When we observe the diversity of corals found in the aquarium hobby, it’s easy to think that somehow what we’re getting is a reflection of what is available in nature. By that guideline you’d think that Mycedium was somewhat rare, or at least the colorful ones are. But on the recent Fluval Sea Flores Expedition, Mycedium species chalice corals were extremely abundant and observed in a dizzying range of colors and patterns.
Being in the Coral Triangle, the diversity of Pectiniid corals encountered in the Flores Sea spanned all members of the Pectinia, Oxypora and Echinophyllia genera but the real showstoppers were all about Mycedium. Whether we were diving during the day or diving at night with fluorescent viewing gear, the Mycedium chalice coral colonies were extremely beautiful and striking.
Of the three species of Mycedium encountered in the hobby M. robokaki is the most popular in aquariums for its smaller size, and numerous and usually colorful oral discs, but the more abundant Mycedium elephantotus has plenty of potential left to be discovered. We got a small taste of what Mycedium elephantotus can look like with the green-streaked Mycedium that we noticed earlier this year, and we found some color-streaked Mycedium in the Flores Sea as well.
The Mycedium pictured above was one of our favorites during our time in Flores. This Mycedium colony appeared a lustrous red-orange with green eyes that glowed to an impressive degree under sunlight; can you imagine what this coral would look like under aquarium lighting? Absolutely stunning.
Of course, the full fluorescent potential of Mycedium is front and center during fluorescent night dives, with all the fluorescent colors of the corals taking center stage. On one such dive we encountered this mind-numbing green Mycedium with huge oral discs that were completely orange. This dome-colony was topped with a single central corallite from which all the other corallites faced away, giving this chalice coral a borderline monster-like quality.
As we’ve seen with many other stony coral genera in the marine aquarium hobby, many groups of corals occur in colors and shapes that we could only dream of. Its very likely that in the coming years we’ll begin to see much more stupendously colorful colonies of Mycedium and in time this stony coral genus will begin to enjoy a lot more propagation and presence in the reef aquarium hobby.