Golden cup coral (astroides calycularis)
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Common name Golden cup coral
Scientific name Astroides calycularis
Class Anthozoa
Order Madreporari
Family Dendrophylliina
Distribution The Mediterranean (only in southern regions)
Habitat poorly lit rocky substrates, from a few metres beneath the surface to depths exceeding 50 m.
Dimensions Cushion shaped with a diameter of 5 - 10 cm.
Characteristicts Orange coloured polyps united in colonies; secretes a solid calcareous exoskeleton with columns rising from a hard basal plate along the main axis of the body.

This is a hard stony colonial coral that forms large cushion shapes similar to bushes. The solid calcareous exoskeleton varies depending on depth and is flatter in shallower waters and rounder when deeper. The polyps are quite large on a relatively small base. The numerous tentacles are pointed and slightly warty and the bright orange colour is unmistakable.

This species has a subtropical affinity and prefers water that isn't too cold. Reproduction is sexual and larva are produced between April and August. After a period of life amongst plankton, the larva move to the seabed and begin to form a colony that grows by means of gemmation. As with all Anthozoas, this species is also carnivorous and feeds on plankton.