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Related FAQs: Caribbean Anemones, Atlantic Anemones 2, Condylactis, Tropical West Atlantic (TWA) Anemone Identification, TWA Anemone Behavior, TWA Anemone Compatibility, TWA Anemone Selection, TWA Anemone Systems, TWA Anemone Feeding, TWA Anemone Disease, TWA Anemone Reproduction, Anemones, Anemones 2, Anemones & Clownfishes, Aiptasia, Anemone Identification, Anemone Selection, Anemone Behavior, Anemone Health, Anemone Placement, Anemone  Reproduction, Anemone LightingAnemone Feeding
FAQs by Genus: Actinoporus, Arachnanthus, Bartholomea,
Condylactis (see below), Epicystis, Lebrunia, Sticholdactyla helianthus, Viatrix, Others/Unknowns,

Related Articles: Condylactis Anemones, Anemones, Invertebrates, Stinging-Celled Animals, Clownfishes, Aiptasia/Glass AnemonesColdwater Anemones, Colored/Dyed Anemones

/Diversity of Aquatic Life Series

Anemones of the Tropical West Atlantic

By Bob Fenner

 Lebrunia coralligens

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Doing what it takes to keep Anemones healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Almost "local" to Americans, these are the Actinarians of that occur off the coast of Florida on down to the coast of Brazil. Unfortunately, only a couple of species (and 99% only one of these!) of Condylactis make it directly into pet-fish markets... a few others as occasional "contaminants" on live rock. This is a great pity, as the area offers several outstandingly beautiful and hardy Anemone species... some with breathtakingly gorgeous symbiotic fish and shrimp species.

Actinoporus elegans, the Elegant Anemone. 7-9 inches in diameter. Distinctive knobbed tentacles or a flat oral disc. Uncommon, found in coral rubble and sand areas. Belize images. Symbionts include the Spotted Cleaner and Squat Anemone Shrimps, and Banded Clinging Crab. 

Alicia mirabilis, Berried Anemone. Usually clumped up by day, looking like a cauliflower somewhat; expanding usually only at night... here semi-opened, (and a close-up crop below) in Curacao 2015. TiffB pic.  

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Arachnanthus nocturnus, the Banded Tube-Dwelling Anemone... actually not a "true" anemone (Order Actinaria), but a close relative to Black Corals (same Order, Ceriantharia). Tapering, translucent tentacles with varyingly dark brown bands. Comes out of the substrate at night (and back in if frightened). Bonaire pix of a small (two inch), large (four inch wide) and retracted specimens.

Genus Bartholomea:

Bartholomea annulata, (one of) the Corkscrew Anemone/s. 4-7 inches across. Has numerous long, thin, pointed tentacles that are transparent, with internal whitish corkscrew markings. Often found in discarded shells. Able to retract quickly. Red Snapping Shrimp and Pederson's Cleaning Shrimp are symbionts. Cozumel photograph.

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Bartholomea cf. lucida, the Knobby Anemone. Similar to B. annulata, with translucent, tapering, thin tentacles, but smaller (up to 4 1/2" across) and having nematocyst-bearing knobs instead of corkscrew markings. Close up at right and below: Bahamas photos of Knobby Anemones and Pederson's Cleaning Shrimp, Periclimenes pedersoni. 

Genus Condylactis (and symbionts)

Condylactis gigantea, the Giant Anemone. Largest species in the range (6-12 inches in diameter when extended). White body and tentacles. The latter bear enlarged tips typically of a contrasting color, though they may be white. Right: In an aquarium Below: Bahamas pix including one of this species handful of symbionts (a Diamond Blenny, Malacoctenus bohlkei bottom right), others include Pederson's, the Squat Anemone Shrimp (below middle) and the Spotted Cleaner Shrimp, and Banded Clinging Crab.
Captive specimens tend to lose the "bulbiness" of their tentacles ends. At right and below Condylactis gigantea in an aquarium and in Cozumel... Wish we were drifting northward on Santa Rosa Reef right now! 

And here's a C. gigantea with its commensal crab, the Banded Clinging Crab, Mithrax cinctimanus in residence. Cozumel pix. 

The Spotted Cleaner Shrimp, Periclimenes yucantanicus in its host anemone, Condylactis gigantea off of Cozumel. 3/4-1 in. overall. Also found in association with other tropical West Atlantic anemones. 

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Condylactis passiflora, the (Florida) Pink-Tipped Anemone. The most commonly (and inexpensively) offered anemone species in the trade by far (in the West). For good reasons... many colors, hardy. Captive and Belize photos. 

Genus Epicystis:

Epicystis crucifer, The Beaded Anemone. Have 200 or so tentacles that are short, tapering. Oral disc with small bead-like tuberculations emanating from the center. Reddish verrucae on basal disc. Aquarium and Cozumel photos.

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Genus Lebrunia:

Lebrunia coralligens, the Hidden Anemone. Uncommon, hidden in cracks from which long pseudotentacles extend with roundish, differently colored tips. Brown to bluish in color. True tentacles are long, unbranched. Images at right and first below/ close up, Belize, bluish colonies below in the Bahamas. Toxic to the touch.

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Lebrunia danae, the Branching Anemone. Has finger like and stubby, branching "pseudotentacles" (true, longer tentacles are usually only extended at night). Typically brownish to gray in color, a few bluish to green. Common in the tropical West Atlantic. Able to quickly withdraw into its closed space. Will easily sting other livestock, aquarists, divers exposed skin. Belize close-up, Cozumel and St. Thomas U.S.V.I. images.
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Genus Stichodactyla:

Stichodactyla helianthus, the Sun Anemone. With hundreds of small, thick tentacles it's easy to mistake this species as a Corallimorpharian. Sometimes very common in shallow back reefs. Symbionts include the Squat Anemone Shrimp and Banded Clinging Crab. A strong stinger! Belize and St. Thomas images. 

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Genus Viatrix:

Viatrix globulifera, Turtle Grass Anemone. Tropical West Atlantic. 1/4-3/4" diameter. This one in the shallows off Playa los Glorias Hotel in Cozumel. 

Other Species:

Yes there are several other Actinarians that hail from the tropical West Atlantic. Most are small, obscure... found on Sponges, Turtle Grass, and/or rare. There's even a (pest) species of Glass Anemone (Aiptasia tagetes), sigh.  None are regularly found/collected for the ornamental aquatics interest. For folks with a penchant for the rare, buying, culturing fresh live rock from the area can be a viable avenue for securing specimens.


Indo-Pacific Condylactis species. Though most of these come to use from the tropical West Atlantic as inexpensive "Condys", there are Indo-Pacific species. This one in Fiji. 

Lightbulb Anemone. An undescribed species; here in Roatan 2016. Large, bulbous tentacles w/ pointed tips. TiffB pic


Bibliography/Further Reading:

Humann, Paul 1992. Reef Creature Identification, Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas. New World Publications, Inch. Jacksonville, Florida. 320pp.

Kenney, William R. 1986. The Atlantic Frilled Anemone. FAMA 6/86.

Straughan, Robert P.L. 1960. The Florida Sea Anemones. TFH 4/60.

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