We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are Button Polyps?

By Jillian O Keeffe
Updated Mar 05, 2024
Our promise to you
AllThingsNature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At AllThingsNature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A type of coral, button polyps get their name from their appearance. They are part of the zooanthus genus of corals and are primarily photosynthetic. They live on rock surfaces and do not require careful maintenance, so they are useful for artificial tank habitats.

These corals are round shaped with flattish tops on the ends of short stalks, which are attached to rock bases. The circular top has tentacles all around it. The polyps can be one of many colors, such as brown, yellow, or red. They look similar to sea anemones.

Button polyps are photosynthetic, which means that they can produce all the energy they need from sunlight and can become a brighter color if they receive a lot of light. The photosynthesis is mediated through the presence of zooxanthellae algae in the polyp, which acts as a symbiont, producing energy in return for a place to thrive. As well as the capacity for photosynthesis, the corals can obtain energy and nutrients from small marine life, such as plankton or brine shrimp. In nature, the button polyps collect this food as it drifts toward the polyps in the water current. The polyps do not attack larger organisms such as blenny fish, although larger organisms like crustaceans or butterfly fish can damage the polyps through nibbling on the ends of the tentacles.

Growth and spread of the button polyps occurs through budding off an existing polyp. The new bud, which is attached to the base of the first polyp, grows off and into a new adult polyp. A similar coral to button polyps, the Sea Mat looks superficially the same but can be differentiated through the presence of a large mat from which new polyps bud off, as opposed to the lack of a base mat that is characteristic of the button polyps. Button polyps tend to spread quickly and take over available space on the rocks in an aquarium.

Even though button polyps are not very fastidious in their environmental requirements, they do prefer to grow in water that does not move very quickly. As they are photosynthetic, they do best with a high level of light, but if they have to be kept at low-light levels, then the addition of plankton or other feed is advantageous. Artificial propagation is relatively simple as all that is necessary is to cut one polyp away from the original group, and this will attach to gravel under slow water flow conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly are button polyps?

Button polyps are a type of coral belonging to the Zoanthidae family, which are marine invertebrates found in coral reefs around the world. They are known for their small, colorful, and button-like appearance, forming colonies that can cover large areas. These polyps are popular in the aquarium trade due to their hardiness and vibrant colors.

How do button polyps reproduce?

Button polyps can reproduce both sexually and asexually. Asexual reproduction occurs through a process called budding, where new polyps form directly from the body of an existing one. Sexual reproduction involves the release of sperm and eggs into the water column, where fertilization occurs, leading to the development of free-swimming larvae that eventually settle and form new colonies.

Are button polyps easy to care for in an aquarium?

Button polyps are considered one of the easier corals to care for in an aquarium. They are adaptable to a range of water conditions and lighting levels, making them suitable for beginner aquarists. However, they do require stable water parameters and moderate water flow to thrive, as well as regular feeding with planktonic foods or specialized coral feeds.

Can button polyps harm other corals in a reef tank?

Button polyps can be aggressive towards other corals in a reef tank. They have the ability to extend their sweeper tentacles, which can sting and damage neighboring corals. It's important to provide adequate space between button polyps and other coral species to prevent competition for space and resources, ensuring a harmonious reef tank environment.

What kind of lighting do button polyps need?

Button polyps are quite adaptable to different lighting conditions, but they generally prefer moderate to high-intensity lighting. LED or T5 fluorescent lighting systems that provide a full spectrum of light are ideal for promoting growth and maintaining the vibrant colors of button polyps. It's essential to acclimate them slowly to the lighting conditions in your aquarium to avoid stress.

How can you tell if button polyps are healthy?

Healthy button polyps will display vibrant colors, have fully extended polyps during the day, and actively capture food when fed. Their base, or mat, will be firmly attached to a surface, and they will show steady growth over time. Signs of distress include retracted polyps, discoloration, or sloughing of the outer tissue, indicating poor water quality or disease.

AllThingsNature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

AllThingsNature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

AllThingsNature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.