Commonly mistaken in the coral world as an anemone, Plate Coral consists of rounded flat skeletal disk with long tentacles extending from the top. These tentacles are often brown or green in color, sometimes with brightly colored tips. Plate Coral are unique in that they can swell up their tissues with water and float to a new location using the water currents.
Plate Coral polyps are solitary, free-living (except for juveniles) and flat with a central mouth. Septa have large loped teeth, and their polyps are amongst the largest of all corals. Tentacles are generally extended day and night and are often long, similar to those of anemones. Color of Plate Coral is often pale or dark blue-green or gray tentacles with white or pink tips. The oral disk is striped.
The Coral is considered to be fairly delicate, and care must be taken when aquarists attempt to successfully keep it in a captive reef. Care has to be exercised when removing the coral from the water, to keep from tearing the delicate tissues on the sharp sepia. Plate coral prefer low to moderate water flow, with optimum being enough to lightly wave its tentacles. Water temperature must be at least 75-84 degrees Farenheit.
Plate coral is completely photosynthetic and requires no direct feeding in the captive environment. However, aquarists have found that Plate Coral do react to the occasional feeding of shrimp or other meaty bits about twice per month for optimum health. The plate coral mouth can open wide to allow it to consume surprisingly large prey organisms if they are present in the water.
Coral is actually categorized as a highly aggressive type of coral. This type of coral packs quite a powerful sting similar to an anemone, and this is aggravated by the fact that it has a habit of moving itself around the aquarium. The best way to force the plate coral to stay in one place is to use small rocks to prevent its wandering.
Plate coral should be place at the bottom of the tank in the sandy substrate. Penning with rocks is a good idea to prevent it from inflating its tissues and moving freely about the tank and stinging its fellow reef mates. Maintaining the correct calcium levels in the marine tank is very important for skeletal development.