Cylista elegans

The anemone Cylista elegans is a species of cnidarian belonging to the Anthozoa class, order Actiniaria and family Sagartiidae. It is found on the coasts of the northeastern Atlantic Ocean, from the Scandinavian Peninsula and the North Sea to the Portuguese coasts, and in the Mediterranean Sea. It lives in rocky bottoms up to 50 meters deep, protected with the body inserted inside crevices, of which only the crown of tentacles is exposed to the outside.

The body of Cylista elegans is formed by a flat base that is strongly attached to the substrate and under certain conditions can serve as a means to move short distances. From the basal disc, a column of up to 6 cm in height arises, which at its most apical end expands to give rise to a disc in which approximately 200 irregularly distributed tentacles are present surrounding the central mouth opening. Most of the tentacles are 4 cm long, although there may be some isolated longer tentacles that allow the specimen to maintain a zone free of other anemones around it. The tentacles are slightly conical in shape, with wider bases and thinner ends. At the upper end of the column, that is to say the part closest to the tentacle disk, we find a series of whitish structures that have the ability to adhere to the remains of shells or other objects present in the substrate.

Five different chromatic varieties have been described. The mininata variety has a disc of various colors with often ringed pattern, both on the tentacles and on the column. The rosea variety adopts as its name indicates reddish/pinkish colors. The variety aurantiaca has a grayish disc and dark orange tentacles. The variety nivea has both the disc and tentacles of a translucent white color. Finally, the venusta variety has an orange or beige disc and white tentacles.

The diet of Cylista elegans is omnivorous, capturing its prey by means of the stinging cells present in its tentacles. Among the prey on which it feeds, we find small fish, and mainly invertebrates.

Reproduction of Cylista elegans can be both sexual and asexual. Asexually they reproduce by fragmentation. Through a process of laceration or basal fragmentation, the originating specimen gives rise to identical copies of itself.


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