As far as the hobby is concerned, nearly all of the stupid-awesome colored chalice corals are basically only found in Indonesia. Australia throws out some winners here and there but by and large, Indo is where it’s at when it comes to all the fancy Echinophyllia chalice corals with all the silly names.
This is why it was so rewarding to go to some unique habitats in the Solomon Islands and discover a whole slew of crazy-colored chalices that are primed to get silly names of their own. All joking aside, we went to the Solomon Islands for the experience, with full knowledge that it was the origin of some of the hobby’s most exciting SPS corals.
The magically-colored Australomussa was only the first surprise from the Solomon Islands but now that the chalice corals have settled in and are showing their true glory, we are excited to share them with you. Bear in mind that these chalice corals have been acclimating to aquarium conditions for just about two weeks now and their colors are doing nothing but getting better.
Furthermore, since I personally collected them, I can assure you that these corals are already looking better than they did on the reef, and hopefully in time they will be conditioned to show off even more of their features. Several of these chalice corals are showing a beautiful colored green, yellow or orange edge and when that growing margin comes online these Echinophyllia strains will be shoulder to shoulder with some of the best strains the hobby has ever enjoyed.
The most rewarding part of this selection of gems is that they were not cherry-picked at an importer, or an exporter, but they were cherry-collected right from the reef. This means that much fewer “B Grade” chalice corals were collected alongside them and the reef overall was left more intact.
The targeted collection of these Echinophyllia was made with full permission from the village that owns this reef, and compensation going straight to them, so in a way these corals were collected in the most sustainable manner possible. Furthermore, it doesn’t get any more “short supply chain” than from the villagers to the market.
We’re still working on a couple full length articles about this past trip to the Eastern corner of the Coral Triangle. Hopefully this will be the first of what we hope will be many collecting trips to the Solomon Islands, working side by side with the coastal communities who own the reefs, not only collecting very exciting and colorful corals of all kinds, but also getting to know the true nature of the habitats where they come from.