Rock, Flower, Papers: A review of journal articles about Rock Flower Anemones
(Phymanthus crucifer)

written by @Peace River
(cover photo by OrlandoReefer)​

Rock Flower Anemones (RFAs) are common anemones that are kept in marine and reef aquariums, and they are widely available throughout the marine aquarium trade. The basic care and description are provided by several online vendors and anecdotal experiences and pictures are shared by hobbyists in many online formats including forums and other types of social media. As my interest and collection of RFAs has grown, I wanted to learn more about this specific type of anemones, so I decided to search the scientific and academic literature for more information. I began with unstructured searches that resulted in minimal information on the description, care, or other details that are pertinent to keeping RFAs in an aquarium. I decided to take a more systematic approach to the academic inquiry of the literature related to RFAs. This presentation covers the method that was followed to collect the list of articles, an overview of the list, a discussion about the process (including limitations and next steps), as well as the full list of article citations.


A search was conducted from ten ocean and aquatic science databases from a University library using the terms: “Rock Flower Anemone”, “Phymanthus crucifer”, and “Epicystis crucifer”. Although there are several common names for RFAs, the term “Rock Flower Anemone” was selected for the search because it appears to be the most common name used in the marine aquarium trade industry. Phymanthus crucifer is the current scientific name and Epicystis crucifer and E. crucifera are other scientific names that have been used before it was classified into the currently recognized genus.

Although the review of articles was systematic and the research method is explained in this presentation, the intent was not to conduct a comprehensive and all-inclusive search of the research on this topic nor present a comprehensive system literature review. For each the selected databases, the search terms were entered into the search field and the results were entered into a Word document. A count of the results was tallied for each database, however duplicate entries within each search were not included in the totals. The summary of the search results is presented in the Results section below and includes the number of total results by term as well as the number of results from each database for each term. The full list of results is presented in the appendix includes the full citation, whether the full text is available through the database, and a list of the databases that included the article in the results.

Ocean & Aquatic Science Databases

Aquatic Sciences & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA) (ProQuest)
Web of Science (Clarivate Analytics)
Science Direct (Elsevier)
Fish, Fisheries & Aquatic Biodiversity Worldwide (EBSCOhost)
Waters & Oceans Worldwide (EBSCOhost)
Agricultural & Environmental Science Collection (ProQuest)
Oceanic Abstracts (ProQuest)
Wiley Online Library (Wiley-Blackwell Publishers)
ProQuest Natural Science Collection (ProQuest)
Wildlife & Ecology Studies Worldwide (EBSCOhost)


Twenty-eight articles were identified from 10 different ocean and aquatic science databases. These articles range from three that focused directly on P. crucifer to others that used the P. crucifer as a comparable or made tertiary mentions of the search term. The full list of articles that mentioned the search terms are presented in the Appendix at the end of this article.

Search results

Rock Flower Anemones (0 search results)

Phymanthus crucifer (27 discrete search results)
The search results for Phymanthus crcifer by database are as follows: Aquatic Sciences & Fisheries Abstracts - 6; Web of Science - 7; Science Direct - 14; Fish, Fisheries & Aquatic Biodiversity Worldwide - 1; Waters & Oceans Worldwide - 0; Agricultural & Environmental Science Collection - 6; Oceanic Abstracts 5; Wiley Online Library - 8; ProQuest Natural Science Collection - 9; Wildlife & Ecology Studies Worldwide - 2)

Epicystis crucifer / Epicystis crucifera – 3 discrete search results
The search results for Epicystis crucifer by database are as follows: Aquatic Sciences & Fisheries Abstracts - 1; Web of Science - 1; Science Direct - 1; Fish, Fisheries & Aquatic Biodiversity Worldwide - 1; Waters & Oceans Worldwide - 1; Oceanic Abstracts 1; Wiley Online Library - 2; ProQuest Natural Science Collection - 1; Wildlife & Ecology Studies Worldwide - 1)


An overview of the existing literature provides an overview of where the research on Phymanthus crucifer’s has focused. It also provides a jumping off point for other researchers who desired to conduct scientific inquiries into this topic. In this section we will look at the categorization of the sources in the literature review, the limitations of this research, and consider future research possibilities related to this literature review.

Categorization of sources in literature review

The research focused primarily on toxins and genome-related articles. Few articles appeared to be primarily focused on P. crucifer, however comparative mentions may provide beneficial information and passing references to of the functionality, reproduction, and other aspects of related sea anemones can still provide insights into this species.


This search was not a comprehensive review of all sources and only included ten primary ocean and aquatic research databases. Additional data may be found in other scientific databases. Additionally, books, videos, gray literature, and other sources were not searched. Another approach to uncovering additional literature would be to search for other sources that cited the identified sources or that were cited by the identified sources.

Future research

This systematic collection of literature is ripe to be further developed into a systematic literature review. Although this study used academic resources that require access to the selected databases, the method and techniques could be applied to open-source academic materials, gray literature, and other materials that are available to the public. Additionally, this material can be duplicated using other search terms. Hopefully, this peek into the available research will prompt others to further exploration of the literature and potentially even to add to the aquatic research.

Along with the existing research paths, there appears to be a need for researchers to also study the care, sexual and asexual reproduction, sexual identification, motile functionality, behavioral elements, and other physical characteristics of P. crucifer. Hobbyists have shared many initial observations and conjecture that can provide the initial assumptions (or challenge the assumptions stated in current research) and lead to further discovery as we seek to understand the Phymanthus crucifer.


Articles related to the search term “Phymanthus crucifer

Baron, A., &Lingueglia, E. (2015). Pharmacology of acid-sensing ion channels – Physiological and therapeutical perspectives. Neuropharmacology, (94), 19-35.

Blunt, J. W., Copp, B. R.., Keyzers, R. A., Munro, M. H. G., & Prinsep, M. R. (2016). Marine natural products. Natural Product Reports, (33)3, 382-431.

Brugler, M. R., Ricardo E González‐Muñoz, Tessler, M., & Rodríguez, E. (2018). An EPIC journey to locate single‐copy nuclear markers in sea anemones. Zoologica Scripta, 47(6), 756-776.

Canales-Aguirre, C. B., Quiñones, A., Hernández, C. E., Neill, P. E., & Brante, A. (2015). Population genetics of the invasive cryptogenic anemone, Anemonia alicemartinae, along the southeastern Pacific coast. Journal of Sea Research, (102), 1-9.

Chi, S. I., Urbarova-Steinar, I., & Johansen, D. (2018). Expression of homing endonuclease gene and insertion-like element in sea anemone mitochondrial genomes: Lesson learned from Anemonia viridis. Gene, (652), 78-86.

Cristofori-Armstrong, B. & Lachlan D.Rash, L. D. (2017). Acid-sensing ion channel (ASIC) structure and function: Insights from spider, snake and sea anemone venoms. Neuropharmacology, (127), 173-184.

Eckelbarger, K. J., Hand, C., & Uhlinger, K. R. (2008). Ultrastructural features of the trophonema and oogenesis in the starlet sea anemone, Nematostella vectensis (Edwardsiidae). Invertebrate Biology, (127)4, 381-395.

González-Muñoz, R., Simões, N., Mascaró, M., Tello-Musi, J., Brugler, M. R., & Rodríguez, E. (2015). Morphological and molecular variability of the sea anemone phymanthus crucifer (cnidaria, anthozoa, actiniaria, actinoidea). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 95(1), 69-79.

Hecker, B. (1987). The children’s cove: A North American tidepools exhibit at the national aquarium in Baltimore. International Zoo Yearbook.

Kalina,, R., Gladkikh, I., Dmitrenok, P., Chernikov, O., Koshelev, S., Kvetkina, A., Kozlov, S., Kozlovskaya, E., & Monastyrnaya, M. (2018). New APETx-like peptides from sea anemone Heteractis crispa modulate ASIC1a channels. Peptides, (104), 41-49.

Kozlov, S. (2018). Animal toxins for channelopathy treatment. Neuropharmacology, (132), 83-197.

Larkman, A. U. (1983). An ultrastructural study of oocyte growth within the endoderm and entry into the mesoglea in Actinia fragacea (Cnidaria, anthozoa). Journal of Morphology.

Larson, P. (2017). Brooding sea anemones (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Actiniaria): paragons of diversity in mode, morphology, and maternity. Invertebrate Biology, (136)1, 92-112.

Liao, Q., Feng, Y., Yang, B., & Lee, S. M-Y. (2019). Cnidarian peptide neurotoxins: a new source of various ion channel modulators or blockers against central nervous systems disease. Drug Discovery Today, (24)1, 189-197.

Mazel, C. H., Lesser, M. P., Gorbunov, M. Y., Barry, T. M., Farrell, J. H., Wyman, K. D., & Falkowski, P. G. (2003). Green-fluorescent proteins in Caribbean corals. Limnology and Oceanography, (48)1, 402-411.

McMurrich, J. P. (1889). The actiniaria of the Bahama islands, W.I. Journal of Morphology, (3)1, 1-80.

Menezes, C., & Thakur, N. L. (2022). Sea anemone venom: Ecological interactions and bioactive potential. Toxicon, (208), 31-46.

Porro, B., Mallien, C., Hume, B. C. C., Pey, A., Aubin, E., Christen, R., . . . Forcioli, D. (2020). The many faced symbiotic snakelocks anemone (anemonia viridis, anthozoa): Host and symbiont genetic differentiation among colour morphs. Heredity, 124(2), 351-366.

Robertson, R. (1994). Two new tropical western Atlantic species of epitonium, with notes on similar global species and natural history. Nautilus, 107(3), 81-93.

Rodriguez, A. A., Staendker, L., Zaharenko, A. J., Garateix, A. G., Forssmann, W., Beress, L., . . . Laguna, A. (2012). Combining multidimensional liquid chromatography and MALDI-TOF-MS for the fingerprint analysis of secreted peptides from the unexplored sea anemone species phymanthus crucifer. Journal of Chromatography B, 903, 30-39.

Rodriguez, A. A., Salceda, E., Garateix, A. G., Zaharenko, A. J., Peigneur, S., Lopez, O., . . . Soto, E. (2014). A novel sea anemone peptide that inhibits acid-sensing ion channels. Peptides, 53, 3-12.

Rodriguez, A. A., Garateix, A., Salceda, E., Peigneur, S., Zaharenko, A. J., Pons, T., Santos, Y., et al. (2018). PhcrTx2, a New Crab-Paralyzing Peptide Toxin from the Sea Anemone Phymanthus crucifer. TOXINS, (10)2, article 72.

Rubio-Polania, J. C., Torruco-Gómez, D., González-Solis, A., Caamal-Jiménez. Y. (2018). Benthic megafauna of outer margins of the continental shelf of Yucatan Peninsula. Regional Studies in Marine Science, (24), 184-195.

Tobach, E., Zaferes, A., & Migenis-Lopez, L. (1989). Aplysia ink and opaline: Exploration of their relation to predation. Bulletin of Marine Science, 45(3), 664-670.

Vassallo, A., Dávila, Y., Luviano, N., Deneb-Amozurrutia, S., Guadalupe, X., Carlos, V., Conejeros, A. Leopoldo Vázquez, L., & Álvarez, F. (2014). Inventory of invertebrates from the rocky intertidal shore at Montepío, Veracruz, Mexico. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad, (85)2, 349-362.

Yong, C. L., Yap, N. W., Tan, K. S., & Huang, D. (2021). Reproduction in the tropical frilly sea anemone Phymanthus pinnulatus (Cnidaria, Actiniaria). Invertebrate Biology, (140)2, 1-11.

Zhang, L., & Zhu, Q. (2017). Complete mitochondrial genome of the sea anemone, Anthopleura midori (Actiniaria: Actiniidae). Mitochondrial DNA Part A, 28(3), 335-336.

Articles related to the search term “Epicystis crucifer

Hennessey, S. M., & Sammarco, P. W. (2014). Competition for space in two invasive indo-pacific corals - tubastraea micranthus and tubastraea coccinea: Laboratory experimentation. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 459, 144-150.

Muller-Parker, G., & Simon K. Davy, S. K. (2001). Temperate and tropical algal-sea anemone symbioses. Invertebrate Biology, (120)2, 104-123.

Larson, P. (2017). Brooding sea anemones (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Actiniaria): paragons of diversity in mode, morphology, and maternity. Invertebrate Biology, (136)1, 92-112.