Ptilosarcus gurneyi PTIGUR-092694-SHIRON-004

This entry was posted on Monday, September 26th, 1994 and is filed under Sea Pens, Spawning Reports.

The Breeder’s Registry© Information contained in this report is taken from submitted observations from aquarist unless noted otherwise (see comments). Information may be reproduced providing the Breeder’s Registry is cited.

Breeder ID: PTIGUR-092694-SHIRON-004

Date received: 9/26/94

Identification: Ptilosarcus gurneyi Gray, 1860

Geographic origin: Northeastern Pacific, Puget Sound 


Taxonomy: (after I.C.Z.N.)

Kingdom Animalia

Phylum Cnidaria Hatschek, 1888 (= Coelentrata Leuckart, 1847)

Class Anthozoa Subclass Alcyonaria (= Octocorallia)

Order Pennatulacea Suborder Subselliflorae

Family Pennatulidae

Genus Ptilosarcus (formerly Leioptilus?)

Species gurneyi (Gray, 1860)


Description: Generally found in large colonies anchored to sediment by the base of the primary polyp which buds off lateral polyps in a regular fashion. Numerous rows of polyps are arranged on the upper exposed enlongated and cylindrical portion (rachis) in single rows on leaf-like structures and are of two distinct types. Autozooids bear tentacles and function in feeding; and siphonozooids which are small with reduced tentacles which function to create water currents through the colony. Translucent and pale orange in color. May reach a length of 50 cm when fully expanded. Range is from Puget Sound northward to Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Reportedly preyed upon by the ophistobranch Armina californica. Other members of the genus Ptilosarcus include; P. quadrangularis, P.sinuosus P. verrillii 


Time in captivity: specimens collected one week prior to spawning at vernal equinox.

Size (mm): not indicated

Broodstock notes: Collected by divers from Lopez Pass, Washington, USA at a depth of 18 meters.

Physical differences: Prior to spawning gametes are visible in “leaves” at base of gastrozooids

Adult diet: zooplankton

Pre-spawning activity: spawning occurs just before vernal equinox. Specimens collected and maintained until spawning.

Time spawning began: evening

Area spawning occurred: gametes released into water column

Frequency of spawning: continuously during spawning period

Egg description: Fertilization occurs in water column. Females expel 500 – 600 micron eggs; male produces “cloud” of sperm

Approximate quantity: ~ 100,000

Size: 600 micron zygo

Egg changes / development: zygote to morula in 9 hours

Appearance: Zygote to swimming planulae in ~80 hours.

Transfer / removal method: Siphoned into bucket and collected using 250 micron mesh Nitex nets. 


Spawning tank size (liter): 500

Lighting & photo period: ambient. Spawning stimulus is a brief period of bright sunlight after one (1) day of dim (cloudy) light. Broodstock received ambient light through windows.

Filtration: open system

Additives and dosages: none, natural seawater

Water temperature (F): 52 – 54


Fry development / changes: planulae settle in sand on day 10 (demersal).

First food offered: Non-feeding planulae

Development description: Metamorphosis from planulae to first zooid in 12 – 14 days. First zooid is competent to feed in ~ 21 days (autozooid, sometimes referred to as gastrozooids). First siphonzooid in ~ 24-25 days. After 30 days; 3 autozooids and 4 – 6 siphonozooids.


Rearing tank size (liter): 250

Lighting & photoperiod: ambient

Filtration:open, natural seawater

Additives and dosages: none

Water temperature: 52 – 54 \F0F


Original description: First described by Gray in 1860. One reference (Ricketts, et al.,1968) indicates the genus was formerly Leioptilus, but no other source found to confirm this.

Word origin: The genus Ptilosarcus is from the Greek roots ptilo (pronounced till-o) means a feather; and sarc– meaning flesh. (The reference to a former genus Leioptilus would translate to “smooth feather” ; leio meaning smooth). The species gurneyi has no root forms and may be in honor of someone named Gurney.

Vernacular name: Northeast Pacific Sea Pen

Suggested reading:

Brusca, Richard C. & Gary J., Invertebrates, 1990, Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland, MA 01375, USA, ISBN 0-87893-098-1

George, John D., & George, Jennifer J., Marine life, 1979, Lionel Levethal Limited, 2-6 Hampstead High Street, London NW3 1QO, UK., A Wiley-Interscience Publication,

Johnson, Myrtle E. & Harry J. Snook, Seashore Animals of the Pacific Coast, 1967, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, USA (reprint of 1927 work published by MacMillan Company) ISBN 486-21819-8

Ricketts, Edward F., Calvin, J., Hedgpeth, J. W., Between Pacific Tides, Fifth Edition, Revised by David W. Phillips, 1985 (Previous editions; 1939, 1948, 1952, 1968) Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, USA. ISBN 0-8047-1229-8

About this report: Information contained in this report is taken from submitted observations. Taxonomy, Synonomy, Original description , Word origin and Suggested reading are provided by member(s) of The Breeder’s Registry staff. Information is presented under the belief that it is accurate. If you have information in addition to, or contrary to that presented you are encouraged to contact the Breeder’s Registry. Permission is granted for “one-time” personal use. Reproduction as distributed or accessible media is prohibited without prior written permission. All rights reserved. 1994

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