It has long been a mystery how old, exactly, some of these solitary, large polyp stony corals are when we get them in our aquariums. We’ve been growing out SPS corals, zoanthids and some Euphyllia from single corallites for years, sow e’ve known roughly how long it takes for these corals to develop into colonies.
But the precise age of single polyp LPS like Homophyllia, Trachyphyllia & Acanthophyllia has been a mystery since we generally only encounter these at a minimum size of around two inches in diameter. Many of us had our guesses and estimates but now thanks to very interesting work by Takuma Mezaki we have a better idea, for the iconic Trachies at least.
These images are the result of captive grown Trachyphyllia geofroyi that were collected as larvae from wild coral spawn. Within a few weeks the polyp looks like basically any other single corallite of stony coral and within a year the baby Trachie polyp look like a little alien polyp.
It took nearly five years fro the lone little polyp to develop into what we would still consider to be a small sized Trachyphyllia specimen. This ground breaking work reveals that our Trachyphyllia in the aquarium trade are, on the whole, a good bit older than the two to three year old small colonies of SPS corals we usually enjoy, and we can’t even imagine how much older the rare and coveted Acanthophyllia might be at aquarium size, or especially when they are very large.