Many saltwater aquarium enthusiasts fall in love with the hobby because of the wonders of marine life. From the incredible symbiotic pairs of the oceans to weird-looking slugs, the sea is full of fantastic creatures. Corals are a part of this and are not just beautiful to look at, but incredibly interesting.
A lot of hobbyists get into saltwater aquariums with the aim to recreate and maintain a coral reef of their own. Of course, we are here to help you with all your coral needs, but we are also here to entertain you!
Let us look at five incredible facts about corals, some you may not know, and some that will definitely help you in your saltwater aquarium hobby.
Coral Pieces are Made up of a Lot of Tiny Creatures
When we talk about corals, we are referring to the structure that contains more than one animal. The animal is coral polyps and each piece of coral contains loads of these creatures. They are really small and each one has a stomach that just opens up at one end and is surrounded by tentacles. Food is taken in and waste let go of all through their one mouth.
Hard corals have a skeleton made from calcium carbonite. All the polyps are all stuck together by this skeleton. When the individual polyps die, fresh ones grow on top of the skeleton. This makes up the coral reefs of the oceans.
Soft corals are also a colony of tiny polyps, but they don’t have a hard skeleton.
Corals Rely on Zooxanthellae
Tiny organisms live within the coral’s tissue and they have a symbiotic relationship with the coral. These creatures are called zooxanthellae and capture sunlight to turn into energy. The corals will then feed off them and the zooxanthellae are helped by having protection and a place to live within the coral’s body.
The zooxanthellae provide the corals with essential nutrients, and most corals will need them to keep healthy and happy. Sometimes, if there is a lack of sunlight or the temperature of the water is too high, the zooxanthellae will leave the coral or even die. This is called bleaching and makes the coral appear entirely white. The coral itself is not dead, however, and things can be put in place to make sure the environment for the coral is correct for the zooxanthellae to return.
Coral Reefs Are Researched to Make Medicine
Amazingly, corals can help not just the health of the ocean, but the health of humans too! Because corals stay still and therefore cannot run and hide from predators, they have developed wonderful and exciting ways of protecting themselves.
The creatures of the coral reefs have then been researched and their defense mechanisms harnessed in order to develop medicine for humans fighting illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Scientists have used the chemical compounds of corals for these medicines and there is still so much more to come! Corals and their behaviors are still being researched in order to help humans.
25% of all Marine Life Depend on Coral
You can only find corals in under 1% of the ocean, however, a quarter of all marine life depend on the coral reefs at some point in their lives. There are so many different species that exist within the coral reefs and use the reefs in so many different ways.
Some fish, such as the parrotfish, will eat the zooxanthellae that exist on the coral. Other species of fish feed off one specific coral.
A lot of fish hideout and find refuge in the coral reefs. One of these fish is Bartlett’s Anthias, a beautiful species of fish that roam around the oceans in big schools. They swim around the coral reefs during the day and feed on plankton.
These fish are another example of how amazing ocean life is, as they will change sex. They all begin life as females but some will turn into males. This can be caused by the dominant male of the group dying. The largest female will then turn male and take its place.
A lot of fish choose to lay their eggs near the coral reefs so the babies can hide out in them and be protected. This is true for the butterflyfish, a wonderful species that create monogamous pairs.
Some fish also help out keeping the coral reefs clean, such as blue tangs who feed off the algae on the corals. This algae can cause damage, so the blue tangs are really helping out the coral by cleaning it off them!
Coral reefs are an amazing way in which nature works in harmony and creates beautiful, wonderful, and weird things. Thankfully, you can create this wonder in your own home with saltwater aquariums!
Some Coral Can Live For Over 4,000 Years
Corals grow pretty slow, only about one to eight inches a year. For corals though, slow and steady wins the race as scientists have found out that certain corals can live for over 4,000 years!
Coral reefs around the world have been around for centuries, with the layers of the Great Barrier Reef being said to be about 10,000 years old. Corals were even probably around during the time in which dinosaurs were!
These amazing creatures of the ocean are old, important, and beautiful. They have lasted for so long, and hopefully will be around for a lot longer. However, humanity needs to act now in order to save the coral reefs around the world.
Corals are a wonderful part of nature and provide a home for so many fish and crustaceans. They are incredibly interesting and unique and each one beautiful in a different way.
If you are interested in creating your own reef in your saltwater aquarium, we have so many great corals available to you. Most are perfect for beginners. From bold zoanthids to bright green and purple goniastrea, we have a coral for everyone!
In learning about these wonderful creatures, you are learning how to create the perfect habitat for them to make sure they are safe, healthy, and thriving. Enjoy your corals! dd4686c044d39d9eccc6c1d319d2c911