After much digging around I believe I have properly identified this as a cactus coral from the genus of Pavona.
Note: The small prickly pattern of polyps were the best defining feature as well as the folding plates that resemble a cactus.
The Pavona Coral is a small polyp stony coral, and can be referred to as the Cactus, Potato Chip, or Lettuce Coral. A single species may vary in form according to the current, wave action, lighting conditions and depth of its location. They can also vary in color from shades of light and dark brown to green with cream or white margins. Some have a fluorescent glow that can be seen beneath the polyps, giving these corals an interesting look. They are known to make a popular addition to the home aquarium.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Cnidardia is a group containing over 10,000 species of animals found exclusively in aquatic and mostly marine environments. Their distinguishing feature is cnidocytes, specialized cells that they use mainly for capturing prey.
- Class: Anthozoa (flower animal)
- Order: Scleratinia also called stony corals, are marine corals that generate a hard skeleton. They first appeared in the Middle Triassic and descended from the tabulate and rugose corals that barely survived the end of the Permian. Much of the framework of today’s coral reefs is formed by scleractinians. Stony corals numbers are expected to decline due to the effects of global warning and increased acidity due to pollution.
- Family: Agariciidae reef building stony corals including cactus corals, elephant skin corals, plate corals and lettuce corals
- Genus: Pavona coral colonies of this species have vertical, irregular, two-sided fronds
- Species: likely minuta or duerdeni
A soothing 30 minute video set to music vividly depicting coral habitast. See if you recognize some of the species I have introduced from my collection.