There are many different types of anemones that are suitable for your saltwater aquariums, each with its own list of pros and cons, making the choice more difficult than it sounds at first glance.
Sea anemones are among the most fascinating invertebrates in the ocean, and they make fantastic pets in saltwater aquariums! Whether you’re new to fishkeeping or have been in the hobby for decades, there are many options available to fit every type of tank and skill levels.
If you’re an aquarist interested in keeping sea anemones in your tank, you’ve likely already discovered a large variety of different species to choose from. Some of these types of anemones are very hardy and easy to care for, while others are more difficult to keep and may only be suitable for expert aquarists who are familiar with their needs.
When searching around for your ideal types of anemones, here’s a guide to help you choose the best sea anemone for your saltwater aquarium!
What are sea anemones?
Sea anemones are predatory marine animals belonging to the order Actiniaria. Because of their colorful appearance, they are named after anemones, a terrestrial flowering plant.
When looking at a sea anemone, you’ll notice that it has an elongated shape with tentacles surrounding its body, making it seems like a flower or blossom. That’s where these creatures get their name from – anemone means flower in Greek.
Sea anemone classification
Anemones are a group of aquatic animals classified with corals, under the umbrella term Anthozoa, meaning “flower animals.” They are not calcareous skeletons, though they are classified in the same class as corals. Tube-dwelling anemones, a member of the order Ceriantharia, are also members of the Anthozoa class. Anemones and corals in this class only produce polyps: the medusa stage is unknown.
Sea anemone scientific name
The scientific name of the sea anemone is Actiniaria
Where do sea anemones live?
All of the world’s oceans are home to sea anemones. They live at depths of over 10,000 meters below sea level, even though most of their abundance and diversity can be found in shallow tropical waters.
Up to 1000 species or types of anemones have various sizes which range from 0.5 inches to 72 inches/6 feet (1.3-183 cm) in diameter.
Since they can grow up to 6 feet in diameter, the minimum recommended tank size for sea anemones is 100 gallons or larger tanks.
Many types of anemones thrive in tanks and are available in a wide range of colors. Because they’re extremely delicate, however, special tank requirements are necessary for them to survive. Their water needs to be kept between 72 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
Additionally, you need a strong and stable filtration system that will maintain a steady water flow while preventing any buildup of waste products or sediment. In addition to these basic parameters, you also need to make sure your tank is set up properly.
Make sure it has enough room for both your fish and your sea anemone; if possible, keep all other animals out of its area until it has settled in. Be aware that many types of saltwater fish don’t like living near their tentacles!
The most important thing when choosing which types of anemones to buy is considering how large they will grow. It’s best to pick one with as small a diameter as possible so that it doesn’t get too big for your tank.
Before you bring your anemone home, take a minute to consider whether or not it will get along with any existing tank mates. There are several species that can live harmoniously in a saltwater aquarium; however, some fish (such as eels) and corals may be more prone to attack by an aggressive anemone.
Sea anemones reproduction
Sea anemones have separate sexes. Reproduction may either be sexual or asexual. When sperm are released by a male, it stimulates eggs to be released by a female, and fertilization then occurs. Sperm or eggs are ejected through the mouth. Once fertilized, the egg develops into a planula, which settles down somewhere and becomes a single anemone.
They can also reproduce asexually through budding (binary fission), during which the pedal disc breaks apart and makes small anemones from the fragments. Laceration is the act of fragmenting a basal disk or by pulling it apart into two parts.
What do sea anemone eat?
Like their relatives, cnidarians, anemones feed on live prey. The most common types of anemones diets are plankton, crabs, small fish, jellyfish, shrimp, starfish, and krill. However, some types of anemones diet might consist solely of algae or detritus (dead organic matter). If your type of sea anemone feeds exclusively on fish and/or shrimp, be sure you’re able to supply enough food for them.
How long do sea anemones live?
The lifespan of some sea anemones has been reported to reach 60-80 years, some can even live over 100 years, provided they are not poisoned or eaten. In the absence of predators or disease, anemones can live indefinitely because they clone themselves and do not age.
Sea anemones predators
Anemones have a variety of predators that feed on them and their tentacles as well. Sea stars, sea turtles, some fish, snails, and sea slugs are some examples of these predators.
Sea anemone adaptations
Most frequently, sea anemones use flexing motions to move from one location to another. There are many tentacles that surround the oral disc. They capture food and transfer it to their mouths using these tentacles. Additionally, these tentacles are useful in defensive situations.
Sea anemone and clownfish
It is a classic example of two organisms benefiting one another when anemones and clownfish live in symbiotic relationships; the anemones provide the clownfish with shelter and protection.
As a reward for providing a safe and protective home, the clownfish offers the anemone a number of critical benefits. The clownfish are responsible for cleaning the anemone, providing nutrients in the form of waste, and fending off predatory fish such as butterflyfish
15 main types of anemones
Basically, three different types of anemones are intentionally kept by aquarists: Caribbean Condylactis anemones, Pacific host anemones, and corallimorph anemones, also called “mushroom” polyps (probably named, maybe by someone who ate magic mushrooms). There are a few other types of anemones that are intentionally kept, but they are far less common.
Rock Flower Anemone (Phymanthus crucifer)
The rock flower anemone is native to regions of Japan, but it thrives in aquariums around the world. This is one of many types of anemones that are suitable for beginner aquarists. It grows well in most saltwater aquariums and requires minimal care.
These types of anemones usually measure around 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter when fully grown, making it one of the larger types listed here. Despite its size, it’s a peaceful addition to your tank and should get along with most other fish species. As with all types of anemones, however, you should avoid adding aggressive species near your rock flower anemone as they may try to eat it.
Beaded Sea Anemone (Heteractis aurora)
Despite its name, beaded sea anemone is one of the least aggressive types of anemones available. With tentacles that can grow up to a foot long, it’s best suited for larger aquariums and comes in a variety of colors. While these are often displayed in conjunction with clownfish, they have a natural tendency toward consuming them.
They prefer moderate lighting and should not be placed in tanks with fish or invertebrates that are significantly smaller than themselves. These should also not be housed with other anemones due to their predatory nature. This makes them ideal for tank owners who wish to have multiple anemones but don’t want to deal with territorial issues between species.
Beaded sea anemone has been known to thrive in both fresh and saltwater environments, so feel free to keep it as part of your reef tank!
Adhesive Sea Anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum)
If you’re looking for a unique and fascinating anemone, look no further than Cryptodendrum adhaesivum. They can be found in shallow coral reefs, often on top of other more established anemones that have lost their attractive color.
Although very they have delicate-looking, these types of anemones are surprisingly resilient creatures! They can even withstand minor changes in salinity (up to 5%) and pH levels (6.0–8.0). However, they do require moderate lighting (10–12 hours per day) with water temperatures between 72°F and 78°F.
They’ll also need strong water movement as well as ample space; they shouldn’t be kept in tanks smaller than 75 gallons or with fish that may nip at them.
Condy Anemone/Pink-Tipped Anemone (Condylactis gigantea)
These types of anemones feature very long tentacles that can get tangled in and damage your aquarium’s live rock. For that reason, it’s usually a better idea to place it on a sandy substrate. Condylactis anemones are also relatively expensive and tend to grow too large for most saltwater aquariums (upwards of 30 centimeters).
The good news is that they reproduce frequently, so you can easily propagate them if you are careful not to overfeed your other tank inhabitants. These anemones eat small fish, crustaceans and mollusks. They prefer temperatures between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius with moderate water flow.
Long Tentacle Anemone/Corkscrew Anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis)
This is one of several colorful types of anemones that are native to Japan. Most specimens measure between 6 and 9 inches in diameter but can grow larger if conditions are favorable. Long tentacle anemones require a host fish or similar organism in order to attach themselves, so they are not ideal for small aquariums.
If you do decide to get one, however, make sure it has plenty of room to expand; otherwise, it may be difficult for it to find a suitable place on which to settle down. If you’re looking for something smaller and more suited for your saltwater tank, consider getting a dwarf anemone instead.
Haddon’s Carpet Anemone/Saddle Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni)
Haddon’s carpet anemone is sometimes known as a saddle carpet anemone because of its unique shape. It can grow up to 20 inches wide and has 8 broad tentacles which can measure up to 18 inches long! Unlike other sea anemones, Haddon’s carpet anemone does not require a host in order to survive.
However, these types of anemones usually attach themselves to a rock or coral and use that host for protection from potential predators. This species of anemone is hardy and easy to care for; however, they are slow-growing.
Bubble Tip Anemone/Rose Bubble Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)
This is one of several types of anemones that can live comfortably in a saltwater aquarium without any other invertebrates. It’s known for its pink coloring, with elongated tentacles that have transparent tips. The bubble tip anemone also produces small bubbles from its tentacles when moved or touched.
As it grows, it may need to be attached to an immovable rock in your tank, since it’s not a free-moving creature. When selecting a specimen, make sure you choose one that has healthy coloration and isn’t too thin or damaged.
Tube Anemone (Cerianthus sp.)
Tube anemones are one of the most popular types of anemones because they’re easy to care for and adaptable in captivity. They start out small but can grow up to 12 inches in diameter over a period of months. Some hobbyists even report seeing them grow up to 36 inches wide!
The tentacles have potent stingers, but it’s rare for humans to get stung by one—only if you place your hand directly on top of it. If you do get stung, treat it like any other jellyfish sting: Run saltwater over it to help with the pain and swelling. If that doesn’t work, consult a doctor immediately.
Another thing to keep in mind is that tube anemones are highly aggressive predators. They should be kept away from fish that would be considered food or snacks for them (like shrimp). However, they’ll often let smaller fish swim right through their bodies without harming them. In fact, some fish will use tube anemones as protection from larger predators!
Dahlia Anemone (Urticina felina)
The dahlia anemone is known for its vibrant colors and interesting tentacles. It’s one of several types of anemones that are found in temperate waters around North America but can be difficult to maintain because they require less salinity than many saltwater fish need. If you have soft water, though, it can make a great addition. It is sometimes available for purchase in local fish stores.
The dahlia anemone needs to be kept with invertebrates such as starfish or sea urchins. They usually live on rocks or corals at depths from 3-25 feet. They may sting other types of fish if provoked, so care should be taken when choosing tank mates.
Christmas Anemone (Urticina crassicornis)
The Christmas anemone is a fantastic saltwater aquarium addition for beginners. Despite their stinging cells, these types of anemones are often sold as starter pets in stores because their sting isn’t potent enough to harm fish. They don’t require special lighting or food and can generally be expected to live around five years.
If you want to make sure your pet lives even longer, it’s best to keep them away from crustaceans that might eat them. In general, these types of anemones are very hardy and easy to care for; all you need is a place where they won’t get sucked into a filter!
Beadlet Anemone (Actinia equina)
This anemone is a good choice for beginners because it is easy to care for and small in size. The Beadlet Anemone can be purchased at most fish stores and usually costs about $30, depending on its size. The best way to feed a Beadlet Anemone is with marine meaty foods such as mysis shrimp or fish fillets.
These types of anemones should be fed once a day in order to stay healthy. If you are looking for something that will add color to your aquarium, then adding a Beadlet Anemone is a great idea. They come in many different colors including red, blue, purple, and green.
Knobbly Anemone (Bunodosoma capensis)
Knobbly anemone are usually less than 2.5 inches in diameter and come in a variety of colors. These include gray, red, brown, orange, purple, yellow, and white. They have tentacles that can reach up to 8 inches long. These types of anemones live on hard surfaces such as rocks or glass aquarium walls.
The knobby anemone is also called a mushroom sea anemone or rock-anemone due to its appearance and habitat preferences. This species is easy to care for but it is important not to place them near corals as they will sting them with their tentacles!
Ritteri Anemone (Heteractis magnifica)
The Ritteri anemone is a large, wide-ranging sea anemone that can reach between 20 and 25 centimeters. Its coloration ranges from purple to green. It’s suitable for larger aquariums with plenty of room for it to spread out; its size means that it shouldn’t be kept in aquariums smaller than 50 gallons.
These types of anemones should not be housed with clownfish or other host fish because it will sting them. However, if you want to add one of these striking creatures to your saltwater aquarium, make sure you keep your water quality high, this is because they need clean water to thrive.
Sebae Anemone (Heteractis crispa)
The sebae anemone is a robust and hardy little creature. They’re mainly black, but sometimes are white or brown. They don’t grow more than about five inches in height, which makes them a great choice for nano aquariums as well as most traditional-sized aquariums.
They are easy to care for, making them one of the best choices if you’re new to keeping sea anemones. They like moderate lighting and temperatures between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit (18-27 degrees Celsius). If you have fish that eat anemones, such as puffers or pajama cardinals, it might be better not to keep these types of anemones in your tank. These fish will likely try their best to eat it.
Starburst Anemone (Anthopleura sola)
If you’re looking for a colorful, large anemone that won’t hurt your pocketbook too much, consider adding a starburst anemone to your tank. This anemone’s tentacles are light purple in color and rarely exceed 20 inches in diameter.
Like other types of anemones, starburst anemones feed on copepods, fish eggs, and shrimp. However, they also consume detritus and uneaten food particles. These anemones will only live in tanks with moderate water flow rates; if you have low-flow filters or pumps, it may be best to avoid them altogether.