These corals are not here to lead the country, they are here to serve it. Captain America Palythoas are a comic book nerd’s dream coral, well one of them. The coral resembles Captain America’s famous red, white, and blue shield. Due to varying circumstances in individual aquarium, the color scheme may be morphed to a green hue or the red may turn pink. The one thing that stays as true as the superhero is the pattern of the colors themselves.
image via reef2reef member @Nanofins
You do not have to be a superhero to keep these corals either. They thrive in just about any environment you throw at them. They do well in fast to slow current and can be acclimated to a wide range of light. The corals are also very quick to grow, averaging 3-6 polyps per month. A small frag can easily be a money maker when it fills out and spills onto your rock work. Though they are named after Captain America, they are not invulnerable to problems.
Keeping your parameters at the standard level will help these corals stay happy. Set your salinity between 1.024 and 1.026. Your pH should range around 8.3 and your temperature should stay between 77 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Palythoas in general require minimal lighting, but the Captain America Palys seem to like stronger lighting. The flow rate is not important, but their tentacles extend differently in various types of flow. They can sting other corals so leaving space around them is a good idea. They generally do not bother other Palythoa species but can outgrow or be outgrown by faster growing species.
image via reef2reef member @gws3
Palythoas are the Venus Fly Trap of the sea. They happily accept mysis shrimp or any other chopped up meaty foods. They will also accept smaller foods like plankton. The more you feed them the faster they will grow. They contain a nerve net that senses vibration and things that come into contact with them. This often triggers them to close up as a defense mechanism or for consuming prey.
At night time these corals are usually closed unless you have a bright moonlight on or even if the room light is on. Any trace of light can keep them open all night. This may cause them to be stressed, but that is unlikely. The hardiness and growth rate of these corals make great propagators. You can take a frag of 8 polyps and turn it into 8 frags of 3 polyps within a couple months, thus making more than your money back.
Before ever cutting into a coral you must be warned of their Palyotoxin that is stored inside them. A single loose polyp swallowed by a child or pet could result in fatality. Take more than extra precautions when fragging any coral. To frag a palythoa you will need Gloves, Safety Goggles, a Towel, Super Glue Gel, a bowl of tank water, a razor blade, and a colony to frag.
Strap on your goggles and snap your gloves on tight. Pick your colony up out of the water and locate the desired area to frag. The coral is encrusted to the rock. If you have brittle rock you can literally use the blade to cut through the rock and not worry about damaging the flesh as much. If you are looking to score individual polyps you can slice them at the base of the stalk or even use a scissor. When you have the desired cut, place it in the water for a minute while you put your colony back in its home.
image via reef2reef member @KLR
Remove the new cut frag and pat the bottom of it dry. If you are only doing one polyp you may need tweezers or a hemostat to hod the coral. Be sure to locate the head so you do not glue it upside down. Place a dab of glue on the side you patted dry and press it onto the plug or rubble and place it back in the bowl of water for a minute or two. Once the glue looks white it will be ready to place in a low flow area of the tank until it fully encrusts onto the new base. Be careful for the first couple weeks as the coral may get loose as it expands and contracts.
These are cool to look at, they grow fast, they are easy, and everyone loves a super hero…unless you are a super villain. If you are into comic books and reef tanks you have to get a Captain America Paly for your collection. When someone says they do not like Palythoas tell them in the words of Captain America, “Keep Flying, son. And watch that potty mouth!” Be a Super Reefer and head over to the Soft Coral Forum to show off your Captain America Paly!
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