Stylophora are a less-challenging SPS coral that still provides a similar aesthetic to more difficult speciesStylophora are branching small-polyp stony corals from the Family Pocilloporidae. Stylophora shares that family with Pocillopora and Seriatopora, and the three together are the only genera in the family. As a result of their close relationship to one another, all three of these genera share quite a lot in common. What is immediately obvious is that their appearance is very similar. They are all bushy, branching corals, and even on close inspection, their polyps are nearly indistinguishable. So, this is one of the rare instances where observing the whole colony is more helpful than taking a close look. Stylophora vs. Pocillopora vs.
Symphyllia spp. coralSymphyllia are some of the most colorful large-polyp stony corals out there. Their bodies resemble Lobophyllia in many ways, but unlike lobos, they have a much more diverse color arrangement. I’ve seen them come in just about every color imaginable, and it is very common for them to have large bands of colors. Unfortunately, I don’t do very well with Symphyllia. As colorful and amazing as these corals are, they’re a no-go for me until I learn more about why they might be struggling in my system.
Hammer coral (Euphyllia ancora) can be quite variable in colorSeveral of the so-called large-polyp stony (LPS) corals offer the advantages of being very hardy, adaptable, and beautiful and, thus, make excellent reef aquarium candidates, even for relatively new reefkeepers. The hammer coral (Euphyllia ancora), however, I would characterize slightly differently. There’s no question this coral is gorgeous, but I would rate it as rather less forgiving than, say, Trachyphyllia geoffroyi. Still, if its care requirements and aggressive nature are given proper attention, this coral can be a showpiece reef aquarium resident. Physical traitsE. ancora has long, tubular tentacles with tips that resemble, as you might guess, the head of a hammer or an anchor. Most specimens I’ve come across have had brownish to grayish tentacles with the tips being some shade of green, gold, or cream, but the color can be quite variable. Colonies of this coral can get quite large—upwards of 3 feet across—which must be taken into consideration when determining tank size, placement, etc