Two species of pygmy seahorse, Hippocampus bargibanti and Hippocampus denise, are obligate residents on gorgonians. They produce a potent toxin called palytoxin. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Inves These corals are low light-tolerant but will grow quite rapidly under bright lighting. A beginner aquarium soft coral will grow into a beautiful, impressive specimen in the reef tank. Tree Corals. The term soft coral is used broadly and relatively unscientifically (is that even a word?) Common names include: finger leather coral and colt coral. Macro photographs of Blue ‘Anthelia’, a Sarcothelia sp., look great in pictures, but we wouldn’t recommend this coral for many aquariums. However, most readily eat any free-floating food, such as zooplankton, out of the water column. Obviously, soft corals are soft; however, you may look at an Acanthophyllia and assume that is a soft coral as well. Other corals, like the dome and plate species, are more bulky and may only grow 0.3 to 2 cm per year. Gorgonians produce unusual organic compounds in their tissues, particularly diterpenes, and some of these are important candidates for new drugs. Fused Staghorn Coral.  Despite these chemical defenses, the tissues of gorgonians are prey for flamingo tongue snails of the genus Cyphoma, the fireworm Hermodice spp., and their polyps are food for butterflyfishes. Soft corals are in the order Alcyonacea which differ from the stony corals in the order Scleractinia. Acropora palmata. Calcium carbonate sclerites visible inside Sinularia dura soft coral. Soft corals, also called Alcyonacea, are a favorite among beginners and new hobbyists due to their ease of care and spectacular, colorful structures. Common names include: toadstool mushroom, mushroom leather, trough coral. , The structure of a gorgonian colony varies. Gorgonians possessing zooxanthellae are usually characterized by brownish polyps. Zoantharia – stony coralsAnthozoans include soft corals, gorgonians, stony corals, and anemones. Others may be whiplike, bushy, or even encrusting. They form colonies of densely crowded polyps attached in a common tissue at the base. In the past, soft corals were thought to be unable to lay new foundations for future corals, but recent findings suggest that colonies of the leather-coral genus Sinularia are able to cement sclerites and consolidate them at their base into alcyonarian spiculite, thus making them reef builders. Alcyonium are hardy corals that do well in aquariums, but should be provided with bright lighting and good water movement. Their placement in an aquarium should be considered carefully, as they will overgrow most other corals. Soft corals (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Octocorallia) often equal or exceed the total coverage of scleractinian corals in coral reef ecosystems –, and as dominant space-occupiers, important structural components of coral reef communities, and contributors to coral reef biomass , , have been the subjects of biological studies since the nineteenth century. Requirements vary by coral species. Secondly, hard coral polyps are built on a six-fold symmetry, while soft coral polyps are built on an eight-fold symmetry. Soft Coral: A soft coral colony has the growth potential of two … Protopalythoa corals are tolerant of many lighting conditions but prefer bright light, which may produce fluorescent highlights. Watch soft and hard corals video on youtube.com… Many of the soft corals are quite hardy and some of the easiest corals to keep. These cnidarians are related to stony (scleractinian) corals, but they lack a massive, calcified skeleton and have eight hollow feather-like tentacles instead of 6 or multiples of six found in stony corals. Common names include: sea mat and button polyps. Octocorallia – soft corals 2. Almost all use symbiotic photosynthetic zooxanthella as a major energy source. This particular species of coral is also known as Round Starlet coral due to … Dr. Nick Saint-Erne has worked in veterinary hospitals treating a variety of animals, including zoo animals and exotic pets for over 35 years. This symbiotic relationship assists in giving the gorgonian nutrition by photosynthesis. Tree Corals (family-Nephtheidae): These flowery soft corals … Common names include: mushroom coral, and disc anemones. Anthozoans consist of several subclasses including: 1. They produce a potent toxin called palytoxin. Wash your hands after handling them or working in the aquarium. Introduction. Kenji Konishi, "Alcyonarian spiculite: the limestone of soft corals", 1981; M.-S. Jeng, H.-D. Huang, C.-F. Dai, Y.-C. Hsiao and Y. Benayahu. Formerly known as gorgonians, they are sessile colonial cnidarians that are found throughout the oceans of the world, especially in the tropics and subtropics. Soft corals generally require less light, while those hard corals that live by photosynthesis need more intense light. But many viewers might be surprised to learn that Australia’s Coral Sea houses an estimated 600 species of hard and soft coral, supporting about 1,500 species … Learn how to create a happy, healthy home for your pet. Soft corals grow quickly in captivity and are easily divided into new individuals, and so those grown by aquaculture are often hardier and less expensive than imported corals from the wild. Threats include human disturbance (through humans stepping on corals or dropping anchors on them), overharvesting, pollution, and habitat destruction. Wild soft corals may also attract tourism in the form of dive and snorkeling operations. Instead, they anchor themselves in mud or sand. They may be brightly coloured, often purple, red, or yellow. Palytoxin Poisoning: Marine Aquarium Safety. The more fan-shaped and flexible gorgonians tend to populate shallower areas with strong currents, while the taller, thinner, and stiffer gorgonians can be found in deeper, calmer waters.. Elkhorn Coral – Acropora palmata. Always handle these corals carefully, and wear gloves to protect your skin. , The World Register of Marine Species lists these suborders and families:, An order of octocorals that do not produce massive calcium carbonate skeletons.  These compounds may be part of the chemical defenses produced by gorgonians to render their tissue distasteful to potential predators. This process, called filter feeding, is facilitated when the "fan" is oriented across the prevailing current to maximise water flow to the gorgonian, hence food supply. In our first Caribbean coral identification story, we talked about 10 common stony corals.Today we’ll cover 10 common soft corals. Some gorgonians contain algae, or zooxanthellae. These corals are tolerant of both low-level and bright lighting, as well as varied water currents, and are capable of reproducing and spreading quite rapidly in an aquarium, to the point where it can overgrow other corals. The northern Gulf of Mexico has only a few species, but what we have are just as equally brilliant. Home / All Livestock / Colonies / Soft Coral. Despite being dominated by "soft corals", the order Alcyonacea now contains all species known as "gorgonian corals", that produce a more or less hard skeleton, though quite different from "true" corals (Scleractinia). Sclerites give these corals some degree of support and give their flesh a spiky, grainy texture that deters predators. Staghorn Coral.  Most of the Holaxonia and Scleraxonia, however, do not attach themselves to a hard substrate. In an aquarium, they will also consume uneaten food and detritus that is deposited on them by water currents or sand sifting fish.  Bottlenose dolphins in the Red Sea have been observed swimming against these tissues, in what is thought to be an attempt to take advantage of the antimicrobial qualities of diterpenes. It is very important to learn about the soft coral species you keep for a successful reef aquarium. And since many corals derive a substantial portion of their nutrition through absorption of nutrients from the water, they actually survive in less-than-perfect water conditions. The species is most common along the Cape Peninsula of the South African coastline. Mobile Version. Hard corals like lobed star coral and pillar coral are reef-building corals. Black corals COB 7 Groups that can be confused with black corals 8 Soft corals SOC 9 Gorgonian corals GOC 10 Bamboo corals 10 Bubblegum corals 11 Golden corals 12 Sea fans 13 Sea pens PTU 14 Hydrocorals (stylasterid hydroids) HDR 15 Hydroids 16 Groups that can be … Soft Corals In reef aquariums, it is important to leave adequate space between different species of hard and soft corals to avoid problems with growth or aggression. Soft corals, sea fans and gorgonians are common names for a group with the scientific name Octocorallia or Alcyonacea. All Species List; Log-Blog; SOFT CORAL (OCTOCORALS) IDENTIFICATION . Soft Corals which are also known as Alcyonacea, is an order of corals which do not produce calcium carbonate skeletons, but instead have spiny skeletal elements called sclerites which give these corals some degree of support while giving their exterior a grainy or spike like texture that deters potential predators. A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. Massive Starlet Coral. One of the most colorful and diverse groups of invertebrates found on coral reefs are soft corals (known scientifically as Alcyonaceans). The soft coral species listed below are good choices for any reef keeper and are ideal for beginning reef keepers to start with. Online they can run about $20.00 to $50.00 USD and up, depending on size and/or color. Zoanthus corals greatly prefer bright light, as they depend on their zooxanthellae for nutrition. The biggest difference between them is that stony corals have a hard calcium-carbonate skeleton while soft corals are flexible. These corals do well in a reef tank with less-than-perfect water conditions and may suffer in water that has a majority of the dissolved organic compounds (DOCs) removed through protein skimming. Colt coral. Pachyclavularia are sensitive to iodine additions (in the form of Lugol's solution) and aluminum oxide (found in many phosphate-removing sponges).  The pygmy seahorse not only makes certain species of gorgonians its home, but also closely resembles its host, thus is well camouflaged. to lump a bunch of related and unrelated coral species into a simple bucket, defined primarily by what they are (soft, with the absence of a major stony external skeleton) and what they are not (they are not mushrooms or zoanthids).. These are hardy varieties that typically adapt well to aquarium life and don't require intense light; most do best with low to moderate lighting and water movement or similar reef tank conditions.  The size, shape, and appearance of gorgonians can be correlated with their location. H. bargibanti is limited to two species in the single genus Muricella. Common names for subset of this order are sea fans and sea whips; they are similar to the sea pens of related order Pennatulacea. Cladiella are hardy corals that adapt well to aquarium life. In total, 22 coral species … The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. is a relatively new species of soft coral that can grow very well over rock and sand. photo by sarsifa on flickr. The subclass Octocorallia consists of the soft corals including gorgonians. Corals are marine invertebrates within the class Anthozoa of the phylum Cnidaria.They typically live in compact colonies of many identical individual polyps.Coral species include the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.. A coral "group" is a colony of myriad genetically identical polyps. They are integral members of the reef ecosystem and provide habitat for fish, snails, algae, and a diversity of other marine species. Online they can run about $20.00 to $50.00 USD and up, depending on size and/or color. These corals contain zooxanthellae, but do need to be fed. In the past, soft corals were thought to be unable to lay new foundations for future corals, but recent findings suggest that colonies of the leather-coral genus Sinularia are able to cement sclerites and consolidate them at their base into alcyonarian spiculite, thus making them reef builders. . Most varieties of discosoma require little light and may, in fact, do poorly under bright lights. I am still working on adding more species, but on this page you will find the most common and interesting species in the Caribbean. Some of these corals are active feeders, feeding on large food items, rapidly engulfing and consuming them. Variable Soft Coral via easterncapescubadiving.co.za. Common names include: finger leather coral. Compounds within the tissues of soft corals may be used for medicines. Exporter of Premium and Ultra Corals, Invertebrates and Live Rock and we are AKKII member (Indonesian Coral, Shell and fish association), and also CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to deliver corals to all countries in America, Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa. A tenfold increase in the number of protected coral species was announced this week, with 20 new corals added to the list of threatened species. Price. The soft coral species listed below are good choices for any reef keeper and are ideal for beginning reef keepers to start with. Palythoa do well in areas of rapid water movement. These can be found in suborders Holaxonia, Scleraxonia, and Stolonifera. Nevertheless, home-grown specimens tend to be more adaptable to aquarium life and help conserve wild reefs. Common names include: zoanthid, sea mat, and button polyps. There are approximately 6,000 species of anthozoans classified in several orders and subclasses, including hard and soft corals, sea whips, fans, antipatharians, sea pens, zooantharians and sea anemones. They also feed on bacteria, algae, and DOCs. This soft coral species is extremely variable in coloration, ranging from red, pink, and purple to orange, yellow, or white, with the same colony often exhibiting more than one color or combination. Because they grow and reproduce so well, they may overgrow other sessile (stationary) reef animals in the aquarium. Each image is linked to an article about the coral species. is very easy to find pet shops and on line. Many soft corals are easily collected in the wild for the reef aquarium hobby, as small cuttings are less prone to infection or damage during shipping than stony corals. Government of South Australia. Most corals can only be safely identified to species by microscopic examination of the skeleton. About 100 genera in 23 families are known to occur in shallow Indo-Pacific coral reefs. On Florida’s reefs, soft corals are common in various forms ranging from encrusting mats to large sea fans. Soft corals on the other hand are held together by a jelly-like mesoglea and rigid, spiny structures called sclerites hold together soft coral polyps. , Measurements of the gorgonin and calcite within several long-lived species of gorgonians can be useful in paleoclimatology and paleoceanography, as their skeletal growth rate and composition are highly correlated with seasonal and climatic variation.. Wash your hands after handling them or working in your aquarium. Dr. Saint-Erne is is part of The Spruce Pets' veterinary review board. Consequently not all soft corals are easy keepers. Most soft corals grow rapidly in reef aquariums, and are relatively hardy corals for the inexperienced reef aquarist. These corals obtain much of their energy from active feeding, including trapping and consuming small fish. Common names include: sea mat and button polyps. These are hardy varieties that typically adapt well to aquarium life and don't require intense light; most do best with low to moderate lighting and water movement or similar reef tank conditions. Different species of coral are found in different habitats and different locations around the world. These corals may overgrow other sessile animals. Sclerites give these corals some degree of support and give their flesh a spiky, grainy texture that deters predators.