One of my personal favorites, Zoanthus gigantus or Peope Eater zoanthids, were arguably the first named coral and are one of the few species of zoanthids to actually be indentified down to species. It is in fact a member of this group which is commonly identified as having first started the naming craze of corals. Blane Perun first collected, propagated, named and sold PPE (aka Purple People Eaters) in order to help fund a children's charity. He tells the story on his own web site, Farms of the Sea. This particular polyp has ranged in price from $200/polyp to its current price of around $10 to $50/polyp, and has inadvertently set the standard of a higher price for members of this particular species of zoanthids. The slow growth rate of the PPE polyp insures that it continues to be in high demand by hobbyists who feel they need to acquire this icon for their aquarium; although it is becoming more and more widespread with time.
The PPE polyp exhibited a set of easily identifiable characteristics and based on these characteristics a significant number of additional color morphs, many of them much more colorful than the original, have since been identified. These morphs are collectively grouped and referred to as PE (aka People Eater) zoas. It has been suggested that the People Eater moniker was given because of the large green mouth that this group exhibits.
Distinguishing PE Characteristics
- A large, typically colorful, oral disc;
- A neon green mouth;(Although in some color morphs speckling can make the mouth color difficult to distinguish)
- And white (watermelon-like) striping on the underside of the polyp;
- Most PEs also have short, fairly blunt-tipped tentacles in their skirt;
Some morphs exhibit a bluish ring around the green mouth which distinguishes them from similar morphs. Morphs with the bluish ring are sometimes distinguished with the word "True" in their name, such as True Red PEs.
Additional Photo Credits: PPE Colony - jimsflies; Closed PPEs - Wy Renegade