The diversity of chalice corals in the aquarium hobby is already very high but now we’ve got two new species to add to that lineup. Echninophyllia gallii and E. bulbosa are two new recently described species of chalice corals from the Indian Ocean, the Maldives and the Red Sea respectively.
The two new species of corals were discovered among a collection of over 100 colonies of Echinophyllia and Oxypora by researchers aiming to find clear definition between these two genera. Even to experienced chalice coral keepers, telling apart some of the species of Oxypora and Echinophyllia can be challenging and even we have to do a double take for some colonies.
Thankfully, the two new Indian Ocean chalice coral species are fairly distinctive, and due to their origin we are unlikely to encounter many of these in the aquarium hobby. Echinophyllia bulbosa from the Red Sea, with its highly ornamented ‘bulbous’ looking surface appearance, is unlike any other species described to date.
Meanwhile Echinophyllia gallii from the Maldives looks a bit more like the kind of chalice corals we’re used to from the Indo-Pacific, Indonesia and Australia. E. gallii is closely related to one of the most common chalice coral species, Echinophyllia echinoporoides, but genetics and morphology confirm it is a new and distinct species.
Echinophyllia gallii has larger corallite diameters, with better formed septal teeth which are more exert from the margin of the colony surface. The two new species of Echinophyllia are described by a huge team of researchers which is published by Arrigoni et. al. in the latest volume of Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.