Bulb-tentacle Sea Anemone (species: Entacmaea quadricolor) in taxonomy (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Entacmaea quadricolor
Bulb-tentacle Sea Anemone

©Anne Hoggett: Entacmaea quadricolor with anemone fish Amphiprion melanopus

©Anne Hoggett: Entacmaea quadricolor not bleached, 4 Dec 2016, Cobia Hole, Lizard Island, only about 10 metres from a fully bleached specimen. The fish is Premnas biaculeatus.

©Anne Hoggett: A sexually-produced juvenile Entacmaea quadricolor (refer Rowlett, 2020) from under a rubble slab at base of reef slope near South Island, Lizard Island Group.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Cnidaria
Class Hexacorallia
Order Actiniaria
Family Actiniidae
Genus Entacmaea
Species Entacmaea quadricolor
Status unspecified



Distinguishing features

This is the only large anemone that hosts anemonefishes in which the tentacles have a bulb at or below the tip. Tentacles are long (to 100 mm) and bulbs may be absent. Equator of the bulb is usually white but colour of the rest of the tentacle varies. When bulbs are absent, the tentacle is usually white where the bulb would be.

In shallow water, this species typically produces clones of tens, hundreds, or even thousands of individuals. These live on and among branching corals or in crevices where only the tentacles are visible so each clone may appear to be a single large anemone. In deeper water, this species is typically solitary and individuals grow larger. 

Thanks to Daphne Fautin for her contribution to this section.


  • Size data has not been obtained.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Local abundance

  • Lizard Island, Queensland, Australia: Abundant in the Lizard Island area


Of the anemonefishes found at Lizard Island, Amphiprion akindynos, Amphiprion chrysopterus cf., Amphiprion melanopusand Premnas biaculeatus are known to inhabit this species. Amphiprion melanopus lives primarily in the shallow clustered form and Premnas lives only in the solitary form (Fautin and Allen, 1992).

The record of Amphiprion perideraion in Entacmaea quadricolor at Lizard Island in Mar 2016 is unusual.

Web resources


References that assist with identification

  • Fautin, D.G. and G.R. Allen (1992). Field guide to anemonefishes and their host sea anemones Western Australian Museum, Perth, WA.

Other references

  • Arvedlund, M., I. Bundgaard and L.E. Nielsen (2000). Host imprinting in anemonefishes (Pisces: Pomacentridae): does it dictate spawning site preferences? Environmental Biology of Fishes, 58: 203-213. LIRS catalog number 600.
  • Elliott, J.K. and R.N. Mariscal (1996). Ontogenetic and interspecific variation in the protection of anemonefishes from sea anemones. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 208: 52-72. LIRS catalog number 1662.
  • View all references