Aquaria Information from

SALT WATER FISH & INVERTEBRATES

MAKING A FRIEND OUT OF AN ANEMONE

   Sea anemones are a beautiful and interesting addition to the salt water aquarium. Many of the Pacific damselfish will seek protection among the tentacles of anemones. The symbiotic relationship between clownfish and anemones is astounding! 

   Remember the first time you saw a clownfish wallowing in the tentacles of its host anemone? Most aquarists picture anemones and clownfish together, and this is how most stores display these creatures. The clownfish develop a protective slime coating so that they don't get stung and eaten. The clowns will feed the anemone, and in return get protection from predators - definitely an object of wonderment and curiosity. Newcomers to the aquarium hobby often think these animals are plants. 

   An anemones' diet consists of foods like feeder fish, brine shrimp and frozen foods. Some may be more aggressive feeders than others. A large Stoichactis Anemone, 8-10" across the base, can put down a 4-5" pool comet. An Atlantic Anemone will eat feeder guppies and small comets. All anemones will eat frozen food; remember to defrost it first. They do not need to be fed daily; every other day is fine. The food can be fed by hand, with tongs or with a plastic baster. 

   Be careful handling anemones! Their delicate tissue can be easily damaged by a net. The base can be damaged by recklessly prying it up when you are trying to move it. Also be aware that anemones might move and attach themselves to the intakes of filters. Another reason to be very careful handling anemones is that each tentacle is tipped with a stinging organ, called a nematocyst. This provides protection from predators in the wild, but can be irritating to the person trying to move the anemone. 

 

Remember the first time you saw a clownfish wallowing in the tentacles of its host anemone?

 

   So what is the proper way of moving them? One method is to gently pry the base by hand (being careful not to come in contact with the tips of the tentacles) and scoop the anemones into a cup or small pail. Anemones are mostly water and you greatly reduce stress with the scooping method rather than trying to net them out of the aquarium. 

Here are some other tips on anemones: 

When buying anemones, remember that their bulk is mostly water and they can shrink to 1/8 of their size by expelling it. 

If the aquarium needs to be medicated, be careful choosing the medication. For example, anemones and most other invertebrates cannot tolerate copper. 

If an anemone is damaged and appears to "be rotting" or "falling apart," this is usually irreversible, and the anemone should be disposed of (or moved into isolation) before it pollutes the aquarium. 

Keep in mind that anemones are hardy and can live for many years with proper care.

 

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