Leathery Sea Anemone (species: Heteractis crispa) in Lizard Island area: all known taxa (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Heteractis crispa
Leathery Sea Anemone

©Anne Hoggett: Heteractis crispa at Cod Hole near Lizard Island. The fish are Amphiprion clarkii.

©Anne Hoggett: Heteractis crispa at Cod Hole showing the leathery upper column with conspicuous adhesive verrucae.

©Anne Hoggett: Heteractis crispa at Cod Hole near Lizard Island. The fish is Amphiprion melanopus.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Cnidaria
Class Hexacorallia
Order Actiniaria
Family Stichodactylidae
Genus Heteractis
Species Heteractis crispa



Distinguishing features

In large individuals, tentacles long (to 100 mm) and evenly tapering; shorter and stubbier in small individuals. In all, tentacles very numerous, covering the usually widely-flared oral disc. The column is distinctive: leathery texture, grey, with conspicuous adhesive warts (verrucae).

The column is either buried in sediment with the oral disc lying on the surface, or it is attached to branching coral. In the latter case, verrucae adhere to coral branches to hold the disc open.


  • Size data has not been obtained.



"Colour is a really poor guide to species in anemones" - Daphne Fautin, pers.comm. Feb 2014

by Anne Hoggett


©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution


This species is host to many anemonefish species. Of those found at Lizard Island, Amphiprion akindynos, Amphiprion chrysopterus, Amphiprion melanopus, Amphiprion perculaand Amphiprion perideraion are known to inhabit this species.

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