Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Corals are described as solitary if they grow as isolated individuals.  These individuals are called polyps.  For more information on polyps and their characteristics read the article Coral Individual – The Polyp.  An individual may have more than one mouth (e.g. Ctenactis, p. 24 of the Coral Finder). If a coral grows as separate individuals, the term solitary is also used to describe the life form (see below) of the coral.

Solitary free living ↔ Solitary attached

Solitary corals may be either free-living or attached, or both at different times in their lives (e.g. p.24-25 in the Coral Finder).  The corals may be round, oval or elongate.  Note that it is possible for solitary polyps to have many mouths.

Corals may live as a solitary polyp or clone to form a colony of many polyps. Solitary corals can be as large, or larger, than colonies. The genus Ctenactis (left) and Moseleya (right). Note: both of the corals illustrated are also free-living.

Free-living corals can be solitary or colonial - the genus Fungia (left) & Halomitra (right).