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Milne Edwards and Haime, 1857

Melithaeidae (4)

Type species: Melithaea ochracea (Linnaeus, 1758)

Total number of species estimated: 30

Description: Colonies arborescent, forming fans or bushes. Axial skeleton jointed, consisting of internodes composed of inseparably fused sclerites and nodes composed of sclerites bound together by flexible horny matter. Branches arise from the nodes of which the larger ones are often swolllen. Colour of colonies white, yellow, orange, brown or red. Sclerites are spindles, capstans, small clubs, double discs and small disc-spindles, the latter two types prevailing. In the calyces also longer clubs are present. Zooxanthellae absent.

Habitat: On slopes and deeper parts of the reef.

Range: Tropical Indo-Pacific

Remarks: The genera of the family Melithaeidae can only be recognized by examining the sclerites. The classification is based on prevailing types of sclerites (see van Ofwegen, 1987). Future studies can prove that all genera do not merit even subgeneric status.

Genus Melithaea