Anthopleura elegantissima exists in three symbiotic “states”:
- Brown (where the symbionts are Symbiodinium spp. dinoflagellates, found higher on the shore and at lower latitudes – top picture),
- Green (where the symbionts are the green alga Elliptochloris marina, found lower on the shore and at higher latitudes – bottom picture), and
- Asymbiotic (no symbionts – typically found only in low to no-light environments, such as caves and under boulders or areas of the rocky shore that have been covered by sand – not pictured).