Tubastraea micranthus is a pretty special type of coral. It’s part of a group called the sun corals, which are all part of the Tubastraea family. It’s also known as the Black Sun Coral.
This coral has a dark green color and grows like a bush or a tree.
Where Can You Find Tubastraea micranthus?
Tubastraea micranthus coral is quite the traveler. You can find it in lots of different places, from the Red Sea to Madagascar, and even as far as Fiji in the Pacific.
Tubastraea micranthus is not scared of the deep, either – it’s been seen in water as shallow as 4 meters and as deep as 138 meters. But, in its home habitats, it’s usually only found up to 50 meters deep.
Anything deeper than that, and Tubastraea micranthus is likely in a place it has invaded. There have even been sightings of this coral in Korea.
What Does Tubastraea micranthus Eat?
Here’s where it gets really interesting. Tubastraea micranthus is what’s known as an azooxanthellate coral. This means it doesn’t have zooxanthellae, which is a type of algae that most corals use for food.
Instead, Tubastraea micranthus coral gets its energy from filter feeding. It’s even been seen eating bigger things like plankton and maybe even jellyfish!
At night, Tubastraea micranthus’s polyps (those are like the coral’s arms) expand up to 3 cm to catch food.
What Makes Tubastraea micranthus Special?
Unlike most azooxanthellate corals, which are soft and flow with the currents, Tubastraea micranthus is a tough guy.
Tubastraea micranthus’s a reef-building coral, strong enough to stay standing even in areas blasted with dynamite. And it grows quite fast, too – about 4 cm per year, beating many other azooxanthellate corals.
How Does Tubastraea micranthus Reproduce?
While we don’t know for sure, it’s believed that Tubastraea micranthus can reproduce both sexually and asexually.
This is because it shares many traits with other Tubastraea species, especially T. coccinea.
How Does Tubastraea micranthus Look Like?
Tubastraea micranthus is known for its dark color and its vertical growth. And it seems that where it lives can affect its size and strength.
For example, Tubastraea micranthus found in the Philippines were bigger and stronger than those found in the Red Sea. And the ones in the Philippines lived at a greater range of depths, too.
The biggest colonies of Tubastraea micranthus in the Philippines could grow up to 1 meter tall with a base stem 15 cm in diameter. In the Red Sea, the tallest Tubastraea micranthus is only 44 cm.
This size difference might be due to the light in the environment.
Tubastraea micranthus in the Philippines are usually in light-exposed environments, while those in the Red Sea are in dimly lit ones.
Even though light doesn’t affect Tubastraea micranthus coral’s growth directly, it does affect the amount of plankton in the water, providing more food for Tubastraea micranthus.
Is Tubastraea micranthus Invasive?
Yes, Tubastraea micranthus is invasive. In recent years, it’s started living in the Gulf of Mexico, near the mouth of the Mississippi, where it’s become an invasive species. It’s starting to beat out the native sponges and algae.
Tubastraea micranthus doesn’t compete with another member of its family, T. coccinea, but it might be a bit more bossy when it comes to taking space from sponges and algae.
But, while Tubastraea micranthus is a big problem near the mouth of the Mississippi, it doesn’t seem to take over in natural reefs. This makes us think it can’t really compete in these reefs.
Tubastraea micranthus Characteristics