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Phylum Cnidaria > Class Anthozoa > Subclass Zoantharia/Hexacorallia > Order Actiniaria
Bubble-tip sea anemone
Entacmaea quadricolor
Family Actiniidae
updated Mar 13
if you learn only 3 things about them ...
They are found among the coral rubble. Don't step on them!
Don't remove any fishes or shrimps that live in the sea anemone. They will die and the anemone will also suffer.
Don't poke the sea anemone to make fishes or shrimps come out. They will instead hide deeper in the anemone.

Where seen? This sea anemone with bulbous tips is sometimes seen on some of our shores. Usually nestled among coral rubble with the body column deep in a crevice or hole and only the tentacles sticking out. Thus, it is often mistaken for a hard coral. Sometimes, several small ones are seen clustered together. Larger ones are usually alone, and found in deeper water.

Features: Diameter of sea anemone with tentacles extended 10-20cm although large ones about 30-40cm have been seen. Tentacles 4-6cm long. The tentacles may have bulbous tips (although not always). There may be a white 'equator' around the bulbous portion. When not inflated, the tip is then blunt with a white ring where the 'equator' would be. According to Dr Fautin, the bulbous tip seems related to presence of anemonefish, and can disappear. Body column smooth with no verrucae, colour brown, reddish or orange, but is rarely seen as it is usually deeply inserted into crevices. It has a small pedal disc.

Be careful! Like other sea anemones, this anemone has stingers in its tentacles that can inflict a painful sting.

Bubble friends: The anemone harbours symbiotic algae (called zooxanthellae) that produces food through photosynthesis. The food produced is shared with the anemone, which in turn provides the algae with shelter and minerals.

Several kinds of animals are said to live happily among and unharmed by the tentacles of bubble tip anemones. These include a
nemone shrimps (Periclimenes sp.) these fishes: Dascyllus trimaculatus and Premnas biaculeatus and anemonefishes (Amphiprion sp.) including A. akindynos, A. biaculeatus, A. bicinctus, A. chrysopterus, A. clarkii, A. ephippium, A. frenatus (Tomato anemonefish), A. fuscocaudatus, A. latezonatus, A. melanopus, A. polymnus (juvenile). So far, only the Tomato anemonefish has been seen on the bubble tip anemones on the intertidal.

Human uses: Unfortunately, this beautiful sea anemone is collected for the live aquarium trade.

Status and threats: Bubble tip anemones are not listed among the threatened animals of Singapore, but the anemone fishes that rely on them are on the Red List. However, like other animals harvested for the live aquarium trade, most die before they can reach the retailers. Without professional care, most die soon after they are sold. Those that do survive are unlikely to breed successfully. Like other creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected by human activities such as reclamation and pollution. Trampling by careless visitors, and over-collection also have an impact on local populations.

The Tomato anemonefish
lives with this sea anemone
Pulau Semakau, Aug 08

Sisters Islands, Apr 04

Kusu Island, Aug 04

Terumbu Semakau, Jun 12

Sisters Island, Jun 07

Sisters Island, May 12

Bubble-tip sea anemones on Singapore shores

Photos for free download from wildsingapore flickr
Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map

more photos of bubble tip anemones on Singapore shores


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