The Rose Anemone

One of the most intriguing sights within a marine aquarium is an anemone with a clownfish or two. The clown fish on its own, particularly certain types such as the common clown fish (Amphiprion ocellaris), could be the flag for marines. Seeing a clownfish dwelling among the stinging tentacles of an anemone adds to it. It should be mentioned that clownfish have anemone preferences, and a check should be made if a clownfish is to be offered an anemone as home.

While in cautionary mode, it should be noted that anemones are not for novices, it is necessary that experience is gained first, experience in maintaining high quality seawater and equally high quality general habitat. In addition, anemones such as the one looked at here require correct lighting, in the same way that most commonly kept corals do. This is because of the presence of zooxanthellae, single celled symbiotic algae within the flesh. The zooxanthellae give the anemone its colours.

The Rose Anemone is properly called Entacmaea quadricolor. Looking at the proper name it is clear why it is also commonly known as the four coloured anemone. It can also be recognized as a short part of the tentacles are bulbous, this occurs towards the ends. Remembering that some clownfish refuse for some reason to take up home in an anemone even though it is of the correct type, the Rose Anemone should be acceptable to Amphiprion bicinctus, A. clarki, A. ephippium, and A. frenatus. That’s quite a choice, but as said there’s no guarantee.

Some symbiotic anemones will anchor themselves in the substrata which can sometimes present a positioning problem for the aquarist. The Rose Anemone however doesn’t require substrata, it is happy on rocks. Well, that isn’t completely correct, it is happy between rocks in a fairly deep cleft, which is best smooth, meaning smooth sides and bottom. The anemone is able to contract considerably into the cleft if threatened. They should not be in the direct flow from any powerhead or the like, the seawater flow is preferred to be gentle. In a reef system positioning would need some thought because of the high seawater flow, and at the same time remembering the anemone’s light requirements.

Having mentioned the anemone’s preferences, it would seem that this particular one is fussy. However, it is reported to be one of the easiest, or perhaps the easiest anemone to keep among the symbiotic types (symbiotic = anemone/clownfish).

There is one potential habit with this anemone that some aquarists face and others not – it can without apparent reason go wandering. Even though the anemone has been provided with all necessary requirements to settle, it could go for a walk which is not going to necessarily please the aquarist. It could end up a very short distance away from where it was placed, or it could end up down the back of rocks hardly on view and the like. Or it could stay exactly where put!

If the anemone does move to a position unacceptable to the aquarist it could be transferred to a new area which again is designed to meet all its needs. Care has to be taken, as the anemone could well be well fastened to a rock and clumsy attempts to release it could cause damage and affect its health. If at all possible, if the anemone is fastened to a rock, the rock should be moved to a new area with the anemone and be used in the construction of the new cleft. With a prayer for good luck maybe the anemone will stay put.

Feeding the anemone is easy, all that is required is a smallish piece of mussel, lancefish or the like. Once or twice a week the food is placed on the tentacles, and the anemone will transport it to the mouth. If a clownfish is present it is possible that the food will become of immediate interest and it may not reach the mouth, so this needs to be watched for.

The anemone could reach a diameter of 20 inches (circa 50.75 cm) though this is unlikely in an aquarium. Having said that, I once kept a symbiotic anemone of a different type that grew so large it had to go back to the local fish shop. Sadly, the clownfish also went with it.

As said, symbiotic anemones are not for the inexperienced. If including one in the display is being considered, then this one is reported to be a little ‘easier’. Watch out for walkabouts though!

The link provides some pictures.