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Entacmaea quadricolor (Family Thalassianthidae)

Bubble Tip Anemone

Distribution:

Entamacea quadricolor has a widespread distribution across the Indo-Pacific from East Africa, the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf to Japan, Micronesia and Melanesia. In Australia it lives along the tropical coast. (WA, NT, QLD, NSW)

Features:

This anemone has numerous long, thick tentacles and is easily recognised by the bubble-like bulbs at the tips of most tentacles. Bubble-tip anemones grow as clusters of small individuals between 50-100 mm wide or as larger solitary individuals up to 400 mm wide. The oral disc and tentacles are brown or sometimes reddish or greenish, with red or blue tips. The pedal disc is well developed, but small. The column is low and gradually flares from the pedal disc. The fosse is always distinct and usually deep.

Ecology/Way of Life:

Often common, the Bubble-tip Anemone lives as small clusters of individuals or clones in shallow water, on the tops of reefs, in crevices or along coral branches. Larger solitary animals tend to be found in deeper water on reef slopes, with their bases anchored into deep holes.

The Bubble-tip Anemone is the most abundant and widespread anemone which hosts anemone fish. Up to 13 species of anemone fish of the genus Amphiprion have been recorded living within its tentacles — the greatest diversity recorded for any anemone. By protecting the fish the anemone gains protection from attack by butterflyfishes and other predators.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The Bubble-Tip Anemone is the most common of the host anemones and is highly sought-after in the aquarium trade. Anemones do not generally survive well under artificial conditions, and little is known about their reproductive biology, so it is likely that anemones are harvested more rapidly than they can be replaced.

Other Comments:

Other common names of the Bubble-Tip Anemone include Bulb-Tentacle Anemone, Maroon Anemone and Rose Anemone. It has been noticed that there is often a band around the centre of the tentacle bulbs. This band has been suggested to be related to the presence of the symbiotic fish, but further research is needed to confirm this.

Further Reading:

Fautin, D.G. (1991) The anemonefish symbiosis: What is known and what is not. Symbiosis 10: 23 – 46.

Fautin, D.G. (2003) Hexacorallians of the World. http://hercules.kgs.ku.edu/hexacoral/anemone2/index.cfm

Fautin, D.G. & Allen, G.R. (1997) Anemone Fishes and their Host Sea Anemones: A guide for aquarists and divers. Western Australian Museum, Perth. 160 pp.

Richardson, D.L., Harriott, V.J. & Harrison, P.L. (1997) Distribution and abundance of giant sea anemones (Actinaria) in subtropical eastern Australian waters. Marine and Freshwater Research 48: 59 – 66.

Topics: Anemones and anemonefish

Acknowledgments:

Text & map by Carden Wallace & Zoe Richards, Museum of Tropical Queensland.

Photographs by Karen Gowlett-Holmes (Photo.1) and Paul Muir (Photo. 2).

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