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.
Perun originally identified this particular polyp as a palythoa, and thus they are still commonly (and incorrectly) referred to in the hobby as palys. However, Reimer later classified all Indo-Pacific PE's by DNA into their own species, Zoanthus gigantus
. Care should be taken when identifying PE zoas as Zoanthus gigantus
however, as Caribbean People Eaters are currently classifed as either Zoanthus pulchellus
or Zoanthus solanderi
. Further genetic research is required to determine if in fact these two groups of very similar zoas are the same species.
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.
|Green People Eaters - Photo by Wy Renegade|
|Red People Eaters - Photo by Iyachtuxivm|
|PE zoanthids do best under the following conditions:|| |
Lighting: Medium to low; while most PE morphs grow/show best under medium to low lighting, light requirements do vary by individual morph with some actually preferring high light. Remember to properly light acclimate all new polyps to your aquarium.
Flow: Medium to High; most PE morphs seem to do best in a medium to high flow area. Flow should be enough to cause the skirt to wave, but not enough to cause the polyps to close. In my personal experience being in an area of medium to high flow seems to be critical with these polyps.
Feeding: Varies; most PE morphs acquire the majority of their nutrition from photosynthesis, and do fine without supplemental feeding. Some individuals have acquired higher growth rates through supplemental feeding of very fine foods.
Rarity: Varies; morphs range from unique and unattainable, to common while Z. gigantus and Z. pulchellus or Z. solanderi may or may not be different species, aquarium growth and care is essentially the same for both groups.
| | Additional Photo Credits: PPE Colony - jimsflies; Closed PPEs - Wy Renegade
|Ding Dang PEs|| Orange PEs || Halo PEs|
|photo by jimsflies||photo by Wy Renegade||photo by ReeferRob|