In the recent day, writing about Euphyllia and Fimbriaphyllia, a sudden question struck us, what about Euphyllia cristata, is it Fimbriaphyllia or Euphyllia?
We always wanted to write about this coral, it’s one of our favorite in the Caryophylliidae, but we never hear about it, and never see any of them. Even though from Indonesia, there was export quota for this species, we don’t think 1 single piece exported was actually a real E. cristata, all of them were the classic torch coral E. glabrescens.
When attending the first Reefstock in Australia, we noticed that one collector from western Australia was actually offering quite a few of them, more than we had ever seen. Not many peoples paid attention to them, but we spotted them right away in gorgeous colors including green with orange tips.
So why does this coral get so little air time or attention? The first reason, is that, it’s a small coral, it’s very unusual to find colonies of more than 4-5 polyps. The second reason, it’s because it’s usually not as colorful as other Euphyllia. Most of them have only colored tips, but few rare specimen are bright green with bright orange tips or black with yellow or orange tips (a coloration shared with E. glabrescens), which is to the Euphyllia standard quite colorful.
The third reason, is because they live usually, deeper into the reef, often under bommies, below other corals, pretty much cryptic, hidden life. They are not really easy to spot so that’s why they mostly slipped the collector’s eyes. Meanwhile the classic torch can be found in very shallow water.
The fourth reason, is that their skeleton, is very short, very close to the hard substrate they usually live on, which make them very difficult to collect without breaking them. Their skeleton is very thin and fragile.
The fact that they live pretty much under other corals, tells us, that they don’t need too much light, but could enjoy a couple of meals a week. We’re quite convinced, that due to the particularity of their environment, they can’t really reach large size, and can’t grow very fast. But in Aquarium condition, with more attention to feeding, they could surprise us.
A resumé for Euphyllia cristata would read something like “poor reefer torch coral”, which to be more accurate should be false poor reefer torch coral, or short torch, or the classic common ‘grape coral’.
The funny part, is that it wasn’t included in the genetic study from Philippines that set apart 5 species of former Euphyllia into the Galaxea related group of Fimbriaphyllia. So it looks like, even scientist struggle to find them. But, with a bit of extrapolation, their specificity includes:
- Phaceloid, first and second order septa plunge steeply near the centre of the corallite. Columella is absent.
- Long tubular tentacles with knob-like tips
Same as Euphyllia glabrescens, so the chances are; it should accompany the not so lonely anymore Torch Coral in the same genus. One thing that reminds us a lot of Galaxea when we look at them it’s these high, thin, very obvious, beautiful septa sticking out in between the tentacles. It makes them look like so fragile, so precious.
They seem to like cool water, as they are found in the southern part of western Australia, and in Indonesia, we always found them in places with cool upwelling current. Can’t wait to see more of them!