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Phylum Cnidaria > Class Anthozoa > Subclass Zoantharia/Hexacorallia > Order Scleractinia
Sandpaper corals
Family Psammocoridae
updated Nov 2019
Where seen? These corals with tiny corallites are commonly seen on many of our Southern shores, especially the kind that forms crinkled colonies. Those that form smooth boulder shapes are less commonly seen.

Features: Colonies 15-30cm. The colony may be shaped like boulders, pillars, flattened branches or even be encrusting or plate-like. The tiny corallites don't stick much out of the surface and merely give the skeleton a granular texture which gives the common name. When the polyp is retracted, the tiny holes of the corallite look like tiny petals of a flower. Polyps tiny (0.2cm) with short pointy tentacles. With the tentacles extended, the colony has a furry look.

It's hard to distinguish the different species of Psammocora without close examination of small features. On this website, they are grouped into boulder sandpaper coral (colony is boulder-shaped) and crinkled sand paper coral (colony has short crinkled branches).

Sandpapery home: Those that are branching often have tiny animals among their branches.

Status and threats: Some Psammocora species recorded for Singapore are listed as globally Near Threatened by the IUCN. Like other creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected by human activities such as reclamation and pollution. Trampling by careless visitors, and over-collection also have an impact on local populations.

Tiny petal-shaped holes.

Granular surface giving their common
name of sandpaper coral.

A tiny shrimp.
Sentosa, Oct 04

A tiny scallop clam.
Pulau Hantu, Mar 06

A fan worm.
Raffles Lighthouse, Aug 06

Some Sandpaper corals on Singapore shores

Family Psammocoridae recorded for Singapore
from Danwei Huang, Karenne P. P. Tun, L. M Chou and Peter A. Todd. 30 Dec 2009. An inventory of zooxanthellate sclerectinian corals in Singapore including 33 new records
**the species found on many shores in Danwei's paper.

in red are those listed as threatened on the IUCN global list.

  Sandpaper corals seen awaiting identification
Species are difficult to positively identify without close examination.
On this website, they are grouped by external features for convenience of display
  Boulder sandpaper coral
Crinkled sand paper coral

  Family Psammocoridae
  Psammocora contigua (Near Threatened)
Psammocora digitata**
(Near Threatened)
Psammocora explanulata
Psammocora superficialis


  • Danwei Huang, Karenne P. P. Tun, L. M Chou and Peter A. Todd. 30 Dec 2009. An inventory of zooxanthellate sclerectinian corals in Singapore including 33 new records (pdf). Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement No. 22: 69-80.
  • Veron, Jen. 2000. Corals of the World Australian Institute of Marine Science, Australia. 3 volumes.
  • Chou, L. M., 1998. A Guide to the Coral Reef Life of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 128 pages.
  • Erhardt, Harry and Daniel Knop. 2005. Corals: Indo-Pacific Field Guide IKAN-Unterwasserachiv, Frankfurt. 305 pp.
  • Borneman, Eric H. 2001. Aquarium Corals: Selection, Husbandry and Natural History T.F. H Publications. 464 pp.
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