It’s well known that coral compete for space both on the reef and in aquariums, but some species fight with no holds barred. I just returned from Reefapalooza to find all my tanks in great shape, but with one massive, one sided coral battle in full effect.
I’ve had this one weird orange Lobophyllia-style coral which was originally purchased a small, single polyp Scolymia. As the coral grew it lost its circular outline and began developing additional corallites it became clear that it wasn’t what I originally thought.
Over the years this coral has proven that it’s a vicious destroyer of its neighbors using nuclear-level attacks on any nearby polyps. Most corals will extend sweeper tentacles to clear the space around them but somehow this coral knows when another is nearby, and it goes in for the kill.
I recently placed a plain green Australian Scolie not too far from the orange orange Lobo-like coral. I thought two inches would be enough to keep the Scolie out of harm’s way but boy was I wrong.
This morning I woke up to the most aggressive attack by the orange ‘Lobo’ which had nearly entirely covered the green Scolie in mesenterial filaments. While sweeper tentacles might sting, mesenterial filaments are part of a coral’s digestive tract and they don’t sting but digest anything they touch.
I used a baster to gently blow off the filaments covering the scolie and while I think the attack was intercepted early, it’s still too soon to tell how much damage was done, and id the green Scolie will recover.
I’ve told stories of how this orange Lobo-coral will destroy corals anywhere near it, which is precisely why it rests on a magnetic pedestal that projects several inches from the glass. I guess I’ll have to reconsider this coral’s effective ‘kill zone’ and will have to give an even wider berth from other corals and colonies in the future.