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Pagoda, Sun, Cup Corals and More, Family Dendrophylliidae, Part 1

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

By Bob Fenner

 Turbinaria reniformis

Dendrophylliidae: Characteristics of the Family: Most species lack Zooxanthellae. In fact this family contains the most common Azooxanthellates species found on reefs. They're either solitary or colonial, with corallites are mad up of walls that are porous, mainly filled with coenosteum in life, fused with distinct (Pourtales plan) septa. 

      Of the genus with photosynthetic endosymbiotic algae, Turbinaria often finds its members employed in ornamental aquatics. As far as ahermatypic species of this family, only Tubastrea is regularly imported. 


Dendrophylliids are found in tropical and non-tropical regions of the worlds oceans, some of the ahermatypic, Azooxanthellates ones to a depth of a 1,500 meters. The genera Turbinaria and Tubastrea are prominent shallow reef species in large parts of the tropical Indo-Pacific. Some Dendrophylliids are inconspicuous, but found in the tropical West Atlantic.  

Dendrophylliid Genera You're Not Likely To See: (There are others); Balanophyllia, Dendrophyllia, Not distinguishable from very similar Tubastrea without examination of dead skeletal (septal fusion) characteristics.  Eguchipsammia: Mud dwelling, Azooxanthellates. Heteropsammia...

Genus Balanophyllia: Solitary polyps, calyces appear round in cross section.

Balanophyllia floridana, Porous Cup Coral. Cone-shaped corallite. Polyps individual with twelve prominent septal teeth, interspersed w/ smaller. Tropical West Atlantic. Curacao, TiffB pic 2015

Balanophyllia sp. Either B. hawaiiensis or B. cf. affinis. Here off Hawai'i's Big Island at night, though can be found in caves and crevices open during daylight hours. About one inch in all dimensions. 

Genus Caryophyllia Lamarck 1831: /WA Corals:  solitary often found in deep water but also shallow • attached or embedded in soft substrate • corallites > 2cm diameter • zooxanthellate

Genus Dendrophyllia de Blainville 1830: Near impossible to distinguish from Tubastrea w/o microscopic analysis of corallite skeletons.

Dendrophyllia arbuscula

Photo by Andrew Kwon (See Dendrophylliid ID FAQs re)

Dendrophyllia californica Durham, 1947... a coldwater species. Pic taken at SIO by BobF.

Dendrophyllia sp. Nuka Hiva, Marquesas, Polynesia at about forty feet, under an overhand during the day. 

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The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

Genus Duncanopsamia Wells 1936: One species. /WA Corals:  distinctive tubular corallites • tentacles often extended during the day • corallites >2.5cm diameter

Duncanopsamia axifuga Wells, 1936: Long branching corallites. Whisker Coral, Australia, PNG, Indonesia. Only rarely encountered in the wild or the pet-fish interest. At right: in an aquarium. Below, some Australian pix by PeggyN of www.all-reef.com


Bigger PIX:
The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

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