[Note: I believe the majority of these corals are Echinophyllia, but by no means am I certain. This is why I just went with the generic name in the heading. By the way, remember earlier I mentioned how the ‘designer trend’ had made its way toward other species? Well, these are the other species and, God as my witness, I’ve seen two-inch ‘colonies’ of this coral sell for over $1000.00. And while none of my chalices hit quite that rarified of air, most did come with silly street names so I will try to include them in the description whenever possible. All specimens are located in the 500g, by the way, and on the bottom unless otherwise noted]
Chal-N001: Believe it or not, this piece was STM online as a ‘Red Hot Chili Pepper’ MONTIPORA!. This should give you an idea of how small the frag was and/or how out of touch the vendor was. An honest mistake, maybe. But these are the kind of mistakes hurt everyone because it smacks of a scam. The two reasons I never brought this to the vendor’s attention (until now) was that the frag was so small in the beginning that it could’ve been anything from a chalice to a monti to a Califorina Redwood and that the chalice was probably more expensive than the monti would’ve been. The difference I’ll chalk up to my initial irritation and if that makes me as unscrupulous as perhaps the vendor, I’ll deal with it.
Because of the confusion, this is the only piece I do not have sitting on the bottom. Instead, it is about a third of the way off the bottom in fairly direct lighting and moderate, alternating flow?exactly where a monti should be. But actually, it seems to be doing pretty well there. The base of one of my acros is beginning to spread near it but aside from that there haven’t been any complications. I have no idea what its street name would be so I just call it the Chili Pepper Chalice.
Chal-N002: This one was STM as a Miami Hurricane Chalice and is one of my more recent additions (1/10). It has been doing well in partial shade and my even be showing the first signs of growth. At this point in time, it is considered a very unusual color morph. Why ‘Miami’ or ‘Hurricane’, I have no idea. And yes, there is an Acanthastrea with that exact street name (see Acan-N002) that looks nothing like it.
Chal-N003: I got this one as a freebie with another order but I’ve seen similar morphs sold online as the ‘Hot Tamale Chalice’. I keep this one partially shaded and in moderate flow. Free or not, if this one grows and keeps it color, it could be one of the prettiest pieces in my entire collection.
Chal-N004: I really can’t remember where I picked up this one or even what its name is. It IS one of the older of the newer frags though which may account for why it hasn’t grown very much. The reason? Vermetids. They loved to infest these corals, especially at the base, where they would get between them and the plug and build a virtual briar patch of tubes. Upon feeding, I imagine that the webs from these tubes would not only severely irritate the piece but probably steal its food also. Since their population has been vastly reduced, the coral seems to be coming around now, coloring up some and possibly even a little growth. One of the positives about forgetting where a particular frag comes from is that you’ve also forgotten what it’s supposed to look like when it matures. That’s the case with this one; so now we both have something to look forward to.
Chal-N005: Certainly one of the more appropriately named pieces, for a change, this one is called the ‘Bubble Gum Chalice’. Even its peculiar growing pattern suggests the familiar treat/sidewalk hazard though it is much more often confused by non reefkeepers as being a rock. This was another one of the earlier chalices I acquired, but for some reason it was impervious to the Vermetid Snail invasion and began growing from the start. It is now firmly encrusted onto the bottom between two small pieces of live rock and apparently has no interest in expanding any further. If anything, it might be growing upwards a bit more. So while it may not be a raving beauty, it is without a doubt one of the hardier chalices. Beginners take notice.
Chal-N006: Speaking of beauties, this one’s called the ‘Goldeneye Watermelon Chalice’. Even in the midst of the current craze, this one is still considered an elusive morph, especially one of this size. I currently have it in partial shade, an enviornment it seems to really like as it has already shown some growth. But because it has not outgrown its base as of yet, it is still susceptible to being pushed around by my smails. Not a problem yet, but I do worry that one day I’ll have to organize a search party when it gets shoved completely under the reefscape. Or maybe I can just affix it to one spot and get on with my life. Given the current rarity of this piece in the hobby right now, I’m ashamed I’m even asking.
Chal-N007: I’m not sure what this one is; some kind of ‘watermelon’, probably. Because of the Vermetid infestation, it really got beat up and the fact that it survived at all is a tribute to its toughness. I’m not at all sure if it’s supposed to look like it does or if the effects of the snails deformed it somehow but it IS viable and therefore a member of the family. I have it in full, direct lighting, which it does not seem to mind but if it’s growing, it’s growing very slowly.
Chal-008: Another one of the survivors, albeit barely, of my crash, I’ve seen this one offered as a ‘Fire Red Chalice’. Attatched to a small piece of live rock, such a small chip of this coral made it through the disaster, I almost threw it out. I DID have it sitting in my sump for awhile, in fact while deciding what to do with the entire system. So I guess if you want a hardy, cheap chalice you can end your search right here. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s color is more than bright enough to capture the attention of a viewer who knows what he or she is looking at. Everyone else will think it’s a piece of pottery.
Chal-N009: Now that this one’s coming around, (I don’t need to go into the details again, do I?) I think it may be the same piece as N001 but I’ll reserve final judgment until it grows out a little more. If I may hazard a guess as to its name, I’m going to go with one of the ubiquitous ‘Mummy Eyes’, only because they all appear to have reddish-orange mouths (‘eyes’) as only a mummy can. Anyway, I currently have it shaded for the most part but, like I said, it IS finally growing so I guess I’ll leave well enough alone. I WOULD like to digress here for a moment though as this piece reminded me of an observation I’ve made regarding the mounting of these coral frags. Should the frag come on a plug or disc, my normal modus operandi is to shear off the plug’s little eggcrate pin and mount the frag, plug and all, onto a little aragonite frag rock or small piece of live rock and call it a day. Now, this sometimes results in the coral itself being kind of suspended above the frag rock, even when it completely encrusts its plug. That little area underneath, by the way, is where the Vermetids liked to congregate as it offered all the room and apparently, all the protection that they needed. But snails notwithstanding, I noticed that when chalice corals are mounted this way, there usually seems to be an abrupt slow down in their growth rate whenever they reach the end of their plug. It’s almost as if they were saying, ‘Okay, so what do I do now? Which direction? I’ve got nothing to hold onto’. However, on the frag or live rock where I’ve pushed the piece down into the epoxy so that its plug was just about flush with its surrounding mount, I didn’t see much if ANY slow down in growth rates. I’m assuming that’s because there was no space; the coral can simply grow off it’s plug, onto the epoxy and mount without missing a beat. Man, I hope I explained this clearly. I mean, both ways work. It’s just that the ‘flush mounting’ way seems to work a little better. Also, once the coral grows over the epoxy, it seems to look a little more natural too.
Chal-N010: Probably one of the Watermelons, this is another one that I’m especially looking forward to seeing mature. Even though I’ve had it for awhile, I’ve yet to see another one quite like it; a rarity during the current craze. Unfortunately, it seem to be a very slow grower. I’ve always had it in either indirect light or completely shaded though so perhaps moving it out further into the light could speed things up a little. Like several of the others, this one was also infested with Vermetids at one point so that too may be a contributing factor.
Chal-N011: Okay, talk about unusual; I believe this chalice went by the name of ‘Stony’s Chili Pepper Chalice’ and, no, I don’t know why. I DO know that I’d never seen anything quite like it and that’s usually all it takes for me to jump on something like that. Its growth pattern is interesting too; it seems as though this one wants to actually grow in the shape of a chalice! I keep it in direct light and in a decent amount of flow, which it obviously likes. Though completely underappreciated by the casual observer, this piece garners more than its share of attention from other chalice afficianatoes.
Chal-N012: I think this one was called an ‘Emerald Mummy Eye’ but I’m not certain. It’s a cool, hardy (these types usually are, in my experience) little coral that grows slowly but does indeed grow so that’s good enough for me. It is currently under direct lighting but I may try swapping places with N010 in hopes that it may be mutually beneficial. If you’re a proponent of the ‘set it then leave it alone’ school of coral placement like I am, sliding these pieces around as if they’re on a chessboard may be difficult for you. Unfortunately, with these particular corals, it seems to be somewhat necessary as some really do have an apparent lighting preference. It will take a while to sense whether I piece is happy or not in its surroundings but I’ve never had one die on me while looking for the ‘sweet spot’. Obviously however, either extreme would probably be bad.
Chal-N013: One of my smaller frags (actually, it’s more of a ‘chip’), it’s still a bit too early to tell what this one is going to be when it grows up. It looks to be leaning more towards the ‘Watermelon’ variety than the ‘Something-Eye’ variety. Now, stop here and reread that previous sentence. Done? Okay, THAT is why reefkeepers rarely date supermodels. Anyway, I just recently moved this piece from pretty dim to much brighter light in hopes of encouraging a growth spurt, as has been this size for many months now. Also, it is mounted on its original plug as opposed to flush mounted so if there’s still not much progress, a complete redo may be in order.
Chal-N014: I’ve seen similar pieces for sale online as a ‘Starfall Chalice’ so let’s go with that one. It’s been a fairly slow grower for me but, hey, at least it’s growing. Presenting no real problems, it seemed very resistant to the Vermetids, to the best of my recollection. I’ll need to see it grow a little larger to see whether it’ll develop into something really special though. But even should it stays the same, I can more than settle for ‘cute’. And it is pretty cute.
Chal-N015: Another chip, it seems this one wants to resemble N012 but with a little ‘watermelon-esque’ ring around it. In other words, it could become pretty spectacular. Unfortunately, at its current growth rate, neither I nor our sun will still be here to see it, so we’ll just have to speculate. This is also another one I may remount to see if I can get it going. For some reason, the current plug on it attracts Vermetid snails like you wouldn’t believe..
Chal-N016: Altlantis’ Pink Mojito, this was the first chalice I acquired after the crash. It is also the reason I hang in there with all the other chalices that grow so slowly since this one did too in the beginning. Recently, it has begun to really take off?well, for a chalice, and it is currently one of my larger pieces. I cannot recall whether this was a remount but it is clearly flush mounted on its rock and is growing quite naturally. It goes without saying this is one of my favorites and that most of the rest could take a lesson from it. Time for a break now.
Chal-N017: This was STM as the much heralded ‘Bubble Gum Monster’ chalice, one of the sillier named but beautiful chalices that I coveted ever since I saw it on the cover of Reef Hobbyist Magazine. As is usually the case, it does not look exactly the way it did in the photographs but I’m pretty pleased overall. Because it was one of my later acquisitions, it hasn’t had time to settle in and give me an indication of its progress just yet but since my pest problems are behind me for the most part, at least it wont have to suffer through anything that would interfere with its potential. Hopefully, it’s also a fast grower.