When diving wild reefs, as we did last week in Kwajalein Atoll, corals like Pavona cactus remind us of the wild disparity between the abundance of corals in nature and their relative presence in aquariums. Pavona cactus is one of those incredibly recognizable corals that many reefers can name, even if they’ve never kept one in an aquarium.
The ‘Potato Chip Coral’ as it is sometimes called, is a beautiful coral, it grows fast and it is known to occur in a lovely shade of neon green and we’ve even seen the species occuring in a lovely subdued fluorescent red color! Yet the majority of us do not keep or grow any Pavona cactus. On the other hand, in many reef habitats of the world Pavona cactus can be a dominant coral creating a beautiful coral-scape of delicate thin plating branches which are a playground for small reef fish.
The only real reason we can think that Pavona cactus is not imported more is that it doesn’t grow into an easily bagged colony, as in, it is not quite as easy to collect, farm and ship this species on a commercial scale. If shipping troubles is really the reason for the relative obscurity of Pavona cactus in aquariums then the coral farmers need to get cracking on learning how to grow this species into a better, tighter ball shape.
The beautiful appearance and low light and low flow needs of Pavona cactus are directly in line with what many reefers are enjoying from their mini reef aquariums, usually only employing softies in these kinds of mild reefing conditions. We would personally love to see the hobby embrace more than the uber showy and eye popping colors of some stony corals and begin employing more overlooked species like Pavona cactus because when grown out right, this coral can be quite the eye catcher itself.