by Florian Gaudig:
Echinomorpha nishihirai is a cryptic growing large polyp stony coral. Morphologically, it is oftentimes characterized by a single large central corallite with few, often widely spaced additional corallites. The tissue is very thin.
This species is showing an encrusting, rarer plating growth pattern. It is found in sheltered parts of the reef and in reef crevices. Due to difficulties in identification, this species was oftentimes imported as Echinophyllia
A misidentification with the following species is possible:
Lobophyllia (Scolymia; Parascolymia) vitiensis; Oxypora glabra; Echinophyllia echinata; Echinophyllia tarae2; Pectinia alcicornis A important notice from AIMS: Superficially resembles mussids, especially Scolymia! (especilly as a young coral)
This species is relatively rare in nature. I a field survey in the philippines, only a single coral was found in over 200 dives. It is most common in tonga (34 colonies were found). Aquaristically, this species is of minor importance. Care:
This species should be kept under low to medium lighting intensity and indirect, moderate flow.
It should be fed a diet of small to medium sized pellets and/or meaty foods (Artemia; Mysis) several times per week for optimum health, growth and color. It is a rather slow growing coral.
With good water parameters, this species is relatively hardy. Due to the high cost (up to 600 USD) these corals are considered a collector’s item.
In our „What is this“ catergory, Stefan posted a picture of this coral in need for an ID. In our opinion, this species could be possible. The animal was imported as Symphyllia.
Captive breeding/ Fragmentation
Captive breeding/ fragmentaion of Echinomorpha nishihirai is possible. Sadly, the number of captive bred individuals is not large enough to satisfy the demand. If you are interested in Echinomorpha nishihirai, ask your vendor for captive bred/ aquacultured specimen. If you own Echinomorpha nishihirai, try propagating it to help with availability of this species in the hobby. This way, you are helping to save the wild population.
It is also showing similarities with Symphllia/Mycedium. Markus identified the coral as Echinomorpha nishihirai. Echinomorpha nishihirai (Veron, 1990 ) is a monotypical species.
Synonym: Echinophyllia nishihirai Veron, 1990 (synonym)
Systematik: Biota > Animalia (Kingdom) > Cnidaria (Phylum) > Anthozoa (Class) > Hexacorallia (Subclass) > Scleractinia (Order) > Lobophylliidae (Family) > Echinomorpha (Genus) > Echinomorpha nishihirai (Species)
Information sources: 1: Mesophotic coral ecosystems on the walls of Coral Sea atolls 2: Echinophyllia tarae sp. n. (Cnidaria, Anthozoa, Scleractinia), a new reef coral species from the Gambier Islands, French Polynesia 3: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Adam_Backlin/publication/303784198_Reptiles_of_Vava'u/links/5751b0da08ae6807fafb426f.pdf