Brain Corals

Brain corals are often available in local fish shops and are common in home reef aquariums. Other common names, though not as popular as the title, that they are known by are pineapple coral, star coral and moon coral. The proper overall name is Favia. It is not endangered in the wild.

Favia are very common in the wild and look like a boulder which could be small are in older ones very large. The upper surface of the boulder is covered in round flower-like stone patterns. When the polyps expand they cover the surface of the boulder completely. The link below shows some, clicking on a picture enlarges it:

The polyps swell in the daylight period and cover the boulder completely, and at night the feeding tentacles appear. The colour of the coral could be yellow, brown, or green but it is likely that green ones are the most available. They are attractive in a similar way to button polyps. Green ones under actinic blue lighting look terrific.

The corals are fairly tolerant of lighting conditions and seawater conditions too and so find favour with many aquarists. Hardy is the word normally used. Though they are tolerant they of course do best in high quality seawater. Lighting could be a metal halide system, though it is possible that if the coral were to be placed too close it could burn. The problem is easily avoided because of the coral’s lighting tolerance – it can be carefully placed on the substrata, provided light reaches it directly. Fluorescent lighting such as T5’s should also be sufficient, provided the aquarium is not too deep. Seawater movement is also well tolerated; though very strong currents should be avoided the usual circulation in a reef aquarium shouldn’t be a problem.

Some Favia types can use long sweeper tentacles during the night which could damage nearby corals. When first placed in the aquarium and after a period of settling in, the aquarist should observe if this is happening and move the coral if interference with other corals occurs.

Though this coral is hardy, it is reported* that Favia can sometimes suffer from jelly infections and coral recession. High seawater quality and movement should help prevent this, along with careful handling when the coral is first introduced.

It is a good idea to occasionally feed the coral, which is easily accomplished. At night permit a small amount of de-frozen brine shrimp to drift across the coral. Using a pipette type instrument is good for this; one possibility is a normal kitchen baster.

The Favia coral should do well in an SPS (small polyp stony) reef though within reason it could be tried elsewhere as they are hardy. The SPS are normally higher on the reef than the Favia which as said could be on the substrata. Having a coral of this type in such a reef adds variety of shape and assists with the population of the lower areas.

(*Reference: Aquarium Corals. Eric H. Borneman)