Heteropsammia cochlea, “Walking Dendro” coral is imported for the first time by Sea Dwelling Creatures
Heteropsammia is a coral which has never been seen alive in the aquarium trade. It’s not everyday that a truly unique coral is imported for the first time but thanks to the efforts of Sea Dwelling Creatures, the US hobby will soon be graced by the presence of Heteropsammia cochlea, the “walking dendro” coral. There are so many features that distinguish Heteropsammia from other corals that we can’t wait to see this coral more widely available in the trade. For starters, Heteropsammia lives unattached from the reef, preferring instead to settle on a sipunculid worm which it then grows around. The base of the coral has a small hole where the worm can extend it’s feeding parts and the worm also moves the coral around in the soft sandy substrates where it lives. SDC tells us that you won’t believe how much this coral moves around in the sand. Although the coral resembles Dendrophyllia and Balanophyllia, the species is actually photosynthetic and it extends brown and green tentacles during the day. All but one of these specimens of walking dendro went to public institutions but we’ll be reporting back on that one exception as soon as it is settled in and more photogenic. Big thanks to SDC for giving us the lowdown on this coral while it was still in Australia and for sharing these images with Reef Builders and our readers. Check out the gallery below for a 360 degree look at what makes this coral bizarre and unique, we will soon follow up with more images of the extended living coral polyp.