Wednesday, September 20, 2017


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Coeloseris (Agariciidae)

Welcome to the Coeloseris genus landing page. In this section, you will find general information about this genus and tips on how to identify it. If you are looking to confirm an observation made with the Coral Finder on a massive form of Coeloseris, use the image browser below to identify a genus similar to what you saw underwater. Then choose one of the following links for further comparison with similar genera: Leptastria, or Goniastrea.

With a combination of only 1 species, and a neatly sculpted skeletal structure that is clear underwater, Coeloseris provides for easy identification even for coral taxonomy beginners.  Take the time to appreciate the precise ladder pattern created by the defined septa interlaced with retracted tentacles.

Vital Statistics

  • 1 species
  • Coral Finder p. 13
  • COTW – Vol 2 p. 221


Uncommon in the Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

Coeloseris forms massive mounds that tend to be found in shallower lagoonal waters, or on the upper band of the reef slope.

The individual corallites are weakly excavated forming small depressions in the colony surface.  The tops of the walls separating the individual corallites are slightly flattened and are crossed by well defined septa.  The tips of retracted tentacles sit between these septa creating a neat ladder pattern.  There is no columella, giving a dark appearance to the centre of the corallite.

(slide show with photos of  ladder pattern)

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Coeloseris in one key group with Leptastrea and Goniopora being candidates for confusion.

Similar genera to massive forms of Coeloseris (Coral Finder p13)

Coeloseris can be confused with Leptastrea and cerioid forms of Goniastrea.  Coeloseris is separated from Leptastrea by the neater corallites and the alignment of septa between neighbouring corallites. Goniastrea has neat corallites but they tend to be rounder than those of Coeloseris and may even tend towards a meandroid form.


(slide show with a. photos of Coeloseris)

Similar genus: Leptastrea

(slide show with a. photos of Leptastrea)

Similar genus: Goniastrea

(slide show with a. photos of Goniastrea)


Coeloseris exhibits an interesting response to sub-aerial exposure, whereby it can retract its tissue to a significant degree, exposing the septa.  This may have consequences when the coral is subject to high levels of solar radiation, by decreasing the amount of radiation absorbed.  For more information check out Brown et al., (1994) in the suggested readings below.

Taxonomic Changes

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Agariciidae family page


Suggested Reading – Identification Tools

  • Dai, C.-F., & Lin, C.-H. (1992). Scleractinia of Taiwan: III. Family Agariciidae. Acta Oceanographica Taiwanica, 0(28), 80-101.
  • Veron, J. E. N. (1985). Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
  • Veron, J. E. N. (2000). Corals of the World. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Marine Science.

Suggested Reading – Other Topics

  • Brown, B. E., Letissier, M. D. A., & Dunne, R. P. (1994). Tissue retraction in the scleractinian coral Coeloseris mayeri, its effect upon coral pigmentation, and preliminary implications for heat balance. Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 105(3), 209-218.