Australian Watermelon Chalice (Echinophyllia aspera) is a delightful mixture off lime yellow and blue, which gives it that ideal tropical look.
Most Coral enthusiasts would concur that the most sensitive and fragile of all corals is the (Echinohyllia). While at the same time requires minimal attention, which makes the Chalice Coral one of the easiest corals to maintain and enjoy. In order to harvest a successful colony of Chalice Corals all that one would require is some good clean quality water, low/mod flow, low lights and your coral can flourish with as little as two feedings a week.
In the wild the Chalice Coral inhabit numerous habitats at various depths, light levels and water flow. Their adaptability to these multiple elements contributes to this being one of the easiest corals to care for. In fact, if the edge of the coral is placed against any surface, like the glass of the aquarium, it will actually encrust onto it and flourish. These amazing corals do make an ideal first stony coral.
The Echinophyllia species are slow growers, yet are very successful in propagated in captivity, this has helped to keep the fragile species wild colonies intact. This genus was often over looked in the past due to the drab looking colors they exhibited when first shipped to retailers. It is also important to note that people who buy this drab coral will find that within a 2 or 3 week period the coral will go through an amazing metamorphosis. In which the Chalice Coral will adjust to its new surroundings and evolving into some majestic alien colors either; pink, purple or red. In a sense, the Chalice Coral is the diamond in the rough of aquatic coral world.
The Chalice Coral are typically an encrusting low rider formation of wavy cups and folds. The middle of the coral can have significantly raised corallites, which can appear as raised round, warty bumps. The flat middle, which is where the oral disc is located, is a raised area 1/2" (1.27 cm) or larger. Some are less dramatically structured with little whorls and slight bumps, while the ends or outer perimeter of the coral are delicate.
The Chalice Coral are stony corals, requiring sustained levels of calcium carbonates along with other trace elements to thrive. Thankfully, their diets are easily manageable, as they are capable of gaining nutrition through two ways. With their tentacles extended, Chalice Corals can absorb minuscule reef food like phytoplankton and Nannochloropsis, as well as capture larger food items like brine shrimps and oyster eggs. Pulling the larger prey items to digestive filaments lying underneath each polyp site, the growth rates of the Chalice Corals are highly influenced by “target feeding.” This process involves using pipettes to administer coral food directly over each polyp location. Chalice Coral are nocturnal feeders, but will readily adapt to a daytime feeding schedule, this ability makes their presence in the tank during daytime hours could be a huge benefit to the reef tank owner. The Pectiniidae family also harbor zooxanthellate symbionts and so will derive additional nutrition through photosynthesis. With proper lighting accommodations (5 Watts per Gallon of water) and diverse feeding opportunities chalice corals can achieve amazing growth structures and striking colors combinations.
Chalice growth is really dependent upon the specimen. Some species such as enchinopora lamellosa (aka hollywood stunner) with paper thin skeletons have a very rapid growth rate. The Oxypora sp. are fairly slow growers and tend to have a thicker skeleton.
Flow rate will play a role in chalice growth. If the coral needs to develop a thicker skeleton due to strong currents, the growth rate will slow and vice versa for low current.
Most Chalice Corals will increase the production of mouths (eyes) as they get comfortable with their environment and begin growing. But know that this will all depend on the amount they are fed. Naturally, if you feed a lot, more mouths develop. If you feed less, more tissue, but less mouths will be generated. You can also influence the direction that this coral will grow to an extent by feeding the mouths on the side you want the coral to grow.
Within the past 5 years the sea water aquatic world has been experiencing somewhat of a Chalice Coral craze that has claimed its share of victims. A lot of people find the Chalice Coral’s fluctuation of night and day color, as well as their movements transitional and captivating.