A Caribbean maze coral; an intricate structural design earns this coral its commonname.
doesn’t end up competing in the usually
fatal sport of carpet surfing.
Maximum Size: 2½ inches
Reef Compatibility: Reef safe
This highly colorful and attractive fish is
both rare and very expensive. I have seen candy
basslets sell at online fish retailers for $900 to
$1000. These unique animals prefer deeper
portions of the coral reef and are therefore
hard to find. While they occur all over the
Caribbean Sea, they are seldom seen by divers,
and their love of deeper water and coral caves
makes them nearly impossible to catch.
These fish are reef safe and prove very
hardy once they can be acquired. They may
become prey for larger fish and invertebrates
and are suitable for nano-reef aquariums.
The maze or maze brain coral comes in
a variety of shapes and colors. It is named
because the coral polyp, which is large,
looks almost like a section of a mazelike brain. At night this coral recedes its
tissue and extends its tentacles to feed
on tiny animals. Like any large-polyped
stony (LPS) coral, it requires bright light
but is more tolerant of shaded areas and
less-than-perfect water quality than small-polyped stony (SPS) corals.
The boulder star coral, found throughout the Caribbean, is a primary reef-building coral often
associated with fish such as damsels.
reef zone and fore reef environment. Its
upper area is defined by wave movement
and various currents. Being an SPS, it tends
to be very dependent on available light.
Like any SPS coral species, staghorn
corals require nutrient-free water and
very bright light. It would be difficult to
get this species to thrive under anything
dimmer than metal halide lighting. A
perfect balance of alkalinity and calcium
and high water flow increase success rates
with this species.
BOULDER STAR CORAL
MONTAS TRAEA ANNULARIS
These corals represent the builders of the
coral reef, growing in sheet-like mats with
many polyps. The boulder star coral can
change and adapt its shape to compensate
for waves and current and is typically
found in shades of green to brown and
occasionally gray. Montastraea annularis
is very common on reefs going down to
21 feet and becomes more flattened as it
descends down to 100 feet.
In the aquarium, the boulder star coral
requires nutrient-free water and bright
lighting like any photosynthetic coral. T5
or metal halide lighting would suit this
species just fine, and as the coral begins
to grow it would create an attractive mat
throughout the aquarium. A correct balance
of calcium and alkalinity, as well as trace
element supplementation, will aid in the
health and growth rate of this species.
The most common morph of this coral
is a small, elliptical colony with a long
central valley. It can appear brown to
yellow to brownish green in the wild. In
the aquarium, the rose coral requires bright
lighting and nutrient-free water. The same
requirements for keeping both boulder star
and maze corals would apply to this species
SUNRAY LETTUCE CORAL
These colonies are known to create
flat plates or saucers. They have short
centers and valleys with noticeable
corallites that are nestled in rows along
the center. Again, the same requirements
for keeping the boulder star coral apply
to this species.
Nearly any online supplier of clean-up
organisms has a specific pack of animals
that originates from the Caribbean. It is
very likely that many of the snails, sea
cucumbers, shrimps, and crabs in your
tank right now originated from somewhere
in the Caribbean Sea—likely South Florida.
There are several Caribbean invertebrates
that are very unique and make interesting
aquarium specimens. Like all animals from
the region, they vary in their suitability for
This branching coral occurs in the back
YELLOW-LINE ARROW CRAB
Reef Compatibility: Add with caution if
you are keeping a reef tank
This is a small spider-like crab with
a unique, triangular body. These crabs
have a noticeable serrated spine rising
up through their body, between the eyes.
They carry themselves with long, thin
legs and two tiny purple claws. They are
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