Oulophyllia Coral - Moon, Moonstone Coral

Oulophyllia, although available in the hobby trade, is quite often mislabeled due to its resemblance to other types of Brain corals and may therefore not be offered for sale under its proper name. Due to its overall difference in shape though identification should not be all that difficult, but because it is not a widely available one many wholesalers and stores may not research its correct ID and just sell it as a Brain Coral without giving a scientific name to the coral.

It is a large polyp coral (LPS) that comes in a number of colors, but quite often in green, as in the one shown below:


© Pacific Aqua Farms

You may encounter blue and even red ones, although the entire coral may not show just that one color. Often there will be a mix of them especially around the "mouth" openings, although that differently colored area may not be large. Examples of these patterns are shown in later images.

Below is a close-up of a quite blue one, showing a great short meaty polyp extension as it is in feeding mode, and feeding this coral does. All you need to do is place food on it and it will exhibit its feeding behavior quite quickly.

In fact it is said that although this is a slow growing coral, by feeding it very regularly you can speed up its growth somewhat. Most hobbyists who own one of these corals feed them every day and do it by "spot feeding". Normally feeds at night but can be induced to feed at other times by placing food on the coral e.g. during the day. Some report that this species will actually feed anytime you wish it to as long as you are the one providing supplemental food. The night feeding is its normal behavior when it attempts to trap food out of the water column.

It is a photosynthetic coral and, therefore, derives nutrition from its symbiotic algae, but this coral, depending on its major color may not do best when exposed to too much light and supplemental feeding is therefore necessary. Green ones can be placed in stronger light but other colored ones prefer lower light. All should get a mild water flow, that is somewhat turbulent, and that keeps the polyp clean of detritus, so that whatever falls on it or settles on it, is removed and cannot decompose, and in doing so damages the polyp tissue and leads to necrosis and possibly bacterial infections and the possible loss of the entire coral. Bacterial and similar infections are difficult to treat, and even when the treatment is successful the coral may be damaged and may have lost a good deal of tissue making it look far less attractive than it should.

Oulophyllia however does not need strong flow, just enough to keep a good gentle flow over it that possibly carries food particles in it that it can trap, and as already stated, to keep its surface clean as detritus could settle in the valleys of the polyp between the corallites.

Keep away from other corals as Oulophyllia can inflict powerful stings and of course could get stung itself if too close to another coral that is a powerful stinger as well.


Oulophyllia bennettae © mizreef and captivereefs​

The color of the above one is actually supposed to be more towards the green but the lighting under which it is kept may have changed the color in the image some what. What O. bennettae looks like in a full view can be seen below:


Oulophyllia bennettae showing its green color with some blue mixed in © snowsurfer and ultimatereef

This is a great and beautiful coral, not necessarily an inexpensive one as you have probably surmised, and also not one for the beginner, but anyone with a well aged aquarium and with knowledge of reef water chemistry, feeding and spot feeding, and with a willingness to care for this coral every day, especially feeding it, can be the proud owner of an Oulophyllia species coral.

I will make more information on this coral available once my book "Nano Reef Aquariums" is out in the market place.

© Albert J. Thiel 2013
About author
Albert J. Thiel owner of Thiel Aqua Tech until it was sold, Author of a number of books on Reef Aquariums

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