- [Q][M] Lighting and Algae (fwd)
by "Thomas M. Sasala" <sasala-at-itd.nrl.navy.mil> (Wed, 24 May 1995)
- [Q][M] Lighting and Algae (fwd)
by "Thomas M. Sasala" <sasala-at-itd.nrl.navy.mil>
by "Thomas M. Sasala" <sasala-at-itd.nrl.navy.mil>
Date: Wed, 24 May 1995
Erik and All:
Krib Information ?
> If its not too late I am sending you the updated version of the article
> that I sent into AFM.(Its been sitting on the editor desk, unread for
> about 6 weeks now)
> You will probably want to cut the first couple paragraphs at least. Feel
> free to chop what you think you need to.
> Here it is:
> Choosing Your Next Anemone
> Many hobbyist's first attempt at keeping marine fish involves the keeping
> of clownfish. Most are colorful, they have an interesting swimming
> motion, they are inexpensive and they are relatively hardy. Soon after
> the purchase of their clownfish many of those same people decide that
> their clownfish need an anemone. This is where many aquarist meet with
> their first failure. They find that even given good water conditions and
> good lighting their anemone still dies six to eight months later for no
> apparent reason. If the anemone does live, they may find they have a
> healthy clownfish and a beautiful anemone and neither one will have
> anything to do with the other. In this article I hope to give you some
> information that will help you to avoid these problems.
> This information was gathered from over 30 aquarists like yourselves
> (some of them relatively famous) who have responded to my questions via
> the Internet (a worldwide computer network which has bulletin board
> services where aquarium related questions can by posted and answered),
> every clownfish host anemone book or scientific article I could get my
> hands on (and there aren't very many on keeping anemones out there), and
> Aquarists in charge of the tropical tanks at several public aquariums.
> When discussing the anemones I will give the scientific name first and
> then as many common names as I can before the information. (please
> understand that until recently not even the scientific names had been
> standardized) I don't mean to imply that my information is highly
> scientific; 30 people is hardly a good sampling. Hopefully those of you
> reading this article will be inspired to send me your experiences even if
> to tell me that you have had the same experiences.
> First let me offer you some general anemone keeping tips:
> The degree to which you are successful in keeping anemones may depend a
> great deal on your ability to chose a healthy one from the dealers tank.
> This is easier said than done. Some things are pretty obvious. Anemones
> with open, loose mouths, deflated tentacles, or torn bases should be
> avoided. Other things may be less obvious. White transparent color in an
> otherwise healthy anemone may mean that it has expelled all its
> zooxanthellae and that it may be perfectly fine for up to 9 months before
> it gradually starts to waste away. Short stubby tentacles on an anemone
> that is supposed to have long thin tentacles, even though it looks
> healthy otherwise, may mean it has already started to decline. If the
> anemone is not attached to anything in the dealers tank, it may have
> difficulty attaching to something in your tank and probably won't survive
> long. Watch as the dealer removes your anemone from his tank. If the
> anemone doesn't contract a little or react in some way, it is not a
> robust anemone. Lastly, if the anemones is not at least a little sticky
> to the touch, it may have lost the ability to fire its stinging cells
> (nematocysts), which means it will be difficult, if not impossible, to
> One of the unfortunate things about many of the hard to keep anemones
> especially, is that they seem to have a very slow metabolism. They are
> very slow to let us know that they are unhappy and by the time we notice,
> they may already be too far gone to help them since they are slow to
> react to beneficial changes too.
> Clownfish host anemones all need lots of light to do well. They obtain
> most their nutrition from a symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) that lives
> inside their tissues. Lots of light means from 3 to 6 watts of bulb per
> gallon of a standard depth aquarium. That means you need at least 4 of
> the longest bulbs that you can fit over your tank, usually in a ratio of
> 50% actinic and 50% full spectrum bulbs.
> Anemones prefer water free of organic wastes, which in most cases means
> you need to have an efficient protein skimmer. Maintaining the levels of
> trace elements in the water by performing regular water changes or the
> addition of commercially available supplements also seems to be
> important. Charles Delbeek mentioned that iron supplements could benefit
> the zooxanthellae in the anemones. I found that the addition of CombiSan
> (which contains iron) seemed to help my sebae anemone regain its color.
> Moderate current, in addition to clean water, helps exchange needed
> elements and rid the anemone of waste products. Some of the more delicate
> anemones seem to prefer higher temperatures in the range of 80-80 F and
> pH in a consistent range of 8.2-8.4.
> "Feeding your anemone"
> Feeding can range from 3 times a week to once every 2 weeks. Some
> aquarists have had success not directly feeding their anemones at all,
> although I suspect their anemones are capturing food that is meant for
> the fish. Food usually consists of a piece of raw shrimp about the size
> of the anemone's mouth. Lance fish, silversides, clams, scallops and
> other frozen marine organisms can also be used, but I find them more
> messy. A large bag of peeled and deveined shrimp can be obtained from one
> of the local discount supermarkets and may last many, many months and has
> the added advantage of being fit for human consumption.
> Liquid foods and Target foods may actually be harmful to your anemones
> directly (several aquarists stated that their anemones started to die as
> soon as they began to use liquid target foods) and indirectly though
> degradation of your water quality.
> The jury is still out on vitamins. I could not find any common thread in
> my data that would point towards them being helpful or harmful. My
> suggestion would be to use them sparingly, or not at all.
> "Easier to keep anemones"
> Stichodactyla haddoni, Saddle Carpet, saddleback anemone, Haddoni anemone
> This anemone is often not distinguished from other carpets in the dealers
> tanks. The tentacles are short and knobby and usually densely packed.
> There is usually a reddish to pinkish ring around the mouth that isn't
> present on other carpets. Groups of tentacles on the same anemone may be
> of different colors forming a striped pattern on the anemone. If not
> striped they are usually a greyish-green, although bright greens, yellows
> and even blues are sometimes seen.
> GOOD POINTS- This may be the easiest anemone to keep for long
> periods of time. Light suitable for soft corals and commonly kept hard
> corals is enough. I have had one growing slowly for over 7 years in the
> bottom of a 30 gal. tall aquarium with only 60 watts of fluorescent
> light. Reasonable nitrate levels for fish seem to be OK for this anemone.
> For its first 3 years my anemone lived in water that measured 30 ppm of
> nitrate on a Seatest Kit and showed no ill effects. They will grow faster
> however given better conditions.
> BAD POINTS- This anemone will eat your fish! (not your clownfish)
> Dwarf angels, small tangs, blennies and small shrimp seem to be prone to
> getting eaten. Pseudochromis, hawkfish and some others don't seem to have
> a problem. The clownfish that accept this anemone also seem to be
> limited. They are accepted by saddleback clowns, true sebae clowns,
> Clarki clowns and usually tomato clowns.
> Entacmaea quadricolor, Bulb, bubble, bubble-tipped, maroon anemone
> Recently obtained individuals will usually have unmistakable
> swollen ends on the tips of their tentacles. Specimens in captivity will
> often lose their bubble-tips for periods of time and just have long
> straight tentacles. The tentacles usually have a green color especially
> when exposed to only actinic light. The tentacles may also have a frosty
> white ring
> around the tip. The base is often rusty-red but may also be purple or
> just tan. The Rose anemone is a color variation of this anemone.
> GOOD POINTS- Normal reef lighting is enough (above 4 watts per
> gal.) for this type of anemone and may be more than enough. Nitrate
> levels below 20 ppm are preferred. Small ones may reproduce asexually in
> your aquarium by dividing into two smaller anemones. Their sting is
> rather weak and won't harm your other fish. They are accepted by
> Clarki-type clowns, all the different tomato-type clowns, maroon clowns
> and sometimes, although very rarely, percula and ocellaris clowns.
> BAD POINTS- These anemones tend to wander around the tank more
> than others, sometimes causing their own deaths from lack of light or
> being sucked through a powerhead. They like to have their foot shaded
> inside a crevice in the rock or coral with their tentacles in the light.
> This preference might be met by placing a short piece of PVC pipe, sized
> to the anemone, where you want the anemone to stay and putting its base
> into the pipe. They seem to be sensitive to being shipped. Make sure the
> one you pick out has a tight mouth and is firmly attached to something in
> the dealers tank. Any anemone that is not attached to something in the
> dealers tank is probably not healthy. In addition, when the dealer tries
> to remove the anemone from the tank the anemone should show some type of
> reaction, usually they contract.
> Macrodactyla doreensis, Long-tentacled anemone
> These anemones have very long (up to 5-6 in.), smooth, thick
> tentacles sometimes with longitudinal stripes extending into the oral
> disk. The tentacles originate from a round flat oral disk, distinguishing
> it from the condylactis anemone. The foot of the base is almost always
> bright red or orange.
> GOOD POINTS- They are hardy if kept under Metal Halide lights.
> Under lower light levels they seem to slowly waste away. They come in a
> variety of patterns and colors including purple. Accepted by Clarki
> clowns, tomato-type clowns and pink skunk clowns.
> BAD POINTS- They must have bright lighting. They normally live
> with their base buried deep in the sand and sometimes have a difficult
> time finding an attachment spot in a reef-type tank.
> "Difficult to keep anemones"
> Heteractis crispa or H. malu, Sebae anemone, Singapore anemone,
> pink-tipped (but not condylactis) anemone
> Tentacles range from long and thin to short and fat depending on the
> condition of the anemone (short and fat usually means it is starting to
> waste away). Tentacles usually have magenta colored tips although
> yellowish-green tips are not uncommon. Colors can be dyed yellow, dyed
> pink, natural pink/purple, natural yellow, tan, but by far the most
> common is pure white. The oral disk may also have a green sheen under
> actinic light.
> GOOD POINTS-They are very common in stores and are usually the
> least expensive of the host anemones. They are accepted by virtually all
> clownfish whether they occur together in nature or not. Some not so white
> specimens can regenerate their symbiotic algae thus becoming a brown
> color. If you can obtain a tan specimen with long thin tentacles they
> should do well under conditions similar to that required for bulb anemones.
> BAD POINTS- No one I have spoken with, not even the public
> aquariums, can keep the white or yellow ones alive for more than 6-8
> months. Out of the over 20 responses I received regarding sebaes only 2
> anemones had stayed alive for over one year. Both of the anemones were
> tan in color either when purchased or had turned tan shortly there after.
> One thought is that sebae anemones may expel their symbiotic
> algae shortly after capture and when it is completely gone it is not
> easily replaced. Frank Greco of the New York Aquarium says that he has
> been successful in getting otherwise healthy sebaes to "color up" by
> feeding once a week with fresh fish, clam, shrimp or gelatin. They also
> get live brine shrimp, adult and baby, and a yeast based diet of his own
> design. In addition to the frequent feedings the anemones are exposed to
> very bright light, three 400 watt metal halide bulbs over the six foot by
> six foot, four foot tall anemone tank. If the anemone is not able to
> replace its zooxanthellae it is doomed to a very slow starvation once in
> the tank. There are cream colored sebae anemones found in shallow water
> in the wild, but they are not the transparent white color found in the
> dealers tanks. These don't seem to be a good beginner's anemone despite
> articles I have read that say they are.
> Heteractis magnifica, Ritteri, African, yellow-tipped anemone
> This anemone is usually rather large. Their tentacles are long
> with very blunt tips that are lighter in color than the shafts. The base
> may be red or purple but brown is more common.
> GOOD POINTS- They are relatively common in the market. They are
> accepted by almost every variety of clownfish.
> BAD POINTS- They tend to move to the highest point in the tank,
> often up the sides of the glass very near the water return pipe. In
> nature they tend to be found at the highest parts of the reef exposed to
> strong light and currents. In the aquarium they will need very strong
> lighting (metal halide) and very strong alternating (wave) currents to do
> well. They also have a reputation for being able to catch and eat medium
> sized non-clownfish.
> Stichodactyla gigantea, Giant carpet, colored carpet
> These anemones have short pointed tentacles that seem to
> constantly vibrate. The tentacles are usually not very densely packed
> except near the edges of the disk. Specimens with blue, bright green,
> yellow, or white tipped tentacles can be found and at some times of the
> year are even common, but light brown is still the most common color. The
> oral disk often lies in a wave pattern if the anemone is on a flat surface.
> GOOD POINTS-The colored ones are very pretty! A pink specimen is
> featured on the cover of Martin Moe's "Beginner to Breeder " book. They
> are accepted by most clownfish.
> BAD POINTS- They can sting non-clownfish and may even eat other
> anemones. Giant carpets unlike their relative the saddle carpet seem to
> be very difficult to keep in captivity. The only report I had of a
> success died in a move after living for 10 years and the aquarist was
> unable to have any success with any giant carpets after that. It is
> possible that the first anemone may have been a saddle carpet rather than
> a giant carpet, but I haven't been able to find out for sure. One of the
> reasons for the difficulty in keeping the giant carpets may stem from the
> fact that most are collected from very shallow water, sometimes less than
> 3 feet deep. This leads me to believe that it may be difficult for the
> aquarist to give the anemone all the light that it is accustomed to in
> There are a couple other natural clownfish host anemones that will
> sometimes appear in your dealers tanks, but I wasn't able to gather
> enough information on them to include an accurate description. These are
> the Sand, corn or aurora anemone (Heteractis aurora) and the Mertin's
> carpet (S. mertinii).
> Some clownfish will also accept non-natural hosts such as purple mat
> anemones, reef anemones, condylactis anemones, gonipora corals and other
> long tentacled corals. There have been reports, however, that clownfish
> that associate with condylactis anemones and corals may be more prone to
> skin infections than normal.
> The more anemone keeping experiences we can share the better. The more
> we can communicate with each other the more success we will all have.
> After many failures with sebae anemones, I have used information gathered
> from other hobbyists to choose a sebae anemone with a green oral disk
> and tan tentacles that has grown from 6 inches to 12 inches in diameter
> in 7 months.
> If you disagree with my findings I would really like to here from you. If
> my findings agree with your experiences, I need to support some of the
> opinions I have already formed. You can reach me by e-mail at
> Allen, G. R. .1972. The Anemonefishes - Their Classification and Biology
> - 2nd Edition. T.F.H. Publications Inc.. Neptune City, New Jersey. 352 pages
> Allen, G. R. and Fautin, D. G .1992. Field Guide to Anemonefishes and
> their Host Sea Anemones. Western Australian Museum. Perth, WA. 160 pages.
> Friese, U. Erich. 1993. Sea Anemones....as a Hobby. T.F.H. Publications
> Inc.. Neptune City, New Jersey. 319 pages.
> Moe, M. A. Jr., 1992. The Marine Aquarium Handbook- Beginner to Breeder-
> New Edition. Green Turtle Publications. Plantain, Florida. 318 pages
> Sprung, J. 1994. Reef Notes. Freshwater and Marine Aquarium Magazine.
by "Thomas M. Sasala" <sasala-at-itd.nrl.navy.mil>
Whoops. That's Phil's article. (Phil Henderson)
> Attribution? Did you write that article?
> - E
> Erik D. Olson