MYSTERY REEF ANIMAL ANSWER!

01 Oct, 2021

Here's a broader look at our latest mystery reef animal, currently living at A&M Aquatics in Lansing, Michigan. When initially presented with just a macro close-up and an accidental misidentification, it initially baffled more than a few aquarists and biologists who have never seen one quite like it. Image: Josh Spearow/A&M.
Here’s a broader look at our latest mystery reef animal, currently living at A&M Aquatics in Lansing, Michigan. When initially presented with just a macro close-up and an accidental misidentification, it initially baffled more than a few aquarists and biologists who have never seen one quite like it. Image: Josh Spearow/A&M Aquatics.

Our most recent Mystery Reef Animal was a bit of a stumper, and, as Douglas W. Scher put it, “Well, hard to tell without context!” Considering that, at first, we only had the close-up macro photo provided with an incorrect name by accident, we agree with Douglas! It took a moment before CORAL staff and contributors realized what we were looking at.

So, with this more all-inclusive picture, is there any room for doubt? Were you correct?

The Answer: This is an exceptional cultivar of Maxi-Mini Anemone, sometimes also called the Mini-Maxi or Mini Carpet Anemone, but known to science as Stichodactyla tapetum.

Click cover to order this back issue for your CORAL collection.
You can learn more about Stichodactyla tapetum in the May/June 2015 issue of CORAL Magazine. Click cover to order a back issue!

While they don’t naturally or normally host clownfish, they do play host to a range of crustaceans that are anemone symbionts, including Porcelain Anemone Crabs (Neopetrolisthes maculatus) and Sexy Shrimp (Thor amboinensis). Their small maximum size, generally suggested to be 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter, makes them great specimens for small reef aquariums as well as being useful in “mass plantings” to create a mini anemone garden.

You’ll get to see even more of this stunning specimen in the REEF VISIONS column, soon to be published in the November/December 2021 issue of CORAL. Subscribe or renew today so you don’t miss it!

Our special thanks to Klynt Maston and Josh Spearow of A&M Aquatics for the great mystery reef creature and REEF VISIONS photos!

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About the author

Matt Pedersen

Matt Pedersen is a Sr. Editor and Associate Publisher with Reef To Rainforest Media, LLC & CORAL Magazines, and is a Sr. Editor and Publishing Partner with Aquatic Media Press, LLC & AMAZONAS Magazine. Matt has kept aquariums for 38 years, has worked in most facets of the aquarium trade, is an active aquarist and fish breeder (both marine and freshwater), and was recognized with the 2009 MASNA Award as the MASNA Aquarist of the Year.

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