Fun Encrusting Gorgonian Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 19, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Encrusting gorgonian facts are great to learn about corals.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.8 Min

Are you interested in learning more about corals? If yes, then you have reached us at the best time, as today we are going to talk about the encrusting gorgonian (Erythropodium caribaeorum) coral.

You may recognize the name from aquarium stores where they are sold for their beautiful polyps and tentacles. These are usually found in colors like pale pink, brown, or green, but rare blue variants are also available.

Interestingly, the blue variant is from the soft coral family, so it has a soft hairy or furry look to its body because of the polyps.

With the right water flow and light, these corals look beautiful in an aquarium. Originally belonging to the Caribbean and the Bahamas, this coral has made its way into the home tanks of many people.

Do you want to know more about feeding and taking care of these corals? Then, keep reading for interesting encrusting gorgonian facts. For more relatable content, check out these finger coral facts and tongue coral facts for kids.

Encrusting Gorgonian Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an encrusting gorgonian?

The encrusting gorgonian is a type of soft coral.

What class of animal does an encrusting gorgonian belong to?

The encrusting gorgonian (Erythropodium caribaeorum) belongs to the class Anthozoa.

How many encrusting gorgonians are there in the world?

As it is a commonly found coral, we cannot really state its total population.

Where does an encrusting gorgonian live?

Apart from human households, these corals are usually native to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Florida.

What is an encrusting gorgonian's habitat?

The encrusting gorgonian is usually found in the depths of the sea to a depth of around 39 ft (11.9 m). Proper lighting is important for this coral to grow well, and it can spread on rock-based surfaces.

In an aquarium, you have to maintain medium water flow and lighting along with a pH level of 8.2-8.4. Also, a biweekly 20% water change helps the polyps to thrive.

Who do encrusting gorgonians live with?

Each encrusting gorgonian (Erythropodium caribaeorum) coral lives on its own and can grow sporadically in the tank. It can also share the space with fish or plants as long as it has the right conditions.

How long does an encrusting gorgonian live?

We cannot really say the exact lifespan of these corals. However, if you happen to have one, with proper water conditions and lighting, it can surely outlive you and your family.

How do they reproduce?

The most common ways in which the encrusting gorgonian corals reproduce is by using spreading and fragmentation. The coral decides to spread out its polyps, and once it attaches to nearby rocks or other formations, the mat will fragment.

Once detached, the free polyps will grow on the rocks or reef to have their own colony. Some gorgonians will also reproduce sexually, but that isn't common in artificial tanks.

If you want to propagate this coral, you will need to cut a piece of its mat that has a few polyps. Then place it on a rock or give it to your friend to help them have their own reef.

What is their conservation status?

This species of coral is currently not listed on any conservation lists.

Encrusting Gorgonian Fun Facts

What do encrusting gorgonians look like?

Encrusting gorgonian facts are great for kids.*Please note that this picture is an image of a soft coral, and not specifically of the encrusting gorgonian. If you have an image of an encrusting gorgonian, please let us know at hello@kidadl.com.

When it comes to these corals, the most important thing is the look. Like most other soft corals, this species also look great when there is a medium water flow in the tank.

This particular species has a smooth mat that can be tan, brown, pink, or even green. We especially like the pale variants because how it interacts with light. The corals also have polyps or tentacles that spread around the area.

These corals also communicate with the help of each polyp. Even though the branches are primarily out in the water, the coral can still retract these projects when it's excited or agitated.

These corals are known for sporadically growing over everything from sandy surfaces to staggering rocks. You may even find its species growing over other coral reefs in the marine world.

We would like to inform you that these species look similar to that of the briareum variety of soft corals. The only thing that makes the briareum different is that the polyps in that species grow from bumps or raised calyces present on the mat, unlike that of encrusting gorgonian corals.

How cute are they?

We wouldn't call them cute, but the polyps and branches of these corals do look beautiful. With proper lighting, you can even make the corals feel like an art installation.

How do they communicate?

Corals are interesting groups of animals that have various forms of communication. The polyp-like projections present on the body of these corals help them to communicate with the environment.

It includes everything from taking in the light to finding out food for feeding. Many corals can also communicate via chemical signals, especially to attract animals with a symbiotic relationship with the reef. We can only assume that these photosynthetic corals also communicate in a similar way as not much data is available.

How big is an encrusting gorgonian?

The usual spread of encrusting gorgonians can be anywhere between 3-36 in (7.6-91.4 cm). But, the mat is only about 1 in (2.5 cm) thick.

However, because of its sporadic growth, finding its exact height isn't easy. In comparison, brain corals can spread to have a colony measuring 6 ft (1.8 m) in length while being 2-5 ft (0.6-1.5 m) tall.

How fast can an encrusting gorgonian move?

As one of the forms of coral, the encrusting gorgonian lacks the ability to move. However, it makes up by spreading its tentacles and branches to form a colony.

How much does an encrusting gorgonian weigh?

The encrusting gorgonian can grow sporadically and aggressively to spread its branches and tentacles all over the tank. However, because it is a soft coral, we do not think it will be quite as heavy as corals with a skeleton.

We cannot surely say the weight range of these coral forms as it differs greatly. However, you can find small cuttings of these corals from pet shops or breeders and then grow them in your tank.

What are the male and female names of the species?

It is almost impossible to figure out the sex of a coral. Hence, there are no separate names for males or females.

What would you call a baby encrusting gorgonian?

Depending on the type of corals, they can either reproduce sexually or asexually. When a small larva is formed due to a combination of an egg and a sperm, it is known as a planula.

What do they eat?

Like other soft corals, the encrusting gorgonian has also adapted itself to have a varied diet. In the ocean, these photosynthetic corals often feed on plankton and algae to get the best nutrition.

These corals can also absorb organic particles present in the water. In the marine environment, these soft corals also have a relationship with the zooxanthellae, where the corals let the other organism stay in exchange for nutrients.

If you have fish in the aquarium, the coral colony will surely thrive with the fish dropping. However, suppose you only decide to grow the soft corals.

In that case, a weekly feeding is necessary where it can be given foods like artemia nauplii, rotifers, small planktons, and frozen foods meant for corals. Make sure to stir the surface of the water to help the food reach the coral polyps.

Are they poisonous?

No, the encrusting gorgonian coral is not a poisonous coral, unlike the fire coral. Having said that, this coral is known for sporadically spreading around the tank.

It is quite aggressive to other reefs or colonies of corals that might be present in the tank. Hence, most coral keepers like to keep these corals in a separate tank where they can grow into a beautiful structure.

Would they make a good pet?

Well, we wouldn't call the encrusting gorgonians a pet species. But, this Caribbean coral is definitely great for an aquarium. With proper care, it can form reefs in the water and live for several years.

Propagating the coral is also easy as you will just need to take a cutting from its mat. Both the pink encrusting gorgonian and green encrusting gorgonian work well with aquariums. And, if you pair the coral with proper fish, then you wouldn't even need to worry about feeding these corals.

These corals need to live in a tank with a capacity of 10 gallons (45.5 L) or more, and it likes warm temperatures of between 68-79°F (20-26.1°C). Horizontal space is a must for these corals for it to spread the branches, tentacles and to form more polyp.

As this Caribbean coral can be harmful to other colonies, it is best to place it on an isolated rock island for better growth.

Coral keepers need to remember that this is a photosynthetic species, so it needs proper lighting to have a healthy colony.

A medium bright light works best, and the water flow strength should also be moderate, so think about setting up a proper flow pump. Some people also prefer to provide strong water flow and light to encourage faster growth.

Did you know...

If you are planning to get this coral to make sure to avoid putting flamingo tongue snails or Murex snails as the species tend to chomp on these Caribbean corals. If you are thinking about getting fish, then steer clear of butterflyfish and angelfish.

Two common diseases that occur in these corals are the red band disease and the black band disease. If your coral is affected by these problems, make sure to check the light and water flow to make sure everything is good.

How did encrusting gorgonians get their name?

The encrusting gorgonians get their name for being a type of soft corals. Before most variants of corals were named, most soft corals were clubbed under the name of gorgonians.

These species had the characteristics of having softer bodies compared to what was thought to be the 'true' corals that contained a skeleton. Interestingly, there are around 500 types of gorgonian corals that are spread around different genera and families.

The name gorgonians comes from Greek mythology, where gorgons were monsters with snakes in place of their hair, Medusa being one of them. So, because these soft corals often had tree-like branches that swayed like snakes, the name gorgonians became popular.

As an aquarium enthusiast, we would like to tell you that these encrusting gorgonians are also known by the name of encrusting polyps.

Is the encrusting gorgonian a soft coral?

Yes, the encrusting gorgonian is a type of soft coral belonging to the Anthothelidae family and to the genus Erythropodium. It shares the genus with other soft corals like the Erythropodium indica and Erythropodium astreoide.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other anthozoans from our staghorn coral interesting facts and candy coral fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable soft coral coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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