Soft corals: complete list and tips

Soft corals: complete list and tips

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Soft corals for marine aquariums, feeding, which are dangerous for fish and which are the easiest to keep. Complete list of soft corals.

Inexperienced people watching for the first timesoft coralsorhard corals, they think it is plants. Actually icoralsI'manimals. On a descriptive level icoralsundergo a first distinction: those that have a calcareous skeleton (called hard corals) and those formed exclusively of soft tissue (soft corals).

Soft corals: nutrition and description

THEcoralsthey are animals made up of an outermost tissue known asectodermand internal tissues such as the endoderm or gastrodermis. These tissues are divided by an intermediate layer called the mesoglea. Corals may have one or more mouthparts used to convey nutrients to a gastrovascular cavity (a sort of ancestral stomach where nutrients are digested). A series of tentacles generally surround the mouth. Small filaments called cilia carry captured foods to the mouth where they are then transported to the gastrovascular cavity and digested, meaning that the larger the tentacles and the more extensive the soft coral, the larger the food they "can catch".

For this before introducing asoft coral in the marine aquariumit is important to know his profile: what does he eat? THE soft corals known as "elephant ears", for example, in reality they are not soft corals but they are anemones and can pose a threat to small fish such as the clownfish or the smaller gobiodon, but it all depends on the size of the soft coral or aneomon in question. From experience, I tell you that many traders propose elephant ears like soft corals but as stated they are anemones.

Soft corals are mostly sessile animals, which means that they are anchored to a substrate and only absorb (filter) the nutrients in the water and feed on small organisms such as copepods ... but also small fish, costaceans and invertebrates. The feeding of soft corals varies from species to species.

Some soft corals they are even "predators" that is they can be "armed" with nematocysts, particular cellular aggromerates capable of "harpooning" fish, crustaceans and other inverteprati. Other soft corals have mesenteric filaments able to partially digest the prey outside the body before incorporating it.

All soft corals are filter feeders, so they must be supported in the tank with the addition ofphytoplankton and zooplanktonor the same formulation of foods recommended for goniopora (goniopora is a hard coral which has needs similar to soft corals, so they can coexist well in the tank as long as they give abundant doses of plankton).

Soft corals do not have a respiratory or circulatory system, so most can easily multiply by cutting or dividing the colony. In practice, it will be enough to cut the soft coral into two sections to obtain two specimens. The rate of tissue growth depends on the species.

Are jellyfish soft corals?

No! Lot ofsoft coralsare placed, on a taxonomic level, inPhylum Cnidaria, the same Phylum as jellyfish but that doesn't mean jellyfish are soft corals! Jellyfish are much more evolved and already have a first sketch of the nervous system.

Soft corals: taxonomy

The distinction between soft corals and hard corals is only descriptive but at a taxonomic level it does not see any collocation. THEsoft coralsalmost all are part of the Phylum Cnidaria, in the Anthozoa class, which has three subclasses where they are identifiedsoft coralsproperly called,gorgonians, zoanthids and anemones. It is therefore good to clarify that what we call "soft corals" belong to different families and different subclasses of the Anthozoa class.

Easy soft corals

It is not accurate to say that all soft corals are easy to keep. In this section, I propose you some very beautiful soft corals that are also suitable for neophytes, but not because they are trivial, but because they can tolerate high levels of nitrates in the aquarium.

  • Heliopora coerulea or blue coral, its colonies give a very scenographic effect
  • Studerioti longiramosa, is a soft coral in the shape of a Christmas tree, of the family Viguieriotidae and genus Studeriotes. It is not easily found on the market and is also suitable for neglected aquariums because it lives in generally cloudy waters
  • Clavularia, in this genus there are many soft corals of different colors. The species most often found is Clavularia viridis.
  • Distichopora and stulasteridae, in these genera there are soft corals that prefer saltwater aquariums with higher calcium levels (about 450 mg / l), a sporadic calcium test may be required.
  • Gorgonians, even if they are counted among the soft corals, should have a category of their own, they are very numerous and have very different taxonomies, Calcaxonia, Holaxonia and Scleroxonia.
  • Tubiporidae, several species ofsoft coralslike tubipora musica and briareum violacea.
  • Alcyoniidae family, there are many species.
  • Corals in the shape of a hat or mushroom, these really should not be consideredsoft coralsbutcorallimorphsas described in the article dedicated todiscosomes. The genreRhodactisIt's very interesting. In this category there are 3 families (Corallimorphidae, Discosomatidea and Rememberidae, containing 9 genera and 59 species, you will understand that each has its own needs and you have a great variety of choices).
  • Xenia, here too the species are very numerous, Xenia glauca, elongata or unbellata. The xenia pumping is very popular because it manages to create small holes in the marine aquarium. It is the first to be counted among theeasy soft corals because it thrives strongly.
  • Nephtheidae family, the most scenic is the genuscapnellaie the soft coral in the shape of a tree. Very easy to breed.
  • Zoanthids, there are several families, some species have very particular colors. Not onlyzoanthusbut also Protopalythoa, acrozoanthus, palythoa, parazoanthus, neozoanthus ...

Other soft corals:

  • Millepora, in this genus there are soft corals that can be stinging for humans, so they must be handled with caution. They should not be kept close to gorgonians.
  • Cavernularia, needs some more attention than other soft corals.
  • Dendronephthya, is a soft coral that is difficult to breed and generally loses its bright colors in the marine aquarium (in captivity).
  • Coelogorgia

They are not counted among the soft corals, but in the marine aquarium you could think of introducing sponges, especially if you have shaded areas, some sponges in the shaded areas can also thrive spontaneously as happens with the yellow sponge and the white sponge that can stratify on your live rocks.

In the photo above, a lysmate shrimp on agorgonian. The other two photos show different species ofzoanthids. For more photos of my reef aquariums you can follow me on my Instagram profile where I periodically post updates on my marine aquariums.

Video: Top 10 Soft Corals for a Reef Tank (May 2022).