Thursday, August 24, 2017


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Psammocora (Siderastreidae)

Welcome to the Psammocora 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, use the image browser below to identify a growth form similar to what you saw underwater. Then choose one of the following links for further information: encrusting/ plating, or columnar.

We still have much to learn about scleractinian corals, regarding taxonomy, biology and ecology.  An example of our growth in knowledge can be seen when looking at the relatively small genera Psammocora; since the early 90s two of the known species have been discovered in new areas, and one new species was described as recently as 2006.  Furthermore, whereas in 1994, Psammocora was considered to be part of the Thamnasteriidae family, it has now been incorporated into the Siderastreidae; our knowledge of corals and their taxonomic affinities are continuing to expand.

Vital Statistics

  • 12 species
  • Coral Finder p. 3, 7, 12, 16c, 21, 22c, 28
  • COTW – Vol 2 p. 144-157


Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

Colonies of Psammocora vary widely in growth form: branching, massive or thick encrusting, columnar or meandering.  Psammocora may be found across reef zones, but predominantly inhabit shallow areas.  Some species are common.

The corallites tend to be small (1-2mm), have indistinct walls and the septocostae flow between corallites.  The corallites are hard to differentiate from the fine granular colony surface.  Some species have corallites grouped into short, shallow valleys separated by very fine ridges.

The flowing septocostae, poorly defined walls and granular surface texture are characteristics of the Siderastreidae.

(slide show with photos of small corallites and granular surface)

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Psammocora in five key groups but Coscinaraea and Pavona are the only two potential sources of confusion.

Similar genera to encrusting or plating Psammocora (Coral Finder p7, 12 & 21)

Psammocora can be confused with Coscinaraea but they are easily separated by the smaller, indistinct corallites and prominent primary septocostae characteristic of Psammocora. Coscinaraea has larger corallites that are easier to distinguish underwater.

Encrusting or plating Psammocora

Similar genus: Coscinaraea

Similar genera to columnar Psammacora (Coral Finder p28)

Psammocora colonies that grow into thick columns can be confused with Pavona but they are easily separated by the smaller, indistinct corallites and granular septocostae characteristic of Psammocora. Pavona has larger corallites that are easier to distinguish underwater, and the septocostae are non-granular

Encrusting or plating Psammocora

Similar genus: Pavona


Taxonomic Changes

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Siderastreidae family page


Suggested Reading – Identification Tools

  • Benzoni, F. (2006). Psammocora albopicta sp nov., a new species of Scleractinian Coral from the Indo-West Pacific (Scleractinia; Siderastreidae). Zootaxa(1358), 49-57.
  • Davie, P. J., & Phillips, J. A. (2009). 13th International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay, Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 54(2), 1-118.
  • Lopez, E. O., & Bonilla, H. R. (1997). Range extension of Psammocora stellata (Scleractinia : Siderastreidae) in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Revista De Biologia Tropical, 45(3), 1264-1264.
  • Reyes, B. H., & Carriquiry, J. D. (1994). Range extension of Psammacora superfisialis (Scleractinia, Thamnasteriidae) to Isla Socorro, Revillagigedo Archipelago, Colima, Mexico. Revista De Biologia Tropical, 42(1-2), 383-384.
  • 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.
  • Veron, J. E. N., & Pichon, M. (1980). Scleractinia of Eastern Australia.  Part 3, Families Agaraciidae, Siderastreidae, Fungiidae, Oculinidae, Merulinidae, Mussidae, Pectiniidae, Carophylliidae, Dendrophylliidae. Australian Institute of Marine Science Monograph Series, IV, 471.

Suggested Reading – Other Topics