There are a few anemones that find favour with aquarists and this is one of them. As well as the name in the title they are also commonly known as the four coloured anemone, the bulb tentacle anemone, and the bulb anemone. The proper name is Entacmaea quadricolor.
The anemone is one which requires good lighting as it contains symbiotic algae, and it is this algae that gives the anemone its colour. Good lighting is defined in the same way that lighting for corals is, and that is it must be sufficiently intense and of the correct spectrum. If the anemone is to be located quite low down in a deep aquarium then metal halides will be required.
Again in the same way as corals, good seawater movement is needed. This does not need to be particularly strong, just strong, moving the tentacles and swaying the body. Current from a power head should not hit the anemone directly.
The final requirement needed to settle the anemone happily in its home is to provide it with the correct position from a security point of view. When placing the anemone on the reef ensure that the anemone when fully open will not interfere with neighboring corals, but the most important point is to ensure that the foot of the anemone is located in a fairly deep crevice or hole, not a tight squeeze but a good generous loose fit. The anemone should anchor itself within the hole or crevice, which will also give it protection should it require it. It is unlikely that this will be needed in a home aquarium but the anemone doesn’t know this!
Failure to provide the named requirements, some of them, or one of them will either result in the demise of the anemone, or it will be very tiresome and start wandering around the aquarium looking for what is missing. I located an anemone in an earlier aquarium, meeting all the above needs, and it stayed put from the word go. Finally the anemone had to be removed as it just became too big.
Talking of size, the aquarist should be aware that this anemone could achieve a diameter of around 18″ (circa 45.75cm). Therefore it is not suitable for small aquariums; a length of say 48″ (circa 122cm) should be suitable.
It is my opinion that new aquarists without experience should not purchase this anemone (or any other) until such time as they have some experience. If the aquarist has kept an aquarium for a year successfully, that is, has maintained high seawater quality and the fish and corals have done and are doing well, then that is a reasonable time to consider an anemone.
Once in the aquarium a little time is needed for the anemone to indicate that it is settled. The indication is that it stays in one place, expands fully and is in good colour (meaning the algae are functioning therefore the lighting is acceptable).
Feeding is simplicity itself. First of all the anemone obtains nutrients from the symbiotic algae and feeding should not be overdone. When required, the anemone will accept a small piece of fish or mussel. This can be placed towards the mouth within the tentacles, when the anemone should respond and move the food to the mouth. Feed once or twice a week to start and build on experience.
This anemone in common with others contains nematocysts in the tentacles, which are like small harpoons that are activated on contact with a fish or shrimp. They penetrate the body of the victim and inject a toxin enabling the anemone to overpower and devour. There isn’t usually a distinction made for the aquarist’s prize livestock! Having said that, most fish seem to have an inbuilt instinct to keep away from the danger. I clearly recall becoming tense on more than one occasion when a lovely fish, intent on its search for food, seemed to be so, so close to the anemone ” but I didn’t lose any.
Many aquarists are keen to associate an anemone with a clownfish. Well, Entacmaea quadricolor is one of the anemones that act as hosts for clownfish. It is important not to overload an anemone with clownfish, usually one or maybe two is quite sufficient in an aquarium. No attempt should be made to host a clownfish until the anemone is known to be settled. The clownfish that are known to inhabit this anemone are Amphiprion clarki, Amphiprion ephippium, Amphiprion frenatus and Amphiprion melanopus.
It has been known, more than once, that a suitable clownfish has been placed in an aquarium containing a host anemone, only for the clownfish to totally ignore the anemone. Why this is I cannot say – is it because the fish was aquarium bred? If so, perhaps the fish doesn’t know it is supposed to live in an anemone! As said, I don’t really know. Fortunately, I have managed to obtain clownfish in the past that have been cooperative.
So if the aquarist has the experience and can provide the conditions, an anemone is worthwhile. If the anemone settles well and a clownfish (of the correct type) is introduced, then the aquarist will have the pleasure of seeing one of Nature’s strange and amazing combinations.