SPS Coral Identification Service?

SPS Coral Identification Service?

Postby mpedersen » Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:00 am

I stumbled across this site that Eric Borneman recently posted on the forum he moderates at MarineDepot (http://forums.marinedepot.com) - http://www.coralsee.org - a new online Acropora ID KEY software.

I was very excited to try it out, only to immediately be disappointed that the very first required bit of information is the location of the coral. 100% un-useful for all us aquarists, especially since we're typically trying to ID some misc. species that we got a frag from!

Which got me thinking. It's my understanding that no sps coral can truly be identified until you examine the coralites. It's also my understanding that while color and growth patterns may change, the coralites do not.

The close examination needed for a proper ID might have been a problem 20 years ago, but now, in the age of "fraggemup", how hard would it be to simply take a small cutting of your coral, kill the cutting, and send off the nice clean white skeleton to someone for an ID? In the future, might this information be even more helpful in sexual reproduction projects where we want to ensure that the corals we pick are all the same species?
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Postby tcmfish » Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:09 am

He has a book out aquarium corals with many corals in it. And a lot of the corals come in Acropora sp. but the ones with a name if you look at them a while you begin to pick up on whats what. They all have different patterns and growth forms. Some have thick branches, some have short branches, some are stags, some table, coralites. Some people are even organized enough or smart enough to either log or memorize them so you can ask too.
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Postby Steven Pro » Tue May 20, 2008 8:56 am

It annoys me to no end when people label their SPS with full scientific names. There are some 400 individual species of Acropora. To name your coral implies that you have intimate knowledge of all 400+ species to be able to distinguish just which one you have. That is made all the more difficult because as you mention we don't know where many of our corals originated from.
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Postby KathyL » Tue May 20, 2008 10:55 am

Matt, Have you checked out Jake Adams' Coralidea.com site? There is software for your pda to ID corals you may find around town. I don't keep many corals, nor am I interested in IDing them, but it seems there are some resources out there for those who do. Just FYI.
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Re:

Postby Spracklcat » Tue May 20, 2008 12:14 pm

tcmfish wrote:He has a book out aquarium corals with many corals in it. And a lot of the corals come in Acropora sp. but the ones with a name if you look at them a while you begin to pick up on whats what. They all have different patterns and growth forms. Some have thick branches, some have short branches, some are stags, some table, coralites. Some people are even organized enough or smart enough to either log or memorize them so you can ask too.


The problem here is that stony corals will change their shape somewhat depending on water flow, so just "table" or "staghorn" is not enough. And from the description of Eric's new site it sounds like its purpose is not really for aquarists, but for reef surveyors.

Matt, I don't see why you couldn't send a skeleton for ID-- or a frag if it is a softie. Michael Janes in Arizona (?) is a wonderful resource for soft coral ID, and of course Eric knows the stonies. He did a whole workshop on that in South Africa a few weeks ago (which unfortunately I missed).

All of that said, what woould anyone need an exact species for other than curiosity, if it is solely for the ornamental trade? If a species is not required, then there are lots of books available to give people at least a good guess--Eric's Aquarium Corals, Veron's series, and Anthony Calfo's Book of Coral Propagation has a coral ID breakdown with tons of pics that is helpful.
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