Today we are going to learn about anemones and walk you through the basics of keeping one. Every hobby has an entry point. For most reef tank hobbyists that entry point is keeping a clownfish along with their frequent partner in crime, the anemone. Although most people pair their nems with clowns, they can live happy and healthy lives without their symbiotic buddy. Most of what we will talk about today works for the majority of anemones out there, but this video mainly geared towards the most popular nem on the market, the rose bubble tip anemone.
There are over one thousand species of sea anemones in the wild and they are spread throughout the world’s oceans. They are classified in the phylum Cnidaria and, much like their cousin the jellyfish, they have stinging cells called nematocysts. Despite preying on small fish and crustaceans, its not uncommon to see anemones in the wild with symbiotic partners, most commonly the clownfish. In most cases, these partnered animals provide the anemone with a continual food source while the nem provides them with protection from predators.
The major thing to keep in mind when keeping anemones is that stability is your key to success. New tanks go through numerous cycles when first established and don’t really start to settle until around the six month point. To avoid stressing an anemone more than necessary, It really is best to wait until your tank matures to this point before you start trying to add them. The ideal parameters for nems fall in line with standard reef tank parameters so adding one to an existing tank should be just fine. Just like with reef tanks, the larger your system is, the easier it is to maintain stability. Although its nowhere near impossible, keeping anemones in tanks under twenty gallons can be tough as your parameters are more likely to swing. The best way to make sure your water is where it needs to be is to keep up with a frequent water change schedule using RODI water and a high quality marine salt mix. Hooking a ATO system up to your tank is also key in maintaining your sality levels and keeping your nem happy and healthy.
When setting up a anemone friendly tank, one of the most important things to keep in mind that anemones move, and can move a lot. It's not uncommon to put a nem in your tank and all of a sudden see it disappear, only to see it reappear in another spot a few days later. We have two good size bubble tips in our Innovative Marine 50 gallon lagoon and although one of them seems to be happy where he is, the second never seems to settle and seems to change its mind on a weekly basis. A variety of factors including lighting and flow can cause anemones to move and unfortunately there isn’t always a way to keep them where you want.
As some anemones are frequent wanderers, you may need to take action to “nem proof” your tank so that they don’t injure themselves. If you are working with a system where your heater is in your main display as opposed to in a sump or back chamber, it is possible that the nem will get a bit too close to it and burn itself. An easy solution is to place your heater in a corrugated plastic tube so that it will still have appropriate water flow while also isolating it from the anemone. One unfortunate experience a staffer at our office had was that his nem decided to wander into his powerhead. Some nems also have long sweeping tentacles that can get caught in powerheads even if they are just in the area. Some powerheads such as the Ecotech Vectra come with foam guards that can be placed around the pump to prevent fish and other animals from getting caught inside. Some level of protection such as this may be worth looking into to make sure that your nem doesn’t get caught as well.
There's a couple things to keep in mind when purchasing an anemone that you need to consider. Remember that these animals are predatory in nature. Even though certain fish, like clowns, thrive when paired with nems, there are many more that will just act as food for them. Smaller fish and crustaceans are especially susceptible to being caught and especially in smaller tanks may not make a good fit. Similar to some species of LPS like hammer and corals, nems with long, sweeping tentacles are also very capable of stinging corals that surround them. Unlike these corals, the nems are capable of moving around freely. This means that they may decide to settle down next to your most precious coral and harass them. As with any livestock that you are adding to your tank, it is important to research them before buying and understand the potential consequences of adding them to your system.
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