[Coral-List] do some corals eat at all?

Christopher Paul Jury jurychri at msu.edu
Thu Oct 19 09:55:19 EDT 2006

Corals are constantly taking up inorganic carbon from the environment and 
losing it as carbon dioxide to the environment (mainly just at night for 
zooxanthellate corals) and in mucus. In fact, a very large portion if not 
the majority of fixed carbon is lost as mucus. I think your question was 
more with regards to N and P though. The mucus lost by corals is a 
significant portion of their total N and P budgets. Thus, simply to continue 
functioning at a very basic level they must constantly be acquiring more N 
and P to replace what is lost in mucus. Additionally, without the uptake of 
N and P the corals would not effectively be able to repair injuries from, 
say, abrasion due to sand or the nips of a fish. They also would never be 
able to grow any new tissue or produce gametes. Corals, just like any other 
animals, are open systems with regards to C, N and P. Yonge did much of the 
pioneer work on just about anything one can think of related to reefs and 
coral physiology. Corals kept in light and filtered seawater without access 
to food (zooplankton) all eventually died. Corals kept without light but 
with very high densities of food (zooplankton) survived. Later studies have 
suggested that some corals can get along just fine without eating 
zooplankton, but they simply must be acquiring the necessary nutrients from 
other sources (bacterioplankton, fine particulate matter, direct uptake of 
DIN/DIP, etc.). 


Chris Jury
Center for Marine Science-UNCW
5600 Marvin K. Moss Ln
Wilmington, NC 28409 

shashank Keshavmurthy writes: 

> Dear Listers!!! 
> Wow...it has been a long one month since the
> debate started on the nutrients/algae/coral
> complex and it was really informative... 
> Anyway..I dont know if this has already been
> asked/discussed in the coral list.... 
> But I am asking it again...do some coral species
> eat at all? 
> When I ask this question..I mean..how many coral
> species can live just like that (even wthout the
> nutrient uptake form the surrounding water) 
> Is the coral-zooxanthellae complex
> self-suffecient to an extent that there is no
> need of external nutrient or food source... 
> How many coral species out  there can act as a
> self-sustained perpetual machines? 
> I mean zooxanthellae producing energy by
> photosynthesis, coral feeding exclusively on
> old/dead and some zooxanthellae and then
> transferring the endproduct to
> zooxanthellae...and so on... 
> Is this process a viable option? if yes, then to
> what extent? 
> Thanks for taking time and reading this and may
> be correct me and give some comments.... 
> Shashank 
> "the role of infinitely small in nature is infinitely large"-Louis Pasteur                 
> Keshavmurthy Shashank
> phD candidate
> Kochi University, Graduate School of Kuroshio Science
> Laboratory of Environmental Conservation
> Otsu 200, Monobe, Nankoku-shi
> 783-8502, Kochi, Japan
> alt. id: shashank at cc.kochi-u.ac.jp
> phone: 81 080 3925 3889
> My WebPage: http://web.mac.com/coralresearch/iWeb/Site/Welcome.html 
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