Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology: Nematocysts

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LocationImageCnidae TypeRange of
Lengths (m)
Range of
Widths (m)
nNState
Carlgren O., 1952
Acontia
N/A basitrichs  25.4 - 29  x  3 -   / Unfired
N/A microbasic p-mastigophores  69 - 80.4  x  7 - 7  / Unfired
Actinopharynx
N/A microbasic amastigophores  26.8 - 35.3  x  4.5 - 5  / Unfired
Column
N/A basitrichs  13.4 - 18.3  x  2.8 -   / Unfired
N/A microbasic p-mastigophores  18.3 - 24  x  4.2 - 4.5  / Unfired
Filaments
N/A microbasic p-mastigophores  12.7 - 16.2  x  3.5 - 4.2  / Unfired
N/A microbasic p-mastigophores  26.8 - 36.7  x  5 - 5  / Unfired
Tentacles
N/A basitrichs  18.3 - 21  x  2.8 - 3.5  / Unfired
N/A microbasic p-mastigophores  31 - 38  (42.3) x  4.5 -   / Unfired
Carlgren O. and Hedgpeth J. W., 1952
Acontia
N/A basitrichs  17 - 35.3  x  2 - 3  / Unfired
N/A microbasic p-mastigophores  48 - 75.4  x  5.5 - 8.5  / Unfired
Actinopharynx
N/A basitrichs  9.2 - 17.6  x  1.5 - 2.8  / Unfired
N/A microbasic amastigophores  17 - 31  x  3 - 5  / Unfired
Column
N/A basitrichs  10 - 19.7  x  2.2 - 3  / Unfired
N/A microbasic p-mastigophores  17 - 24  (25.4) x  4.2 - 5.6  / Unfired
Filaments
N/A basitrichs  10 - 17  x  2.5 - 2.8  / Unfired
N/A microbasic p-mastigophores  10 - 18.3  x  3 - 4.5  / Unfired
N/A microbasic p-mastigophores  29.6 - 39.5  x  4.5 - 7  / Unfired
Tentacles
N/A basitrichs  12.7 - 19.7  x  2.2 - 2.8  / Unfired
N/A microbasic p-mastigophores  24 - 34.5  x  3.5 - 5.6  / Unfired
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Distribution

Aiptasia pallida is found on the southern United States Atlantic and Gulf coasts from North Carolina to Texas, as well as in the coastal Caribbean.

Biogeographic Regions: atlantic ocean (Native )

  • Colin, P. 1978. Caribbean Reef Invertebrates and Plants: A Field Guide to the Invertebrates and Plants Occurring on Coral Reefs of the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Florida. Neptune City, New Jersey: T.H.F. Publications, Ltd..
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Physical Description

Morphology

Aiptasia pallida is brownish or whitish and translucent (Kaplan, 1982), but often appear pale orange beneath the water (Stephenson and Stephenson, 1959). Usually about 2.5 cm tall, they can grow to 5 cm tall. Aiptasia pallida has a long thin column with nearly 100 tentacles in narrow rings around the oral disc. Tentacles are both long and easily visible as well as shorter. These tentacles alternate long and short around the oral disc, which is usually about 1 cm wide (Kaplan, 1982).

Range length: 5 (high) cm.

Average length: 2.5 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; radial symmetry

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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 31 specimens in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 22.5

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 22.5
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.
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Pale anemones are found on mangrove roots, dead coral, and rocks (Kaplan, 1982). They form dense patches as crowded colonies or continuous sheets from below low water to the muddy zone (Stephenson and Stephenson, 1952).

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; saltwater or marine

Aquatic Biomes: reef ; coastal

Other Habitat Features: intertidal or littoral

  • Kaplan, E. 1982. A Field Guide to Coral Reefs of the Caribbean and Florida Including the Bahamas. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton-Mifflin Company.
  • Stephenson, T., A. Stephenson. 1952. Life Between the Tide-Marks in North America. Journal of Ecology, 40: 33-35.
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Depth range based on 31 specimens in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 22.5

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 22.5
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Trophic Strategy

Aiptasia pallida contain zooxanthellae, or symbiotic dinoflagellate algae, which produce oxygen and fix carbon by photosynthesis. Much of the carbon fixed is realeased to the anemone, aiding in its energy needs. Pale anemones also feed on zooplankton; this feeding can affect zooxanthellal photosynthetic oxygen production by either changing the number of zooxanthellae within the host anemone or by changing the individual zooxanthellal production.

Animal Foods: zooplankton

Foraging Behavior: filter-feeding

Primary Diet: planktivore

  • Clayton, W., H. Lasker. 1984. Host Feeding Regime and Zooxanthellal Photosynthesis in the Anemone *Aiptasia pallida*. The Biological Bulletin, 167: 590-600.
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Associations

Mutualist Species:

  • zooxanthellae (symbiotic algae)

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

In Anthozoans, specialized sensory organs are absent and nerves are arranged in nerve nets. Most nerve cells allow impulses to travel in either direction. Hairlike projections on individual cells are mechanoreceptors and possible chemoreceptors. Some Anthozoans show a sensitivity to light.

Other Communication Modes: photic/bioluminescent

  • Brusca, R., G. Brusca. 2003. Invertebrates. Sunderland, Massachusetts: Sinauer Associates, Inc..
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Life Cycle

Because Aiptasia pallida is in the class Anthozoa, it only has a polyp stage. Polyps give rise to polyps, and there is no alternation of generations. It is likely that Aiptasia pallida produces plaular larvae, as do other anemones, but this has not been documented to date.

Development - Life Cycle: colonial growth

  • Schechter, V. 1959. Invertebrate Zoology. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc..
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Reproduction

Pale anemones reproduce asexually by pedal laceration. Either the pedal disc puts out lobes that are constricted off or pieces of the disc adhere and are torn off as the anemone moves about. The torn edges unite, new tentacles and septa (thin dividing membranes) develop along lines of closure, and new septa relate themselves to the old septa left in the torn pieces (Hyman, 1940). This method of reproduction forms clones of genetically similar individuals and small groups of adjacent animals linked genetically to a single anemone (Jennison, 1983). In addition, starvation initiates asexual reproduction by pedal laceration (Clayton and Lasker, 1985). Sexual reproduction has not been described for the species.

Key Reproductive Features: asexual

Aiptasia pallida reproduces aesexually and there is no parental investment.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement

  • Clayton, W., H. Lasker. 1985. Individual Population Growth in the Asexually Reproducing Anemone *Aiptasia pallida*. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 90: 249-258.
  • Hyman, L. 1940. The Invertebrates:Protozoa through Ctenophora. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.
  • Jennison, B. 1983. Reproductive Biology of Three Species of Sea Anemone from the Central Atlantic Coast of Florida. Florida Scientist, 46: 179-186.
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