It’s been a mild year for super crazy chalice coral colors and strains so it was inevitable that some colony would show up and take our breath away. This super wacky colored chalice corals comes to us from Gonzo’s Coral Frags which recently received this insane coral from Jakarta.
The ostentatious radiating stripes are unlike anything we have ever seen from Oxypora or Echinophyllia before. Which makes sense since this ‘wagon wheel’ chalice coral and its very prominent and lonely large central corallite is the hallmark of the little known Echinomorpha genus.
Containing just one species, Echinomorpha nishihirai is fairly rare in the wild, and it appears very infrequently in the marine aquarium hobby. We’ve only seen it while diving on a handful of occasions and one thing that pictures can’t convey is how crazy thin the skeleton is, and how thin the tissue is covering that skeleton. The delicate nature of Echinomorpha’s brittle skeleton doesn’t make it any easier to collect either, and it sure doesn’t help its prospects for making it all the way to America either.
Thankfully, the Echinomorpha that was acquired by Gonzo’s Coral Frags is well worth the effort of keeping, with a completely wild color pattern that is like a convict chalice coral on crack. The huge central corallite is a distinct shade of pink which is color matched by a very thin pink margin to its growing edge. We have to give JGonz extra kudos for taking and sharing pictures of this coral under balanced lighting so we can see it in its true glory, and use our own internal color filters to ascertain how crazy this Echinomorpha will look under various shades of actinic lighting.
If you are into this coral or see a wild chalice coral that you think could be Echinomorpha, be sure to give it a very sheltered environment with subdued lighting, and pretty moderate flow. Echinomorpha comes from sheltered environments, often on sheltered reef slopes and especially on walls where it is oriented vertically.