Flower anemones, Phymanthus crucifer, are one of the most striking reef invertebrates that until now, have only been available from Florida and surrounding Caribbean, or so we thought. Bali Aquarium shared some photos of a recent batch of ‘flower anemones’ from Indonesia that are virtually identical to the beautiful polyps the hobby has enjoyed from Caribbean habitats.
At first we thought that this Indo-Pacific anemone might be a new species of the Caribbean genus Epicystis. But unbeknownst to us, it seems that Epicystis has been folded into the genus Phymanthus, which is well represented in the Indo-Pacific.
Phymanthus is characterized by a large open oral disc surrounded by tentacles on the perimeter. With this new classification in hand, we uncovered multiple examples of anemones in the Indo-Pacific like our beloved flower anemones.
The popular tidepooling website Wild Shores of Singapore has a particularly large gallery of various specimens of Phymanthus anemones, many of which share a similar shape and body plan as our beloved flower anemones. Better yet, their daylight images and these ‘reef tank’ photos from Bali Aquarium reveal that there’s a whole new category of Indo-Pacific Flower Anemones with a spectrum of colors and patterns all their own.
The new Flower Anemones from Bali and probably widespread in the Indo-Pacific seem to be a little more cryptic in coloration than the true Phymanthus crucifer, but we also thought that about classic Flower Anemones until the wild and bombastic color morphs started being discovered. We hope this ‘discovery’ of Flower Anemones in the Indo-Pacific will result in a similar explosion in the availability and diversity of this popular animal in reef tanks, but only time will tell whether this new find is the tip of the iceberg, or just a curious footnote of biogeography.