The Portuguese Man-of-War, or Physalia physalis ( in Greek this means
air bubble ) is most often thought of as a jellyfish but in fact it is
not in the true jellyfish at all. It belongs in the family of Hydrozoans.
Another common error is that that it is thought to be a single organism.
The truth is that a Man-Of-War consists of four different organisms.
Pneumatophore - This is the gas filled float, or baloon looking portion,
that glides on the surface of the water. It is a modified version of a
polyp and is inflated with a carbon monoxide gas.
Dactylozooids - These are the tenticles that extend down below the float.
They are the mechanism that catches, stings, and brings its food to the
Gastrozooids - This is the 'digestive' organism. Think of it as an elongated,
external, hollow mouth that extends itself to encompass the food item.
Gonozooids - These are the reproductive organisms.
For as feared as the Man-Of-War is, especially by other fishes, there
is one fish ( Nomeus sp.) that is immune to the stinging tenticles. This
fish spends most of its time amougst these tenticles either for protection,
or possibly as a decoy to lure in other fishes.
Midwater Systems has
developed a custom acrylic
jellyfish tank, called the Jelliquarium, and is working on holding systems used to keep
these midwater collections and gelatinous organisms in
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