Zoanthid Coral

Zoanthid Coral from Blane Peruns TheSea
Photograph by Blane Perun

Zoanthid coral has many common names that refer to it including sea mat, polyp rock, colonial anemones, button polyps, polyp rock, false coral, and the like. All of the genus in this article refer to the family zoanthidae, subclass zoantharia, class anthozoa. Members of the genus include protopalythoa, zoathus, palythoa, and isauraus as well as others. If you are just starting out with the zoanthid coral it helps to know all of the common names so you will be in the “know” so to speak. You could easily have someone ask you about “false coral” or “button polyps” and have no idea they are talking about zoanthid coral. Doing a little research is certainly worthwhile and can help you along the way in your quest to grow zoanthid coral.

Classification

There were more than 300 individual species described by Wilkens (1990) however realistically the amount seems to be considerably less. There is an overhaul in classification taking place that will reclassify some species and even genus in some situations.

Characteristics

The habitat of origin may affect the physical characteristics of the coral to some degree. In fact, there is the possibility that two colonies that are identical could look different. In high current areas it is more likely to find shorter zoanthid coral with smaller mouths. Low current areas are more likely to have specimens with larger mouths, elongated bodies, and longer tentacles.

Coral Environment

It may seem amazing, but zoanthid coral occurs in many situations and extremes. In fact, zoanthid colonies have been observed in tidal areas where they were exposed to the air for hours upon hours as well in reef crests receiving blows from the waves. This shows how durable the zoanthid coral is and why it is such a good option for aquariums. Zoanthid coral will do well in most all aquariums.

Reproduction

Buds are formed on the base of the mated tissue to reproduce. The polyps are smaller and sediment is not incorporated into its base.

Compared to Palythoa and Protopalythoa

The tentacles pack the center of the oral disk significantly. The palythoa does have polyps that are larger, but they are also embedded into common tissue. As a result, it can have a variety of color combinations. The base of the palythoa and protopalythoa incorporate sediment and sand right into the tissue. It is believed that this offers support and protection.