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Phylum Cnidaria > Class Anthozoa > Order Actiniaria
Merten's carpet anemone
Stichodactyla mertensii
Family Stichodactylidae
updated Mar 13
Where seen? This enormous carpet anemone with short fat tentacles is sometimes seen on our Southern shores, usually on reefs by divers.

Features: Diameter to 1m or more. The large oral disk covered with short tentacles so that it resembles a carpet. The oral disk is often held flat against the surface, unlike the Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea) in which the oral disk is often folded. Small pedal disc frequently attached in crevice. The anemone can retract but not rapidly.

Body column tan to white with bumps (verrucae) that are adhesive and appear as rows of spots, generally in magenta or orange (which may appear purplish at depth). No verrucae below wide upper column, but splotches of pigment continue down short, narrow column in more or less longitudinal streaks.

The tentacles are not adhesive, club-shaped to finger-like. All tentacles may be short (10-20 mm long), or some (in patches) very long (to 50 mm or more). 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 Merten's carpet anemones. These anemonefishes (Amphiprion sp.) including A. akallopisos, A. akindynos, A. allardi, A. chrysogaster, A. chrysopterus, A. clarkii, A. fuscocaudatus, A. latifasciatus, A. leucokranos, A. ocellaris, A. sandaracinos, A. tricinctus. But so far, the only animals observed on Merten's carpet anemones were the Five-spot anemone shrimps (Periclimines brevicarpalis) and the False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris).

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.

Terumbu Hantu, Apr 12

Same anemone, not bleaching.
Pulau Jong, Apr 11

Merten's carpet anemones on Singapore shores

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

more photos of merten's carpet anemones on Singapore shores


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