Tap to Read ➤

Brain Coral Facts That You Didn’t Know

Sheeba Nambiar
It's but obvious that the brain coral is named so because of its appearance, which has striking resemblance to the brain. But then, that is not the only fascinating thing about it.
Brain coral is a kind of stony coral that is named after its unique appearance, with the channels and grooves on its surface making it look like an animal brain. Even though it is found in warm, shallow water in different parts of the world, its presence is most notable at the Great Barrier Reef―the largest reef system in the world―in Australia.

Brain Coral Facts

As in the case of other corals, brain coral is also not a single organism. It is a colony formed by individuals called polyps. These polyps come together and build a skeleton of calcium carbonate. The hard surface of calcium carbonate is what categorizes them under stony corals. It also makes them exceptional reef builders.
Unlike other corals of the branching variety, brain corals grow at a slow pace. Their growth at the lethargic pace seems quite reasonable, as they develop strong structures that are seldom harmed by storms or hurricanes. The largest recorded coral growth is up to 6 feet in height.
Brain corals are an integral part of the marine biome and are found in warm, shallow water. Because of their strong nature, we are able to withstand waves and strong currents with considerable ease. To be more specific, they are mostly found on the upper reef slopes. The polyps are nocturnal in nature, which means they become active at night.
Just like other marine organisms, corals too need food to survive. The polyp skin consists of mesentery filaments or sweeper tentacles, which are stretched and extended to capture food. The invertebrates and other small marine animals that float by, fall prey to these corals.
They also gain nutrition from marine algae that grow on the grooves of the coral. These algae, zooxanthellae to be precise, and corals mutually benefit each other. Brain corals are also threatened by other predators floating by. In such times, they retract their tentacles to save themselves from becoming the prey.

In Aquarium Trade

Coral care is not as simple as it seems. One has to take into consideration many things when confining them to an unnatural environment. Many believe that brain corals do not need food, as they get the necessary nutrition from their symbiotic relationship with the algae. However, this is not true! They do require other food, be it in the ocean or aquarium.
The food habits may slightly vary depending on the species; baby brine shrimp, rotifiers, mysid shrimp, and feeder foods can be given to them. They also consume zooplankton-based food items. They have to be fed once a week for normal growth.
If you are housing brain corals, you will have to provide them sufficient light and change a certain percentage of water every month. Caring requirements may differ for different varieties, and thus, it is important to equip oneself with all the necessary information with regards to this aspect of keeping them as pets.
Of the many different kinds, the maze brain coral―belonging to the Platygyra genus―is perhaps the most popular in aquarium trade. That might have something to do with the fact that it requires moderate care.
As with numerous other species, even brain corals are threatened by destructive fishing practices, water pollution, boat anchors, coastal development, and ocean acidification.