Echinopora, or chalice coral, can be found surrounding the islands of the Indo-Pacific region, including Figi, Tonga, Solomon Islands, and the Great Barrier Reef. This stony coral has been maintained within captive reef systems in the United States since 1996. Echinopora is a favorite amongst hobby level aquarium enthusiasts.
Echinopora requires intense lighting for the overall health and best coloration. Reef experts have found that the lighting intensities offered to the coral directly affected the intensity, or lack thereof, of the coral. Metal halide lighting or a large bank of output fluorescent or compact fluorescent bulbs will dictate the color intensity of the coral. If not provided proper lighting, the colors may fade, or even perish if they do not receive enough energy.
Echinopora relies heavily on the products of their zooxanthellae. This type of stony coral may benefit from the addition of phytoplankton as a food source. While Echinopora itself may consume those phytoplankton, the real benefit is the increased population of rotifers that feed on the phytoplankton. Rotifers make a great meal for a vast array of corals. The Coral may also benefit from finely ground meaty foods, but they must have an almost paste-like consistency before being administered.
The proper acclimation to the aquarium environment is very important, considering the amount of stress the coral goes through before arriving at your door. Turn aquarium lights off, as the Echinopora will have spent at least the past day in total darkness. Float the bag containing the coral in the new aquarium water, then gradually introduce it to the new aquarium. Corals are very sensitive to pH balances in the water.
Many aquarium enthusiasts like to add these corals to their aquariums due to its hardy nature. However, water movement in the reef tank is quite possibly one of the most neglected areas of reef keeping. Echinopora can only thrive with proper water circulation, as that is how it is provided its needed gas exchange and nutrients, and sweeps waste products away from the corals.
There are many captive grown fragments of the chalice coral that can be found in the United States. Steve Tyree started one of the best and most well kept Echinopora colonies back in 1996, and continues to be one of the nations most knowledgeable people that understand and can successfully grow this type of stony coral.