Z is for Zoanthid

Zoanthid may appear to be sea or reef vegetation, but they are colonies of small, soft-bodied animals. Each zoanthid is a very tiny, simple animal called a polyp that is comprised of a cup-like body with a single opening that serves as both mouth and anus. Two rings of small tentacles surround the opening on the outer edge. Each zoanthid polyp is about a 1"If-inch or less in size. Clustered together in a colony, the colony frequently gives the appearance of a flower bouquet. These colonies are called mats, with the individual polyps sharing nutrients and nervous impulses. When some species are threatened, they pull their tentacles inward, as if a flower were retracting. Colors range from earth tones to blues and greens. Almost no other animals will eat zoanthids because of their poisonous tissues.

Zoanthids live on and around reefs, growing their mats on coral, rock and sponges.

Zoanthids dine on small crustaceans that are in the water filtering around and through them.

Zoozanthids can reproduce sexually or asexually, with the asexual method dominating. A new zoanthid grows from the bud of an adult polyp.

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