Catalaphyllia (Elegance Coral)

Class Anthozoa, Subclass Hexacorallia, Order Scleractinia, Family Euphyllidae, Genus Catalaphyllia

photo by Mike Cole
photo by Gene Schwartz

Common names: elegance coral
Natural origin: Indo-Pacific, Australia
Sensitivity (Level 3 to 5): While these corals were once considered generally tolerant and easy to care for, in recent years they have been suffering from a condition commonly called “Elegance Coral Disease.” It’s not entirely clear if the Elegance coral disease is caused by an infectious agent, improper lighting/care, or a combination of the two.
Feeding: Elegance corals have strong prey capture ability and can feed on mysis shrimp and other similarly sized meaty marine aquarium foods.
Lighting (4 to 8): Lighting requirements for these corals depend heavily on where the coral was collected.  Recently collected corals from the Indo-Pacific are likely from deeper waters and should be kept under low to moderate lighting.  Elegance corals more recently collected are likely from shallower waters where they have adapted to intense lighting. Though adaptable, it’s important not to put a coral from deeper water under intense lighting.  Doing so is thought to be a possible cause of Elegance Coral Disease.
Water flow: Place this coral an area of moderate water flow.
Placement: Aggressive corals, they are best placed on a sand bed or other soft bottom with enough room for the long tentacles to fully extend without touching rocks or other corals.  Do not keep with leather corals.
General: These corals enjoy slightly more "dirty" water than many other aquarium corals.  Note that in the wild, these corals live in mud. 

Elegance Coral Disease is characterized by a swollen polyp body, short stubby tentacles, and a general lack of normal behavior. It is not wise to purchase a coral appearing to be suffering.  If you have a coral that appears to be suffering from this condition, moving it to lower light might help.  For more information on the lighting as a cause theory, please see