Acanthophyllia is a particular group of corals which holds almost a mythic place in the realm of coral reef aquarists. This large showy coral has been a mainstay of mini reef aquariums for decades, with the solitary polyp being one of the few corals to reach ‘pet status’ for many owners since the coral never splits or grows into a colony.
Throughout the years the doughnut or meat coral has gone through many names. We once called it a Scolymia, coral references have lumped it in with Cynarina, and more recently this singular coral was designated to its own monospecific genus of Acanthophyllia. But no matter what you call it, there’s nothing quite like a big meaty Doughnut coral!
Unlike many corals that have gone through some kind of fad stage in the coral aquarium hobby, the copious fleshy polyps have never really been out of fashion, they’ve just gotten nicer and more expensive over time. Where once upon a time you could easily get a nice green-center-red Acanthophyllia for $99 at the basic local fish store, now you’ll be hard pressed to get a decent colony for less than two or three hundred dollars.
The diverse color palettes of Acanthophyllia have always looked really nice under our blue halides and fluorescent lights, but now they look downright psychedelic under the rich blue spectrum of LED lighting. During our two month residency at Bali Aquarium we decided to take the exaltation of Acanthophyllias one step further, and produced this nice photo spread of the supafly meat coral under full-on fluorescent lighting conditions. There will never be enough pictures of Doughnut corals to show the wide range of colors and patterns this species can display, but we’ll certainly keep trying.