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. Learn what steps we take to provide the best care for these animals, so you receive the healthiest anemones when you shop the Diver's Den® WYSIWYG Store at LiveAquaria.
Strict Selection Procedures
LiveAquaria actively sources 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 strong relationship with reputable suppliers significantly reduces potentially serious problems that can typically arise at this early stage of custody.
Careful Acclimation and Quarantine of Anemones
When we receive a shipment of anemones from our trusted overseas exporters or from importers in the U.S., we immediately locate them to our invertebrate acclimation station. Each anemone is individually placed in their own acclimation vessel and carefully acclimated using the drip acclimation process to help ensure a stress-free transition. Once drip acclimated, the new anemones are separated by species and care level. As with any aquatic life, different species of anemones have different care requirements. Simply put, some species of anemones are quite hardy while other are sensitive and intolerant to even slight environmental changes.
Protocols for Hardy Anemones
Hardy anemones such as Entacmaea quadricolor are moved to a dedicated raceway that measures 6 ft long x 3 ft wide x 16 inches high. The anemones are individually placed in their own holding container or basket. Each basket includes substrate of proper composition and depth, along with live rock fragments or coral rubble (when needed), to replicate natural environmental conditions. We ensure pristine water chemistry and supply the anemones with proper water flow.
These hardy anemones are carefully photo-acclimated to artificial lighting over varying lengths of time. Lighting consists of EcoTech Marine G3 and G4 Pro LED light fixtures over each six foot raceway. However, the specific lighting requirement of each anemone is carefully determined by assessing their coloration and behavior. Anemones with high light requirements are placed under an area with high light intensity. 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.
Protocols for Sensitive Anemones
Our protocol for sensitive species of anemones differ slightly as many sensitive anemones such as the Ritteri Anemone (Heteractis magnifica) are highly susceptible to bacterial infections. After being drip acclimated, these sensitive anemones are transferred to our dedicated anemone medication station where each anemone is individually placed in their own treatment or “hospital” vessel equipped with a heater and airstone to provide proper water circulation. To combat any potential bacterial infections, these sensitive anemones are treated with the broad-spectrum antibiotic ciprofloxacin at therapeutic levels for five days. The water in the treatment vessel is changed daily to ensure high water quality. Therapeutic levels of ciprofloxacin is maintained after each water change to ensure continuous exposure.
After the ciprofloxacin treatment period is over, these sensitive anemones are carefully transferred to one of our Marineland Commercial Holding Systems specifically designed to house these anemones. To help replicate natural environmental conditions, substrate of proper composition and depth, along with live rock fragments or coral rubble (when needed) are provided. We employ Marineland Commercial Holding Systems as it allows us to maintain optimum water quality and lighting conditions for the anemones. The anemones are kept separate by species and the adjustable modular compartments allow us to further customize holding space to accommodate anemones of varying size. The anemones are carefully photoacclimated within this dedicated holding system, using nylon screen or mesh to adjust light intensity.
Anemone Care and Husbandry
Care and husbandry of all anemones during and after photo-acclimation involves close monitoring and inspection of anemone behavior and health. A diverse diet consisting of finely chopped fresh seafood (such as grouper and raw shrimp) and prepared frozen food items is offered to the anemones. All anemones are carefully monitored and conditioned for at least three to four weeks. During this period, we meticulously assess the health of the anemones, performing a series of daily health checks.
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 as any open wound or damaged area can encourage the onset of bacterial infection.
The anemones are photographed for the Diver's Den® WYSIWYG Store only after several weeks of conditioning (or even months later for some animals) and determined healthy enough 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 LiveAquaria® Diver's Den® WYSIWYG Store, you can be confident you will receive the healthiest aquatic life available anywhere.
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.