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Thread: How to take care of sea anemone?

  1. #1
    Neon dottyback Jetbkk's Avatar
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    How to take care of sea anemone?

    I have a new 55 gallon tank that has been running for approximately 6 weeks. At present it is stocked with 2 clownfish, 1 damselfish, 1 blennie, 5 hermits, 4 snails, 1 shrimp (a think it is a scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp), and 2 starfish.

    A few days ago I bought an anemone. The clownfish have taken to it right away and for now it seems healthy. (Photo attached)

    I don't feel like I properly understand how to take care of it though, as I've read a lot of different things, ranging from doing nothing (if the clowns accept it) to putting plankton in the water, to hand feeding it bits of shrimp.

    I am using T5 lighting (2 white, 1 blue).

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I'd like to see this anemone thrive if possible!

    Also any advice for some hardy corals I could introduce as a next step (and also thoughts as to when I can do it).

    Many thanks!
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  2. #2
    Midas Blenny rdwilson91's Avatar
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    Re: How to take care of sea anemone?

    T5's could be enough lighting, provided they are very close to the surface, but very well could not be sufficient. I wouldn't put an anemone in a tank that new, or a starfish, for that matter. That looks like sebae which is likely to eat both zooplankton and bits of shrimp, however, zooplankton can harm the water quality, so I suggest trying out with bits of cooked krill or silversides.
    I'd frag that.
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  3. #3
    Neon dottyback Jetbkk's Avatar
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    Re: How to take care of sea anemone?

    The tank is 36" long by 18" wide and 18" high -- that doesn't seem especially deep so I'm hoping the T5's should be sufficient.

    The starfish have been in the tank for a couple weeks and seem to be doing well. They seem to move all over the place.

  4. #4
    Golden Moray Rhodes19's Avatar
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    Re: How to take care of sea anemone?

    Hi Jetbkk and to RS.

    To be honest with you I don't think your tank is ready for a nem yet. At 6 weeks old, your tank is still cycling and those changes can have an adverse effect on the nem. Many folks wait 6, 9, to 12 months for their tank to become stable enough before they add an nem.

    For lighting, T5s will work but you want to make sure you give them all you can. With your 55, I would go with 4 T5s, all with IDR for the best possible light if you want to stay with T5s.

    When it come to feeding, some folks don't feed, but most of the successful nem owners that I've seen, feed their nems some meaty food once or twice a week. Usually bits of shrimp, silverside, clam, and mysis.

    To make sure nems thrive, you need to have excellent water quality. 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 0 nitrates, 0 phos,... What do you currently have for a filtering system?

    If you're new to reefing, I would start off with soft corals first with some lps's like a frogspawn or hammerhead, or maybe an acan. I would hold off on sps for now because they require good lighting and good water quality like a nem does. In the mean while you'll have plenty of time to research and will probably gravitate to a certain time of coral and once you know what you like, you can start modifying your set up to meet their needs.

    I hope that helps and I hope I didn't come off to harsh. Nems are great but they require some care. I'm sure others with more experience than me will come along and offer their insight/experience.

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  5. #5
    Ricordea Corailline's Avatar
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    Re: How to take care of sea anemone?

    If you can return the anemone I would. I agree that your system is not old enough for a anemone yet.

    Anemones require good water conditions, and a tank that age just can not pull it off. Lighting is the second consideration, yes your T5s maybe able to provide enough light, but over coming the water condition issue will be the a challange.

    You obviously care about what is best for your livestock so I would be patient and let the tank age for at least 6 months.

    If you do keep the anemone, just make sure you keep excellent water parameters, and maintain good lighting. You can feed the anemone small chopped pieces of raw seafood every one to two weeks, over feeding is bad for anemones. It is a beautiful anemone, so good luck.

    Kuddos for asking the right questions, but doing it before the purchase will help prevent disappointment and loss of life in this hobby.
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  6. #6
    Neon dottyback Jetbkk's Avatar
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    Re: How to take care of sea anemone?

    Thanks very much for that excellent feedback. Reality is what we need, whether it is harsh or not! The problem for me here is that there is a huge selection of livestock available at much cheaper prices than in the States.. so a lot of temptation and unfortunately the shopkeepers usually speak little or no English at all. So that is the kiss of death if I'm not careful.

    So far the anemone is looking quite good. It moved a bit to the top of some live rock, which is pretty much the highest spot in the tank. Maybe that is because it is seeking more light. The Clowns have stayed with it and it looks healthy to the untrained eye. Of course the real test is after a period of time has gone by and I hope it doesn't whither away..

    I really appreciate the suggestions and will do as much research as I can before buying any corals.

  7. #7
    Neon dottyback Jetbkk's Avatar
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    Re: How to take care of sea anemone?

    I forgot to answer your question about filtration..

    I am using a Hailea HF-300 canister filter. HF-300

    It has a capacity of 1300 liters an hour (approx 340 gallons).

    I am also using a protean skimmer but it is undersized and I'm planning to upgrade to a much larger one this weekend.

    I do have some concern over water quality, as although my PH, Alkaline and other leves are fine, I am getting some nitrates straight from the source water so I will probably need to invest in a RO/DI filter in the near future as well. The nitrate levels are .25 in the tank presently.

  8. #8
    Golden Moray Rhodes19's Avatar
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    Re: How to take care of sea anemone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jetbkk View Post
    I forgot to answer your question about filtration..

    I am using a Hailea HF-300 canister filter. HF-300

    It has a capacity of 1300 liters an hour (approx 340 gallons).

    I am also using a protean skimmer but it is undersized and I'm planning to upgrade to a much larger one this weekend.

    I do have some concern over water quality, as although my PH, Alkaline and other leves are fine, I am getting some nitrates straight from the source water so I will probably need to invest in a RO/DI filter in the near future as well. The nitrate levels are .25 in the tank presently.
    Thanks for the info. Probably the best thing you can do to really boost your water quality is to get the RO/DI system and get a refugium started. If you can prevent the nitrates (phosphates too) from getting into the system then that's half the battle. A refugium with macro algae will also help reduce nitrates. Not overfeeding and doing regular water changes will also help. The percent reduction in nitrates is directly proportional to the percent water change but the new water needs to be nitrate free.

    Thailand? Wow, that must be great. All sorts of sea life you can get that we normally don't see. Probably cheaper and healthier because they don't have to travel as far. I'm looking forward to see how your tank progresses.
    180 reef
    125 FOWLR
    29 QT
    Biocube 14 reef
    40 empty (frag tank some day)
    45 FW needs repair
    55 Blood Parrot Cichlid tank (my wife's )

    My wife notices any additions to the tanks. "Is that new"?
    "And if my wife asks, it was only $20!"


    My Addictions: Rhodes19's 180 build
    Rhodes19's 125 FOWLR

  9. #9
    Neon dottyback Jetbkk's Avatar
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    Re: How to take care of sea anemone?

    I was actually planning to go looking for an RO/DI filter this weekend. I think the water system here has to be a lot less reliable than in the States so it is probably very wise to filter the water before putting it in the tank.

    I'm doing a 10% water change each week as well so once I get it filtered hopefully those nitrates will come down to close to zero.

    I'm an American, but living here in Thailand for 3 years. I also suspect that the first and corals available for sale here should have to travel far less distance and hopefully should be in better shape than what would be available in middle America where the distances are great. I think this could really help anemones in particular as they are pretty fragile, right? The prices are also very cheap. This anemone was only $8, for example. What would it cost in the States?

    The anemone is still looking very good. I've had it 6 days now. After 3 days it moved to a higher position but has been happy there since. We fed it some shrimp today which it seemed to accept, and the Clowns are showing it a lot of love as well. Hopefully I'll beat the odds for having a new tank and this guy will survive. I'll try my best, and I do appreciate all the advice!

  10. #10
    Golden Moray Rhodes19's Avatar
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    Re: How to take care of sea anemone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jetbkk View Post
    I was actually planning to go looking for an RO/DI filter this weekend. I think the water system here has to be a lot less reliable than in the States so it is probably very wise to filter the water before putting it in the tank.

    I'm doing a 10% water change each week as well so once I get it filtered hopefully those nitrates will come down to close to zero.

    I'm an American, but living here in Thailand for 3 years. I also suspect that the first and corals available for sale here should have to travel far less distance and hopefully should be in better shape than what would be available in middle America where the distances are great. I think this could really help anemones in particular as they are pretty fragile, right? The prices are also very cheap. This anemone was only $8, for example. What would it cost in the States?

    The anemone is still looking very good. I've had it 6 days now. After 3 days it moved to a higher position but has been happy there since. We fed it some shrimp today which it seemed to accept, and the Clowns are showing it a lot of love as well. Hopefully I'll beat the odds for having a new tank and this guy will survive. I'll try my best, and I do appreciate all the advice!
    Yeah, once you get an RO/DI unit, you will have better water quality. Do bigger water changes once you get the unit. That will really help to reduce the nitrates. Anemones are fragile in the respect that they need very good water quality in order to survive. $8 is a great price up in Thailand, that probably goes a long way. Here, I've seen them go from $30 - $200 depending which nem you get. Both of my daughters have been to Thailand and they liked it there. Definitely 3rd world once you get out of the cities. Both girls went to the beaches and one of them did some diving there and said the sea life there was amazing.

    Keep us posted on how things are going.
    180 reef
    125 FOWLR
    29 QT
    Biocube 14 reef
    40 empty (frag tank some day)
    45 FW needs repair
    55 Blood Parrot Cichlid tank (my wife's )

    My wife notices any additions to the tanks. "Is that new"?
    "And if my wife asks, it was only $20!"


    My Addictions: Rhodes19's 180 build
    Rhodes19's 125 FOWLR

  11. #11
    Pistol Shrimp
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    Re: How to take care of sea anemone?

    Just so you're aware, nems have a slow metabolism. So while it might be looking ok to you right now, it potentially could already be stressing out and starting death gasps. Their metabolism can sometimes take up to two weeks for signs of stress to show after the damage is already done. So when you look at it, and think it's doing well and is healthy, just be warned that you might not be seeing the truth.

    It's not uncommon for people to put them in a just cycled tank and even get 2 months of life out of them before they start to melt/gape/etc.

    Best of luck, as it's already in the tank and the odds are stacked against you, but sometimes that's when things get to be the most fun.

  12. #12
    Reef Shark
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    Exclamation Re: How to take care of sea anemone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jetbkk View Post
    ...
    So far the anemone is looking quite good. ... The Clowns have stayed with it and it looks healthy to the untrained eye. ...
    Quote Originally Posted by Jetbkk View Post
    ...
    I am using a Hailea HF-300 canister filter. HF-300
    ....
    I sure hate to make posts like this one, but you have some serious problems trying to keep an anemone.

    I agree with the previous posts in that you tank is too new to even consider an anemone. You tank is also on the small side for one. I once had a BTA fill over 2/3s of a 90 gal tank.

    Even if the tank was well established you would still have problems.

    Besides the tank size, your filtration would make it difficult to maintain the water quality needed. Canisters are not the way to go if you require top quality water. You already know you need a skimmer upgrade.

    Your lighting would also need to be upgraded. You almost need MH lighting, although good T5s will work. You'd want almost as many T5 tubes as you could fit over the tank. 4 at least, 6 would be better.

    Lastly, the anemone is not in good health. Note that it looks yellowish white. This means that the anemone is bleached and has lost it's symbiotic algae. This means a long slow recovery to regain that. A healthy anemone should look brown or brown green. Also note that the tentacles are limp and hanging down. This could be because it's new, and not fully adapted to your tank. It can also indicate a problem. It's not possible to tell from the picture. A healthy anemone would have the tentacles upright looking for something capture and eat.

    Bottom line, return it to your LFS, or sell or give it away to someone that can nurse it back to health. Your really fighting a tough uphill battle.

    I apologize if this sounds a bit harsh, but it's a fair description of the situation.

  13. #13
    Neon dottyback Jetbkk's Avatar
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    Re: How to take care of sea anemone?

    Here is a photo from today, after almost a week in my tank. The other photo was from the first day.

    I have to say, I'm feeling pretty discouraged after some of these posts, but I do respect the knowledge base here -- you guys have been doing this for a long time and I'm sure you know what you are talking about.

    I realize that although it looks ok to me, that it may still end up as mush. All I can say is that I hope not, and will do what I can to keep it going.

    Next step for me is to get an RO/DI and upgrade my skimmer.
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    Neon dottyback fishhead's Avatar
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    Re: How to take care of sea anemone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jetbkk View Post
    I have a new 55 gallon tank that has been running for approximately 6 weeks. At present it is stocked with 2 clownfish, 1 damselfish, 1 blennie, 5 hermits, 4 snails, 1 shrimp (a think it is a scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp), and 2 starfish.

    A few days ago I bought an anemone. The clownfish have taken to it right away and for now it seems healthy. (Photo attached)

    I don't feel like I properly understand how to take care of it though, as I've read a lot of different things, ranging from doing nothing (if the clowns accept it) to putting plankton in the water, to hand feeding it bits of shrimp.

    I am using T5 lighting (2 white, 1 blue).

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I'd like to see this anemone thrive if possible!

    Also any advice for some hardy corals I could introduce as a next step (and also thoughts as to when I can do it).

    Many thanks!
    I would say if you are going to use T5's, use more. Like 6x54W or something. I know that looks like you have 3W/Gallon, which is almost enough, but you do need some brighter lighting if you want to grow more variety of corals.

    As for the anemone, you may get lucky, I have seen it. But I also agree that they are long term water quality sensitive, and prefer not only a cycled, but a seasoned tank. I'd say at least 2 yrs old.


    I agree about the lankia starfish. It will die. There is no doubt. Even after 2 yrs old tank, forget the Linkia stars, except for short term, as they will slowly rot from the tips inward, and you will have to watch them die. It sucks. Unless things are perfect for them, and I don't know what that is, they will die. I think there is also a rule of thumb for how much live rock you need to sustain a lankia star, but I forget...someone might chime in here. Don't mean to be discouraging here, it's just inverts are really sensitive...especially to salinity changes. So, get a serpent star or brittle star, and it could live the life of your tank. I have one about 10+ years old...big guy now!
    ---Where's all that water coming from?

  15. #15
    Neon dottyback fishhead's Avatar
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    Re: How to take care of sea anemone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jetbkk View Post
    Here is a photo from today, after almost a week in my tank. The other photo was from the first day.

    I have to say, I'm feeling pretty discouraged after some of these posts, but I do respect the knowledge base here -- you guys have been doing this for a long time and I'm sure you know what you are talking about.

    I realize that although it looks ok to me, that it may still end up as mush. All I can say is that I hope not, and will do what I can to keep it going.

    Next step for me is to get an RO/DI and upgrade my skimmer.
    RO/DI a must Good call. Your tank and rock quality look very nice. Stability is the key!
    ---Where's all that water coming from?

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