The Beautiful Rose Bubble Tip Anemone: A Beginner’s Guide
Among the anemone species, the rose bubble tip anemone is one of the hardiest and more beautiful creatures to grace an ocean or saltwater aquarium.
Known by the scientific name entacmaea quadricolor, rose bubble tips are so named due the tendency of their tentacles to expand into a bubble shape when they are resting. Bubble tips are solitary polyp organisms which use tentacles to pull food into their mouths, though also able to draw nutrition from the zooxanthellae (single-celled plants, or plankton), living within their own bodies.
Photosynthetic by nature, the rose bubble tip anemone needs a steady and strong source of light to survive, as well as a water current of moderate strength. Swelling their bodies to access more sunlight, they are usually anchored by a “foot,” which allows them to not only travel to desired locations but also recede into hiding places such as rock cavities. With only their stinging tentacles (or nematocysts) exposed, they are able to both ward off enemies such as angelfish, and stun their prey.
Though rose bubble tip anemones are readily available at aquarium stores and online, there is a lot of preparation required before an anemone can be placed in the tank.
Rose bubble tip anemones grow to be 12” across, and with their proclivity for expansion and reproduction, recommended tank sizes range from 40 – 200 gallons- smaller if only one bubble tip will be present.
Due to the importance of establishing a reef-quality environment for anemones, the tank will need to be prepared and cure, six months in advance of the anemone’s introduction.
Cover the bottom of the tank with live sand and live rocks. Introduce coral rock later, after the anemone is in the tank and acclimatized. If eels will be present, also include free-standing rock piles the bubble tip can move to for protection.
Lighting needs to be regulated by a timer, and should be of the metal halide variety, though boosted fluorescents will also work.
Water temperature should be 76-80° F, the ph maintained at 8.3-8.4. Specific gravity should be 1.024, and verified with a hydrometer on a regular basis.
Make sure that current-generating devices are producing an alternating water current of moderate strength, and that it is not aimed directly at the anemone. Also ensure that all plumbing inlets and outlets are covered with guarding to prevent the anemone from being sucked into the equipment or otherwise injured.
As to pump capacity, make sure that water turnover is ten times the tank size.
When purchasing a rose bubble tip anemone, inspect it to ensure that it is healthy- not bleached looking, and that it is not too large or small. Also be sure to also buy the rock its foot is attached to, as this will minimize the possibility of trauma when it is introduced to the tank.
Be careful when handling an anemone, as the tentacles can sting human skin, causing painful welts or worse, if the person has allergy problems.
After placing the anemone in a rocky area, allow it to move around and settle in. Then introduce clownfish into the tank. Once the fish is settled in, it won’t be long before it finds its beloved anemone. Clownfish and anemone enjoy a symbiotic relationship: the fish’s outer surface provides the anemone with food, and the latter gives the clownfish a safe place to hide from predators.
The only problem with this arrangement is that during the act of nestling amongst the tentacles, the fish may damage them. For this reason, watch closely the first few times the two creatures interact. If the fish is too rough, place a plastic mesh basket over the anemone to protect it and allow it some recovery time.
If angelfish are introduced into the tank, know that they are one of the anemone’s chief predators- another reason why clownfish are important, as they will many times fend off the angel’s advances against an anemone. Mandarins and jaw fish, on the other hand, may end up as anemone food, due to their poor swimming ability or limited awareness of their surroundings.
While rose bubble tip anemones do feed on their own, they will accept shrimp and squid meat several times a week. Silversides, chopped fish, worms and plankton can also be fed directly into the anemone’s mouth, by using tongs.
Rose bubble tip anemones are one of the most exotic-looking and beautiful of the reef-based creatures you can include in your tank environment. Proper preparation and education will ensure that they remain healthy, reproduce and provide you with rewarding experiences for years to come.