The Bubble Tip Anemone (entacmaea quadricolor) is known to saltwater aquarist as being one of the easiest sea anemones to keep, but this marine invertebrate does require some basic water and lighting parameters as well as proper supplemental feeding. There are several other plus sides apart from being lower maintenance: these anemones are one of the most prone to host clownfish, are more colorful than most long-tentacled anemones, less predatory than carpet anemones, and can be propagated relatively easily.
This Instructable may be used as a care reference and list of proper environment requirements for a healthy anemone for experienced aquarists or those interested in getting into the saltwater aquarium hobby.
Step 1: Water Acclimation and Conditions
After purchasing a BTA, follow proper acclimation steps before introducing it into the tank. (see http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=16+2249&aid=2659 )High water quality is necessary for healthy anemone acclimation and growth.
Specific gravity (water salinity): 1.023 - 1.025
Water temp: 75°F - 82°F (25°C - 28°C)
pH : 8.1 - 8.4
Maintain water parameters in good condition by regular, partial water changes. BTAs like a good amount of water flow within the tank created with pumps and power heads.
Step 2: Lighting Conditions
Bubble Tip Anemones need high-output lighting such as metal halides, a set of VHO, PC, or T5 fluorescent bulbs, or LED lighting. Similar to many other anemones and invertebrates, BTAs house photosynthetic microorganisms that provide the anemone with energy. Higher light improves overall health and color. Bubble-tips have a strong fluorescence that is most apparent under actinic lighting or blue LEDs.
Step 3: Placement in Tank
BTAs are quite mobile and will move to a spot in your tank with the lighting and water flow to fit their needs. Don’t expect them to stay put because they are known to wander around the tank. They will attach their foot to any rock, glass, or hard surface. Protect pump intakes and overflows to avoid them getting sucked up.
Step 4: Feeding
Many anemones including BTAs maintain a symbiotic relationship with photosynthesizing microorganisms that live inside them. Bubble tip anemones obtain much of the energy they need from light. To really flourish, BTA’s need a regular source or protein in the form of small meaty morsels of seafood. Luckily, BTAs are not particularly fussy eaters.
Step 5: Thaw Food
After buying fresh or frozen raw shrimp (shelled), fish, clams, mussels, etc, bring it to the same temperature as the tank water. Do not use any seasoned seafood meant for human consumption. Make sure to wash your hands to remove any traces of soap or moisturizer so as to not contaminate the food or tank.
Step 6: Cut Up Food
Cut up the food in pieces in sizes in relation to the mouth/oral disc of the anemone(s). A quarter-inch chunk is normal for smaller anemones, but larger ones can digest bigger pieces.
Step 7: Food Placement
Use a feeding stick or tank tongs to give the anemone the food. You may use your hands but risk being stung (stings are rare and mild unless an allergic reaction occurs). Gently place food on the tentacles of the anemone. They should grasp at it and move it toward and into their mouth. Avoid pushing the food at the anemone. It is satisfying to watch them grab the food and gobble it up!
Step 8: After Feeding
You may want to test different foods. Your anemone might not like some or may spit it back out if it isn’t hungry. on occasion, it may excrete it in a mucus-like cocoon and hold onto it with its tentacles to eat later. Remove any uneaten food after an hour. Rotting food can pollute the tank and cause serious water quality problems.
Step 9: Feeding Frequency
Feed your BTA 1-3 times weekly, depending on size and activity. Follow its behavioral cues to reduce or increase feeding frequency. If your anemone is hosting clown fish, you don’t need to feed it very often. The clown fish will provide the anemone with food.
Step 10: Potential Problems
There are a few potential negatives to think about before buying a BTA. Although they are very host-compatible with several species of clown fish and rarely bother other reef-safe fish, bubble tip anemones may catch and kill small fish. Under optimal conditions, BTAs can produce multiple copies of themselves as frequently as every few weeks. They may crowd an aquarium and begin to overrun other inhabitants. As previously mentioned, BTAs can move around the tank, which may be a problem. Most corals are fairly resistant to the stings of BTAs but may get harmed. They may get too close to a pump or filter intake and get sucked into it. It is best to cover all intake openings.
In conclusion, the bubble-tip anemone makes a great addition to a reef aquarium for those hobbyists seeking a beautiful and interesting invertebrate or host for their clownfish.