Agaricia agaricites

Agaricia agaricites forms, together with 232 other species, the family Agariciidae belonging to what are known as stony corals. This species can be found in the Caribbean Sea and in the tropical Atlantic Ocean, where it can be found from shallow waters up to 75 meters deep.

It is a species of stony coral, with a calcium carbonate skeleton that adopts an irregular shape with encrusting fragments, irregular vertical projections and thick layers that form massive colonies up to 40 cm wide. Those specimens located at greater depths tend to adopt more flattened, disc-shaped forms in order to maximize the area of light they can capture. The colors of this species can vary from one specimen to another, with yellowish, green, gray or red specimens.

Inside the tissue of Agaricia agaricites, as with all corals, we find symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae. This is a symbiotic relationship, in which the coral obtains oxygen and energy that the algae generates from photosynthesis; and the algae obtains shelter inside the coral tissue, as well as privileged access to light exposure. It has been determined that between 70% and 95% of the coral's energy requirements are covered by the energy provided by the zooxanthellae in the form of sugars. The remaining 5-30% of the coral's food is obtained by the capture of small organic particles and zooplankton by its polyps. It is during the night when the polyps of this species are fully deployed to capture these particles and invertebrates.

Reproduction of Agaricia agaricites can be either sexual or asexual. Sexual reproduction is accomplished by the release of gametes into the water column where fertilization will occur and larvae are formed. The larvae will be disseminated by the currents and subsequently attach to the seafloor to generate a new individual. Asexual reproduction is by gemmation, giving rise to a clone of the original specimen.