sea anemones text index | photo index
Phylum Cnidaria > Class Anthozoa > Order Actiniaria > Genus Stichodactyla
Giant carpet anemone
Stichodactyla gigantea
Family Stichodactylidae
updated Oct 2016
if you learn only 3 things about them ...
They are found among rubble. Don't step on them!
Don't remove any fishes or shrimps that live in the anemone. They will die and the anemone will also suffer.
Don't poke the anemone to try to make fishes or shrimps come out. They will instead hide deeper in the anemone.

Where seen? This enormous colourful anemone with short skinny tentacles is commonly seen on our Southern shores, usually on coral rubble near reefs. It is also sometimes seen on coral rubble on our Northern shores.

Features: Those seen about 40-50cm in diameter when exposed out of water. The oral disk expands when submerged. The large oral disk covered with short tentacles so that it resembles a shaggy carpet. The oral disk is often folded and rarely held flat against the surface, unlike Merten's carpet anemone. The long body column is usually buried or inserted into a crevice and ends in a pedal disk that anchors the animal.

Body column is sometimes colourful (bright pink, orange, yellow). Bumps (verrucae) appear as rows of spots, generally in bright colours (pink, purple). They are non-adhesive and found on the upper part of the body column.

Tentacles short (about 1cm), narrow and uniform in length. Usually brown or purplish with lighter coloured tips. The tentacles are not very tightly packed and when submerged, are usually in constant motion. The tentacles are very sticky and may stick to a finger and break off. It does not have a fringe of long-short tentacles at the edge of the oral disk like Haddon's carpet anemone.

Terumbu Semakau
, Jul 14

Rows of colourful verrucae on
upper portion of the underside.

Tentacles not tightly packed.
Sometimes confused with other large anemones and similar large cnidarians. Here's more on how to tell apart the different kinds of carpet anemones and large sea anemones with long tentacles and large 'hairy' cnidarians.

Carpet food: Carpet anemones harbour symbiotic single-celled algae (called zooxanthellae). The algae undergo photosynthesis to produce food from sunlight. The food produced is shared with the anemone, which in return provides the algae with shelter and minerals. The zooxanthellae are believed to give tentacles their brown or greenish tinge. Carpet anemones may also feed on fine particles that are trapped on their bodies. These anemones have not been observed to eat large animals.

Tentacles may stick to finger and break off.
Terumbu Semakau, Nov 12

The Peacock-tail anemone shrimp
and small False clown anemonefish
in a Giant carpet anemone.
Pulau Hantu, Jul 07

Clown anemonefish
in a Giant carpet anemone.
Sisters Island, Aug 09
Giant friends: Besides the symbiotic algae that lives inside the their tentacles several kinds of animals have been associated with giant carpet anemones. These include anemone shrimps (Periclimenes sp.), and fishes such as Three-spot dascyllus and anemonefishes (Amphiprion sp.) including A. akindynos, A. bicinctus, A. clarkii, A. ocellaris, A. percula, A. perideraion, A. polymnus. But so far, the only animals observed on giant carpet anemones were: the Peacock-tail anemone shrimps and the Clown anemonefish.

Stinging carpet! Like other anemones, the Carpet anemone has stingers in its tentacles. Generally, these stings do not hurt human beings, but they can leave welts on sensitive skin.

Carpet babies: There is not much information on how Carpet anemones reproduce.

Human uses: Unfortunately, these beautiful anemones are harvested for the live aqurium trade.

Status and threats: Carpet anemones are not listed among the threatened animals of Singapore. 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.

Giant carpet anemones on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Tanah Merah, May 14
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Berlayar Creek, Oct 15
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Labrador, Aug 17
Photo shared by Jonathan Tan on facebook.

Terumbu Buran, Nov 10
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Terumbu Bukom, Nov 10

Pulau Pawai, Dec 09

Pulau Berkas, May 10


Pulau Senang, Jun 10


Pulau Senang, Jun 10


Terumbu Berkas, Jan 10

Terumbu Salu, Jan 10

Pulau Sudong, Dec 09
Photo shared by James Koh on his flickr.

Pulau Biola, May 10

Pulau Biola, Dec 09

Pulau Berkas, May 10


Other references

  • Daphne Gail Fautin, S. H. Tan and Ria Tan. 30 Dec 2009. Sea anemones (Cnidaria: Actiniaria) of Singapore: abundant and well-known shallow-water species. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement No. 22: 121-143.
  • Chou, L. M., 1998. A Guide to the Coral Reef life of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 128 pages
  • Erhardt, Harry and Daniel Knop. 2005. Corals: Indo-Pacific Field Guide IKAN-Unterwasserachiv, Frankfurt. 305 pp.
  • Gosliner, Terrence M., David W. Behrens and Gary C. Williams. 1996. Coral Reef Animals of the Indo-Pacific: Animal life from Africa to Hawaii exclusive of the vertebrates Sea Challengers. 314pp.
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