Fitzgerald Hall of Natural Science
Coral Reef Aquarium
A coral reef is an ocean ecosystem where many different animals live together. Natural coral reefs are found in the world’s tropical oceans. The WonderLab aquarium recreates a natural coral reef environment by supplying proper lighting, temperature, and water chemistry suitable for reef species from around the world.
What lives in the aquarium?
Corals may look like plants, but are actually animals. Coral colonies are built from many individual polyps, small tube-like creatures with a central mouth surrounded by tentacles that can grab food. The polyps of stony corals generate hard skeletons of calcium carbonate, which build the reefs we see today. Soft corals have small crystals of calcium carbonate inside the polyp itself, which help support the soft structure and deter predators.
Anemones are relatives of corals that attach themselves to rocks or dead coral and spread their crowns of stinging tentacles to catch food.
Echinoderms are the group of animals that usually have five arms or rays and include sea stars and brittle stars.
Arthropods include crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs. Examples of arthropods found in the aquarium are cleaner shrimp, peppermint shrimp, and hermit crabs.
Annelids such as bristleworms are most active at night when they emerge from their hiding places to search for algae and morsels of food.
Fish that you may see include the blue-green chromis, bi-color angelfish, clownfish, and hippocampus tang.