Sometimes you just need to zen out with the gently swaying xenia in our Living Coral exhibit.

Afternoon Anemones and Corals

Pulsing xenia (Xenia sp.) and a bubble-tip anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor) are just some of the animals—yes, animals—that you can see in this video. Do you know the difference between the two? They are both members of the same family, cnidarians (just like many jellies). But the anemones in this exhibit are able to move around the tank (very slowly) while the corals usually stay put. Anemones have an adhesive foot used to grip or glide around the exhibit. They have a column-shaped body with a mouth at the top fringed by tentacles that grab prey and push it into their mouth. 

Where anemones are singular, soft corals also tend to be in colonies, though individual polyps have a similar body structure with tentacles that they use for feeding. They are called “soft” because they do not create the rigid calcium skeleton that are the backbones of coral reefs. While they don’t make reefs, soft corals are definitely part of healthy reef ecosystems. 

So the next time you visit the Aquarium and stop by the Living Coral exhibit for a moment of zen, see if you can identify the corals and anemones swaying in the currents.