A commensal Anemone Shrimp (Periclimenes magnificus) near
the sand-ringed mouth of its host Sand Anemone.
bon, hydrogen and oxygen while the critical chemical
element found in proteins is nitrogen. Although many
other chemicals may be found in proteins, the essential
backbone of every protein molecule is nitrogen.
With the exception of the plankton-eating species, at
first it appears that anemones are eating foods that are
almost wholly structural foods. But that is not the case.
Animals eating mussels and scallops, for example, receive
a sizable component of energy foods from the plankton
that the mussels and scallops have eaten as well as mucus which can be broken down into sugars and protein.
Additionally, all predators will break down any fats in
their prey, such as egg yolk in the gonads, directly into
energy foods, so they are getting a well balanced diet.
PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF SEA ANEMONE
As with most animals that are kept in aquaria, sea anemones can tell the aquarist a lot about their care by their
behavior and responses to their environment. Unfortunately, since these are very simply-constructed animals,
their repertoire of behaviors is small—it can be hard to
determine what behavioral responses are to a particular
problem since the same response may be given to vastly
different problems. In most cases, time is of the essence
so it is necessary to quickly deduce and correct problems
before the animal dies. Unfortunately, the most severe
responses, such as refusal to attach or eversion of the
gut, generally means that the animal is already dying
or the conditions in the aquarium are sufficiently bad
that the animal will die in a short time. Other responses
that indicate improper conditions, including inadequate
feeding, are continual movement, periodic detachment,
or retreat into the rockwork.
Newly purchased sea anemones are often stressed,
almost to the point of death, by the transport and distribution chain. They often don’t have much in the way of
reserves to sustain them through their acclimation to a
new situation. Even animals that have been in an aquarium for some time may be in a precarious state because
of inadequacies in their care.
What are the conditions of proper care of the tropical sea anemone? Optimum physical conditions are a
temperature of 82°F to 84°F ( 27°C– 29°C) and a salinity of 35 PSU to 36 PSU. Colder temperatures stress the
animals as much as warmer ones do; an animal kept at
77°F ( 25°C) has a metabolic rate that is only about half
of the optimum and will not be able to metabolize fast
enough to correct problems. Additionally, the aquarium
system’s water has to be well-filtered and well-aerated,
and the animal properly illuminated.
Finally, the animal must have a proper habitat; for
example, while Heteractis magna lives fully exposed in
high current conditions, Entacmaea quadricolor does not.
It typically lives with its column buried out of sight in
a crevice or cave with only the tentacles or tentacle tips
showing. The latter species will not do well in buffeting
currents, no matter what other care it is given. Additionally, overly-intense illumination will cause it to retreat
into the rockwork where it will perish. Consequently, the
aquarist must determine the proper microhabitat prior to