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uhuru
04/10/2010, 05:37 PM
http://www.bluezooaquatics.com/productdetailcc.asp?did=11&cid=328&pid=6092

Glad to see more of these being offered, but I just want to point out that this is not an SPS coral. It is a non-photosynthetic coral that is discussed more in the non-photosynthetic sub-forum.

fish_dave
04/11/2010, 11:48 AM
I have no claim of being an SPS expert but that coral does have very small polyps and is very stony. I think that SPS stands for Small Polyped Stony coral which seems to fit the description of Distichopora. Maybe it should be called SPNPSC Small Polyp Non Photosynthetic Stony Coral. Or maybe VSNPSC as they seem to be very small polyps.

I guess the question will be whether Distichopora has actual poyps seeing as how it has no cyclosystem. It does have dactylopores and gastropores which in turn have dactylozooids and gastrozooids which I believe can be be called polyps so even though the coral is non-photosynthetic it still could be said to have small polyps.

uhuru
04/11/2010, 01:27 PM
Good point. I didn't think of it strictly based on appearance that way. My only real concern is that SPS keepers are going to get it thinking if they put it under 400w MH lights with calcium/alk supplementation and sparse if any feedings it should grow... or they may wonder why they never see the polyps coming out of the pores. Maybe just a little description would be a good idea, as the description at the bottom of the BZ website is especially misleading.

From the peteducation (DFS) website:

The Distichopora Purple Stick Coral is often mistaken for a small polyp stony coral (SPS) because of its hard purple exoskeleton, when in fact, it is classified as a Hydrocoral. Unlike Fire Corals, which are also Hydrocorals, most species will not sting other corals in the reef aquarium. It is commonly referred to as Lace, Ember, or simply Stylaster Coral. Its body is made up of calcium carbonate, and its beautiful, lacy, fan-shaped branches with blunt tips are very fragile. Its tiny, clear polyps will extend from the grooves along its fan-like branches.

The Distichopora Purple Stick Coral is peaceful towards other corals in the reef aquarium. It should only be added to well-established tanks. Provide low lighting and a medium to strong water current in the aquarium, along with the addition of calcium, iodine, strontium, and other trace elements to the water. Placement under overhangs will provide a good environment.

It does not contain the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae, and is dependent on regular feedings of supplemental foods such as micro-plankton.

fish_dave
04/11/2010, 01:38 PM
I agree with you. I don't think that SPS is a very good descriptor for what we use it for in the hobby. This instance shows that it could be used for very different corals. SPS meaning small polyp stony corals can describe corals with hugely different husbandry needs.

returnofsid
04/12/2010, 12:44 PM
There's nothing wrong with it being in the SPS category. It's no different than Tubastrea sp. Sun Corals being placed in an LPS category. Tubastrea is an LPS coral. It's a Non Photosynthetic LPS coral.

skanderson
04/12/2010, 01:44 PM
i hate being overly legalistic but that isnt a sps coral. like heliopora it is an octocoral so it is only distantly related to sps corals. it is also nonphotosynthetic. doent matter at all and im fine with it in the sps category of wysiwyg online sites. if you dont know what something is and how to take care of it you should never buy something. buyer beware.

fish_dave
04/12/2010, 01:52 PM
why is it not an SPS coral, it has small polyps and is stony.

uhuru
04/12/2010, 05:47 PM
Even though I made this thread I have to agree that these are not scientific classifications so saying what is right and wrong pretty much comes down to personal preference. Technically it is not a true coral but a hydroid, so any classification other than "invertebrates" would be wrong.

fish_dave
04/12/2010, 06:14 PM
Technically it is not a "scleractinian" coral, but there are other non-scleractinian corals that are still generally called "corals". I would say that you could technically call Distichopora a coral. It is in the class of Hydrozoa and not of Anthozoa which includes the Octocorals so is generally not considered an Octocoral but a type of Hydroid. Tubipora is often included in lists as a LPS coral yet it is also a non-scleractinian coral.

uhuru
04/12/2010, 07:39 PM
Ok, you've really got me wondering now :) I've PM'ed someone that might be able to shed more light on this.

Matt_Wandell
04/12/2010, 10:08 PM
Great questions Mike. In short, there are no rules with common names.

The word "coral" is a rather arbitrary term that includes species from distantly related groups, while excluding species from more closely related groups. The technical term for this kind of grouping is paraphyletic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraphyly), and it's one that taxonomists get very upset about, but people who enjoy banal minutiae get all excited about. "Reptile" is another example of a paraphyletic grouping, as is "SPS coral" or "LPS coral" or "Non-photosynthetic coral" or the "miscellaneous fish" category you see at some online retailers. :D

Wikipedia defines "coral" as the class Anthozoa, but this doesn't really jive with what "we" (hobbyists or biologists) commonly call "coral". The wikipedia definition would include tube anemones, sea pens, and sea anemones as "corals", and excludes hydrozoans like fire coral and the purple lace coral above (Distichopora sp.) as "not corals".

I'd say that, in the context of a responsible seller's labeling, what is way more important than calling it a "coral" or not is getting the latin name right and emphasizing that it is non-photosynthetic, as you point out.

uhuru
04/13/2010, 06:04 AM
Thanks for the clarification Matt!