Moss animals (Bryozoa)

The species group usually requires a (stereo) loupe to be identified
  • Electra sp. Photo: Mikael Olsson
  • Electra sp, close up photo: Anders Larsson
  • A colony of moss animals on a Virtue disc. Photo: Mikael Olsson
  • Hairy sea-mat. (Electra pilosa) Photo: Aquatilis
  • Broad-leaved hornwrack (Flustra foliacea). Photo: Aquatilis

Bryozoans is a separate group, that forms colonies, like corals, and often occurs on worm or mussel shells, stones, rocks, sand grains or seaweed. The individuals are very small, 0.25 to 1.5 millimeters, and comprises of a soft body with a hard skeleton. Some bryozoan colonies can creep along the ocean floor and some individual bryozoans can move and settle temporarily in different grains of sand. Most species live in the sea, and on the Swedish west coast there are about 100 species. Moss animals eat different types of single-celled algae, with the help of a ring of tentacles around the mouth. Moss animals reproduce both sexually and through budding. All bryozoans known today are bisexual. The largest natural enemies of bryozoans are sea urchins and fishes.