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 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 enormous colourful carpet anemone with short skinny tentacles is commonly seen on our Southern shores, usually on hard surfaces such as 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 (Stichodactyla mertensii). 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 (Stichodactyla haddoni).

Sometimes confused with other large sea 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 sea 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.

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 Dascyllus trimaculatus 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 Five-spot anemone shrimps (Periclimines brevicarpalis) and the False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris).

Stinging carpet! Like other sea 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.

Pulau Hantu, Jul 07

Rows of colourful verrucae on
upper portion of the underside.

Tentacles not tightly packed.


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


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

Pulau Semakau, May 07

St. John's Island, Jun 07

Sisters Island, Nov 05

Giant carpet anemones on Singapore shores

Photos of Giant carpet anemones for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map


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

Bleaching.

Pulau Senang, Jun 10

Bleaching.

Pulau Senang, Jun 10

Bleaching.


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

Links

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.
links | references | about | email Ria
Spot errors? Have a question? Want to share your sightings? email Ria I'll be glad to hear from you!
wildfactsheets website©ria tan 2008