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Magnificent sea anemone

Heteractis magnifica

Description: The Magnificent sea anemone lives its entire life in the polyp form. This anemone has two discs, a pedal disc and an oral disc. The pedal disc has a sticky foot that is used to anchor the anemone to various hard surfaces. The flat to slightly curved oral disc contains the mouth and surrounding tentacles. This disc is usually yellow, brown or green. The lower part of the tentacles, closest to the mouth is the same color as the disc, while the parts further away are most commonly tan, however, in some specimens the color can be green, orange, pink, purple or red. The tentacles have a long, non-tapering shape with swollen tips.

Size: This anemone is the second largest in size of all sea anemones. In the wild, it can grow up to 3 feet (1m) in diameter.

Behavior: There is a relationship between their social behavior and the depth of their habitat. Those living closer to the surface are solitary and smaller and those that inhabit deeper waters are larger and form colonies. This anemone is host to many types of clownfish. This relationship benefits both animals (symbiosis); the clownfish brings the anemone food and chases away predators and the anemone gives protection to the clownfish.

Diet: Diet consists of amphipods, isopods, mussels, plankton, sea urchins, shrimp and small fish.. The anemone also absorbs essential nutrients for growth from the waste produced by the clownfish that live within its tentacles.

Senses: There are nerves in the body walls that allows this anemone to sense its environment. When prey brush up against its tentacles, it shoots thousands of stinging cells, or nematocysts, to stun the animal.

Communication: When this anemone is attacked, it warns other anemones about the predator by releasing a chemical into the water.

Reproduction: Reproduction can be sexually or asexually. In sexual reproduction, the male releases his sperm, then the female releases her eggs. This external fertilization produces planula, a ciliated free-swimming larvae. This larvae will settle on a substrate and grow into a new polyp. Asexual reproduction is accomplished by budding, binary fission or pedal laceration.

Habitat/range: The Magnificent anemone lives among marine reefs in clear waters with a strong current in the Indo-Pacific Ocean from the Red Sea to Somoa.

Status: Not evaluated for IUCN Red List.