When it comes to diversity, it is hard to think of a more visually diverse group of corals than Favia. These brain corals develop multiple growth forms and come in just about every color and pattern imaginable. The diversity however is a little bit deceptive. Have you ever got the feeling that the term Favia covered a lot of corals that looked somewhat different? You are not alone.
Favia brain corals were one of the largest categories of large polyp stony corals in the reef aquarium hobby. At one time there were nearly 100 species of Favia but now that number dwindled down to only two, Favia fragum, and Favia gravida, both of which are Caribbean species. That means that there are essentially zero Favia brains in the reef aquarium hobby because stony corals from the Caribbean are illegal to collect. So what happened to all these species of Favia? Coral taxonomists over the years reclassified them into other genera as more information was uncovered. Most of the corals that were once classified as Favia are now Dipsastraea, Goniastrea, Coelastrea, or Favites.
So why we we still use the term “Favia?” We feel it is more important to use the term that the community is searching for when they are looking for help with their coral. In a way, the term Favia in the reef aquarium has turned into a term of art describing a group of “closed brain corals” similar to “Chalice Corals,” the difference being one is actually a scientific genus and the other is a common name. Like chalice corals, this collective of closed brain corals is ripe for misidentification especially considering many of the images online were published with either correct-at-the-time labeling or were totally misidentified from the start. It makes checking what you have in your tanks difficult.