Cape Town Photographer
10 Different types of Sea Anemone and Salt Water Corals
22/10/2015 / By Russell Tranter
10 Different Types of Sea Anemone & Salt Water Corals
Live corals are the most important contributors to the structure of a saltwater reef in nature as well as in reef aquariums. The appearance of some species of corals varies dramatically depending upon the environment
A sea anemone is a sessile polyp attached at the bottom to the surface beneath it by an adhesive foot, called a basal disc, with a column-shaped body ending in an oral disc. They can have from a few tens to a few hundred tentacles.A few species are pelagic and are not attached to the bottom; instead, they have a gas chamber within the pedal disc, allowing them to float upside down in the water. The sea anemone eats small fish and shrimp.
Their venom is a mix of toxins, including neurotoxins, that paralyzes the prey so the anemone can move it to the mouth for digestion inside the gastrovascular cavity. Actinotoxins are highly toxic to prey species of fish and crustaceans.
Metallic Red Mushroom
The Red Mushroom or Metallic Red Mushroom A. cardinalis is a very pretty addition to your display. Red is not a common color in aquaria, well at least true red, since most reds border on orange or brown. These mushrooms are a welcome member, taking out nutrients that we don’t want in our system, as well as adorning an area of rock with their beautiful red coloring. Keeping them in check is easy, if you provide sand a barrier around the rock they are on and keep them at least 6″ from the main rock work. Though a bit costly to acquire, the A. cardinalis is very hardy and one of the best corals for both beginners and advanced aquarists. They are easy to care for and they don’t like or need high levels of light. In nature they primarily feed off suspended micro particles from the water column. There is no need to feed them in captivity as they will take what nutrients they need from the water.
The Mushroom Coral
The beautiful coral anemones are very popular inhabitants for both the reef tank and the saltwater aquarium. Due to symbiotic zooxanthellae in their tissues, Mushroom Corals can have striking colors and patterning. They come in a wide range of colors including green, blue, purple, red, gray, or brown. They can be a solid color or have stripes radiating out from the center, and sometimes they can be spotted or mottled.
The Conch Snail
While conch snails are typically very peaceful snails, male conch snails can sometimes be territorial towards other male conch snails. The term “fighting conch” is not truly reflective of their temperament. These are a one of the preferred choices for a cleanup crew in aquariums. Their shells have a very traditional “sea shell” shape to them. Basically, that is a cylinder or cone shaped shell with a elongated opening for their boot. They have a long “snout” like mouth and if you look closely, you can see their eyes peeking out from inside the shell. When scared or stressed, they can completely tuck into their shell. Conch snails do best in aquariums with a lot of sandy substrate for them to forage in for food. They will best in mature set-up or new set-ups with stable parameters as well as at least one inch of substrate. Provided there is enough algae to sustain them, the conch snails are suitable for 55 gallon (or larger) aquariums. As they like to root around in your substrate in search of food, they will help to keep the substrate well aerated and maintained. Trace amounts of copper based medications can be lethal to a conch snail.
The Toadstool Mushroom or Leather Coral is referred to as Sarcophyton Coral, Mushroom, Leather, or Trough Corals. They are found in various shades of brown, tan or green, with white or gold polyps. It is difficult to identify many species because they all have the similar appearance of a mushroom or toadstool, each with a distinct stalk and capitulum (cap). As they grow older, they develop a folded appearance. The Toadstool Mushroom Leather Corals are relatively peaceful, but adequate space should be provided between them and other corals in the reef aquarium. Some can produce toxins which are harmful to other reef inhabitants. The brown Sarcophyton Leather Corals from Idonesia and Tonga are easy to maintain in the reef aquarium and make an excellent coral for the beginning through expert reef aquarist. Toadstool Mushroom Leather Corals require medium to high lighting combined with medium to strong water movement. For continued good health, they will also require the addition of iodine, strontium, and other trace elements to the water.
Flower Pot Coral
The Flowerpot Coral is often referred to as Daisy Coral, Ball Coral, or Sunflower Coral. All of the flower references are because of its appearance when all of its polyps are opened. It takes on the visage of a bouquet of flowers. It is the rounded or ball-shaped variety and should not be confused with its branching relatives. It is not overly aggressive, but space should still be provided between itself and other neighboring corals. Its polyps can extend far past its base into the reef aquarium, where it can sting other species of corals. Being a moderately difficult coral to care for and requires moderate lighting combined with moderate water movement within the aquarium. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water. The symbiotic algae zooxanthellae hosted within its body provides the majority of its nutritional requirements from the algae’s light driven process of photosynthesis. It will also benefit from additional food in the form of micro-plankton or brine shrimp. Clownfish will often be found in association with the Flowerpot Coral and play in its polyps if no anemone can be found in the reef aquarium.
The Pulsing Xenia or Pulse Coral, is a fascinating soft coral because of the pulsing action of the polyps. Pulsing Xenia can be fairly hardy once acclimated to your tank and provided that you can provide a suitable environment, they grow rapidly for a coral. Their polyps will pulse or, in other words, open and close. Picture your hand slowly opening and closing and you’ll get a good idea of what we’re trying to describe. There are many species of Xenia with many different colors such as white, pink, brown and cream colored.
Colony Polyp, Green are colonial animals with several individual polyps attached to a piece of live rock or coral rubble. They are bright yellow in color and their polyps have the ability to sting other polyps or corals. While the sting is not strong, they are semi-aggressive and need to have space between their colony and any neighbors.
Zoanthids are unique in that they incorporate sand and other small pieces of material into their tissue to help create their structure. In the wild, Zoanthids often occupy fringe environments (intertidal, back reef, other shallow areas, over dead corals), making them quite a hardy choice for the reef aquarist.
These unusual Pavona Corals are a rarely seen encrusting type of Pavona. The parent colony of these coral frags was collected in Fiji on the outside of the reef at a depth of about 100 feet and then quarantined and given a health inspection before being propagated.
These Pavona Corals prefer a low to moderate light level. Placement under an overhang is recommended if metal halide lighting is used. The Sunburst Pavona will turn a bright orange to red coloration if put low in the tank under 20k metal halide lighting. The Screamin Green Pavona will turn a bright green if put low in the tank under 20k metal halide lighting. Strong intermittent water current within the aquarium is needed. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of a two part calcium and buffer supplement in order to maintain a calcium level of 400-450 ppm and dKH of 8-12. It will benefit from the addition of zooplankton.
Blue Keynan Tree
The Kenya Tree Coral, also referred to as a Cauliflower Soft Coral, Nephthea, or Nephthya, is similar to the members of both the Litophytonand Nephthea genera. It lives in a wide range of the Indo-Pacific. It has a thick trunk, like a tree, and many branches giving it an arboreal appearance.
It is not normally considered a threat to hard corals, but may itself be disturbed by their presence. The Kenya Tree Coral relies less on the symbiotic algae within it, and depends more on obtaining outside food. Microplankton, marine snow, and dissolved materials should make up the bulk of its diet.
The Long Tentacle Plate Coral is a large polyp stony (LPS) coral often referred to as a Heliofungia Plate, Mushroom, or Disk Coral. Its genus name, Heliofungia, was derived from the Latin words helios (sun) and fungus (mushroom), which describes its calcareous skeleton shape. With its long tentacles extended, it takes on the appearance of an anemone.
It is a solitary, aggressive coral, and with its long tentacles can damage other corals that it comes in contact with. With placement in the aquarium, keep in mind that it will often inflate itself with water and expand to twice its size, with sweeper tentacles extending well beyond its base. It will do best on the bottom of a reef aquarium, preferably lying on a fine sandy substrate. The Long Tentacle Plate Coral is easy to maintain in the reef aquarium and makes an excellent candidate for the beginner reef aquarist. It requires moderate lighting combined with moderate water movement within the aquarium. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water.