Black Corals

Posted by on November 19, 2014 - zero

By Marzia Bo, Ph.D.

Click through to see the images.

When you visit a local fish store to run some errands, you may stumble upon corals labelled as “curled, spiral or pigtail gorgonians”. In most cases, however, these specimens turn out to be antipatharians, also known as black corals. As these corals often have red, orange or yellow tissues, with no sign of black anywhere, one can understand the confusion. To the casual observer, black corals and gorgonians do look alike, and mixing them up is a common mistake in the aquarium trade. The confusion lies in the fact that the name “black coral” stems from the shade of the coral’s skeleton, not its tissue. In fact, most black corals do not appear black on the outside, although species exist that do. What gives black corals away quickly though is their polyps; these always bear six tentacles, in contrast to those of gorgonians, which always have eight. In addition, curled gorgonians are rare (an example is the genus Viminella), so most spiral-shaped corals in the aquarium trade are in fact antipatharians. This distinction between black and gorgonian corals is important, because they are not closely related and have a completely different anatomy.

Left: a yellow …read more

Read more here: Advanced Aquarist



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