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What Are Clove Polyps?

Marisa O'Connor
Marisa O'Connor

Clove polyps are beautiful reef invertebrates and are a popular addition to marine aquariums. They are very easy to care for, requiring only a weekly feeding, and spread rapidly over nearby rocks. This form of marine life has a tendency to overtake adjacent corals and anemones, so they should be kept a safe distance away.

Very attractive reef invertebrates that originate from the Indian and Pacific Oceans of Indonesia, this animal's scientific name is Clavularia and comes from the Clavulariidae family. Other common names for the clove polyp are glove polyps, encrusting polyps, and eight tentacle polyps. They are very popular in commercial and home reef aquariums due to their vivid colors and patterns and ease of care.

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Woman holding a book

These colorful creatures attach themselves to rocks at the base of their long polyps. The polyps describe the long, tubular bodies of the plant. At the end of the polyps are eight tentacles that sway beautifully in the current. The tentacles grow up to 4 inches (10.16 cm) long when open and reduce back to half their size when closed. They come in a variety of colors, including green, purple, and pink.

These invertebrates will spread to any nearby rocks very rapidly, forming what look like a mat of lumpy masses. Clove polyps are considered semi-aggressive when compared to other invertebrates due to their reproductive habits. They should be kept away from other corals in an aquarium, as they have a tendency to grow right on top of another coral. They can also be also harmful to certain anemones, such as the zoanthid anemones, so they should not be placed in proximity to each other. Additionally, they are vulnerable to other aggressive invertebrates and fish, so should be kept fairly isolated.

The ideal environment for a marine aquarium housing clove polyps should be kept as close to the natural reef environment as possible. The temperature should remain between 72 (22.22 C) and 78 (25.55 C) degrees Fahrenheit, and the specific gravity should be between 1.023 and 1.025. The pH of the aquarium should stay between 8.10 and 8.40. This animal requires strong to moderate water flow and lighting that mimics the reef, so a metal halide light is recommended.

When positioned in the middle or high levels of the marine aquarium, clove polyps are able to thrive best. Feeding these marine creatures is fairly simple, as most of their nutrients are obtained via photosynthesis. Weekly feedings of small plankton and adding trace elements and iodine to the water should provide a sufficient amount of nutrients.

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