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Soft Coral

Posted in Articles, Corals by Administrator on January 7, 2010.

Soft coral husbandry is well documented. And much of what is used for common names in the folk practice is saturated in the hard science of the study of both coral, and soft coral. Many of the misnomers labeled as coral have been identified and coined as other coral named groups.

This simplified through sophistication of coral reef tank aquarist culture makes it easy for the industry layperson, and the novice to easily grasp what kind of animal they are raising without the complication of non-integrated lexicons.

Coral are broken down into two types in general: Soft Coral, and Hard Coral.

In some cases telling the difference between a soft coral and a hard coral can only be done with a microscope in order to determine if the animal is producing calcareous material in the way that is generally attributed to hard coral.

This article deals with soft coral.

Soft Coral Aquarium – 55 Gallons with stone corals, gonioporas, hammerheads, frogspawn, finger leather, toadstool leather, xenia, torch coral, pollups, and other various forms of life…

Soft Coral are part of the order Alcyonacea and the phylum Cnidaria.

One of the main things that differentiate soft coral from hard coral is that graduating from marine fish care to oft coral care is one step closer to becoming a fully skilled aqua marine reef tank aquarist. To best understand the difference between soft and hard, soft corals do not produce calcium carbonate skeletons and are not reef-building corals.

These creatures characterized by there soft internal skeleton, are easier to remove from the natural reef since it is not necessary to break them off and expose or damage the reef.

Other creatures of the reef, don’t necessarily need most soft coral as a home base.

All these reasons add to the sentiment that soft coral make better pets, even if they are more prone to hunting and stinging other creatures.

Soft coral have radial symmetry as another noted characteristic.

Some of the other characteristics of all soft coral are:

  • Stinging Cells
  • Ecto- and endoderm comprising both of two germ layers
  • A bag like hollow body called coelenteron.
  • No central nerve system, instead uncomplicated nerve groups.
  • A single opening that both eats, and excretes waste.
  • A lack to tentacle segmentation.
  • A lack of body segmentation.

Most of these reef host soft coral at depths from 5 to 30 meters.

Of the Classes in the Cnidaria phylum soft corals belong to Anthozoa.

The Subclass of Anthozoa that soft coral are a part of is called Alcyonacea.

Some of the notable regions that soft coral thrive in are saltwater reefs of:

  • The Caribbean
  • Hawaii
  • The Indo-Pacific
  • The Great Barrier Reef
  • The Red Sea
  • Elsewhere in the world to a lesser extent.

These soft coral are hardier than some hard coral, and provide a great bridge for the aquarist who wants to graduate beyond just fish and other more mobile aqua marine animals.


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