Anemone Conservation

Saltwater Anemones For Sale

With some biologists now suggesting that marine anemones ought not to be collected for sale in the aquarium trade, pressure is mounting to find species and methods that assure survival in captivity. Based on the experience of two aquarium-maintenance businesses here in my hometown, I have concluded that the relatively hardy Entacmaea quadricolor (Bulb, Bubble Tip, Maroon, or Rose Anemone) may be the perfect candidate, especially the form found in shallow-water habitats. The specimens I have been keeping tabs on are all descended from a single individual originally purchased from my company and placed in one of our tanks, where it divided several Bubble Tip Anemone: the author's choice as the have removed a partially split En-

How Split Anemone

in a 20-month period, "with little direct feeding." Prior to splitting into daughter anemones, the specimen retreated to a dark area of the tank and exhibited reduction in tentacle size. Division required about two days to complete. I have spoken with three or four aquarists over the years whose Rose

Anemone specimens retreated in this way. In every case, the aquar-ist assumed that a problem was developing and may have mistakenly inhibited reproduction by trying to move the anemone back into the light, adding various trace element supplements, feeding the anemone, etc. Paletta reported that he assumed the anemone was dying. I wonder how many people times. The offspring were trans- most appropriate species for most aquarists. ferred to other aquariums, where tacmaea, thinking the same thing and hoping to avoid polluting the they divided again. Thus, some of these anemones are second-generation, captive-propagated clones. The only common thread among these aquariums is that all of them are on the cooler side. Some Entacmaea specimens in other aquariums maintained by these same people have refused to divide, and many have not fared well generally.

Paletta (1993) reported a similar experience with the Rose Anemone form of E. quadricolor. He also gives a useful account of aquarium growth rate in this anemone. The specimen increased in size from about 1 inch to about 12 inches tank with a dead anemone?

While it is difficult to trust conclusions from such a small sample, the implications of this information for the aquarium care of these anemones, and their potential captive propagation, is obvious. The rate of growth reported by Paletta is sufficiently rapid (1 inch to 5 inches in 8 months, without feeding) to make greenhouse propagation potentially worthwhile from an economic point of view. Dunn (1981) provides a way for us to distinguish the two forms, reporting that the siphonoglyph of the solitary, deep-water form is paired and

Chapter Eight 213

symmetrical, while in the clonal form found in shallow water, there can be up to eight siphonoglyphs, asymmetrically arranged around the mouth.

Whether the other clownfish host anemones should be collected in large numbers should be given consideration. In the first place, authorities such as Fautin and Allen (1986) are quite certain that recruitment (survival of larvae to become adult anemones) is rather rare. Very few small individuals of any anemone species are observed in the field. Further, low recruitment rates are characteristic of species that are long-lived, and there are documented instances of captive anemones living to be quite old. Consider this passage in Larson and Cooper (1982):

"A fascinating account of an anemone living to sixty-six years of age was reported in the late 1800's. Sir John Da-lyell collected an Actinia that eventually outlived him. During its productive lifetime it bore over 750 young, 150 of them born at the age of 50. With this in mind, it would be hard to guess the age of sea anemones that live peacefully in the uninhabited regions of the world's oceans."

Fautin and Allen conclude that many of the larger anemones they see in field studies are over a century in age. That such long-lived creatures often survive only a few months in captivity is strong evidence that aquarium hobbyists should become more adept at keeping them, or should avoid these specimens altogether in favor of species more likely to live out a natural lifespan in captivity. Any anemones attempted should be smaller specimens, since selection of larger individuals affords a lowered likelihood of successful husbandry, and since these individuals may represent the brood stock. Further, I recommend that aquarium hobbyists select only Entacmaea and Macrodactyla as the clownfish hosts of primary interest and avoid the much more difficult stichodactylid species. Entacmaea seems to me to be the most appropriate aquarium species. It is the most abundant host anemone in nature; it is widely distributed, occurring from the Red Sea to Samoa; it is host to many species of clownfish, and it has the potential for captive propagation through vegetative reproduction. In my experience, it settles into the aquarium readily, and unlike Macrodactyla, it does not require substrate into which to bury the column, preferring instead to attach to a rock or other solid object. This species clearly deserves more attention from aquarists capable of providing for its needs — good illumination and cooler water (70 to 75 degrees F). Noted amateur clownfish breeder Joyce Wilkerson points out that these fishes do not need an anemone in order to thrive and reproduce. She argues that clownfish make endearing and long-lived aquarium subjects, even without their hosts, and are perfectly suited to beginners' reef tanks where anemones typically fare poorly.

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The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The word aquarium originates from the ancient Latin language, aqua meaning water and the suffix rium meaning place or building. Aquariums are beautiful and look good anywhere! Home aquariums are becoming more and more popular, it is a hobby that many people are flocking too and fish shops are on the rise. Fish are generally easy to keep although do they need quite a bit of attention. Puppies and kittens were the typical pet but now fish are becoming more and more frequent in house holds. In recent years fish shops have noticed a great increase in the rise of people wanting to purchase aquariums and fish, the boom has been great for local shops as the fish industry hasnt been such a great industry before now.

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