Fire coral

Millepora alcicornis

ORDER Capitata

FAMILY Milleporidae

TAXONOMY

Millepora alcicornis Linnaeus, 1758, West Indies. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Sea ginger; French: Corail de feu; German: Feuerkorallen.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Hydroid: colony forms massive, calcareous exoskeletons (coenosteum), forming horn-shaped, upright branches or plates; coenosteum with an internal complex network of coenosarcal tubes, covered externally by a thin ectodermal layer, coenosteal surface perforated by pores; margins of pores not protruding from surface of coenosteum; large gastropores surrounded by smaller dactylopores, forming indistinct cyclosystems; no gastrostyles or dactylostyles; polyps polymorphic; gastrozooids relatively short and stout, with an oral whorl of 4-6 short capitate tentacles, arising from gastropores; dacty-lozooids long, slender, mouth less, with scattered capitate tentacles, arising from dactylopores; cnidome with macrobasic mastigophores; gonophores arising from coenosarc within ampullae embedded in the coenosteum. Color variable, usually yellow-brown because of algal symbionts.

Medusa: short-lived, free-swimming eumedusoids with ex-umbrellar cnidocyst patches, narrow velum, four radial and circular canals, gonads occupying the place of an indistinct manubrium; without tentacles, without sense organs (this description applies to the eumedusoid of M. complanata, the only Millepora eumedusoid known in detail).

DISTRIBUTION

Tropical Pacific, Indian Ocean, Red Sea, and Caribbean. (Specific distribution map not available.)

HABITAT

Common to abundant in shallow waters, or in inner ledges and outer reefs, usually not exceeding 98.4 ft (30 m), correlated with dependence of the colonies on their symbiotic unicellular algae or zooxanthellae that need light for their processes of assimilation.

BEHAVIOR Nothing is known.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feed upon planktonic animals, mostly crustaceans.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Sexual reproduction by free-swimming eumedusoids, usually ripe from April-July.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not listed by the IUCN.

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