It’s the Pretty Skirts

Yes, the intense color is impressive but it’s the skirts that add an extra element of interest.

 Zoanthids and Palythoas are not corals that I keep. It’s not that I don’t like them; they simply don’t excite me. How I came to have a colony of Nuclear Green Palys has slipped from my memory, but I enjoy them nonetheless.
I’ve not always had success bringing out their vibrant green color. This time I got close. But it’s a new discovery that gets me excited about this image. Because my “focus” has always been on the intense green color and making that stand out in the image, I had not paid much attention to the “skirt” tentacles. Wow! They’re really attractive! They also do an excellent job of framing and visually containing the vibrant green.
These are the kinds of discoveries that make close-up/macro photography such a pleasure. Few things are more fun than “revealing” some aspect of a coral polyp that is not easily visible to the un-aided eye and making it possible for others to enjoy that feature. As a result of making this image, I have even more appreciation for these polyps.
Making the image was a bit of a challenge. To shoot at this angle and have focus through the entire depth of the scene required that I make a stacked image. In this case 12 separate photos are combined to make one image. Doing this is relatively easy with LPS polyps and most SPS. Not so with animals such as these because it takes a bit of time to make 12 images. During that time the disk often moves and/or the polyp moves its tentacles. It took three attempts before I had success. When doing these stacked images you learn to focus (it has to be manual focus) and shoot very quickly.
The next time I photograph these polyps, I’ll try to fill much of the frame with the skirts. Maybe, in doing so, I’ll discover another attractive feature.–Gary L. Parr,,

Gary Parr

About Gary Parr

Reef Threads is a podcast and blog that discusses the most interesting subjects from the various forums, blogs, and magazines supporting the reef hobby. Reef Threads is produced by Gary L. Parr and Christine Williams Pasagelis, two veteran reef hobbyists. Gary has been keeping aquariums for most of his life, starting with a 1-gal. bowl of guppies. He has kept reef aquariums for the past 15 years. His current tanks are a 65-gal. LPS and leather reef and a 40 breeder that contains azooxanthellate corals. Gary’s other hobby is photography. He specializes in macro photography and currently spends most of his time photographing coral and marine fish. You can see Gary’s work in the Reefs and Animals sections of his website, You can contact Gary at Christine Williams started keeping fish while she was still a fetus. While the aqueous environment did lend itself to the hobby, it limited her to freshwater species, and so she decided to be born several weeks early. Through sign language, she demanded that her parents convert her crib into a reef aquarium and thus started her illustrious career in marine ornamentals. After completing her studies in biochemistry and molecular microbiology she went to work at “Animal ER” where unfortunately she was not filmed for the Animal Planet channel (though her feet did make a cameo during a rescue segment). She frequently lectures on reef topics including marine animal disease, fish husbandry, human-tank zoonosis, and fish cognition. Contact Christine at
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