Zoantharia also known as Hexacorallia, as they have 6-fold
Corals are marine organisms from the class Anthozoa and exist as small sea anemone -like polyps, typically in colonies of many identical individuals. The group includes the important reef builders that are found in tropical oceans, which secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.
A coral 'head', commonly perceived to be a single organism, is formed from thousands of individual but genetically identical polyps, each polyp only a few millimeters in diameter. Over thousands of generations, the polyps lay down a skeleton that is characteristic of their species. A head of coral grows by asexual reproduction of the individual polyps. Corals also breed sexually by spawning, with corals of the same species releasing gametes simultaneously over a period of one to several nights around a full moon.
Although corals can catch small fish and animals using stinging cells on their tentacles, these animals obtain most of their nutrients from symbiotic unicellular algae called zooxanthellae, by allowing them to catch plankton and convert it to food for themselves and their host. Any food that is consumed and is not required for the coral´s survival is converted to calcium carbonate to help build more skeleton. Consequently, most corals depend on sunlight and grow in clear and shallow water, typically at depths shallower than 60 m (200 ft). These corals can be major contributors to the physical structure of the coral reefs that develop in tropical and subtropical waters, such as the enormous Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Other corals do not have associated algae and can live in much deeper water, such as in the Atlantic, with the cold-water genus Lophelia surviving as deep as 3000 m. Examples of these can be found living on the Darwin Mounds located north-west of Cape Wrath, Scotland. Corals have also been found off the coast of Washington State and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.
The text above is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License (GNU FDL). It uses material from the Wikipedia article "6-fold symmetry coral".