Fire Coral Facts

Moumita Dutta
Jan 31, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Smriti Chaudhary
Fire coral facts are interesting.

Ever wondered about a Fire Coral? Fire coral is a marine animal but not like other true corals.

It is spotted around the Caribbean, as well as the main oceans around the world. Many people have confused these corals with seaweeds. These fire corals are considered to be slightly more harmful than other coral reef cuts.

This is mainly because fire coral has an ability that leaves a stinging effect on the object that comes in contact with it. The sting is supposed to be warm and has symptoms with a severe burning effect on the surface. This is also one of the reasons they are called 'Fire'.

Stinging coral is another word used for these corals. Although most of the corals are not facing any serious population threats, increasing global warming is leading to the widespread degradation of their colonies that have a bleaching effect.

Read on to know more about them. For interesting facts about other animals check sea squirt and brain coral.

Fire Coral Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Fire Coral?

Fire coral is a marine type of animal that belongs to the Millepora genus of animals.

What class of animal does a Fire Coral belong to?

The Fire Coral belong to the Hydrozoa class of animals.

How many Fire Corals are there in the world?

There are around 14 species of fire corals. However, the actual number of their population is not known yet.

Where does a Fire Coral live?

The fire coral species are found in the reef of Red and the Caribbean Sea, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Oceans. Usually confused with the coral reef, these animals live in tropical and subtropical waters at a depth of up to 33 ft (10 m).

What is a Fire Coral's habitat?

Their colonies grow around the coral reefs that exist near the slopes. They grow at a minimum depth of zero and can go up to 33 ft (10 m). They might go 130 ft (39.6 m) deeper near the ground surface.

Who do Fire Corals live with?

These animals are usually seen living in groups called colonies with their own polyps species. Even though the fire coral stings, one might find hawkfish, crabs, clams, snails, and similar marine animals living amidst their tentacles.

How long does a Fire Coral live?

Fire coral is related to jellyfish and has an average lifespan of 10 years.

How does it reproduce?

Although these corals live in colonies, the availability of both sexes in the same colony is rare. Hence, most of the time, their multiplication is done asexually.

These animals in their polyps stage are called hydroids and they release their free-swimming eggs or sperms in the form of medusae in the water. These gametes become sexually activated within a span of 20-30 days and start propagating on the live rocks, or the wrecks of the coral reefs.

What is its conservation status?

Out of the 14 different species of fire corals, the majority of them like Millepora alcicornis, Millepora complanata, Millepora dichotoma are considered as Least Concern. While Millepora boschmai is listed as Critically Endangered and Millepora latifolia is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Control of Nature (IUCN).

Fire Coral Fun Facts

What do Fire Corals look like?

Fire coral is a marine animal

Fire coral has a hard aragonite skeleton that has mouths similar to pores. There are two sizes of pores. Dactylozooids look like small hair giving the coral a fuzzy-like appearance.

Its hair is responsible for the stinging prey and gastrozooids are the large ones responsible for the digestion process of the prey. They usually have colors ranging from yellow-green, light to dark brown, or even white or light-colored tips. When divers touch these corals there is a stinging effect with an itching pain of a burning allergic reaction.

How cute are they?

These corals are related to jellyfish and might even be confused with the seaweed. They look really interesting for divers but after the allergic reaction caused due to accidental contact, people would not find it cute or beautiful.

How does it communicate?

Fire corals, like most other coral reefs and species, are tactile in nature. They communicate with either touch or with chemical sensations that they can perceive around their surface.

How big are Fire Corals?

Fire coral would usually grow from 12-118.1 in (30.4-300 cm) which is 100 times bigger than the jellyfish when it reaches its peak. If they sense the presence of any other corals in their vicinity, they start branching towards them and encrust over them with their tentacles keeping the structure as its base.

Their colonies can grow close to each other with having an average length of 78.7-118.1 in (200-300 cm).

Can Fire Corals move?

Fire coral just like other coral reefs are sessile in nature. This means that they are immobile and cannot move from one place to another.

How much do Fire Corals weigh?

There is no specific record of the weight of fire corals.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Fire corals do have male and female colonies, they do not have different names for their male and female species.

What would you call a baby Fire Coral?

The baby fire coral when it completes its process of reproduction looks similar to that of a very small jellyfish. This small larva is called a planula.

What does it eat?

Fire coral has a tendency to be carnivorous in nature. The fire coral stings with the help of its hair on the thin tentacles which creates a burning effect on its prey making it easier to capture the food in the water.

Their diet mainly consists of zooplankton and copepods.

They are also known to feed on brine shrimps, frozen Mysis, or Mysis shrimp. Apart from this, fire coral and algae share a symbiotic relationship where the algae play a huge part in providing the coral with food and nutrients.

Is it harmful?

When humans or any other animals do not come in physical contact with these corals, they are not considered dangerous. However, when divers dive in the water and have accidental contact with the thin tentacles of this coral it can be dangerous.

This is because the fire coral sting leaves an itching and burning sensation with an allergic reaction on the diver. This fire coral burn might have severe symptoms like pain, itching, nausea, swelling, and vomiting.

Would it make a good pet?

Although there are cases where a fire coral block is sold in a pet store, it is advised not to keep them as pets. This is because a slight touch to their thin branching would lead to the fire coral stings that would be unpleasant for the owner.

Did you know...

Fire coral is the second-deadliest fungus that stings in order to kill so that it can eat its prey. Hence, it is important to be careful in their vicinity. One type of fire coral living around Japan is considered to be deadly with a history of few fatalities.

How does fire coral sting?

Fire coral has a sharp skeleton that has stinging cells or threads called cnidae or nematocysts. When in contact with divers, the fire coral releases the toxin through its pores or threads.

These immediate stings leave a sharp pain leading to itching. This sting from a fire coral might even lead to other symptoms like allergic infections, swelling, nausea, shortness of breath, and red-hot rashes to the divers.

How to cure fire coral rash?

Here are a few things to do to cure or treat the stings.

Washing the affected area with seawater or saltwater because freshwater might instigate the stinging effect. The simplest thing to do after the stinging is to apply acetic acid or isopropyl alcohol to reduce the effect of its venom.

Remove the parts of any coral that remain on the skin with tweezers after treating with acetic acid. This helps to cut out the source of the sting. The pain is usually said to subside within a day's time or a maximum of two weeks.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including jellyfish, or mimic octopus.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our realistic coral reef 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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Fact-checked by Smriti Chaudhary

Bachelor of Technology specializing in Information Technology

Smriti Chaudhary picture

Smriti ChaudharyBachelor of Technology specializing in Information Technology

Smriti, a student data scientist, and coder, is pursuing her Bachelor of Technology at K.J. Somaiya College of Engineering. She has achieved top rankings in the International English Olympiad, National Spelling Bee, and PSAT/SAT English Section. She is experienced in content creation and editing for various academic institutions.

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