species: Stichodactyla mertensii in ALA: LIRS and surrounds using records to Oct. 2021 (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Stichodactyla mertensii

©Anne Hoggett: Stichodactyla mertensii at Lizard Island

©Anne Hoggett: Stichodactyla mertensii┬áhas orange adhesive warts (verrucae) on the upper column. Photo at Lizard Island.

©Anne Hoggett: Stichodactyla mertensii with fish Amphiprion chrysopterusat Hicks Reef near Lizard Island. Note the distinctive white upper column with orange veruccae.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Cnidaria
Class Hexacorallia
Order Actiniaria
Family Stichodactylidae
Genus Stichodactyla
Species Stichodactyla mertensii



Distinguishing features

This is the largest of the fish-hosting anemones, up to a metre in diameter. The oral disc follows the contours of the substrate, held in place by orange to purplish adhesive warts (veruccae) on the white column. The column attaches to hard substrate, usually on reef slopes, The colours of the column and veruccae are distinctive but the colour of the tentacles is variable. Tentacles are mostly short (10 to 20 mm) but some in patches may be longer; tentacle tips are blunt or slightly pointed.


  • Size data has not been obtained.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Local abundance

  • Lizard Island: Not uncommon

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