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Clownfish Anemones

Here are eight anemone species that are suitable as clownfish hosts in aquaria and some corals, too.

By Scott W. Michael |

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Anemonefishes (aka clownfishes) have long been the darlings of the marine aquarium hobby. Not only are most of them attractive in color, but their amazing partnership with the “flowers of the sea” — the sea anemones — makes them fascinating additions to one’s captive ocean. While most anemonefishes are well-suited to life in the marine aquarium (especially captive-raised individuals, which are now readily available), their invertebrate hosts are not always that easy to maintain over the long haul.

Sea Anemones and Their Care
Sea anemones (phylum Cnidaria, class Anthozoa) are unusual animals with a simple body plan. They consist of a base (which is attached to the substrate), a column and a disc. The disc is where the mouth and tentacles are located. The tentacles are armed with stinging cells that are used to fend off most predators and also to capture small prey. Not all sea anemones available to anemonefishes are adopted by them as hosts. To date, 10 different species from five different genera have been found harboring anemonefishes in nature. The hosting anemones are relatively large species (from 8 to 39 inches in diameter), but their shape and tentacle structure can differ considerably. Some have long tentacles (e.g., Heteractis spp.), while others have short, stubby tentacles (e.g., Stichodactyla spp.). The color of these anemones can vary between and even within a species. For example, the magnificent sea anemone (Heteractis magnifica) can have a brown, green, pink, orange or even scarlet-red base.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the November 2011 issue of Aquarium Fish International today.

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