Hard corals

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Information @ a Glance

  • Hard corals are more colourful than soft corals and named so because they build a hard skeleton which then  remains after death. These then become building blocks of coral reefs.
  • Elkhorn coral and pillar coral are two examples of hard corals.
  • Hard corals are of two types: LPS and SPS. Which stand for large polyp stony and small polyp stony, though LPS are sometimes referred to as long polyp stony. Sometimes the last ‘s’ in LPS and SPS is also referred to as scleractinian so small polyp scleractinian, as all hard corals, belong to the order Scleractinia.
  • Hard corals, however, gain most of their energy from the tiny algae which live inside their skin called as zooxanthellae (pronounced zoo-zan-thel-lee).
  • The Eastern Peninsular Malaysia area has a very diverse hard coral fauna. A total of 227 species in 66 genera were observed and identified during a study, which is approximately 80% of the number of species (and 94% or more of the genera) identified by the same author using the same method at an equivalent number of sites in each of three countries: the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. Those three countries have the greatest coral diversity known on earth, and are known as the “Coral Triangle”.
  • Hard corals are more difficult to keep in a reef tank compared to soft corals and, of the hard corals, LPS are easier to keep or less difficult than SPS.
  • Hard corals are made of rigid calcium carbonate (limestone) and appear very much like rocks. Each polyp secretes a hard exoskeleton made up of calcium carbonate. As each generation of polyps dies, the coral grows a bit larger, and because each polyp is so small, hard corals grow at a very slow rate. They do not move, but they harbor various types of algae that give them their various colours.
  • Sometimes, huge colonies of hard corals live together and grow into huge masses, like the Great Coral Reef off the northeast coast of Australia, the world's largest coral reef.
  • Hard corals reefs are commonly seen on many of our Southern shores. Some are also found on our Northern shores.
  • At low tide, they are often mistaken for non-living rocks or dead corals. Many of them may actually be alive. Please never step on them.
  • Most hard corals have tiny polyps which is 1-3mm in diameter. But some hard corals such as mushroom corals are enormous solitary polyps.
  • Coral reefs are also affected by boaters who throw their anchors carelessly, and thoughtless divers and shore visitors who damage fragile features.

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