Anemones Sometimes Go For A Walk…

An anemone is a superb addition to a marine aquarium. With their tentacle gently swaying in the water currents, their unique way in catching food, their breathtaking relationship with anemone fish etc it is no surprise that a lot of aquarists consider adding one to their aquarium.


An anemone should never be added to an aquarium which is not stable. When I say stable I do not mean that all parameters are now ok in the water I mean that they have remained excellent for a long time. Also the aquarists should have enough experience and confidence before even considering such an animal.

This does not mean that you shouldn’t have one though – it just might mean you need to wait a while!

Three things are a definitive requirement for an anemone to thrive:

1. Excellent water quality
2. Suitable lighting
3. Food

The top two go without saying as this is a requirement for any animal in the aquarium and I suppose in a way the bottom one does as well. In the wild anemones feed by luring other fish into their tentacles using their resident anemone fish as bait however in the aquarium this should not happen as research will have been performed to ensure that this should not happen. It may happen but let’s hope not.

Therefore it is imperative that the anemone is fed. Small pieces of fish etc will suffice but you need to ensure that any waste is removed as an extra load on the bio-load will be introduced.

Another thing that is often presumed is that an anemone fish must be kept with an anemone for it to survive. This is not the case – an anemone will survive just fine without one as long as the requirements of the anemone are met.

The same goes for anemone fish – some people presume that an anemone must be kept for them to thrive. Again not the case – they will do just fine.

Now comes the annoying bit about anemones – they do not always want to stay where you put them!

When an anemone is considered there will probably be an area in the aquarium where you think it will look great however after the anemone is introduced to the aquarium it later cannot be located. After a few hours of desperate searching it can be located at the rear of the aquarium behind all the rocks!

Anemones have the ability to walk around on their foot. If they are not comfortable in the position you place them they will simply go for a walk looking for a suitable area. This could be due to too much water movement, not enough water movement, too strong lighting, not enough lighting etc.

Fussy little blighters really!

Like all animals it is therefore essential to research the anemone prior to purchase and attempt to identify an area in the aquarium where it’s needs are met. Anemones like to get their foot down so that it is secure. There are some which like to force their foot into the rockwork, others which prefer sand and others which prefer smooth surfaces. Again research is required to ensure that you correct location is available in the aquarium.

As said the anemone, if the requirements are not met will walk around the aquarium looking for a suitable area. The annoying thing about this is that it may find a suitable area which is looking out of the rear, under a water outlet, stuck on the front glass etc.

Another thing to consider and this is due to the anemones ability to walk around the aquarium is that powerhead/water pump inlets must be protected as the anemone will get sucked into the inlet and literally smashed to pieces – not a nice way to go I’m sure you will agree. Another thing is to protect any overflows if you have any present as the anemone may take a liking to this area and you could come home to a flood or a severely jammed anemone in the pipework!

Considering all of the people it does make you wonder why aquarists even consider the purchase of an anemone. To be honest if the research is done and all requirements met then you should be ok. I say should as nothing can ever be guaranteed. You never know you may identify an area which is suitable and the anemone stays there for many years.

One of the aquariums I would love to create is a 2 foot by 2 foot cube with an anemone in it and clown fish. I find the symbiotic relationship fascinating and think that this would be a very interesting project. If you have done this then I would love to hear about and especially see some pictures.