Leptoseris is a unique genus of stony corals that is just beginning to enjoy a following by reef aquarists. A team of researchers recently discovered some colonies of Leptoseris on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia growing at depths of more than 400 feet. At that bone-crushing depth there is so little light that our own eyes would be hard pressed to make out much, let alone enough light to drive the photosynthesis of stony corals.
From the large, single polyped Dactylotrochus to the non photosynthetic cave-dwelling Leptoseris troglodyta, Leptoseris just can’t seem to keep itself out of the scientific news lately. Just a couple years ago Rich Pyle was part of a team of deep sea divers who were investigating how a field of Leptoseris can thrive at 300 feet in Hawaii, so finding a few stragglers at depths of more than 400 feet down is truly astounding.
At 400 feet down there’s less light than the ambient lighting of many homes – can you imagine a tank of these deepwater Leptoseris growing in an aquarium with ambient lighting? With all of our super high powered reef aquarium lights, we can now grow just about every single species of light-hungry reef building stony corals. However, there this huge class of corals that prefer and in some cases require much more subdued lighting. Low-light corals like Leptoseris can help us understand the underlying mechanics of how corals can survive in a “mesophotic environment” so it is great to see some non-Acros getting a lot of scientific investigation by reef ecologists. [Live Science]