Like most corals and several other anemones, giant carpet anemones utilize a combination of methods to obtain food. The majority of their energy is derived from symbiotic algae living within their cells, providing the anemones with excess energy that they make via photosynthesis (the use of sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into food/energy). In return, the algae have a safe place to live and receive the nutrients necessary to photosynthesize. The giant carpet anemone provides those nutrients by occasionally feeding on fishes or invertebrates that they capture with stinging cells on the ends of their tentacles and pass to their mouths near the center of their bodies.
Not all fishes are affected by the giant carpet anemone’s sting. Several species of anemonefish form symbiotic relationships with this anemone. A mucous that covers the anemonefish’s body protects the fish from the anemone’s stinging cells. This relationship provides the giant carpet anemone with a means to remove parasites and protection from species that may try to feed on it and provides the anemonefish with protection from predation by other fishes that are susceptible to the anemone’s sting.
This species is occasionally kept in public and private aquaria that display anemonefishes, but it is apparently very difficult to keep alive for longer than a few years. The conservation status of the giant carpet anemone is not currently known.
Oceana joined forces with Sailors for the Sea, an ocean conservation organization dedicated to educating and engaging the world’s boating community. Sailors for the Sea developed the KELP (Kids Environmental Lesson Plans) program to create the next generation of ocean stewards. Click here or below to download hands-on marine science activities for kids.