias (donut corals) are relatively common, but the colors are normally brown to green. This multicolored specimen came from South Sulawesi waters.
Unfortunately, super quality specimens like this metallic red one is getting harder to find. It is funny to hear from people saying that there are plenty of these quality donuts around, that they used to get them in huge quantities, and they can't understand why they can't get them anymore. I tell them "duh", that was ten years ago! I always tell everyone that this coral is way under priced worldwide, especially in Asia. Well, when the stock really dries up then maybe they will start to rethink. Asian countries are really lucky and spoiled when it comes to corals. Corals are more readily available and they are used to buying cheap and selling cheap.
I once read an article by Julian Sprung about these donut corals. He was talking about reproduction. He thought that these corals could propagate by splitting, but never had witnessed or seen or have pictures. Well Julian, if you are reading this, here is your proof. As a matter of fact, when these corals came in from the fishermen in various stages of splitting, I immediately thought about the article from Sprung. All the specimens were huge in size and could open up as big as a dinner plate when happy. All were collected in the same area in murky deep waters. They start as normal round shaped donuts (thus name donut coral).
My guess is that after they get to a certain size (in this case, fully mature for sure), the skeleton starts to pinch. Note this specimen has three mouths total. Perhaps it will split into three, only time can tell.
And here is one where the splitting is almost complete. You can clearly see the separate corals that it will become. It is incredible as the skeleton is like three inches pus thick from top to bottom and four or five inches across. I just can't imagine how long it would take to finally break off from its mother. How can the skeleton of this size pinch itself off? Nature is surely amazing!
Here is a close up of the mother. I think she will certainly be happy when her daughter finally breaks off and leaves the nest, as they say - or in this case, let her be!
Sometimes corals can get tricky to identify. Many look similar and identifying them even to their genus, never mind the species, can be difficult. Corals from the family faviidae are especially confusing. Even I have a hard time sometimes differentiating differences as they all look alike! Let's take a look at two species from this family that drives me crazy, favia and favites. Basically, the difference is that favites have walls that are shared. This means that around the corallite, the skeleton wall is shared with other corallites. Favias have their own walls. Besides this, there is nothing else that separates the two genus. Color scheme are the same and growth pattern is the same. The coral above is a favites, although some of the walls surrounding the corallites appear to be independent. This is why it is so difficult to id sometimes. Just so you know, the famous "war corals" in the US are a favites species, Favites pentagona to be exact.
Sometimes we get lucky and the coral is easy to id. Clearly you can see the sharing of the walls on this favites! One quick way to remember the difference between a favia and favites is to always remember that if the walls are shared or joined "together" that it is a favi"t"es. t as in together, you get it? This little trick was taught to me by an old timer and coral master!
To the casual observer, this favia appears to be the same coral as the previous favites. But look carefully and you can see the walls are not joined together!
This Favia veroni is much easier to identify!
Typical colors of the faviidae are green and red. Sometimes cool specimens in purple or blue appear.
Strange favia color morph!
Pink purple favias are not common. This one is exceptionally nice, it has golden eyes!
Guess what this faviidea is? If you guessed montastrea, then you are going to Disneyland!
One of the holy grails of fungias, the famous red morph. These red ones have become extremely rare and I haven't seen one in months. Everyone wants but seems like they don't exist anymore!
Very nice green orange fungia. Normally the colors are solid orange, but I like these hybrid color morphs.
Look at this crazy one of a kind orange fungia! It didn't always look like this, it colored up under our halides - nice!
Orange with green polyps is another morph that is not common!
And of course one of my favorites - the Ricordea yuma! Beautiful is all I can say.
Huge red yuma will hi lite any aquarium!
Just one word, gorgeous! Orange green metallic yuma is a must for the serious collector!
Strange and beautiful multicolor yumas are not common!
Green and orange with a white stripe - nice!
Blue with green rim - super nice!
And finally let's talk about one of the most popular corals in the trade - the zoanthids and palythoas. Upon my first trip to South Sulawesi (Makassar) I discovered one real red special zoanthid species. It only had about ten heads on a small rock and the heads were scattered around. I was really shocked by the beauty of this special zoanthid. I asked the supplier if he could get more. The supplier said no problem and asked how many I wanted. I was excited and told them about fifty pieces would be nice. He called his fishermen on the spot and told me he would have two hundred pieces the next day. I was like wow, this is going to be a good trip!
The following day I went to see the supplier the "two hundred" zoos. Of course I was disappointed as there were none and was promised the next day. I went around the other suppliers and couldn't find none of these unique zoos either. It turned out that the fishermen never collected these, as no exporter would buy them. They only having minimum heads on a rock, the suppliers would get scolded by the exporters for sending them these "junk polyps".
The following day I got a call saying that the fishermen had collected two hundred of these special red zoos. I was excited and hurried my way to the supplier. Of course again I was disappointed as in front of me, there sit hundreds of orange zoanthids. They were nice but not the special ones. The supplier and fishermen couldn't tell the difference. Still I bought fifty pieces to support my supplier for trying to get me the pieces. From then on, I showed all of the suppliers the elusive rare zoanthid (I call them Makassar special zoos) and to find them. Some fishermen even came from the islands and I showed them the zoos.
Well, it turns out that they are actually rare and now the fishermen collect them when they see it. Before they didn't even bother as no one wanted them. Thanks to me, these Makassar special zoos have become famous and are now highly sought after. Now the exporters are always asking for these pieces. The prices went up, from no one wanting them to a big chunk of change. This is exactly what happened with the Acan maximas. These zoos in the US are selling per polyp with fancy names for big bucks!
There are several color morphs of the Makassar specials. The following and the one above are samples that I have ran into. There are more, just can't seem to find them in my picture database at the moment.
For some reason, these special zoos are mostly found with few heads. This tells me that they are super slow growers and not a good candidate for farming. Also another characteristic of this zoo is that they are 75% of the times found on old dead euphyllia or branching lobo skeletons!
This morph of my Makassar special zoo is known as the "Sopranos". Under heavier actinics and halides, the centers appear more green. This little zoanthid colony shares the same rock with a small leather coral and a small bubble coral - a triple combo- way cool!
One of the famous morphs from Makassar is the red speckled, I call it. This is a gorgeous zoathid color morph. Sometimes I find green blue morphs of this, very nice! Note these zoos are growing on dead euphyllia skeleton.
Another special red ones starting to open up.
Ok these blue palys are not from Makassar, rather from West Java. One way to tell the difference between zoanthid and a palythoa is the size. For simple purposes, if the heads are big, then you can conclude that they are a palythoa. If the heads are small, then it is a zoanthid species. This works for most of the time, not all the time. Another difference is the length of the skirts. If they are long and wavy, then it is a zoanthid. If it is short and chubby, then most likely it is a palythoa.
Nice green zoanthid colony with a few light blue palys!
So this zoanthid is know as "people eaters" in the US. I have a secret supplier that can get me metallic red ones with bright green mouths! Normally these come in dull brown.
Nice red palys with unusual centers. Makes me laugh at times, as I see some websites in the US selling single heads mounted on a plug as "aquacultured", claiming that they are worth $50 a head because they have been aquacultured. Yah right! Frag up a colony and sell them as frags, like everyone else does! Let the real hobbyists do the farming.
Unusual pattern on a zoanthid colony. The colors are not so exciting but the patterns are!
Ok guys that is it for today. I apologize for not updating sooner. Internet has been the big problem for me. As a matter of fact, it is raining cats and dogs, as we say in the US right now in Jakarta. And of course the internet is out too. I will have uploaded when the internet comes back online.
I hope you have enjoyed the post and have learned something new, as I always try to share what I know and have experienced. "I strive to make a difference in this hobby"!