Coral Reproduction, Part Four: Non-Scleractinian Anthozoans Including Soft Corals, Zoanthids, and Anemones

by | Oct 15, 2008 | 0 comments


Figure 1. A soft coral (believed to be a Sansibia species) is reproducing within an aquarium. Photo courtesy of Michael Pollock.

Soft corals reproduce asexually by a number of methods, including fragmentation, budding, fission and others, and hobbyists often exploit these in their coral propagation efforts (these methods were briefly reviewed at Part 2 of this series). See:

It is usually quite easy to make cuttings from many soft corals, and one large broodstock colony can easily become hundreds of colonies in a relatively short period of time. This will make most soft corals unlikely candidates for sexual reproduction in aquaria. However, there are many reports of soft coral spawnings within aquaria. This article should be of interest to those interested in what it would take to grow out the spawn. Perhaps more importantly, the information presented here brings home the message that we actually know very little about soft coral reproduction. Your observation could be the first on record, so it is important to make notes and photographs.


Octocoral Reproduction

Kahng reported at the 11th ICRS that Lasker, Benayahu and he have sexual reproductive information on 155 octocoral species. Consider that there are about 100 octocorallia genera, and we quickly realize how limited research in this arena has been (and this should not be construed that the few soft coral taxonomists and researchers have done a poor job!). In addition, soft coral taxonomy seems to be in a state of constant rearrangement (bordering on chaos) making even recent references obsolete.


Soft Coral Identification Guides

The groupings listed below are from the latest source on octocorallia I have been able to locate Gary Williams Alphabetical List of Valid Octocoral Genera. This resource can be found on the internet at: Photographs are available for some genera and it includes information from as late as 2007. A list of synonyms is also there.

Fabricius and Alderslades 2001 Soft Corals and Sea Fans (assists with identification to the genus level) is a good resource with many excellent photographs. It can be ordered at:

Good information is also found in Sprung and Delbeeks 1997 The Reef Aquarium, Volume Two. This volume is somewhat dated in its taxonomic groupings, but has excellent photographs of a number of invertebrates of interest to the marine aquarium hobbyist. This book is available through any well-stocked pet shop, or from any major internet retailer.

Of limited use, but still interesting, is Williams 1993 Coral Reef Octocorals – this work examines the soft corals of northern Natal.

Unfortunately, no guide to soft corals of the caliber of Verons Stony Coral ID exists. Perhaps this reflects the state of turmoil in soft coral taxonomy. Funding for research in this field is limited which perhaps explains the very limited number of younger soft coral taxonomists.

Hobbyists should be aware that soft coral identification sometimes requires microscopic examination of the calcium reinforcing rods (sclerites and spicules). Access to a microscope is of great advantage. Removing sclerites for examination is a bit of science and art. For an excellent free resource on soft coral examinations, visit this site:

Fabricius and Alderslades Soft Corals and Sea Fans (2001) also has good information on the details of examining soft corals in a laboratory, and many drawings of sclerites.

Anemone taxonomy used later in this article is based on Fautin and Allens 1992 Field Guide to Anemone Fishes and Their Host Sea Anemones. This is available for free online at:


Where fertilized eggs are held internally (or sometimes on the surface of a parent colony) and are released as planula larvae.
Fertility; ability to produce abundantly.
Possessing distinct male and female colonies where offspring are a result of fusion of gametes. Also referred to as dioecious, or unisexual. Gonochorism occurs in ~25% of coral species examined (Richmond, 1997).
Possessing both male and female reproductive organs, sometimes referred to as monoecious. Self-fertilization (also called selfing) is an uncommon hermaphroditic trait among corals.
An immature egg (ovum).
Development of a new individual from an unfertilized egg. This results in a female clone and is thought to occur in many invertebrates (including soft corals, gorgonians and possibly stony corals) and some vertebrates.
Planula larvae
The free-swimming, ciliated stage of coral larvae.
Where more than one sperm fertilizes an ovum.
Protandrous hermaphrodite
Where male sex organs mature before those of the female.
(proto=first; gynous = female) – Where female sex organs mature before those of the male.
Sequential Hermaphrodite
Where one gender sex organ is produced during early life, and the second genders organs appear later.


Brooders (soft corals, hydrocorals and gorgonians):

  • Anthelia glauca (Kruger and Schleyer, 1998)
  • Clavularia koellikeri (Bastidas et al., 2002)
  • Heliopora corulea (Harii and Kayanne, 2005)
  • Heteroxenia fuscescens (Ben-David-Zaslow et al., 1999)
  • Litophyton arboreum (Benayahu et al., 1992)
  • Nephthea sp. (Benayahu, 1997)
  • Paralemnalia thyrsoides (Benayahu, 1997)
  • Parerythropodium fulvum fulvum (surface brooder, Barki et al., 2000)
  • Stereonephthea cundabiluensis (Benayahu, 1997)
  • Xenia macrospiculata (Benayahu and Loya, 1985)


Suspected Parthenogenesis

Parthenogenesis (definition above) is known to occur in a few invertebrates and even some vertebrates. It is suspected to occur in these marine soft corals:

  • Alcyonium hibernicum, a temperate soft coral (Hartnoll, 1977)
  • Plexaura sp. (Brazeau & Lasker, 1989)


Gonochoric Brooding

Gonochoric brooding involves broadcast spawning by males and internal or external fertilization of oocytes. It is known to occur in these soft corals:

  • Anthelia glauca (Benayahu and Schleyer, 1998)
  • Capnella gaboensis external brooder (Farrant, 1986)


Octocorals – Soft Corals (Subclass Octocorallia)

Order Alcyonacea – Stolonifera Group

Family Clavulariidae

1. Genus Carijoa (Snowflake Coral): Adult Carijoa colonies are rarely more than 20 cm in height.

Table 1
Carijoa riiseiGonochoricBroadcast

2. Genus Cervera (also known as Cornularia): Cervera species without sclerites may be Clavularia.

Table 2
Cornularia komaiiBrooder
Cornularia saganiensisBrooder

3. Genus Clavularia (Clove Polyps)

Table 3
Clavularia crassaBrooder
Clavularia hamraGonochoricBrooder (external)
Clavularia inflataBrooder (external)
Clavularia koellikeriGonochoricBrooder (external)

4. Genus Cryptophyton: No information on sexual reproduction available.

5. Genus Paratelesto: No information on sexual reproduction available.

6. Genus Stereosoma: Only one species has been reported, but recent examination of the preserved specimen has tentatively placed it in Clavulariidae (Fabricius and Alderslade (2001). Williams does not recognize the genus in his updated internet database. No information on sexual reproduction is available.

7. Genus Telesto: No information on sexual reproduction available.

8. Genus Telestula: No information on sexual reproduction is available.

9. Genus Trachythela: No information on sexual reproduction available.


Figure 2. Tubipora musica is most well known for its red pipe organ skeleton and not its rather drab polyps. No information is available on reproductive habits. Photo by the author.

Family Coelogorgiidae

1. Genus Coelogorgia: No information is available on reproductive habits.

Family Tubiporidae

1. Genus Tubipora (Pipe Organ Coral)


Order Alcyonacea – Alcyoniina Group

Family Alcyoniidae

1. Genus Alcyonium: See Genus Klyxum for specimens from the tropical Pacific.

2. Genus Anthomastus

Table 4
Anthomastus ritteriBrooder

3. Genus Bellonella: No sexual reproduction information available.

4. Genus Cladiella (Finger Leather Coral)

Table 5
Cladiella pachycladosGonochoricBroadcast

5. Genus Dampia: Possibly a Sinularia species. No reproduction information available.

6. Genus Discophyton

Table 6
Discophyton sp.GonochoricBrooder
Alcyonium rudyi (now Discophyton rudyi)GonochoricBrooder

7. Genus Eleutherobia: No sexual reproduction information available.

8. Genus Klyxum (Colt Corals)

Table 7
Alcyonium aspiculatumGonochoricBroadcast
Alcyonium digitatumGonochoricBroadcast
Alcyonium hibernicumParthenogenic?
Alcyonium molleGonochoricBroadcast
Alcyonium pacificumGonochoric
Alcyonium rudyi (now Discophyton rudyi)GonochoricBrooder
Alcyonium sideriumHermaphroditicBrooder
Alcyonium species AHermaphroditicBrooder

9. Genus Lampophyton: No information is available on the sexual reproduction of this genus, erected by Williams in 2000.

10. Genus Lobophytum (Devils Hand)

Table 8
Lobophytum compactumGonochoricBroadcast
Lobophytum crassumGonochoricBroadcast
Lobophytum depressumGonochoricBroadcast
Lobophytum hirsutumGonochoricBroadcast
Lobophytum microlobulatumGonochoricBroadcast
Lobophytum pauciflorumGonochoricBroadcast
Lobophytum planumGonochoricBroadcast
Lobophytum sarcophytoidesGonochoricBroadcast

11. Genus Paraminabea: Paraminabea is also called Minabea (for shallow water specimens only). No reproduction information available.

12. Genus Rhytisma: Rhytisma is sometimes referred to as Parerythropodium.

Table 9
Rhytisma fulvum fulvum?Brooder
Parerythropodium fulvum fulvumGonochoricBrooder (external)

13. Genus Sarcophyton (Leather Coral)


Figure 3. In this instance, Sarcophyton glaucum was found in a male female ratio of 1 to 1.

Table 10
Sarcophyton crassocauleGonochoricBroadcast
Sarcophyton ehrenbergiGonochoricBroadcast
Sarcophyton glaucumGonochoricBroadcast
Sarcophyton glaucumBrooder
Sarcophyton sp.Broadcast
Sarcophyton trocheliophorumGonochoricBroadcast

14. Genus Sinularia (Soft Finger Coral)


Figure 4. Sinularia species are seen in a bewildering array of shapes. They are known to be broadcast spawners. Photo by the author.

Table 11
Sinularia confertaGonochoricBroadcast
Sinularia cruciataGonochoricBroadcast
Sinularia deformisGonochoricBroadcast
Sinularia duraGonochoricBroadcast
Sinularia exilisHermaphroditicBroadcast
Sinularia flexibilisGonochoricBroadcast
Sinularia gyrosaGonochoricBroadcast
Sinularia humesiGonochoricBroadcast
Sinularia leptocladosGonochoricBroadcast
Sinularia lochmodesGonochoricBroadcast
Sinularia mayiGonochoricBroadcast
Sinularia nanolobataHermaphroditicBroadcast
Sinularia polydactylaGonochoricBroadcast
Sinularia rigidaGonochoricBroadcast
Sinularia scabraHermaphroditicBroadcast

15. Genus Thrombophyton

Table 12
Thrombophyton coronatumBrooder
Thrombophyton trachydermumGonochoric

Family Nephtheidae

1. Genus Capnella (Kenya Tree Coral): The temperate water Australian Capnella gaboensis does not become sexually mature until it is 20 years of age (Farrant, 1987).

Table 13
Capnella gaboensisBrooder (external)

2. Genus Dendronephthya

Table 14
Dendronephthya giganteaGonochoricBrooder
Dendronephthya hemprichiGonochoricBroadcast
Dendronephthya sinaiensisGonochoricBroadcast
Dendronephthya suensoniGonochoricBroadcast (?)

3. Genus Lemnalia (Branch Coral): No information on sexual reproduction is available.

4. Genus Leptophyton: No information on sexual reproduction is available.

5. Genus Litophyton

Table 15
Litophyton arboreumGonochoricBrooder (internal)

6. Genus Nephthea: Some Nephthea specimens contain colored sclerites, and these may belong in genus Stereonephthea (Fabricius and Alderslade, 2001).

Table 16
Nephthea sp.GonochoricBrooder

7. Genus Pacifiphyton: No information on sexual reproduction is available.

8. Genus Paralemnalia (Finger Leather Coral)

Table 17
Paralemnalia thyrsoidesGonochoricBrooder

9. Genus Scleronephthya

Table 18
Scleronephthya gracillimumBroadcast

10. Genus Stereonephthya

Table 19
Stereonephthya cundabiluensisGonochoricBrooder

11. Genus Umbellulifera: No information is available on reproductive habits.

Family Nidallidae

1. Genus Agaricoides: No information on reproduction is available.

2. Genus Chironephthya: No reproduction information available.

3. Genus Nidalia: No reproduction information available.

4. Genus Nephthyigorgia: No reproduction information available.

5. Genus Pieterfaurea: No reproduction information available.

6. Genus Siphonogorgia: No reproduction information available.

Family Paralcyoniidae

1. Genus Studeriotes: No reproduction information available.

Family Xeniidae

1. Genus Anthelia

Table 20
Anthelia edmondsoniSee Sarcothelia edmondsoni
Anthelia fishelsoniGonochoric?
Anthelia glaucaGonochoricBrooder

2. Genus Cespitularia (Blue Xenia)

Table 21
Cespitularia exiguaGonochoric?

3. Genus Efflatounaria


Figure 5. Oocytes (eggs) within the soft coral Heteroxenia. Histological photomicrograph courtesy of Michael P. Janes.

Table 22
Efflatounaria sp.GonochoricBrooder (external)

3. Genus Funginus: No reproduction information available. Williams believes Funginus is possibly synonymous with Heteroxenia.

4. Genus Heteroxenia (Pulse Coral)

Table 23
Heteroxenia coheniHermaphroditicBrooder
Heteroxenia elizabethaeHermaphroditicBrooder
Heteroxenia elizabethaeGonochoric
Heteroxenia fuscenscensHermaphroditicBrooder
Heteroxenia ghardaqensisHermaphroditicBrooder
Heteroxenia sp.GonochoricBrooder

Figure 6. Is Sansibia a brooder or slow extrusion broadcast spawner? Photo courtesy of Michael Pollock.

5. Genus Sansibia: Reproduction of a coral tentatively identified as a Sansibia species has been noted in an aquarium. There was successful recruitment and young colonies are present. It is believed by the author that Sansibia is a brooder, but this should be verified.


6. Genus Sarcothelia

Table 24
Sarcothelia edmondsoniGonochoricBrooder (external)

7. Genus Sympodium

Table 25
Sympodium caeruleumGonochoricBrooder

Figure 7. Sarcothelia edmondsoni colonies, endemic to Hawaii, are often seen as blue mats in areas of high water motion. Photo by the author.

8. Genus Xenia (Pulse Coral)

Table 26
Xenia biseriataGonochoricBrooder
Xenia blumiGonochoricBrooder
Xenia faruensisGonochoricBrooder
Xenia garciaeGonochoricBrooder
Xenia grasshoffiHermaphroditic?
Xenia hicksoniGonochoricBrooder
Xenia impulsatillaGonochoricBrooder
Xenia kuekenthaliGonochoric?
Xenia lillieaeGonochoric?
Xenia macrospiculataGonochoricBrooder
Xenia membranaceaGonochoricBrooder
Xenia novabrittanniaeHermaphroditicBrooder
Xenia obscuronataGonochoricBrooder
Xenia sp.GonochoricBrooder
Xenia umbellataGonochoricBrooder

Figure 8. Xenia species are easily propagated by making cuttings, but they have been observed spawning in aquaria. Photo by the author.

Order Alcyonacea – Scleraxonia Group

Family Acanthogorgiidae (Suborder Holaxonia)

1. Genus Acanthogorgia: No information on reproduction available

2. Genus Anthogorgia: No information on reproduction available

3. Genus Muricella: No information on reproduction available.

Family Anthothelidae

1. Genus Altertigorgia: No reproduction information available.

2. Genus Erythropodium (Encrusting Gorgonian): No reproduction information available.


Figure 9. A Briareum spawns in an aquarium. Photo courtesy of Michael P. Janes.

3. Genus Iciligorgia: No reproduction information available.

4. Genus Solenocaulon: No reproduction information available.

Family Briareidae

1. Genus Briareum (Incorporates Pachyclavularia & Solenopodium. Star Polyps)

Table 27. Reproductive habits of Corky Sea Fingers (Briareum asbestinum).
Briareum asbestinumBroadcast
Briareum asbestinumBrooder

Figure 10. Briareum asbestinum, often called Corky Sea Fingers, is a Caribbean species, and sex ratios are skewed towards male colonies.

Family Chrysogorgiidae (Suborder Calcaxonia)

1. Genus Stephanogorgia: No information on reproduction available.

Family Corallidae

1. Genus Corallium

Table 28
Corallium rubrumBrooder

Figure 11. Junceella colonies. Photo courtesy of Michael P. Janes.

Family Ellisellidae (Suborder Calcaxonia)

1. Genus Ctenocella (Sea Whip or Harp Coral): No information on reproduction available.

2. Genus Dichotella: No information on reproduction available.

3. Genus Ellisella: No information on reproduction available.

4. Genus Heliania: No information on reproduction available.

5. Genus Junceella: No information on Junceellas sexual reproduction is available.

6. Genus Nicella: No information on reproduction available.

7. Genus Verrucella (also known as Umbracella): No information on reproduction available.

8. Genus Viminella: No information on reproduction available.


Figure 12. Junceella colonies often reproduce by fragmentation, as is shown in this photograph by Michael P. Janes.

Family Gorgoniidae (Suborder Holaxonia)

1. Genus Eunicella

Table 29
Eunicella singularisGonochoricBrooder
Eunicella strictaBrooder

2. Genus Gorgonia (Sea Fan): No information on reproduction available.

3. Genus Guaiagorgia: No information on reproduction available.

4. Genus Hicksonella: No information on reproduction available.

5. Genus Pinnigorgia (also known as Plexaura flava & Lophogorgia): No information on reproduction available.

6. Genus Pseudopterogorgia (Purple Frilly Gorgonian): This genus is found in the Pacific, but is one of the most common genera in the Caribbean/West Indies.

Table 30
Pseudopterogorgia bipinnataBroadcast

7. Genus Pterogorgia (Sea Blade or Sea Whip): No information on reproduction available.

8. Genus Rumphella (Sea Whip): No information on reproduction available.

Family Ifalukellidae (Suborder Calcaxonia)

1. Genus Ifalukella: No information on reproduction available.

2. Genus Plumigorgia: No information on reproduction available.

Family Isididae (Suborder Calcaxonia):

1. Genus Isis (Sea Fan): No information on reproduction available.

2. Genus Jasminisi: No information on reproduction available.

3. Genus Pteronisis: No information on reproduction available.

4. Genus Zignisis: No information on reproduction available.

Family Keroeididae (Suborder Holaxonia)

1. Genus Keroeides: No information on reproduction available.

Family Melithaeidae

1. Genus Acabaria

Table 31
Acabaria erythraeaHermaphroditicBrooder
Acabaria biserialisGonochoricBrooder

2. Genus Clatharia: See Acabaria

3. Genus Melithaea: See Acabaria

4. Genus Mopsella: See Acabaria

5. Genus Wrightella: See Acabaria

Family Parisididae

1. Genus Parisis: No information on reproduction available.

Family Plexauridae (Suborder Holaxonia)

1. Genus Astrogorgia (also known as Muricella & Anthoplexaura): No information on reproduction available.

2. Genus Bebryce: No information on reproduction available.

3. Genus Echinogorgia: No information on reproduction available.

4. Genus Echinomuricea: No information on reproduction available.

5. Genus Eunicea (Knobby Candelabrum): No information on reproduction available.

6. Genus Euplexaura: No information on reproduction available.

7. Genus Menella (also known as Echinogorgia & Plexauroides): No information on reproduction available.

8. Genus Muricea (Spiny Sea Fan)

Table 32
Muricea californicaBrooder
Muricea fruticosaBrooder

9. Genus Muriceopsis (Sea Plume)

Table 33
Muriceopsis flavidaBroadcast

10. Genus Paracis: No information on reproduction available.

11. Genus Paramuricea

Table 34
Paramuricea clavataGonochoricBrooder (external)

12. Genus Paraplexaura: No information on reproduction available.

13. Genus Plexaura (Sea Rod)

Table 35
Plexaura homomallaBroadcast
Plexaura kunaGonochoricBroadcast
Plexaura sp. ‘A’Parthenogenic?

14. Genus Plexaurella: No information on reproduction available.

15. Genus Pseudoplexaura

Table 36
Pseudoplexaura porosaGonochoricBroadcast
Pseudoplexaura sp.GonochoricBroadcast

Figure 13. Pseudoplexaura porosa specimens demonstrated a male/female ratio of 1:1 (Lasker et al., 1996).

16. Genus Trimuricea: No information on reproduction available.

17. Genus Villogorgia: No information on reproduction available.

Family Primnoidae (Suborder Calcaxonia)

1. Genus Plumarella: No information on reproduction available.

Family Subergorgiidae

1. Genus Annella: No reproduction information available.

2. Genus Subergorgia: No reproduction information available.

Order Anthoathecatae (Fire Corals)

Family Milleporidae

1. Genus Millepora (Common Fire Corals)

Table 37
Millepora dichotomaGonochoric
Millepora murrayiGonochoric
Millepora platyophyllaGonochoric


Order Helioporacea

Family Helioporidae

1. Genus Heliopora (Blue Fire Corals)


Figure 14. An unidentified Hawaiian zoanthid. Photo by the author.

Table 38
Heliopora coeruleaBrooder

Subclass Hexacorallia: Including Order Actiniaria (Sea Anemones), Order Zoanthiniaria (Zoanthids)

1. Zoanthids


Order Zoanthiniaria

Family Zoanthidae

1. Genus Parazoanthus (Yellow Polyps)


Figure 15. Yellow Polyps (Parazoanthus species) offer a nice yellow color to an aquarium. Photo by the author.

Table 39
Parazoanthus anguicomusGonochoric
Parazoanthus axinellaeGonochoric
Parazoanthus parasiticusGonochoricBroadcast

2. Genus Sphenopus

Table 40
Sphenopus marsupialis (zoanthid)GonochoricBroadcast?
Sphenopus marsupialis (zoanthid)GonochoricBroadcast?

3. Genus Epizoanthus

Table 41
Epizoanthus abyssorumHermaphroditicBroadcast
Epizoanthus couchiiGonochoric
Epizoanthus paguriphilusHermaphroditicBroadcast

4. Genus Protopalythoa (Button Polyps)

Table 42
Protopalythoa sp.Broadcast
Protopalythoa variabilisHermaphroditicBroadcast

5.Genus Zoanthus (Zoanthids)

Table 43
Zoanthid sp.Broadcast
Zoanthus pacificusHermaphroditicBroadcast
Zoanthus pulchellusHermaphroditicBroadcast
Zoanthus sansibaricusHermaphroditicBroadcast
Zoanthus sociatusHermaphroditicBroadcast
Zoanthus solanderiHermaphroditicBroadcast

5. Genus Palythoa (Sea Mat)

Table 44
Palythoa caribaeorumHermaphroditicBroadcast
Palythoa tuberculosaHermaphroditicBroadcast

6. Genus Isozoanthus

Table 45
Isozoanthus giganteaBrooder

7. Genus Isaurus (Snake Polyps)

Table 46
Isaurus sp.Hermaphroditic
Isaurus sp.Gonochoric


Sea Anemones

Family Actiniidae

1. Genus Anthopleura

Table 47
Anthopleura dixoniana (anemone)GonochoricBroadcast
Anthopleura elegantissima (anemone)GonochoricBroadcast

2. Genus Condylactis

Table 48
Condylactis giganteaGonochoricBroadcast

3. Genus Entacmaea

Table 49
Entacmaea quadricolor (anemone)GonochoricBroadcast

4. Genus Epiactis

Table 50
Epiactis prolifera (anemone)Brooder
Epiactis prolifera (anemone)Gynodioecy

5. Genus Phymanthus

Table 51
Phymanthus crucifer (anemone)GonochoricBroadcast

6. Genus Urticina

Table 52
Urticina lofotenisGonochoricBroadcast

Family Aurelianidae

1. Genus Actinoporus

Table 53
Actinoporus elongatusGonochoricBroadcast

Family Sagartiidae

1. Genus Sagartia

Table 54
Sagartia troglodytesGonochoricBroadcast

Family Stichodactylidae

1. Genus Heteractis

Table 55
Heteractis crispaGonochoricBroadcast

2. Genus Entacmaea

Table 56
Entacmaea quadricolor (anemone)GonochoricBroadcast

Order Corallimorpharia

Family Actinodiscidae

1. Genus Discosoma (Mushroom Anemone)

Table 57
Discosoma sp.Broadcast

Family Discosomatidae

1. Genus Rhodactis (Elephant Ear Mushroom Coral)

Table 58
Rhodactis indosinensisBroadcast
Rhodactis rhodostomaGonochoricBroadcast


Subclass Ceriantipatharia: Including Order Anthipatharia (Black or Wire Corals)

Family Antipathidae

1. Genus Antipathes: It has been estimated that there are 23 Antipathes species. Overall, we know very little about their reproductive habits.


Figure 16. Sex ratio of the black coral Antipathes (Parker et al., 1997).

Table 59
Antipathes fiordensisGonochoricBroadcast

Size and Age of Antipathes fiordensis at Sexual Maturity

Antipathes fiordensis is sexually mature at an age of 31 years (with a corresponding height of approximately 70-105 cm). As Figure 16 shows, it is found in a male/female ratio of 1 to 1 (Parker et al., 1997).


Quick and Easy Reference Table

Table 60. Quick and Easy Reference
TaxonSexualityReproductionVertical (egg)Horizontal water 85%Reference
Acabaria erythraeaHermaphroditicBrooderFine et al., 2005
Acabaria biserialisGonochoricBrooderZeevi-Ben Yosef & Benayahu, 1999
Actinodiscus sp.BroadcastASIRA Data base
Actinoporus elongatusGonochoricBroadcastClayton & Collins, 1992 in Lin et al., 2001
Alcyonium aspiculatumGonochoricBroadcastAlino & Coll, 1989
Alcyonium digitatumGonochoricBroadcastMcFadden et al., 2001
Alcyonium hibernicumParthenogenic ?Hartnoll, 1977
Alcyonium molleGonochoricBroadcastAlino & Coll, 1989
Alcyonium pacificumGonochoricMcFadden & Hochberg, 2003
Alcyonium rudyi (now Discophyton rudyi)GonochoricBrooderMcFadden, 1997
Alcyonium sideriumHermaphroditicBrooderSebens, 1983; McFadden et al., 2001
Alcyonium species AHermaphroditicBrooderMcFadden et al., 2001
Amplexidiscus sp.BroadcastXASIRA Data base
Anthelia edmondsoniSee Sarcothelia edmondsoni
Anthelia fishelsoniGonochoric?Benayahu, 1991
Anthelia glaucaGonochoricBrooderBenayahu & Schleyer, 1998
Anthomastus ritteriBrooderCordes, 2001
Anthopleura dixoniana (anemone)GonochoricBroadcastLinn et al., 1992
Anthopleura elegantissima (anemone)GonochoricBroadcastJennison, 1979 in Lin et al., 2001
Antipathes fiordensisGonochoricBroadcastParker et al.,
Briareum asbestinumBroadcastLasker et al., 1996; Lasker & Stewart, 1992
Briareum asbestinumBrooderBrazeau & Lasker, 1989
Capnella gaboensisBrooder (external)Farrant, 1986
Carijoa riiseiGonochoricBroadcastKahng et al., 2008
Cespitularia exiguaGonochoric?Benayahu, 1991
Cladiella pachycladosGonochoricBroadcastShinkarenko, 1981
Clavularia crassaBrooderKowalewsky & Marion, 1883, in Benayahu & Loya, 1983
Clavularia hamraGonochoricBrooder (external)Benayahu, 1989
Clavularia inflataBrooder (external)Bermas et al., 1992
Clavularia koellikeriGonochoricBrooder (external)Bastidas et al., 2002
Condylactis giganteaGonochoricBroadcastJennison, 1981, in Lin et al., 2001
Corallium rubrumBrooderVighi, 1970
Cornularia komaiiBrooderSuzuki, 1971
Cornularia saganiensisBrooderBabcock et al., 1986
Dendronephthya giganteaGonochoricBrooderHwang & Song, 2007
Dendronephthya hemprichiGonochoricBroadcastDahan & Benayahu, in Benayahu, 1997
Dendronephthya sinaiensisGonochoricBroadcastBarki, 1992
Dendronephthya suensoniGonochoricBroadcast (?)Choi & Song, 2007
Discophyton sp.GonochoricBrooderMcFadden & Hochberg, 2003
Efflatournaria sp.GonochoricBrooder (external)Bermas et al., 1992; Dinesen, 1985
Eleutherobia aurea?BroadcastKetzinal, 1997, in Schleyer & Celliers, 2003
Entacmaea quadricolor (anemone)GonochoricBroadcastScott & Harrison, 2005
Epiactis prolifera (anemone)BrooderChia, 1976
Epiactis prolifera (anemone)GynodioecyHarrison, 1988
Epizoanthus abyssorumHermaphroditicBroadcastMuirhead et al., 1986
Epizoanthus couchiiGonochoricRyland, 2000
Epizoanthus paguriphilusHermaphroditicBroadcastMuirhead et al., 1986
Eunicella singularisGonochoricBrooderWeinberg & Weinberg, 1979; Gori et al., 2007
Eunicella strictaBrooderTheodor, 1967
Heteractis crispaGonochoricBroadcastScott & Harrison, 2005
Heteractis magnifica (anemone)Asexual fissionHolbrook& Schmitt, 2005
Heteroxenia coheniHermaphroditicBrooderBenayahu, 1991
Heteroxenia elizabethaeHermaphroditicBrooderGohar, 1940
Heteroxenia elizabethaeGonochoricHwang & Song, 2007
Heteroxenia fuscenscensHermaphroditicBrooderGohar, 1940
Heteroxenia ghardaqensisHermaphroditicBrooderGohar, 1940
Heteroxenia sp.GonochoricBrooderBenayahu et al., 1988
Isozoanthus giganteaBrooderCalgren, 1923, in Ryland et al., 2000
Kadosactis troglodytesSee Sagartia troglodytes
Litophyton arboreumGonochoricBrooder (internal)Benayahu, 1997
Lobophytum compactumGonochoricBroadcastMichalek-Wagner, 2001
Lobophytum crassumGonochoricBroadcastColl & Kelman, 1997
Lobophytum depressumGonochoricBroadcastSchleyer et al., in Benayahu, 1997
Lobophytum hirsutumGonochoricBroadcastAlino & Coll, 1989
Lobophytum microlobulatumGonochoricBroadcastAlino & Coll, 1989
Lobophytum pauciflorumGonochoricBroadcastAlino & Coll, 1989
Lobophytum planumGonochoricBroadcastAlino & Coll, 1989
Lobophytum sarcophytoidesGonochoricBroadcastDai, 1989
Millepora dichotomaGonochoricSoong & Cho, 1998
Millepora murrayiGonochoricSoong & Cho, 1998
Millepora platyophyllaGonochoricSoong & Cho, 1998
Muricea californicaBrooderGrigg, 1977
Muricea fruticosaBrooderGrigg, 1977
Muriceopsis flavidaBroadcast
Nephthea sp.GonochoricBrooderBenayahu, 1997
Pachyclavularia violaceaBroadcastASIRA Data base
Palythoa caribaeorumHermaphroditicBroadcastBoscolo & Silveira, 2005
Palythoa tuberculosaHermaphroditicBroadcastKimura et al., 1972
Paralemnalia thyrsoidesGonochoricBrooderBenayahu, 1997
Paramuricea clavataGonochoricBrooder (external)Linares et al., 2008
Parazoanthus anguicomusGonochoricRyland, 2000
Parazoanthus axinellaeGonochoricRyland, 2000
Parazoanthus parasiticusGonochoricBroadcastRyland & Westphalen, 2005
Parerythropodium fulvum fulvumGonochoricBrooder (external)Benayahu & Loya, 1983
Phymanthus crucifer (anemone)GonochoricBroadcastJennison, 1979, in Lin et al., 2001
Plexaura homomallaBroadcastMartin, 1982
Plexaura kunaGonochoricBroadcastSwain et al., 1997
Plexaura sp. ‘A’Parthenogenic?Brazeau and Lasker, 1989
Protopalythoa sp.BroadcastASIRA Data base
Protopalythoa variabilisHermaphroditicBroadcastBoscolo & Silveira, 2005
Pseudoplexaura porosaGonochoricBroadcastLasker et al., 1996
Pseudoplexaura sp.GonochoricBroadcastLasker et al., 1996
Pseudopterogorgia bipinnataBroadcastKinzie, 1970
Rhodactis indosinensisBroadcastXASIRA Data base
Rhodactis rhodostomaGonochoricBroadcastChadwick-Furman et al., 2000
Rhytisma fulvum fulvum?BrooderBenayahu & Loya, 1983
Sagartia troglodytesGonochoricBroadcastShaw, 1989, in Lin etal., 2001
Sarcophyton crassocauleGonochoricBroadcastn/an/aDai, 1989
Sarcophyton ehrenbergiGonochoricBroadcastAlino & Coll, 1989
Sarcophyton glaucumGonochoricBroadcastSchleyer & Celliers, 2003
Sarcophyton glaucumBrooderSchleyer et al., 2004
Sarcophyton sp.BroadcastASIRA Data base
Sarcophyton trocheliophorumGonochoricBroadcastShinkarenko, 1981
Scleronephthya gracillimumBroadcastChoi & Song, 2007
Sarcothelia edmondsoniGonochoricBrooder (external)Davis, 1976
Sinularia confertaGonochoricBroadcastAlino & Coll, 1989
Sinularia cruciataGonochoricBroadcastAlino & Coll, 1989
Sinularia deformisGonochoricBroadcastAlino & Coll, 1989
Sinularia duraGonochoricBroadcastSchleyer et al., in Benayahu, 1997
Sinularia exilisHermaphroditicBroadcastDai & Wu, 1995
Sinularia flexibilisGonochoricBroadcastMichalek-Wagner, 2001
Sinularia gyrosaGonochoricBroadcastSchleyer et al., in Benayahu, 1997
Sinularia humesiGonochoricBroadcastBenayahu et al., 1990
Sinularia leptocladosGonochoricBroadcastBenayahu et al., 1990
Sinularia lochmodesGonochoricBroadcastXAlino & Coll, 1989
Sinularia mayiGonochoricBroadcastBenayahu et al., 1990
Sinularia nanolobataHermaphroditicBroadcastDai & Wu, 1995
Sinularia polydactylaGonochoricBroadcastSlattery et al., 1999
Sinularia rigidaGonochoricBroadcastAlino & Coll, 1989
Sinularia scabraHermaphroditicBroadcastXDai & Wu, 1995
Sphenopus marsupialis (zoanthid)GonochoricBroadcast ?Soong et al., 1999
Sphenopus marsupialis (zoanthid)GonochoricBroadcast ?Soong et al., 1999
Stereonephthya cundabiluensisGonochoricBrooderBenayahu, 1997
Sympodium caeruleumGonochoricBrooderBenayahu, 1991
Thrombophyton coronatumBrooderMcFadden & Hochberg, 2002
Thrombophyton trachydermumGonochoricMcFadden & Hochberg, 2003
Urticina lofotenisGonochoricBroadcastJennison, 1979, in Lin et al., 2000
Xenia biseriataGonochoricBrooderBenayahu, 1991
Xenia blumiGonochoricBrooderGohar, 1940
Xenia faruensisGonochoricBrooderBenayahu, 1991
Xenia garciaeGonochoricBrooderBenayahu, 1991
Xenia grasshoffiHermaphroditic?XBenayahu, 1991
Xenia hicksoniGonochoricBrooderXGohar, 1940
Xenia impulsatillaGonochoricBrooderBenayahu, 1991
Xenia kuekenthaliGonochoric?Benayahu, 1991
Xenia lillieaeGonochoric?Benayahu, 1991
Xenia macrospiculataGonochoricBrooderBenayahu & Loya, 1984; Benayahu, 1997
Xenia membranaceaGonochoricBrooderBenayahu, 1991
Xenia novabrittanniaeHermaphroditicBrooderBenayahu, 1991
Xenia obscuronataGonochoricBrooderBenayahu, 1991
Xenia sp.GonochoricBrooderBenayahu, 1991
Xenia umbellataGonochoricBrooderBenayahu, 1991
Xestospongia mutaGonochoricBroadcastBecerro, 2005
Zoanthid sp.BroadcastASIRA Data base
Zoanthus pacificusHermaphroditicBroadcastCooke, 1976
Zoanthus pulchellusHermaphroditicBroadcastKarlson, 1981
Zoanthus sansibaricusHermaphroditicBroadcastOno et al., 2005
Zoanthus sociatusHermaphroditicBroadcastKarlson, 1981
Zoanthus solanderiHermaphroditicBroadcastFadlallah, 1984

This concludes our observations of sexuality and reproductive habits among corals. Next time, well examine one of the most important environmental parameters in coral reproduction that of lighting. I have chosen to present the reference list at the end of this series. For those wishing an early copy, please email me at [email protected] and Ill send the complete reference list as a Word document.



I wish to thank Michael P. Janes for his generosity in sharing photographs and helpful comments. He often pointed me in the proper direction, especially with comments on classifications. However, any mistakes within the article are mine and mine alone. Also, aquarist Michael Pollock kindly shared the extraordinary introductory photo.

  • Dana Riddle

    I have been an aquarist since 1964 and a reef hobbyist since the mid-1980’s. I am the owner of a small laboratory (Riddle Aquatic Laboratories) that specializes in investigation of interactions between light and water motion & photosynthetic organisms (especially corals). The results of this research, resulting in almost 250 articles, have been published in Advanced Aquarist Online, Aquarium Frontiers, Koralle, Freshwater and Marine Aquarium, The Breeders’ Registry, Aquarium Fish, Marine Fish Monthly and others. My first article was published in a 1984 SeaScope and relayed my experiences with a refugium – an idea that would catch fire about a decade later. I have had the honor of making over 60 presentations to various groups, including national conferences such as the Marine Aquarium Conference of North America (MACNA) International Marine Aquarium Conference (IMAC), PetsFestival (Italy), regional conferences, and local clubs. I received the Marine Aquarium Society of North America (MASNA) Aquarist of the Year Award in 2011 at the MACNA conference in Des Moines.


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