Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology: Nematocysts

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LocationImageCnidae TypeRange of
Lengths (m)
Range of
Widths (m)
nNState
Carlgren O., 1952
Actinopharynx
N/A basitrichs  18.3 - 19.7  x  2.5 - 2.8  / Unfired
N/A basitrichs  21.8 - 26.8  x  3 - 4  / Unfired
Column
N/A basitrichs  12 - 14  x  2.2 -   / Unfired
N/A basitrichs  13.4 - 18.3  x  2.8 -   / Unfired
N/A basitrichs (18)  19.7 - 25.4  x (2.5)  2.8 - 3  (3.5) / Unfired
N/A microbasic p-mastigophores  18.3 - 24  x  4.2 - 4.5  / Unfired
Filaments
N/A basitrichs  22.6 - 29.6  x  3.5 - 4.2  / Unfired
N/A microbasic p-mastigophores  22.6 - 28.2  x  5 - 5.6  / Unfired
Tentacles
N/A basitrichs  21 - 26.8  x  3 -   / Unfired
N/A microbasic p-mastigophores  31 - 38  (42.3) x  4.5 -   / Unfired
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Distribution

Geographic Range

Condylactis gigantea is commonly found in the Caribbean--most specifically the West Indies--and the western Atlantic, ranging from southern Florida through the Florida keys. They can be seen growing in lagoons or on inner reefs as either individuals or loose groups, but never as colonies.

(Meinkoth 1981, Pet Warehouse 2000)

Biogeographic Regions: atlantic ocean (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

The condy is approximately 6" (15 cm) high and 12" (30 cm) wide, making the disk diameter approximately 16" (40 cm) in nature. If captured, however, its disc is limited to a mere 4" (10 cm). The condy is a large, columnar animal. The condy can exibit a variety of colors: white, light blue, pink, organe, pale red, or light brown. The mouth is surrounded by 100 or more tentacles, each long and tapered with pink-, scarlet-, blue- or green-ringed tips. These tips are usually paler than the body itself. The basal disk is firmly attached to the substrate with the only "free-floating" portion being the tentacles.

(Meinkoth 1981, Pet Warehouse 2000, Willmer 1990)

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Ecology

Habitat

The condy is usually found attached to hard objects in shallow water which experiences full-strength seawater most of the time. It is common around reefs in both "forereef" and lagoon areas as well as in turtle grass beds. The shape of the condy's body is related to the habitat in which it lives.

(Meinkoth 1981, Barnes 1987, Shick 1991)

Aquatic Biomes: reef ; coastal

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Depth range based on 21 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 12 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 17
  Temperature range (°C): 26.267 - 27.784
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.395 - 1.324
  Salinity (PPS): 35.661 - 37.169
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.361 - 4.731
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.063 - 0.112
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.221 - 3.242

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 17

Temperature range (°C): 26.267 - 27.784

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.395 - 1.324

Salinity (PPS): 35.661 - 37.169

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.361 - 4.731

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.063 - 0.112

Silicate (umol/l): 1.221 - 3.242
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Depth range based on 1 specimen in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 1 sample.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 0
  Temperature range (°C): 22.956 - 22.956
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.176 - 0.176
  Salinity (PPS): 36.491 - 36.491
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.966 - 4.966
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.037 - 0.037
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.876 - 0.876
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Condylactis gigantea feeds upon fish, mussels, shrimp, or other similar organisms. It will not, however, go near any natural predators, such as Red Leg Hermits.

Being a macrophagous carnivore, the condy will injest large prey such as adult sea urchins. With the low frequency of large prey available, it is suggested that the condy (like other anemones) is not selective about what it ingests but rather eats whatever prey it encounters.

Prey are paralyzed by the toxin-bearing nematocysts located on the tentacles. The prey is then carried to the mouth, which is opened by radial muscles in the mesentary. The prey is swallowed whole and digested extracellularly as well as intracellularly. More than 50% of the prey's nutrients are retained in the form of 15 individual amino acids.

When faced with starving conditions, the condy heavily relies on its lipid catabolism and the uptake of nitrate (or compounds with high levels of nitrate).

(Shick 1991, Barnes 1987)

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

The condy is a dioecious organism that is rarely hermaphroditic. There is no mode of asexual reproduction. Instead, the condy is a sexual species. Its primary mating season is spring, but it does have a tendancy to continue reproduction at a low level throughout the year.

The condy's pattern of development is oviparous and planktonic, meaning it has the advantage of a potentially wide dispersal of zygotes despite the cost of high mortality in the offspring. This is the most primitive and widespread pattern of development among sea anemones.

The egg diameter of a condy can range from 110 to 1000 micrometers, a relatively large egg size for members of its taxonomic order. But, being a large and solitary species, it must find a means of competing for space with massive corals. This interspecific competition may have selected for planktonic dispersal. When in competition with fellow anemones, it is suggested that large egg size was selected to maintain survival. This is all assuming, however, that reproduction produces large juveniles capable of agonistic behaviour after development.

Sperm is released by one condy which will fertilize another condy. The planula larva develops in the mesenterial chambers, getting its nutrients from yolk (meaning it is lecithotrophic). As the planula grow, they remains as ciliated balls with no tentacles. They are eventually released, unattached and free-swimming. Only after further development will the planula settle, attach, and form tentacles.

(Shick 1991, Barnes 1987)

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Condys are studied by neurobiologists. Being one of the simplest metazoans, sea anemones have a diffuse nerve net which is rather primitive in comparison to other organisms. However, the structure of the neural components of the nerve net are largely unknown. Tissues of the condy are being stained to examine neurofilaments, which should lead to insightful information concerning nervous tissues. Researchers hope that by studying the molecular properties of Condylactis gigantea, more information will lead to a greater understanding of the nervous and endocrine system of all animals.

(Dellacorte, et al 1994a, Dellacorte, et al 1994b)

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Wikipedia

Condylactis gigantea

Condylactis gigantea is a tropical species of sea anemone that is found in coral reefs and other shallow inshore areas in the Caribbean Sea – more specifically the West Indies – and the western Atlantic Ocean including southern Florida through the Florida Keys. It is also commonly known as: giant Caribbean sea anemone, giant golden anemone, condylactis anemone, Haitian anemone, pink-tipped anemone, purple-tipped anemone, and Florida condy. This species can easily be seen growing in lagoons or on inner reefs as either individuals or loose groups, but never as colonies.

Contents

Habitat

The giant Caribbean sea anemone is usually found in the crevices of rock walls, attached to a rock, shell, or almost any other hard object in shallow water that experiences full–strength seawater most of the time, which may explain why the species is so common in Bermuda. Giant Caribbean sea anemones are also very common around reefs in both “forereef” and lagoon areas. It can also be found at most inshore areas, on coral reefs, though this is less common. Sea anemones in general can be found anywhere from the intertidal zone all the way to a depth of 30,000 feet.

Condylactis gigantea plays an important role in their subtidal communities by providing shelter to a variety of commensals (several fish and cleaner shrimp species), and they serve as "base stations" for fish cleaning activity.[1][2]

Reproduction

Tan and pink tipped variation

The giant Caribbean sea anemones' primary mating season is reported to be in late May; however, they may continue to reproduce at a low levels throughout the year. This anemone is generally dioecious but occasionally hermaphroditic.[3] It has a 1:1 to sex ratio (males to females) with no evidence of brooding or of asexual reproduction or division furrowing.

The giant Caribbean sea anemones’ reproduction scheme has been defined as oviparous → planktonic → lecithotrophic.[3] The releasing or spawning of eggs and sperm are relatively synchronous with fertilization occurring externally in the water column. The success of fertilization depends upon the close proximity of separate sexed anemones. Fertilization produces a planula larva, which derives nutrients from yolk, thus larval death by starvation is unlikely, making dispersal an advantageous strategy to survival. The planula larva will settle on the benthos, develop a pedal disc, and then, eventually grow into a fully developed anemone.

Physical appearance

A giant Caribbean sea anemone is approximately 15 centimetres (6 in) high and 30 cm (12 in) wide, making the disc diameter approximately 40 cm (16 in) in nature. It is a large, columnar animal and can exhibit a variety of colors: white, light blue, pink, orange, pale red, or light brown. Its mouth is surrounded by 100 or more tentacles. These tentacles differ in each individual of the species and their tips may be purple or rose colored or they even may not have any change in color, becoming paler than the body itself. The whole tentacles are shades of either brown or greenish and the basal disc is firmly attached to the substrate with the only "free–floating" portion being the tentacles.

Behavior

Yellow, pink tipped variation

Although the giant Caribbean sea anemone is primarily a sessile animal and has developed some mechanisms of defense and protection, it is quite a mobile species compared to other anemones, and the form of locomotion that it uses is crawling by way of its pedal disc. This movement of crawling is very slow and is not used in defense or in direct protection from predators. Giant Caribbean sea anemones instead reduce their size and draw their tentacles into their gastric cavity; their size is then reduced, and room is made in the gastric cavity by forcing most of the water out and, if their tentacles are not drawn into the gastric cavity, their volume is still reduced greatly. This approach to defense / protection allows for the surface area of these animals to be reduced enough to create less chance of a predator attacking them.

Giant Caribbean sea anemones have another more effective defense in their nematocysts, which are their stinging cells, tubular parts of cnidarian’s capsule–like cells.[4] The tips of the giant Caribbean sea anemones’ tentacles are packed with nematocysts that contain a toxin. When stimulated, the nematocysts explode out of the capsule, impaling the attacker. The toxin is then discharged, causing extreme pain and paralysis.

A giant Caribbean sea anemone is very aggressive towards other marine aquarium invertebrates, and it usually fights to conserve its own space on the ocean floor.

Diet

Yellow variant

The giant Caribbean sea anemone is a macrophagous carnivore and feeds upon fish, mussels, shrimp, or any other similar organisms. It will not, however, go near any natural predators, such as red leg hermits.

The anemone's nematocysts help it to capture food as well as defend against predators. Prey are quickly paralyzed by the toxin–bearing nematocysts located on the tentacles; then the prey is quickly carried to the mouth, which is opened by radial muscles in the mesentery, and the prey is eventually swallowed whole and digested extracellularly as well as intracellularly.

Effects on humans

Studies of extracted proteins suggest that this anemone’s neurons contain neurofilament–like proteins that are molecularly similar to the those in neurons of mammals. Studies on present-day cnidarians may shed light on the evolution of nervous systems.

References

  1. ^ Hanlon, R.T., Hixon, R.F. (1986) Behavioral associations of coral reef fishes with the sea anemone Condylactis gigantea in the Dry Tortugas, Florida. Bulletin of Marine Science 39(1):130-134.
  2. ^ Mahnken, C. (1972) Observations on cleaner shrimps of the Genus Periclemenes. Bulletin of Natural History Museum Los Angeles County 14:71-83.
  3. ^ a b Jennison, B. L. (1981). "Reproduction in three species of sea anemones from Key West, Florida". Canadian Journal of Zoology 59 (9): 1708–1719. doi:10.1139/z81-235. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  4. ^ http://hercules.kgs.ku.edu/Hexacoral/Anemone2/cnidae_information.cfm?genus=Condylactis&subgenus=&species=gigantea&subspecies=&correctgenus=Condylactis&correctsubgenus=&correctspecies=gigantea&correctsubspecies=&validgenus=Condylactis&validspecies=gigantea&validsubgenus=&validsubspecies=&validname=Condylactis%20gigantea&authorship=%28Weinland%2C%201860%29
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