sea anemones text index | photo index
Phylum Cnidaria > Class Anthozoa > Order Actiniaria
Carpet anemones
How to tell them apart?

updated Mar 13


Several anemones have short tentacles covering the oral disk so that they resemble a carpet. They are distinguished by the habitat where they are found, their size, the shape and nature of the tentacles, and the body column.

Haddon's carpet anemone
(Stichodactyla haddoni)
Large: 40-50cm
Usually in sandy areas
and among seagrasses,
commonly seen at low tide.
Oral disk densely covered in tentacles. Tentacles short, stubby with bulbous tips, sticky. Outer edge of the oral disk is 'fringed' with tentacles that are twice as long (exocoelic tentacles), alternating with short ones (endocoelic tentacles). Body column pale, tiny bumps of the same colour, usually not visible.

Mini carpet anemone
(Stichodactyla tapetum)
Tiny: 2-6cm
Usually in sandy areas
and among seagrasses,
sometimes seen at low tide.
Oral disk not densely covered in tentacles, often arranged in wedge shaped groups that resemble spokes of a wheel. Tentacles short, stubby, resembles beads. Body column smooth, no visible bumps.

Giant carpet anemone
(Stichodactyla gigantea)
Large: 40-50cm
Usually in coral rubble areas, commonly seen at low tide.
Oral disk densely covered in tentacles.Tentacles slender with pointed tips, constantly moving when submerged, sticky. Body column colourful, small colourful bumps in rows near the top of the body column.

Merten's carpet anemone
(Stichodactyla mertensii)
Very large: up to 1m
Usually on reefs, often at depth.
Not commonly seen.
Oral disk densely covered in tentacles. Tentacles may be short or long, not sticky. Body column tan or white, colourful bumps magenta or orange.

More comparisons

 
Young Haddon's carpet anemone
(Stichodactyla haddoni)
Mini carpet anemone
(Stichodactyla tapetum)
 
Tentacles large relative to oral disk Tentacles tiny relative to oral disk  
Fringe of long-short tentacles at the edge of the oral disk. No fringe of long-short tentacles at the edge of the oral disk.  

how to tell apart
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