The Nuclear Green Palythoa, or Paly, gets its name from its unmistakable bright green face. They have fairly large polyps that protrude slightly from the rockwork, as opposed to zoas which tend to sit flat against the rocks. In addition to their trademark green face they have a skirt that contains hints of blue. They grow by budding and a single head can grow into a colony in a fairly short period of time.
Palythoas are found throughout the world’s oceans, but are most commonly collected from the waters of Fiji, Tonga and the Great Barrier Reef. Some of the more popular colour morphs are also extensively aquacultured. In the wild, they are found at a variety of depths although they tend to prefer areas with moderate levels of light and water flow. In a home aquarium they are often placed on rock islands on the substrate, as they have the ability to take over the main rockwork if left unchecked.
Like other types of palythoa, the Nuclear Green variety prefers moderate to low lighting. Since they are often placed on rocks on the sandbed this is usually fairly easy to achieve. If the coral appears to be “stretching” towards the light it may be in an area with insufficient lighting. Conversely, if a palythoa’s polyps remain closed they may be receiving too much light. In terms of flow, they do well in areas of moderate flow. The flow should be sufficient to prevent the buildup of detritus but not so strong that the polyps are blown around aggressively.
All palythoas are photosynthetic, but they can be fed foods such as Reef Roids or Vitalis Soft Coral food. This will help to increase their growth rate and may improve colouration.
Propagating palythoas is a bit of an art form since they do not have a branching skeleton that can be cut. One common method is to encourage the coral to grow over a piece of rubble rock or frag disc that can then be removed. Regardless of what method is used it is a good idea to wear gloves, eye protection and possibly a mask because some species release a potent toxin when handled.