If H. magnifica is attacked, it produces a chemical that is released into the water to warn other anemones that a predator is in the area. The anemone then contracts its tentacles into a ball form for protection.
Heteractis magnifica has no ears, eyes, or centralized nervous system. This anemone has nerves in the body wall that are able to communicate with other parts of the body and sense the environment around it. The species possesses three separate nerve "nets" that determine contraction of tentacles in response to the environment. The TCNN and SS1 pathways represent the fast and slow responses of tentacles to mechanical stimulation (for TCNN) and chemical stimulation for the SS1 pathway. Both nerve nets excite the ectodermal muscles via the stimulation of the multipolar nerve net that expands the body of the anemone. The SS1 nerve net, also called the ectodermal slow system, seems to also be responsible for the pre-feeding response (opening of the mouth), and the escape response.
Communication Channels: chemical
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Heteractis magnifica is not listed on the IUCN Red List, CITES appendices, or the US Endangered Species Act list.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
State of Michigan List: no special status
When anemones reproduce sexually, their fertilized eggs develop into a planula larvae which settles on the ocean floor and develops into a polyp. When anemones reproduce asexually, they form new anemones directly from the parent as an exact replica.
Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis
Other than its capacity to sting, Heteractis magnifica has no adverse effects on humans.
Negative Impacts: injures humans (bites or stings)
Heteractis magnifica is the most photographed species of anemone and is popular as an aquarium pet.
A new protein "hmGFP" was cloned from the tentacles of H. magnifica. The properties of this protein were homologous to that of the green fluorescent protein (GFP), and it has shown promising possibilities in biotechnology research.
Positive Impacts: pet trade ; research and education
Magnificent sea anemones are prey on fish and invertebrates.
Heteractis magnifica are hosts to many types of clownfish that are resistant to the toxins produced by the anemone. This mutualism benefits both animals, because the clownfish chase away predators of the anemone and bring the anemone food, while gaining protection within the tentacles of the anemone for themselves and their young. Some shrimp also live beneath the oral disc of the anemone, but are not resistant to the toxins. They clean the underside of the magnificent anemone.
Ecosystem Impact: creates habitat
Heteractis magnifica is carnivorous, feeding on small fish, shrimp, isopods, amphipods, mussels, sea urchins, and plankton. This species also absorbs sulfur, nitrogen, and other essential nutrients for growth from the waste of the symbiotic clownfish that live within the tentacles of the anemone. The clownfish also occasionally carries chunks of food to its host.
The anemones use their stinging nematocysts to capture prey that touch them, and then bring them in to the oral disc to digest. They also contain symbiotic algae that produce glucose as a product of photosynthesis, which the magnificent anemone uses.
Animal Foods: fish; mollusks; aquatic or marine worms; aquatic crustaceans; other marine invertebrates
Plant Foods: phytoplankton
Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates, Piscivore , Eats non-insect arthropods, Molluscivore , Eats other marine invertebrates); planktivore
Heteractis magnifica is found only in the tropical regions of the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Occurring from the Red Sea to Samoa, H. magnifica lives in marine waters of South East Asia, Northern Australia, and the Western Pacific Regions. From Australia, the range of H. magnifica extends all the way to the Ryukyu Islands.
Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native ); australian (Native ); indian ocean (Native ); pacific ocean (Native )
Heteractis magnifica is found in marine reefs ranging from 1 to 50 meters deep. It prefers warm waters ranging from 24 degrees C to 32 degrees C. This species resides in clear waters with a strong current. Abundance and colonial or solitary behavior correlates with depth; those that are closer to the surface are solitary and smaller, while those that are deeper tend to form colonies. Animals found to the leeward of the prevailing swell of the water tend to be in denser populations than those in more exposed marine locations.
Range depth: 50 to 1 m.
Average depth: 25 m.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; saltwater or marine
Aquatic Biomes: reef
The longevity of Heteractis magnifica in the wild is unknown, but estimated that some of these anemones are hundreds of years old. In captivity, the longest lifespan is 80 years.
Status: captivity: 80 (high) years.
Heteractis magnifica has the basic morphology of most anemones, living its entire life in the polyp form (looking like a cylindrical column with tentacles). This species has a sticky foot on a pedal disc, and an oral disc which contains the mouth and surrounding tentacles. Heteractis magnifica is the second largest in size of all sea anemones. The oral disc reaches 1 m in diameter or can be as small as 1.25 cm. Typically H. magnifica is between 300 and 500 mm in diameter. The foot, which is used to anchor the animal to various hard surfaces, is also larger than most anemones. The oral disc of an anemone is a flat to slightly curved structure with a mouth in the center, used for both feeding and producing waste. The oral disc can be yellow, brown, or green and is often slightly elevated so that the mouth protrudes out.
Many tentacles surround the oral disc; these are located within 20 to 30 mm of the mouth. The lower part of the tentacles closest to the mouth is the same color as the oral disc (usually shades of brown), but the distal portion of each tentacle can vary in color. Tentacles can range in color from red, pink, purple, orange, and green, but are most commonly tannish. Tentacles are about 75 mm long, and some are branched. Heteractis magnifica has characteristic swollen or bulb-like tips on the finger shaped tentacles. Within these tips are cnidocytes, which contain many nematocysts, structures for delivering toxins use in capturing food and defense.
Adult and baby magnificent anemones are very similar in physical appearance. Magnificent anemones lack skeletons and can grow large when nutrient levels are high, but they can shrink when nutrients are scarce. Members of this species can also look like a ball if they contract their tentacles so that only a tuft of tentacles, if any, remain visible.
Range length: .014 to 1 m.
Average length: .4 m.
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; radial symmetry ; venomous
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike
Anemones have stinging cells called nematocysts that keep away most predators. The protein toxins that are released are ichthyotoxic; if marine or freshwater fish are exposed to .5 micrograms/mL of the toxin, they die within 2 hours.
Magnificent sea anemones are hosts to many symbiotic clownfish, which chase away any nibbling predators, especially bristle worms. The clownfish are immune to the nematocysts and gain protection from the anemones' stinging tentacles.
There are no data on mating systems in Heteractis magnifica.
Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)
Heteractis magnifca can reproduce sexually or asexually. In sexual reproduction, the male releases his sperm first to stimulate the female to release her eggs. This external fertilization leads to the development of a ciliated planula larvae. Asexual reproduction can occur by budding, binary fission, or pedal laceration (when part of the pedal disc breaks off to form a new anemone). Most asexual reproduction occurs in the winter. The presence of the symbiotic clown fish Amphiprion chrysopterus can increase the amount of asexual reproduction and general growth. Anemones found with two A. chrysopterus species had faster fission rates than those without this symbiotic species.
Breeding interval: It is not known how often H. magnifica breeds.
Breeding season: H. magnifica reproduces asexually more frequently in the winter.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; sexual ; asexual ; fertilization (External ); broadcast (group) spawning
There is no parental involvement in the sexual or asexual reproduction process.
Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Provisioning)
The Magnificent Anemone, Heteractis magnifica, also known as the Ritteri Anemone, is a sea anemone that lives attached to a solid surface with much of its base exposed in marine Indo-Pacific reefs.It prefers warm waters between 24-32 degrees C. with good flow but shallow enough that the symbiotic green algae in its tentacles can photosynthesize (1-50 m. depth).It is a large anemone that grows in various shapes and colors (usually tan, red, pink, purple, orange, blue or green) to sizes up to three feet in diameter. In some locations, large colonies of individuals, presumably clones, form beds of H. magnifica in shallow water; this species is usually solitary at greater depths.Like the three other species in genus Heteractis, its long tentacles end in a characteristic bulbous tip, which contains the stinging nematocyst cells it uses to paralyze its vertebrate and invertebrate prey.Heteractis magnifica, as well as the other species in family Stichodactylidae (nine species total) are best known as clownfish anemone, because they commonly form symbiotic relationships with fish mostly of the genus Amphiprion. Although in captivity they associate with multiple species of anemone fish, in the wild they typically host only a particular species, depending on their location. The Magnificent Anemone also forms associations with shrimp, crab and other invertebrate species.This anemone is common in the aquarium trade but is notoriously challenging to keep healthy.
Other common names: Bulb-Tip Anemone, Purple Base Anemone, Maroon Anemone, and Yellow Tipped Long Tentacle Anemone.
(Fautin and Allen1992; Guck 2004; Newcomb and Fink 2004; Wikipedia 2013)
The magnificent sea anemone is characterized by a flared oral disc, which reaches between 20 and 50 cm in diameter, but in some specimens, this can reach 1 m. The oral disc, the base of the tentacles, and the oral orifice have the same color, going from light beige to white.
The numerous tentacles exceed 8 cm long. The sea anemone, being a member of the Hexacorallia, usually carries tentacles in multiples of six that are positioned in concentric circles. Their tips are fingered and often lighter in coloration than the tentacle body and are sometimes vividly colored.
Its specific scientific name, magnifica, and its vernacular name come from the bright color of the column, which is the visible outer structure when the animal retracts, and these range from electric blue to green, red, pink, purple, or brown.
The magnificent sea anemone is widespread throughout the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indo-Pacific area, from the eastern coasts of Africa, the Red Sea included, to Polynesia and from south Japan to Australia and New-Caledonia
The magnificent sea anemone has two feeding methods. The first one is through the photosynthesis of its symbiotic zooxanthellae, living in its tissues. The second method is through using its tentacles to stun, immobilize, and consume prey (small invertebrates, fry, or juvenile fish).
The reproduction of the anemone can be sexual by simultaneous transmission of male and female gametes in the water or asexual by scissiparity, which means that the anemone divides itself into two individuals, separating from the foot or the mouth. The magnificent sea anemone is found as solitary specimens throughout its range with aggregations only being found in the rim areas of its distribution. Genetic analyses does not suggest a difference between solitary specimens in the central distribution and clustering specimens at the rim. Asexual reproduction is found only in the rim areas and is probably the origin of the large aggregations.
The relationship between anemonefish and their host sea anemones is highly nested in structure. With 12 species of hosted anemonefish, the magnificent sea anemone is highly generalist. The anemonefish it hosts are also mostly generalist, the exceptions being Amphiprion pacificus, only hosted by H magnifica, and A. akallopisos, which is also hosted by Stichodactyla mertensii. The species of anemonefish hosted by the magnificent sea anemone are: