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LATIN NAME: Tubastraea coccinea

FAMILY: Dendrophylliidae

PHYLUM: Cnidaria

CLASS: Anthozoa

Orange cup corals are found in abundance on the undersea cliffs of Malpelo island.

They live at depths of between 1 and 37 metres. Orange cup corals live in shady areas, often at entrances to caves or in shipwrecks, in plankton-rich waters and at temperatures ranging from 23 to 26ºC.

This coral feeds mainly on zooplankton. The polyps generally come out at night when the plankton is most abundant, or in choppy waters. The polyps all feed themselves individually. These are known as “voracious” corals as the polyps stay out of their skeletons in the capturing position longer than with other species.

They can measure up to 10 cm in diameter. The base is cup-shaped and 1.5 cm long.

  • Distribution :

    A native of the Pacific Ocean. It is also found in the tropical Indo-Pacific Region and in the Red Sea. This species has recently colonised areas of the Western Tropical Atlantic and the Caribbean, and is rapidly spreading to the Gulf of Mexico following the installation of offshore oil drilling platforms.
  • IUCN Status :

    Not assessed

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Find out more about Orange cup coral

It is ahermatypic, meaning that it can prosper without the aid of symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae.

But it is not a reef-building coral. Its survival therefore depends only on the food it captures when the polyp is extended.

Orange cup coral does not require much light and can grow in dark areas, thus forming splashes of colour … provided it has a plentiful supply of food.

At NAUSICAA, food based on chopped shrimp heads is prepared and distributed by means of a system of flexible tubes concealed in the background.

The yellow sea snail, (Epidendrium billeeanum) is a gastropod that lives exclusively on this coral. It feeds on the coral and lays its eggs in it.

A colony is able to reproduce asexually when a polyp develops from the “mother colony”: it then grows from the foot of another polyp and is incorporated into the colony. The sexes are separate (gonochoristic species): the males release sperm into the water, which is captured by the females. Fertilisation and the development of larvae takes place in the cavity of the individual females. The larvae are released once they are fully formed. They then leave the colony and fix themselves elsewhere, thus founding a new colony.

Several cuttings from an Indonesian breeding farm arrived at NAUSICAA in 1998. We have therefore been able to grow several thousand cup corals in twenty years.




Crédits photo du bandeau : © Justin Casp – Licence CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flick
Crédits photo de la vignette : © Nick Hobgood -Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Activities AT NAUSICAA


Every day, there are events focused on Nausicaa’s main species. With training and feeding sessions and talks on life in Europe’s largest aquarium, your visit will be a rich and entertaining experience!
Learn about the life of fishes, hear some surprising stories and enjoy the antics of some amazing animals.

Meet our 58 000 animals