Turbinaria is simply an awesome group of stony corals that are full of diverse and very durable corals. In some ways the hardiness of Pagoda, Cup, and Scroll corals is more similar to typical soft corals, making them a good choice for lower light and higher nutrient reef aquariums, and in the care of less experienced aquarists.
Generally speaking, the coloration of Turbinaria corals never stray much from what can generously be described as ‘earth tones’ so they rarely command the kind of hype that more fluorescent corals usually do. This subdued demand is fortunate for the coral connoisseurs who seek out more interesting and unusual corals such as the bizarre branching Turbinaria that recently appeared in Eye Catching Coral’s inventory.
We’ve frequently celebrated the highly unusual shape of Hero corals, aka Turbinaria heronensis, for their indeterminate growth form that ranges from totally cup-shaped, to very strongly branching. The reason we are so fascinated with the Hero Coral is that this Australian endemic was never seen outside Australia until exports began and it wasn’t until 2011 that we saw one in America.
But the recent collection of branching Turbinaria that Eye Catching Coral is taunting us with fits even further outside the range of growth forms we’ve previously encountered. We’ve seen very thin branching Hero corals before that looked almost like a miniature Duncanopsammia but this strain seems somewhat indeterminate, somewhat branching and somewhat trying to flatten into small tiers.
Unlike other groups of corals that we are much more familiar with, it’s hard to extrapolate the ’cause’ of this Hero coral’s funky branching shape. It could be its pure genetic determinate colony shape, a long shot which would be hard to prove is that it might be a hybrid with another species, but the most likely explanation is that it grew in an atypical environment, perhaps turbid or deep water or both.
An added bonus of this funky shape Hero coral is that it has attractive yellow polyps but unfortunately, Turbinaria heronensis seems to have nocturnal polyp extension behavior. We already have a nice variety of Hero corals in our collection from the smooth plating to the highly branched but this is one strain we wouldn’t mind adding to the mix.