Rainbow Pectinia are a new breed of the once obscure group of corals which are making a big splash this year. Although corals in the wild haven’t changed, what we harvest for our reef tanks changes quite a lot and this year, the tricolored rainbow Pectinia alcicornis are all the rage.
Previous years we’ve enjoyed big splashes in the aquarium hobby from Australomussa, Symphyllia Wilsoni, plating Pectinia and smaller splashes from Acrhelia, Heteropsammia and Moseleya. For whatever reason, this year the “killer app” coral is a particular color form of Pectinia alcicornis which is characterized by three colors; Mouths are usually orange to pink, ringed in green and bordered in darker tissue which often appears purple.
It is rare for a coral to be distinguished by its coloration, which for Pectinia alcicornis is described as “Mixtures of greens, yellows and browns with central parts of colonies usually darker than peripheral parts.” The other tell-tale features of this species is the very irregular spiny edge and branches emanating from the interior, which fits well in line with the trade name given these corals long ago of spiny cup chalice coral. Pectinia alcicornis is found primarily in turbid habitats with low visibility to the water which jives with the reduced lighting intensity that the rainbow style Pectinia corals enjoy in our aquaria.
This post was inspired not only by the growing popularity of rainbow Pectinia but also by this nice crop of images of the coral in focus from Quality Marine. Under these hyper-realistic natural lighting conditions you can see the orange, green and purple coloration that makes rainbow Pectinias truly desirable. The corals may look muted under bright white light but since most of us use a lot of blue LED light these days, you can put on your ow mental filter and imagine how sexy they will look under “contemporary lighting”.
What is exciting about Quality Marine’s rainbow Pectinia is that two of these colonies are maricultured while the other two are wild harvested. With corallites placed atop spindly branches the rainbow Pectinia alcicornis is particularly easy to propagate, in aquaria and in mariculture. Although big colonies of the tricolor Pectinia are selling anywhere from $600 up to $1500, it’s actually possible to get sizable frags in the neighborhood of $150 for one or two big corallites.
This post will add fuel to the fire for the current growing demand for the tricolored, rainbow Pectinia alcicornis but that’s ok. If history is any indication, the ocean-side coral suppliers have been quicker and quicker to find the corals that we want and we expect to see enough wild harvested and cultured rainbow Pectinia for most reefers to get a large frag or a small colony with some patience over the next year or two, until the next hot coral comes around.