The Button Coral
Anemones and Corals often have shared
traits. Anemones contain algae which convert light energy
into chemical energy. Thus a sun-lit anemone can survive
for long periods of time without "eating" solid food
because it consumes some of the sugars which the algaes produce.
Button Coral is similar in many respects. It, too, has algae
which it uses to convert light energy into chemical energy.
At night, when there is no light, it collapses into a small
cylinder perhaps 1.5" across and 2 " high. When
the "sun" comes up, it inflates a thin membrane and
starts to look more like a huge pin cushion. The
"skin" in this case is so thin that you can see through
it. It looks like a fine silk, with a sheen, and you can
see the insides of the coral through the skin.
what my Button Coral looked like when I first received it.
Not very inspiring. Notice the "mouth" at the
top. The whole thing, rather than feeling like a lump of
jello, feels like a rock (you have to handle them as you put them
in the tank, like it or not).
As it starts to inflate, it begins to look
full glory, it looks like this (along with a bonus-goby).
I fed it a small piece of turkey: this is
how it reacted -- I guess it's not as hard as it looks!
the colors in the above picture are more accurate. Notice
the translucent, iridescent greens and purples. The white
bars are a mystery to me: they are not visible in every
"segment". One day it just decided to open its mouth
for some reason. Notice how those white bars (or disks?)
are more visible and prominent now.
Quite mysterious and beautiful. The
pictures do not do it justice. As you move your head
around, the internal structure of the "pin cushion" is
revealed as the iridescent colors change... One final
shot. The Button Coral is reputed to have small feeding
tentacles near its mouth, but I've never seen them, even when I
fed it. Last night, after the lights turned off, I looked
at the tank, and lo and behold...
Late breaking news. The second time
I fed the Button Coral, I fed it a piece of shrimp (Yikes: I'm a
cannibal!) about half the size of a pencil eraser. Here it
is maneuvering its mouth to grab the morsel.
Here it is an hour or so after its meal.
Notice the huge bulge in the middle: I'd never seen this
before. Also notice the small tentacles which clearly
surround the oral disk, each tentacle tipped with a dot of