Magnificent sea anemone

Heteractis magnifica

ORDER Actiniaria

FAMILY Stichodactylidae

TAXONOMY

Actinia magnifica Quoy and Gaimard, 1833, Vanikoro, Santa Cruz Islands, New Hebrides.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Bulb-tip anemone, maroon anemone, Ritteri anemone; German: Prachtanemone; Local dialects: Rambu-rambu (Indonesia), Burin (Malaysia)

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Oral disc up to 39 in (1 m) in diameter; column as much as 8 in (20 cm) tall and wide at the base; tentacles 3 in (7.5 cm) long, of uniform thickness with blunt or slightly bulbous tips. Brightly colored column may be avocado green, magenta, cerulean blue, or white, with yellow, green, or white tentacles.

DISTRIBUTION

Tropical Indo-Pacific seas.

HABITAT

From less than 3-65 ft (1-20 m) deep on or near coral reefs, often perched on prominent structures in strong currents.

BEHAVIOR

Host to clownfish (Amphiprion) and damselfish (Dascyllus) that chase off potential predators. The fishes are protected from their predators by the anemone's nematocysts, but are themselves unaffected because of a coating of mucus that they pick up from the anemone.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds on plankton that it traps from the water using nemato-cysts and mucus on the oral disc; digestion of prey begins prior to ingestion. Also derives nutrition from symbiotic zooxanthel-lae harbored within cells lining the inside of the tentacles and oral disc.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Capable of asexual reproduction by longitudinal fission. Sexual reproduction is presumed but data are lacking.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by the IUCN or CITES.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Reportedly one of the most frequently photographed anemones because of its coloration, shallow-water location, and tolerance of disturbance. Sold in the aquarium trade. ♦

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