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Polyps vs. Medusae: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 29, 2023
Polyps are a sedentary stage in the life cycle of cnidarians, while medusae are the free-swimming stage.

Key Differences

Polyps are a form of cnidarians, which include organisms such as corals and sea anemones. They are typically sedentary, attaching themselves to a substrate and capturing prey with their tentacles. Polyps reproduce asexually, budding off new polyps to create colonies.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023
Medusae, on the other hand, are the free-swimming form of cnidarians, which include jellyfish. They are typically bell-shaped and move through the water using a pulsating motion. Medusae reproduce sexually, releasing eggs and sperm into the water.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023
The life cycle of many cnidarians includes both polyp and medusa stages. The polyp stage typically gives rise to the medusa stage through a process known as budding. Once the medusa is mature, it can release eggs and sperm to create new polyps, continuing the cycle.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023
It is important to note that not all cnidarians have both polyp and medusa stages. Some species may exist solely as polyps, while others may exist solely as medusae.
Harlon Moss
Oct 29, 2023

Comparison Chart

Movement

Sedentary
Free-swimming
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023
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Shape

Varies, often cylindrical
Bell-shaped
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023

Habitat

Attached to substrate
Open water
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023

Examples

Corals, sea anemones
Jellyfish
Sara Rehman
Oct 29, 2023

Polyps and Medusae Definitions

Polyps

Polyps are typically sedentary.
Sea anemones are polyps that attach themselves to rocks.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023

Medusae

Medusae move using a pulsating motion.
The medusa's pulsating motion propels it through the water.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023
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Polyps

Polyps capture prey with their tentacles.
The polyp's tentacles contain stinging cells to capture prey.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023

Medusae

Medusae are typically bell-shaped.
The medusa's bell shape helps it move through the water.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023

Polyps

Polyps are a form of cnidarians.
Corals are a type of polyp.
Huma Saeed
Oct 29, 2023

Medusae

Medusae are the free-swimming form of cnidarians.
Jellyfish are a type of medusa.
Huma Saeed
Oct 29, 2023

Polyps

Polyps can exist in colonies.
Coral reefs are made up of colonies of polyps.
Harlon Moss
Oct 29, 2023

Medusae

Medusae are found in open water.
Medusae can be found in oceans and seas around the world.
Janet White
Oct 29, 2023

FAQs

What are medusae?

Free-swimming form of cnidarians.
Huma Saeed
Oct 29, 2023

Do all cnidarians have both polyp and medusa stages?

No, some exist solely as polyps or medusae.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023

What are polyps?

Sedentary form of cnidarians.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023

Do medusae have tentacles?

Yes, they use them to capture prey.
Janet White
Oct 29, 2023

Do medusae have stinging cells?

Yes, they use them to capture prey.
Sara Rehman
Oct 29, 2023

Do polyps release eggs and sperm?

No, that is typical of medusae.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023

How do polyps reproduce?

Asexually, by budding off new polyps.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 29, 2023

How do medusae reproduce?

Sexually, by releasing eggs and sperm.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023

Are jellyfish polyps or medusae?

Jellyfish are medusae.
Sara Rehman
Oct 29, 2023

Can medusae be found in freshwater?

Some species can, but most are found in saltwater.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 29, 2023

Do medusae attach themselves to a substrate?

No, that is typical of polyps.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023

Can polyps move?

They are typically sedentary, but some can move slowly.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023

Do polyps have a pulsating motion?

No, that is typical of medusae.
Harlon Moss
Oct 29, 2023

Do medusae bud off new medusae?

No, that is typical of polyps.
Sara Rehman
Oct 29, 2023

Do polyps have a bell shape?

No, that is typical of medusae.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2023

Can medusae be found in coral reefs?

They are typically found in open water, but some species may be found near reefs.
Sara Rehman
Oct 29, 2023

Can medusae exist in colonies?

No, that is typical of polyps.
Janet White
Oct 29, 2023

Are corals polyps or medusae?

Corals are polyps.
Sara Rehman
Oct 29, 2023

Can polyps exist in colonies?

Yes, coral reefs are made up of colonies of polyps.
Janet White
Oct 29, 2023

Are there any species of cnidarians that do not have a medusa stage?

Yes, some species exist solely as polyps.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 29, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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