Research by marine biologists from Wageningen University has shown that feeding on zooplankton by scleractinian corals has been greatly underestimated.
|Written by Tim Wijgerde|
Aiptasia sp. (Gosse, 1858)
Feeding behaviour of an Aiptasia specimen. Aiptasia is a genus of symbiotic cnidarians belonging to the class Anthozoa. Interestingly, these anemones, as well as many other cnidarian species, harbour symbiotic dinoflagellate algae of the genus Symbiodinium. The algal symbionts provide the anemone with nutrients, mainly in the form of lipids and sugars produced by means of photosynthesis. The host anemone provides inorganic nutrients and a constant protective environment to the algae. Species of Aiptasia are relatively weedy anemones, able to withstand a relatively wide range of salinities and other water quality conditions. In the case of A. pallida and A. pulchella, their hardiness coupled with their ability to reproduce very quickly and outcompete other species in culture gives these anemones the status of pest from the perspective of coral reef aquarium hobbyists. Aiptasia are extensively used as a model system for scientific studies. Aiptasia has contributed significantly to our knowledge of cnidarian biology, especially our understanding of cnidarian-algal symbioses, a biological phenomenon crucial to the survival of corals and coral reef ecosystems.