|Image: Nevit Dilmen|
No. When it comes to carpets, it's teeny-tiny tentacles tickling my tootsies from now on.
|Image: Samuel Chow|
They lay down a shag-pile rug of short, stubby tentacles that can be as little as a single centimetre (half an inch) long! The rest of the sea anemone, the column and the pedal disc, are all nestled in the rocks and sand below to anchor the carpet in place.
There are about 6 species of Carpet Anemone, all belonging to a genus called Stichodactyla. The name means 'row of fingers'. And there are many, many rows of those fingers. This ain't no normal tickles. This is high-octane, no holds barred tickling for the adrenaline junkie. You'll laugh so much it'll practically be exercise.
Video: Tidal Gardens Inc.
Carpet Anemones come in a wide range of colours, from bland browns, greys and olive greens to vibrant pinks, purples and blues. So whether you want to jazz it up or sombre it down, there's always a carpet that's just right for you.
There's even one for your doll's house!
|Image: Ria Tan|
Mini Carpet Anemone (S. tapetum)
Like most Carpet Anemones, the Mini variety has one of those huge, Indo-Pacific distributions that ranges from east Africa to Japan and Australia.
|Image: James St. John|
Sun Anemone (S. helianthus)
It reaches up to 15 cm (6 in) across, a lot bigger than the Mini Carpet Anemone but still modest as Carpets go.
|Image: Michael arvedlund|
Giant Carpet Anemone (S. gigantea)
That's big. Extremely big for a sea anemone, and I guess that's why they called it the Giant Carpet Anemone. However, it turns out they were a little premature...
Haddon's Carpet Anemone (S. haddoni)
And it doesn't stop there!
Mertens' Carpet Anemone (S. mertensii)
Yeah. They definitely should have kept their hands on that 'Giant' appellation a little longer.
Video: robert edwards
Speaking of hands, be careful not to get tentacles all over your hands! Haddon's and the Giant Sea Anemones have tentacles that not only inflict somewhat painful stings, they're also remarkably sticky. Touch them with your fingers or say, the soles of your feet, and you'll find they get torn right off (the tentacles, I mean) in their eagerness to adhere to your skin.
It's a good thing you're not a small fish. Little creatures like that are ruthlessly stung and stuck, whereupon the whole carpet curls up to smother the poor blighter and bring it to a mouth that waits at the Carpet's centre.
|Image: Claudine Lamothe|
A mouth. It hungers
Make sure you give your Carpet lots of sun because even the meat-eaters are packed full of symbiotic, single-celled organisms called zooxanthellae who photosynthesise and provide their hosts with free food. Don't forget that your Carpet needs an active social life to really thrive. They often play host to numerous shrimp, anemonefish and others who lounge among the tentacles having a grand old time in their shag pile house.
Phew! Quite a demanding carpet, all told. Those tickles don't come cheap!