The Button Coral is one of several large, single polyp stony corals with a round or doughnut shape. Just lIke other other single polyp doughnut type corals, such as the Cat's Eye Coral Cynarina lacrymalis and the Fancy Doughnut Coral Scolymia vitiensis, the Button Coral can be free living or attached to the substrate. They can be a solitary polyp or can grow in colonies with one or more centers.
The Acanthophyllia genus currently has one species, the Button Coral Acanthophyllia deshayesiana. And what a journey the scientific classification of the Button Coral has been. This species has been bounced from genus to genus, and then finally to its own, Acanthophyllia.
At one point, what is currently known now as Acanthophyllia deshayesiana used to be categorized as, and said to be, what was then Scolymia vitiensis. Then Scolymia vitiensis was changed to Cynarina deshayesiana, and thus put under the Cynarina genus. As more study on the skeletal structure and flesh of C. deshayesiana was done, it was established that it may not actually be in the Cynarina genus. So now, at least as of early 2009, the ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System) has given this bouncing coral its own genus, Acanthophyllia.
The color of the Button Coral A. deshayesiana is usually a dark red, dark green, or a combination of the two. Their skeletal structure is not quite round, but an irregular oval or circle that is flatter and larger than Scolymia corals. The septal teeth are strong and blunt, and they are not as "bubbly" or as fleshy as other species of this type, especially the Cynarina corals. Some of the names they are known for are Flat Cup Coral, Open Meat Coral, Knob Coral, Tooth Coral, and Meat Coral.
The Button Coral is is easy to care for. It is a favorite for beginners due to its hardy and undemanding nature. In spite of the classification challenge, A. deshayesiana is still just hardy as the other corals in the Mussidae family, but with just a few variations on its care. Providing low to moderate lighting or indirect bright lighting is suggested, as well as a lower water current to allow for full expansion. Position the Button Coral in a mostly upright position since the weight of the flesh can tear against the skeleton if too much pressure is applied.