Micromussa lordhowensis is the new designation for one of the reef aquarium hobby’s most popular species of large polyp stony corals. After a decade of enjoying this colorful and fleshy coral in aquariums as Acan Lords, we’re now going to have to come around to calling them Micro Lords.
This is quite confusing since we’ve always differentiated between Acanthastrea and Micromussa as ‘Acans’ and ‘Micros’. Now we come to learn that the most iconic of all Acans, the ‘Acan’ Lords are now considered to be a species of Micromussa. In retrospect this makes sense because the uniform circular polyps of ‘Lords, together with their copious fleshy tissue and finely beaded texture is much more similar to the polyps of Micromussa than Acanthastrea.
Furthermore, the funky rainbow colored Micromussa from Northwest Australia have always straddled that boundary between typical Micromussa and M. lordhowensis. With Micromussa lordhowensis now joining the genus, we see a lot more continuity between this group of large polyp fleshy corals.
The new classification of Micromussa lordhowensis is more than a superficial change in taxonomy for this coral. Now that we know that Lords and Micros are more closely related to each other than Bowerbanki, Hillae and Echinata Acans, we can begin to combine our observations about the captive care and preferences for both Lords and Micros.
Like the new name change for Australophyllia wilsoni, the reclassification of Micromussa lordhowensis is part of a huge shakeup in stony coral taxonomy. There’s still a few surprises to be disclosed by the forthcoming paper by Arrigoni et. al. but for now, knowing that Lords are actually a type of Micromussa should really help us better understand both types of corals.