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Blastomussa is a genus in the Family Mussidae that consists of only two species. The species are easily distinguished, as one has large polyps, about the size of typical aquarium corallimorphs. This species is Blastomussa wellsi. The other species, Blastomussa merleti, has smaller polyps - about the size of a typical Zoanthus polyp. Veron notes that they are both found in turbid water, especially, and that B. wellsi is more common on lower reef slopes. I believe most of those collected for the trade may be from somewhat less turbid water, but they are found in both mid-depth (10-20m) and deeper reef slopes. During trips to Indonesia, I have always found B. wellsi to exist in relatively small colonies, always protected from strong light in shallower water by existing vertically or even underneath reef bommies.

Most of the colonies I have seen, with the exception of the rather large colony shown in this slideshow, are about the size seen in the aquarium trade - perhaps 2-12 polyps per colony. Blastomussa merleti usually has more polyps per colony, but also tends to exist as rather small colonies. The polyps are expanded by day, but clear feeding tentacles emerge at night. Blastomussa are uncommon corals in the wild, and at least B. merleti is an excellent candidate for captive propagation. The corals fare well in aquaria, requiring little special care. They are tolerant of bright light after a period of acclimation, although this is contrary to the conditions found in their natural environment.

Text by Eric Borneman.
Photos by Reef Central members.

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