Magnificent Sea Anemone (Heteractis magnifica)

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Magnificent Sea Anemone
Heteractis magnifica
Magnificent Sea Anemone (Heteractis magnifica)
Name Magnificent Sea Anemone
Name Lat. Heteractis magnifica
Family Host Anemones
Family lat. Stichodactylidae
Order Sea Anemones
Order lat. Actiniaria
Origin Indo-Pacific
Diet Autotrophic, carnivore
pH 8.1-8.4
Hardness 8-12 °KH
Lighting High
Current Strong
Behavior Semi-aggressive
Keeping Individual
Care Level Experts only
Life Span N/A
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 30-50 cm
Temperature 22-27 °C
Salinity 33-36 ‰
Aquarium 500 l
US Units
Size 12"-20"
Temperature 72-81 °F
Salinity 1.020-1.025 sg
Aquarium 150 gal

Distribution and habitat

The distribution area of Heteractis magnifica reaches from the Red Sea over the Philippines to Samoa and Tuamotu. They live on reefs, usually freely sitting in exposed places, at a depth of 1 to 10 m, always in symbiosis with fish or shrimp.


They need a well-structured aquarium with rocky substrate to cling to, and they should be positioned in a very bright spot with strong, alternating currents.

Only high-calcium, heavy metal-free substrates should be used as substrate. Filters, skimmers and heaters are necessary to ensure water quality, as well as pumps to simulate tides, swells and bottom currents. It is recommended that live stones be used to set up the aquarium. The bacteria living in the porous stones act as a biological filter. The lighting must correspond to the species-appropriate day-night rhythm of the animals

Salinity: 33-36 ‰ pH value: 8.1-8.4
Carbonate hardness: 8-12 °KH Nitrate content: 2-8 mg/l
calcium content: 420-450 mg/l Nitrite content: 0.0-0.05 mg/l
Magnesium content: 1.250-1.350 mg/l phosphate content: 0.01-0.1 mg/l

Regular addition of trace elements, especially iodine and strontium, is recommended. For salinity, an average value should be aimed for, which may only vary slightly by +/- 0.5 ‰. Ammonia and ammonium must not be measurable. Special attention shall be paid to consistently good water quality and water values.


Zooxanthellae, which are unicellular symbiotic algae, live in their tissue and provide them with assimilation products of their photosynthesis (high light requirement). The zooxanthellae promote growth and provide additional food to the plankton and small particles collected from the water current. In addition to the food produced in the aquarium during fish feeding, they must be fed directly at least once a week with small pieces of fish or shellfish meat, shrimp, krill, etc. Regular and varied feeding promotes health and avoids deficiency symptoms.

Behaviour and compatibility

They live solitarily and should not be kept with fish that consider polyps as food (e.g., angelfish or butterflyfish). These symbiotic anemones are inhabited by numerous species of anemonefish and shrimp. Due to their up to 8 cm long, strongly nettled tentacles, a sufficiently large distance to corals must be kept.

Reproduction and breeding

They are separately sexual. Their larvae are part of the plankton for several weeks until they settle in a suitable place. Reproduction by division is also possible. There are no reports of successful breeding in the aquarium.


They come in different colors, such as blue, green, orange, red, purple and brown.

The keeping is not unproblematic due to their size and the long, strongly nettled tentacles.

The anemonefish species living in symbiosis with it, especially Amphiprion perideraion (collared anemonefish) are very helpful in the often difficult acclimation.

Healthy animals have a closed oral disc, look "pumped up" and do not float around. Recommended for their growth (zooxanthellae) is supplementing lighting with Actinic light, a short-wave violet-blue light.

Newly introduced animals must be acclimated slowly to the water in the aquarium. If different species are kept together, make sure that fish and invertebrates match each other in terms of water quality and temperature requirements, as well as their social behavior, and that the setup meets the ecological needs of all species kept together

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Werner Winter; Image: petdata

Source: ERHARDT & BAENSCH (1998): Meerwasser Atlas Bd. 4, Mergus Verlag; ENGELMANN & LANGE (2011): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Wirbellose, Verlag Harri Deutsch