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Tips and Advice on Anemones Survival

Can you imagine having a reef tank with just the clownfish living in it and nothing else and suddenly everything just comes to life with the introduction of a wavy tentacle-like creature that seems to blend in so well and at the same time provide refuge for you host of aquarium fish? Well, you would have guessed, the one mentioned is nothing other than the Anemones which although generally considered rather undemanding, but however due to the lack of attention or care shown by the aquarist can most of the time result in their death. Wild anemones although thrive in natural sea environment but however when transferred to home aquariums, they are known to have a low survival rate, mainly due to their failure to adapt to the artificial reef tank conditions. Although this presents a major obstacle, it doesn’t stop aquarists as they will do anything to ensure that their pet anemone survive and most will not hesitate to pay high price just to get their hands on an already well-acclimatized species to grace their fish tank.

bubble tip bulb anemoneblue carpet anemonemagnificent ritteri anemonerock anemone
Sea anemone pictures clockwise from top left, blue carpet, rock anemone, magnificent ritteri, and the most beautiful would be the bubble tip anemone

Keeping anemones alive and thriving generally boils down to few important aspects. As they form symbiotic relationship in the wild with the clownfish, having the right matching fish species that will support the needs and requirements of your anemones will make a whole lot of difference. For example, Ritteri Magnificent Anemone (Heteractis magnifica), a colorful and beautiful anemone species is often spotted having the Percula clownfish around in the wild and for that reason; both are usually introduced together to the reef tank in order to support each other and increase survival rate. Generally the mucus from the body and fecal discharge of the clownfish are the best nutrition that they will need to survive and regenerate. Another aspect that one should also focus on is the lighting. Although anemones are not plant species or anywhere close to that for that matter, this animal-like invertebrate actually needs lighting source in the right spectrum to generate bodily fluid and also to maintain their coloration. T5 metal halide lighting fixture or VHO fluorescent tubes are the norms, often seen installed in the fish tank but having these do not guarantee absolute survival for your sea anemones as a more serious in-depth study such as the anemone placement in the tank, water depth, area of exposure, watts per gallon and other aspects also need to be taken into consideration. Apart from that, the flow of water and current movement also need to be adjusted properly, not too strong until it disrupts the swimming capability of your aquarium fish but enough to keep the water moving to provide oxygen and wash away host of parasites and dead cells accumulating on the tentacles surface.

If you are a beginner, there are a few choices that you might want to consider. Some of the most commonly kept types of anemones in the aquarium trade other than Heteractis magnifica are the Carpet Anemones identified by its scientific name of Stichodactyla haddoni. Although the species can be more tolerant towards a less ideal condition in the tank compared to the H. magnifica which can be extremely demanding, the carpet anemones still need as much attention from the aquarist especially on the lighting. Appearance wise, some of it are blue, purple or green in color and overall; S. haddoni is slightly different from the usual protruding sea of tentacles like the H. magnifica. Nevertheless they still belong to the anemone group and become an automatic choice for beginners due to their hardy nature that can adapt and survive quite well in captivity. As implied by the name given to them, the flat, carpet-like creature can always be found clinging to the aquarium live rocks surfaces. Other examples I would recommend one to consider are the Rock Anemone identified by its scientific name of Epicystic crucifer and Bubble Tip (Bulb Tentacle) Anemone also called Entacmaea quadricolor. Just like the S. haddoni, both species are also the hardy types that make excellent addition to your saltwater tank clownfish collection.

A good aquarium practice when keeping anemone is also about choosing the right tankmates. Sometimes selection of other invertebrates like sea fans can cause harm and attack your anemones and threaten their survival. Introduction of different species even though they are closely related, will still need careful consideration as not all anemones types are compatible with each other. Even your aquarium fish can become the culprit and the most notorious is the presence of certain species of butterflyfish and especially puffers which will outright hunt them and will practically destroy every sea anemone creature that they could find. With that being said, at times instead of becoming the subject of bullying, certain species of anemones can turn aggressive, to the extent of killing other invertebrates or even fish species. Unwary Acanthuridae like the unicornfish, tang fish can often fall prey and so does the clams and starfishes sharing the same reef home. My advice is to avoid the community approach as this always involves trial and error to find out the most compatible mix, thus it would be best to confine your anemone presence only with clownfishes. As mentioned earlier, one of the key things to ensure their survival is to make sure that water movement is vigorous to remove the accumulated waste but the same objective can also be achieved by introducing a host of cleaner shrimps or small hermit crabs. Other hobbyists go to the extent of using liquid nutrients specially prepared for anemones to provide the extra boost and keep their pets alive. Most of these can be bought at the local fish shop, but avoid buying on instinct. Make sure that the most important thing is to check with the sales person on what and how these can help. Focus on the iodine based reef supplements.

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