Over the last decade, the scientific community and aquarists have made incredible progress regarding the care of marine organisms - including those considered challenging. However, even dedicated and experienced hobbyists can attest to the difficulties associated with certain species of delicate anemones. Having access to the healthiest specimens is the most important first step towards successfully maintaining these challenging marine organisms in the home aquarium. Discover how LiveAquaria.com ensures the best care for these animals, so you receive the healthiest anemones found exclusively in the
Diver's Den® at LiveAquaria.com.
"My primary job is to acquire the healthiest animals available in the trade. Together with the dedicated staff at our Aquaculture Coral and Marine Life Facility in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, we strive to develop the best practices, guidelines, and procedures pertaining to acclimation, husbandry, handling, packaging and shipping of the livestock that enters and leaves our facility."
Kevin Kohen - Director of LiveAquaria
Strict Selection Procedures
LiveAquaria.com actively source anemones from reputable suppliers with years of experience in the trade. We work diligently to obtain anemones that are harvested and handled properly before export to the U.S. to ensure quality and health. Improper harvest or handling can seriously compromise the health of these delicate organisms. Our relationship with reputable suppliers significantly reduces potentially serious problems that normally arise at this early stage of custody.
Careful Acclimation and Housing of Anemones
We begin temperature acclimation once we receive anemones from our overseas exporters or from importers in the U.S. We float them in the system where they will be housed until the water temperature has equalized. The anemones are then
drip acclimated, keeping each species separate in their own acclimation vessel. Once the new anemones are acclimated, each species is placed in its own segregated section of a dedicated raceway that measures 6 ft long x 3 ft wide x 16 inches high.
Each segregated section has its own return port so each anemone species is supplied with filtered water. In addition, a supplemental high-flow
pump with protective screens is used to supply the proper water flow. Each section also has
substrate of proper composition and depth, along with
live rock fragments or coral rubble (when needed), to replicate natural environmental conditions.
Superior Water Quality through Custom Filtration
To ensure pristine water chemistry, filtration consists of a 12 ft x 2 ft diameter commercial
foam fractionator (protein skimmer) with ozone injection (by means of a 1 gram
ozone generator controlled by a dedicated electronic system monitor and controller). The filtration system also incorporates a 12 ft x 10 inch diameter
fluidized sand bed filter for exceptional biological filtration. The filtered water is temperature controlled by a 2HP
chiller and is directed through multiple, 100-micron industrial nylon filter socks containing
activated carbon or
Poly Filter® media before it returns to the raceways through the use of a 2HP pump.
All new anemones are carefully photo-acclimated to artificial lighting over varying lengths of time. Lighting consists of two 10,000K, 250 watt double-ended metal halide lamps over each six foot raceway. However, the specific lighting requirement of each anemone is carefully determined by assessing their coloration and behavior. Anemones that require the most intense light are located in the area directly below the suspended metal halide fixture. Species that are more adaptable and require less intense light are maintained in the margins of each raceway. When necessary, multiple layers of egg crate light paneling or egg crate that is covered in nylon screen or mesh are used to adjust light intensity.
Anemone Care and Husbandry
Identifying Care Level of Anemones
Among the anemone species available from the Indo Pacific, South Pacific, and the Indian Ocean, Entacmaea quadricolor is arguably the hardiest Cnidarians available to aquarists. This popular anemone can tolerate a series of stressors, including harvest, post-harvest handling, holding, shipping, acclimating, and adaptation into our home aquariums. Next on the list of relatively hardy anemones include Macrodactyla doreensis followed by Stichodactyla haddoni. Both of these anemones are quite tolerant and adaptable if maintained in an appropriate aquarium environment with pristine water chemistry, proper water flow, intense lighting, and proper substrate depth and composition.
All other species of anemones are far more challenging to maintain, even when these Cnidarians are in the hands of biologists at public aquariums. Cryptodendrum adhaesivum, Heteractis crispa, Heteractis malu, Heteractis aurora, Stichodactyla tapetum, Stichodactyla mertensii and finally Stichodactyla gigantea and Heteractis magnifica are the least tolerant of any environmental change that occurs during the long chain of custody - beginning with harvest and ending in home aquarium.
Care and husbandry during and after photo-acclimation involves close monitoring and inspection of anemone behavior and health. A varied diet consisting of finely chopped fresh seafood (such as grouper and raw shrimp),
PE Mysis® Shrimp, lobster eggs, and enriched brine shrimp are offered to the anemones. If, after several weeks (or even months later for some animals), the anemone is healthy enough for sale, it is carefully transferred to an adjacent raceway on the same system illuminated with identical lighting so it can be photographed for the Diver's Den®.
Assessing Anemone Health for Sale
The preliminary health check begins with a thorough visual inspection. Though basic coloration may differ greatly among individual species, the overall appearance and coloration is a very good indicator of anemone health. A stressed anemone exposed to rapid temperature change is extremely susceptible to bleaching, or unnatural color loss. For example, a bleached Heteractis malu is translucent white. Individuals exported from the Philippines commonly demonstrate this type of bleaching. Along with coloration, fullness or how taut the anemone appears is another important criterion in the health check. We start by inspecting the anemone's oral disc and mouth. The anemone's mouth should be closed and not gaping too wide, which indicates the anemone is in prime health.
We continue the health check by monitoring anemone behavior, including feeding response. Feeding response is very important to assess the health of the animal. Reaction to food and how the tentacles stick varies among anemone species. However, a healthy anemone is able to successfully hold on to offered food, transfer this food to its mouth and consume it. The anemone must also be firmly attached to either a smooth surface or rock, depending on the species, and must not be deflated for an extended period of time.
Finally, we inspect the pedal disc and column of the anemone. During this examination, we methodically look for signs of any damage that could be detrimental to the animal during transit. Any open wound or damaged area can encourage the onset of bacterial infection. Only when the anemone passes our health check will it be transferred to our adjacent raceway to be photographed for sale.
Packaging and Shipping Anemones
We employ a special packaging procedure to properly address the particular needs of anemones. The successful methods utilized by exporters and distributors for many years have been modified to help ensure water quality and stable water temperature. By tripling the volume of shipping water and increasing the shipping bag and box size for each anemone, the likelihood of water fouling during transit is reduced while maintaining a more stable water temperature.
Successfully maintaining some of the more challenging species of anemones is difficult even for the most skilled aquarist or public aquariums. Various environmental changes and stressors influence individual success or failure when keeping anemones in the home aquarium. However, by selecting anemones from the
Diver's Den® at LiveAquaria.com you can be confident you will receive the healthiest aquatic life available anywhere.