Sagartia elegans is a very variable species (see additional information), all varieties have a base up to 30 mm and this is wider than the column and closely adherent. The column is moderately tall and flares out towards the disk. The upper part of the column is has numerous white suckers which appear as white spots and cinclides (small pores) just visible as dark spots. Acontia (white defence threads) are freely emitted from cinclides when the anemone disturbed. The tentacles are moderate to long and there are approximately 200 of them spanning about 4 cm. . This species is often found in large aggregations and may live with their bases inside a hole in the substratum into which they retract into when disturbed. The colour of the column is variable; red, orange, brown whitish or greenish.There are 5 different varieties of the species recognised on the basis of the colouration of the disc and tentacles.
- Var. miniata - the colour of the disc is variable, often variegated in - orange, red, brown, cream, grey etc. The disc is always marked with a dark pattern. The tentacles are similar to the disc, always banded and may have longitudinal lines.
- Var. rosea - the disc is variably coloured, plain or patterned as in miniata with the tentacles being pink, rose-red or magenta.
- Var. aurantiaca - the disc is greyish, sometimes patterned and tentacles are a dull orange.
- Var.venusta - the disc is a plain orange and the tentacles are white.
- Var. nivea - disc and tentacles white.