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Stichodactyla haddoni (Family Stichodactylidae)

Carpet Anemone


Stichodactyla haddoni has a broad Indo-Pacific distribution ranging from the Red Sea and Mozambique to Japan and Fiji, including the north-western and eastern coasts of Australia. (WA, NT, QLD)


The Carpet Anemone is so-named because it has a large undulating body with short and evenly sized tentacles over the surface giving the anemone a carpet-like appearance. Small, non-adhesive verrucae occur on the uppermost part of the column. The oral disk is commonly 500 mm in diameter, but may reach 800 mm; it is usually yellow to tan in colour. The Carpet Anemone may display a variegated colour pattern due to green, yellow, grey or pink pigmentation of the tentacles.

Ecology/Way of Life:

This species lives mostly on sandy bottoms or among coral rubble on reef flats below about 5 m in low-wave energy areas such as lagoon slopes. It can withdraw rapidly and completely into the substrate. This anemone is host to six species of anemone fish, and when it withdraws, it leaves its symbiotic fish to hover over the resulting depression.

Zooxanthellae are abundant in the tentacles, oral disc and mesenterial filaments.

This anemone can be fed a diet of dead seafood (e.g. shrimp) when kept in aquaria. It is known to re-locate itself in aquaria and presumably does this also in the wild.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The Carpet Anemone has a strong sting and contact should be avoided. It will also sting other animals in aquaria. Despite this it is collected for the aquarium trade due to its robust nature and vivid colouration. It may be at risk of over-fishing because of the demands for the aquarium industry.

Other Comments:

It is also known as Haddon's Sea Anemone, Saddle Anemone and the Glass Pearl Anemone.

Further Reading:

Arvedlund, M., Bundgaard, I. & Nielsen, L.E. (2000) Host imprinting in anemonefishes (Pisces: Pomacentridae): does it dictate spawning site preferences? Environmental Biology of Fishes 58: 203 – 213.

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.

Fosså, S.A. & Nilsen, A.J. (1998) The modern coral reef aquarium. Birgit Schmettkamp Verlag, Bornheim. 479 pp.

Mitchell, J.S. (2003) Mobility of Stichodactyla gigantea sea anemones and implications for resident false clown anemonefish, Amphiprion ocellaris. Environmental Biology of Fishes 66: 85 – 90.

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


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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