No, these are not colourful crochet tea cosies or hats. They are animals that live in the earth’s deep seas and coral reefs. Scientists categorize them as Zoanthids, but most people call them carpet coral, button polyps or “zoos”. Because they are extremely hardy and electrifyingly vibrant, they are popular with aquarium owners – both hobbyists and professionals. This unique coral species spreads quickly and typically live in large colonies. Unlike hard coral they have soft tentacles that resemble the petals of a flower.
Zoanthids do not produce their own pigments, rather their coloration is determined by the marine algae that live within their tissue. The coral provides protection for the algae and the algae, with the help of photosythesis, provides food for the zoanthid. Enthusiasts have learned that they can alter the coral’s color intensity by increasing the aquarium's light source, which elevates the photosynthesis process. Carpet Coral come in many varieties and, due to their colorful nature, have playful names. Next time your at an aquarium supply store look for Red Devil People Eaters, Orange Bam Bam, Pink Hippos, Nuclear Green and Purple Space Monsters.