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Palythoa is a genus of anthozoans in the order Zoantharia.[1][2]


The polyps of Palythoa are partially embedded in an encrusting mat of tissue (coenenchyme) covering the substrate on which the colony grows. The individual polyps have flattened oral discs surrounded by a fringe of tentacles. The tentacles' shape and size can vary considerably between species, and even between colonies of the same species. Their colors are also highly variable, with relatively dull shades like cream, coffee, white, brown, or yellow, being the most common. Fluorescent colored colonies also exist, but these are more rare.[3][4]


Palytoxin is a highly toxic fatty alcohol produced by many species of Palythoa, and is also found in other corals and certain marine invertebrates. The substance was first isolated from the seaweed-like "limu-make-o-Hana" ("Seaweed of Death from Hana") in 1971 in Hawaii. Scientific investigation of the seaweed found it to be a colonial cnidarian, which was classified as a zoanthid and named Palythoa toxica. Small quantities of palytoxin can be fatal should it be ingested or inhaled.

The presence of this toxin is of significance to aquarists who keep reef aquariums, as Palythoa and related zoanthids are commonly kept as decorative specimens in marine aquaria. Aquarists have reported symptoms consistent with palytoxin poisoning prior to having exposure to zoanthids suspected to contain the toxin. One report involved an aquarist being accidentally poisoned through skin injuries after handling zoanthids.[5] Another report involved an aquarium hobbyist in Virginia who experienced a severe respiratory reaction after trying to eradicate colonies of brown zoanthids (suspected to be Palythoa) from rocks in their aquarium.[6] A 2010 study found that a single specimen of Palythoa from a sample of fifteen colonies purchased from three aquarium stores in the Washington D.C. area contained high levels of palytoxin, indicating that toxic individuals are present in the captive population.[7]

While poisoning events have occurred, they are exceedingly rare, and many reef hobbyists have kept Palythoa without any adverse reactions. However, it is generally recommended to always wear appropriate protective gloves and goggles when reaching into aquaria and handling animals which are suspected to be toxic.[8]

Taxonomy and systematics

The genus Protopalythoa was once thought to be distinct from the genus Palythoa but is now considered to be a synonym.[1]


The following species are recognized in the genus Palythoa:

¹Indicates Species Unreviewed: has not been verified by a taxonomic editor

Taxon inquirendum:

  • Palythoa anduzii (Duchassaing & Michelotti, 1860)
  • Palythoa auricula (Lesueur, 1817)
  • Palythoa brevis Andres, 1883
  • Palythoa casigneta Walsh, 1967
  • Palythoa distans (Duchassaing & Michelotti, 1866)
  • Palythoa dubiae Walsh, 1967
  • Palythoa eupaguri Marion, 1882
  • Palythoa fulva Walsh, 1967
  • Palythoa fulva (Quoy & Gaimard, 1833)
  • Palythoa gigantea Cubit & Williams, 1983
  • Palythoa glomerata Marion, 1882
  • Palythoa lutea (Quoy & Gaimard, 1833)
  • Palythoa mcmurrichi (Haddon & Shackleton, 1891)
  • Palythoa olivascens Brandt, 1835
  • Palythoa plana (Duchassaing & Michelotti, 1860)
  • Palythoa vanikorensis (Quoy & Gaimard, 1833)
  • Palythoa viridifusca (Quoy & Gaimard, 1833)
  • Palythoa viridis (Quoy & Gaimard, 1833)


  1. ^ a b Reimer, J. (2018). Palythoa Lamouroux, 1816. Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=205785 on 2018-08-27
  2. ^ Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2014. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed at http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Palythoa/classification/
  3. ^ "Moon Polyps". Animal-World. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  4. ^ Sprung, Julian. "Aquarium Invertebrates: Zoanthids: Polyps As Cute As A Button". Advanced Aquarist. Pomacanthus Publications, LLC. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  5. ^ Katrin Hoffmann, Maren Hermanns-Clausen, Claus Buhl, Markus W. Büchler, Peter Schemmer, Dietrich Mebs and Silke Kauferstein (2008) A case of palytoxin poisoning due to contact with zoanthid corals through a skin injury. Toxicon 51, no. 8: 1535-1537.
  6. ^ Longo-White, Adrienne (7 April 2011). "Palythoa Toxica Poisoning - One Reefkeeper's Personal Experience With Palytoxin Poisoning". Advanced Aquarist. Pomacanthus Publications, LLC. Archived from the original on 29 May 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  7. ^ Deeds JR, Handy SM, White KD, Reimer JD (2011) Palytoxin Found in Palythoa sp. Zoanthids (Anthozoa, Hexacorallia) Sold in the Home Aquarium Trade. PLoS ONE 6(4): e18235. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018235
  8. ^ Nicholas Violand Aquarium Science: Palytoxin and You, Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine
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Palythoa: Brief Summary

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Palythoa is a genus of anthozoans in the order Zoantharia.

Wikipedia authors and editors
visit source
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wikipedia EN