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FAQs on Cool to Cold Water Anemones

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Tealia lofotensis (a California native), sometimes sold as a tropical... it's not. 

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Anemone Success
Doing what it takes to keep Anemones healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Keeping E. Pacific (coldwater) anemones; system     4/25/20
Hi Mr. Fenner,
I have listened to a couple of your talks and used your website. I have found all the information you put out extremely interesting.
I am attempting a cold water pacific-coast setup with anemones.
I was wondering if you have any advice as to the care requirements of Anthopleura sola, A. elegantissima, or anemones the Urticina genus.
<I know a little; have kept the local anemones, studied the elegant clone in college... histologically; have friends who are coldwater keepers, and volunteered years back at the local public aquarium where we kept
Metridium, Tealia... species>
I don't have a separate system to exchange water with to allow new additions to slowly get to know one another as you have suggested.
<Mmm; okay. Do need a chiller>
I'm trying to run a lot of carbon and to match their environment in terms of temperature and flow.
Are there any specific things that you would recommend I try?
<Well, need to know a bit more re your set up... size, gear make up... Do tell>
Thanks very much,
<Glad to share. Bob Fenner>
Re: E. Pacific Anemones husbandry     4/26/20

My total water volumes consists of a 35 gallon display aquarium with 1" acrylic on all the sides and bottom.
<Good for insulation>
I have a good 1/10hp chiller and haven't had any issues maintaining 55.5-56 degrees F, which is currently
my target temperature.
<I'd let this up during the summer/warmer months... high 50's, low 60's>
In addition to the anemones I have many macroalgae and so I have strong lighting optimized for plant growth, though I've considered switching to bluer light for aesthetic purposes.
<... the strength of lighting is a relative term... 40-50 PAR, PUR for 8 hours a day is fine>
Plenty of flow between return pump, chiller pump, and two DC Tunze powerheads. Plenty of bio media. I am planning on drilling the aquarium and adding a sump to increase water volume.
<Ah, good>
My ph has stayed fairly low around 7.6-7.8- I think the chert rock and sand (common in my area) contributes to this.
<I'd be adding a commercial supplement here. SeaChem Stability is a fave>
Nitrates and phosphates have stayed high, especially phosphates (0.4mg/l, nitrates around 25mg/l).
<Not a worry>
From my discussions with other keepers of coldwater aquaria, these slightly elevated numbers are not uncommon but I would still like to get them down. When I add the sump I'll have a lot of options there, so I am not too concerned.
<Good... DSB there, RDP... BobF>

Blue Spotted Puffer Fish and... Really: Beadlet Anemone (Actina equina... coldwater)  3/2/10
We have a 180 litre Aqua One Regency marine tank in which we keep a Blue Spotted Puffer Fish, two Common Clown Fish, a Blenny and A Yellow Sailfin Tang.
Recently we ordered some Beadlet Anemone (Actina equina) from a chap on eBay which we are expecting to take delivery of next week.
<You do realise this is a coldwater anemone? It isn't going to do well in a tropical aquarium. Have kept this species many, many times and it is extremely hardy. For a while it will do okay in warm water. But what seems to happen is that its life cycle speeds up dramatically, and you eventually end up with thousands of tiny anemones and hardly any adults (it's a livebearer, and breeds about as quickly as Aiptasia, given the chance). As a student I kept some in a tropical aquarium with mantis shrimps, and this is what happened. They didn't die out to be sure, but they were more of a best than a blessing. By contrast, when we kept them in room temperature native marine community tanks, they did extremely well and provided lots of colour.>
The seller assured us that there would be no problem keeping the anemone with the fish we have, however we have seen on your web site that one nip of an anemone by a Puffer Fish is most likely to be fatal.
<Unfortunately there is much (deliberate?) ignorance on eBay and the like, with people selling Beadlets as cheap tropical anemones and even brackish water anemones. Like most intertidal anemones they will (a) tolerate
elevated temperatures for a while and (b) tolerate reduced salinities for a while but neither of these facts makes them either true tropical anemones or brackish water anemones. A further complication is that the species
Actinia equina is probably a species group, so while there certainly are specimens occurring as far south as West Africa, it's unknown whether the ones you find around the UK coast, for example, are genetically the same thing. Since the people selling them on eBay are almost certainly getting them from places like the UK rather than West Africa, what you're buying are the coldwater sort.>
The information regarding the anemone states that when threatened its' tentacles retract and so we were wondering if they will be safe after all?
<When stressed, the tentacles do retract. Typically they do this when above the waterline, when the tide is out. But in tropical tanks they do this a lot underwater too, suggesting they don't really like tropical conditions.>
Although I have had tropical fish in the past and indeed still do both of us are new to the world of marine fish keeping so any information regarding this would be most welcome.
<I fear this was a mistaken purchase. The problem with Beadlets is they're sold very cheaply, often for just 1 UK Pound, less than 2 US Dollars, so folks think they're getting a bargain. They are not. These are coldwater anemones for native marine aquaria, where they get along quite well with all the usual gobies, blennies and shrimps. They're easy to feed, and while they do have stings, most of the usual marine life kept with them manages to avoid blundering into them. Just feed them weekly with small morsels of fish, shrimp and mussel. Will starve to death quickly if not fed regularly, since they lack zooxanthellae.>
Darill and Tracey.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Blue Spotted Puffer Fish and Beadlet Anemone, coldwater anem.   -- 3/3/10

Cheers Neale,
Thank you for your speedy and very informative response :o)
<My pleasure.>
We have found your website to be extremely helpful during the last few weeks (since purchasing our marine set up) and although completely new to aquariums we are keen to both learn about, and enjoy our fascinating new hobby.
Laff though - please excuse our ignorance I never even thought about them being cold water, I guess its best not to put them in our tank then - dont quite know what to do with them now when they arrive :o(
<Indeed, a problem. A coldwater tank 5-10 gallons in size with a few rocks, these anemones, and some of those live river shrimp they sell in UK pet stores could be kind of fun. Water changes would be easy: just replace old
water in the coldwater tank with some from the marine aquaria, though best to let that water cool down to room temperature would be wise. Such coldwater tanks are very, very easy to maintain, and you might even bring
back some beasties from your next holiday. The Glaucus site has some nice stuff on UK marine fish fishkeeping, here:
Kind regards
Tracey and Darill
<Cheers, Neale.>

Cold water anemones 7/21/09
In an email from David(?) many years ago, he asked you about some cold water anemones he saw in a elementary classroom in Las Vegas. He said the teacher referred to them a large aggregating anemones and
commented that this was "vague". I am the teacher to whom he was referring. You told him they may be Anthopleura xanthogrammica.
Since David's visit, all my anemones have died--the last three died just last year. I still have the tank set up just as it was and am looking to replace those anemones. When I came to the school, I was told they were collected off the coast of Oregon. I would like to know if you are familiar with anyone who I may get in touch with that could possibly help me get more of these anemones for my tank?
<Have just checked Carolina Biol. Supply on line... and a generic search for the species... You might try a college with a bio. program on the coast>
Also, I'm still not sure exactly what kind they were. I would appreciate any help you could give.
<Perhaps the above, or A. elegantissima>
Just a little background on my classroom--It is in an elementary school. We have eight large saltwater tanks
including a shark tank, a coral reef tank and a tide pool. Each house organisms representing the various ocean habitats. The cold-water tank is the oldest, but unfortunately it's the empty one. Help?
Thanks, Kim
<Good hunting! Bob Fenner>

Anemone ID, and a note re the death biz    4/11/09
Just a quick question. I recently got stationed at Vandenberg AFB on the central coast of California. There are a few beaches that are actually on the base and while exploring one of them at low tide i happened to stumble upon about a thousand or more of these anemones. Sorry about the quality of the pic it was taken with my blackberry. I never thought that such cold water would hold such a variety of different colored anemones. There were green, orange, blue, purple, red, and others that i cant remember right now. Anyway to the question what type of anemone are these and would it be possible to keep them in a central California coast themed tank?
<Is... and are Anthopleura xanthogrammica... The "giant" (larger with ecoclinal variation toward the north) "California" (except when elsewhere) Green Sea Anemone>
Not that I'm actually thinking of removing them straight from the ocean just curious.
<Watch that curiosity... Bureaucracies like the military destroy such that leads to innovation... makes the folks at the top look inept (they are), and who wants to appear inept. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Crown of Thorns Seastar, and coldwater anemone species searching...   5/19/07          Hi Bob, Please tell me where I can buy some Crown of Thorns Seastars. <For... research?> I would also like to buy some Frilled Anemones (Metridium senile). Where can I find these? <Have your dealer contact Quality Marine in Los Angeles re. Bob Fenner>                                                                                                               Thanks, Marc Chatham

Cold marine tank question- anenomes and lighting - 03/18/07 Dear WWM denizens, <Of the deep?> I've enjoyed your FAQs quite a bit, but am finding it tricky to find information on setting up a cold marine tank. <We don't have much... yet. Do a search about for the written works of Dave Wrobel here...>   I have found the wonderful people at coldwaterfish (a yahoo group) and the occasional lurker on saltwaterfish.com knows something about cold marine tanks, but still am encountering difficulties. <Okay...> I have a 1/6 hp chiller, protein skimmer, and powerhead, in my 29 gallon tank.  I'm writing today to ask you about anenomes.  My tank is going to be a sea star dominated tank- <It's kind of small...> I'll have 1 bat star and probably two ochre stars, <Patiria and Pisaster? Know them well...> but I'd also like to have a couple of anenomes.  No (or maybe 1) fish, a couple of hermits, a couple of snails, that's it. <Mmm, again... wish this tank were bigger> Does anyone on WWM know about lighting requirements and Pacific NW anenomes? My initial research indicates that they need less light than tropical anenomes, and indeed, that even fluorescent lighting would be sufficient for a couple of small anenomes. <Do need some of the same requirements... of temp., CRI as other Actinarians from the tropics... not as much intensity...> Your response is most appreciated.  Thanks again for being there on the web. Rachel <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/index.htm Scroll down to the Anemone tray, the bits on lighting... And do consider penning an article or twenty on this field! Bob Fenner>

Coldwater Anemone pic by Chris Schmidt   8/4/06 It is a white spotted rose anemone in the front and a painted anemone in the back left. Temperate Salt water tank. <Mmm, yep... these are Tealia lofotensis, found off the coast of California and northward... Thanks for sending along. BobF>

Very good, I see you know your stuff. I actually no longer have the tank set up, due to the cost of electricity. Keeping the water 52 degrees was expensive. <Ahh... thank you Enron, former <and current> crooks and incompetents in the CA et al. States gov'ts...> Was fun though and I fun though considering it is an extremely rare find. Only those with Scientific Collecting permits, or extremely unusual circumstances have such the luxury... Take Care, Chris S. <Thank you again. Will share. BobF>

More with temperate water anemones... Dear Kevin, Thank you for your reply.  In the meantime we purchased coral lighting and placed it over the tank along with a regular bulb. <I assume that your store suggested simply adding a blue actinic lamp to the setup. If that was the case it's still in trouble. I hope this lighting was at least power compact fluorescents.> We feed it tropical fish food flakes. <I apologize for not recommending it a food. You can feed it pieces of fresh shrimp, or one of the many frozen meaty seafoods available at your local fish store.> For two days it was splendid, now it is shriveling up and has white stuff dangling from it. <It is likely dying.> I believe it is on its last breath.  Was it the wrong food? <Likely, unless it was marine flake> I may want to replace this with a store bought Anenome before my daughter gets home from camp. <Please don't!!!> There may have been too many changes while we figured out what was going on. <It is dying because it's not in the right environment. It's sort of like bringing a penguin to the jungle, feeding it bananas, and expecting it to live.>  Still, if there is a way to save it, that would be fantastic.  We were advised to put the temp up to 76 degrees <I'm assuming that you've researched what the water temperature where it's found is at and this is not a recommendation from your local fish store. This anemone cannot be treated as a Caribbean anemone.> , the salinity and chemistry was supposedly perfect.  If I replace this, is there an Anenome that is easy to keep. <Caribbean Condylactis anemones are very easy to keep provided with lighting of adequate intensity. Please let me know the brand, wattage, and color of the "reef lighting" that you bought so I can make further recommendations. -Kevin>

Actinia tenebrosa anemone 3/3/03 Hi, I am interested in a Australian waratah anemone.  Can you tell me anything about them.   <Yikes... it is intertidal and cool tropical to temperate! If you live in the USA, you are very unlikely to get it and will need a specialized tidal display tank with a chiller at any rate. This is not a tropical community species by any definition> I have some reef fish gobies and such along with Long tentacle anemone, polyps and leathers.  Will they bother any tank mates?  Thanks for your time Jbug <good heavens, no my friend. Not only will it not mix with your tropical species... but mixing two or more anemones is dangerous. Not at all sensible. It is already unnatural enough to mix most any anemone like your long tentacle in a reef aquarium with corals. Few are actually found on the reef with stony corals and all will fight when mixed in time (takes months or a couple years for the slow poisoning to effect some). If you do acquire a waratah anemone, please know that it needs bright light... likely metal halide will be necessary. Anthony>  

Cold Pacific Coast Anemones Bob...I have recently encountered a new kind of anemone that I can't find a scientific name for. These 6 anemones have been housed at an elementary school in Las Vegas for more than 10 years! The anemones are of the cold water variety (temp is constant at 58F), were caught off the coast of Oregon, and are gorgeous colors: mint green, and hot pink. The lighting is very low.  They are also quite large and have been spawning/reproducing regularly. If needed, I will try to get a snapshot. The teacher refers to these critters as "large, aggregating anemones." How's that for vague? Any ideas or places where I could find such information? Thanks. David <Pink? If it weren't for the color I'd say Anthopleura xanthogrammica (the large green anemone)... but maybe a Metridium or Italia species. Use your search engines with these genera. Bob Fenner>

Anemone (id, California coast, husbandry) Hello, In the tide pools by La Jolla I noticed a large amount of anemones (looked like ?rock anemones?). Could you identify this type of anemone for me?  <Yes, these are Giant Green Anemones, Anthopleura xanthogrammica (much more "giant" as you go north up the coast to Washington...> What does it eat (I suspect crustaceans ? but what type and what size per size of anemone crown when opened, e.g. a two in long crustacean for a four inch in diameter crown)? <They're photosynthetic (notice the whitish ones that are more in the shade, as well as "meaty" eaters... fish, invertebrates, most anything they can/do get their tentacles on. Put the common and scientific name in your search engines to learn much more. Bob Fenner> Thanks,

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