Recently in Australia, a good friend asked us to check some of his very nice rainbow Symphyllia he’s got. We didn’t recall seeing any in Australia yet, so we were very intrigued. We love rainbow Symphyllia, the ones we get in Indonesia are a sight to behold so as we’ve never seen any from Australia, we were very curious.
We went to look for them but didn’t find any, and our friend finally showed them to us, and we said ‘That’s no Symphyllia, that’s Lobophyllia!’ And indeed it was Rainbow Lobophyllia robusta. But the truth is we cheated, as we knew that Symphyllia no longer existed, and they all been classified back into Lobophyllia!
Furthermore, as Veron says in several description of Lobophyllia, ‘appear to be a Symphyllia underwater’ so you’re excused… So if there are still confusion, it’s a bit of our fault… we need to get the message out there!
A lot of changes happened in the last few years, and more rearrangements are still to come. So we’ll try to break them down to you, as they come. You already got the Acanthastrea/Micromussa/Homophyllia, Euphyllia/Frimbriaphyllia, and the Scolymia/Homophyllia resumé, but there are still again quite a few left and we will document them for you.
Recent work using a combined approach of micro-morphology, anatomy of soft parts, and molecular genetics lead to a complete review of many coral families but in the Lobophylliidae, all former Symphyllia now became Lobophyllia. Lobophylliidae and Mussidae are now separated. The first one being all Indo-pacific and the second Atlantic genera.
A Lobe in anatomy is a clear anatomical division or extension, that can be determined without the use of a microscope at the gross anatomy level. Even if the walls are fused forming grooves in Symphyllia, and are almost completely separated in Lobophyllia.
‘Symphyllia’ still forms separated lobes, even though, there is just a groove in between. So it does actually make sense to the naked eye. And to our reef aquarium level, small colonies are actually very similar in shape. It’s only when they get much bigger that we can notice a slight difference between Lobophyllia and what was once called ‘Symphyllia‘.
But no need to make things too complicated as for once, it actually makes things much easier, as they’re ALL LOBOS!