It’s not the first time we’ve written about the insane anemone, Phyllodiscus semoni, and its crazy ability to disguise itself in its environment, mimicking different species of corals such as Acropora, Porites, Tubipora, Sinularia, Algae, and even other anemones.
And recently, while on a trip to North Sulawesi, we found probably one of the craziest colorations we have ever encountered in this species. What I find most fascinating, however, is that the crazy colors we’re seeing here (that would make any reef aquarist go nuts,) is actually a way for it to blend into its surroundings and go into stealth mode.
Crazy coloration to go Stealth!
This mix of bright red, green, and fluorescent green, would be a killer under blue LED and through orange filter lenses, yet the funny thing is that this anemone uses this crazy coloration to actually blend in, and look like red and green algae.
Dirty inshore reef habitat
We found this anemone 12 m (25 ft) deep in a very dirty inshore, coastal reef in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. If an algae mat was present in between corals it was not dominating the reef, but runoff from the land would bring excess nutrients that would muddy the water, and trigger algae growth. Red algae such as Hypnea sp, brittle clumps of calcareous algae such as Jania spp, and green algae like Cladophora spp or Chlorodesmis spp. are just a few that would fit into the mimic’s description. Apart from those the reef was mainly dominated by LPS corals, such as Fimbriaphyllia, Lobophyllia, and Galaxea.
Some cleaner shrimps, Ancylomenes sarasvati, were seeking protection from the anemone. This classic shrimp dances to signal potential fish clients that it can clean them while seeking protection from the very powerful sting of the anemone at the same time. This shrimp can also be found in LPS corals such as Fimbriaphyllia and Plerogyra, which were plentiful in the area.
Not for the average hobbyist
This very weird and dangerous anemone is equipped with a powerful sting, that can cause severe pain, so it’s not for the average hobbyist. A lot of precautions must be taken when handling or putting your hands in an aquarium containing this animal and on the reef, some people inevitably step on one of them and end up in hospital. Handle with care!