Beaded Sea Anemone
Care Parameters
Reader Comments

Beaded Sea Anemone

Glass Bead Anemone, Beaded Sand Anemone, Aurora Anemone, Glasspearl Anemone, Flat Anemone

Beaded Sea Anemone, Heteractis aurora, Glass Bead Anemone, Aurora Anemone, Beaded Sand AnemoneHeteractis auroraPhoto Wiki Commons, courtesy Nick

The tentacles of the Beaded Sea Anemone are likened to a 'string of beads'... and thus its name!

The pretty Beaded Sea Anemone Heteractis aurora is easy to identify because of its unique 'beaded' tentacles. The tentacles have white spots that enlarge into bead-like swellings. There can be an individual bulges or they can coalesce into designs. Often these swellings run the entire length of the tentacle, giving it a 'string of beads' look. Sometimes the bulges will surround the tentacle giving them a banded look.

The color, usually a gray-green to chestnut-brown overall, is subdued compared to the more brilliantly colored clown host anemones. But the decorative appearance of the tentacles gives it quite an ornamental look. There are a couple other anemones species that also develop beading patterns. One of these types of anemones are the juvenile Condylactis Anemones Condylactis gigantea. Others are the Frilly Anemones Phymanthus sp., which are smaller and don't host clownfish.

This Anemone has been found as host to 7 different species of clownfish as well as the Domino Damselfish Dascyllus trimaculatus. It is the favorite anemone of Clark's Clownfish Amphiprion clarkii. Also known as a 'nursery' anemone, in nature it is often a temporary home for young clownfish on their journey to find a more suitable host anemone for adulthood.

The Beaded Sea Anemone is a favorite of aquarists. Not only is it beautiful, but is relatively hardy when provided the right environment. They live in shallow waters only 3 to 16 feet deep, and although they are found in crevices on reefs, they are more often found on sand. If this anemone feels threatened, it will totally disappear into the sand. Provide it with a thick sand bed and good illumination and it will definitely be a topic of conversation, and will reward its owner with a long life.

For more information about Clown Fish anemones, see:
Facts About the 10 Clownfish Hosting Sea Anemones


Pet Supply Comparison Shopping
Beaded Sea Anemone - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (189 L)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 79.0° F (22.2 to 26.1° C)
  • Size of organizm - inches: 10.0 inches (25.40 cm)
  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No

Habitat: Distribution / Background

Sea Anemone Facts: The Beaded Sea Anemone Heteractis aurora was described by Quoy and Gaimard in 1833. The Heteractis genus is a member of the Actiniidae family, and this genus contains 4 species. Some names they are known for are Sand Anemone, Beaded Anemone, Aurora Anemone, Flat Anemone, Glasspearl Anemone, Red Bottom Anemone, and Beaded Sand Anemone. This species is not on the IUCN Red List for endangered species

Where are Sea Anemones Found: The Heteractis aurora is found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean from the Red sea and east, to Japan in the north and Mauritius to the south.

Sea Anemone Habitat: These Anemones are found singly in rocky crevices on reef terraces and on sandy bottoms at water depths of 3 to 16 feet (1-5 m). They are usually found with clownfish that forms a symbiotic relationship for the protection and nourishment of both animals. They use their venomous cells or nematocysts found in their tentacles to sting and deflect any possible threats or attacks, and also use them to catch prey. Some predators can be other anemones, nudibranchs, sea stars and some angelfish. Bristle worms have been known to irritate and chew at Heteractis Anemones.

  • Scientific Name: Heteractis aurora
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed

Description

Appearance of a Sea Anemone: The Beaded Sea Anemone or Sand Anemone Heteractis aurora has a gray-green to chestnut-brown appearance overall, depending on the concentration of its symbiotic algae, zooxanthallae. The sticky foot at the base of the pedal column is used to adhere to various surfaces. They also use the "foot" to move around if conditions are not ideal. The column is usually a pale orange or golden yellow, becoming lighter towards the disc. The pedal column also has verrucae, which are small bulges that also have stinging cells.

The beautiful tentacles have white spots which enlarge into bead-like swellings. There can be individual bulges or they can coalesce into designs. Often these swellings run the entire length of the tentacle, giving it a 'string of beads' look. Sometimes the bulges will surround the tentacle giving them a banded look. The tentacles are 4 - 6 cm long and can be brown, tan, various shades of green, cream, and purple with white markings. In captivity, for some unknown reason, their color tends to disappear.

The tentacles are relatively sparse, so much of the oral disc is exposed. The disc often has white radiating lines. The mouth is in the center. It should be closed and tight, and will open when hungry, having an oval look. A gaping mouth is a warning signal. The H. aurora takes food in and expels waste through this same opening.

Sea Anemones Life Cycles: Beaded Sea Anemones can grow up to 10" (25 cm), but it is unknown how long they live. Some anemones can be hundreds of years old in the wild, and in captivity some have been known to last 80 years or more.

  • Size of organizm - inches: 10.0 inches (25.40 cm)
  • Lifespan: 80 years - In captivity some have been known to live 80 years or more.

Difficulty of Care

Sea Anemone Care: The Beaded Sea Anemone is relatively hardy when provided the right environment. They do have high lighting needs and must have a thick sand bed to bury their foot in. If this anemone feels threatened, it will totally disappear into the sand. Putting an anemone in a new tank can result in failure. The tank should be at least 8 to 12 months old and stable before adding your new H. aurora.

When choosing your Beaded Sea Anemone, make sure the color is good, their mouth is not gaping open, and their foot and tentacles are sticky to the touch. Also, they should be attached to something and make sure there is no damage to the foot area, often a result of pulling the anemone off its surface.

To take an H. aurora anemone from another aquarium, use a hair dryer. Blow at the foot of the anemone from the outside of the tank and the heat will make it pull away. If it's attached to a rock, ideally you can simply purchase the rock as well. if you cannot purchase the rock then use ice cubes in a zip lock bag, and gently rub the foot all around until it releases. This may take a few minutes, but it is the most reliable way of getting your anemone to release. Don't allow the fresh water of the ice cubes to touch the foot directly as this can cause tissue damage. H. aurora can perish from any type of tissue damage.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

Foods and Feeding

What Do Sea Anemones Eat: The Beaded Sea Anemone is a carnivore. In the wild, these anemones are well equipped with nutritional alternatives for their well-being. They derive daily nutrition from their symbiotic algae, zooxanthellae, that dwells within their tissues. They also use their venomous cells or nematocysts found in their tentacles to sting and capture prey. They absorb nutrients from the water around them and they consume wastes from resident animals like clown fish. It is not necessary for them to be fed by Clownfish they host, though clowns will often carry chunks of food to the anemone.

In captivity you can feed your H. aurora a mix of chopped fresh shrimp, fish and mussel from your grocery store. This variety is very good for these anemones, as they seem to derive their different dietary needs from these meats. Large anemones need food daily, medium sized anemones need to be fed 5 times a week, and the young or smaller ones need to be fed 2 to 4 times a week. The old adage that anemones should be fed once a month is false and has lead to many deaths.

Clownfish hosted with your anemone usually will not be able to sufficiently feed themselves and their anemone with the small quantity of food that is put in a captive environment. You will need to target feed this anemone. You can just offer your clowns a piece of fish flesh and they will usually snatch it out of your hand and give it to their host. However, not all clowns are this smart, so don't depend on the clown fish to feed the anemone.

  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Meaty Food: All of Diet - They can be fed a mixture of chopped fresh shrimp, fish and mussel from your grocery store.
  • Feeding Frequency: Daily

Aquarium Care

Water changes of 10% bi-monthly or 20% a month are typical. Monitor your water quality for your particular situation and adjust your water changes accordingly. Keeping salinity stable with a top off mechanism is highly suggested. Keeping alkalinity at the typically acceptable range of 3.5 meq/l for reef tanks is advisable. A good protein skimmer is a must.

A Beaded Sea Anemone 3" to 4" is equal to 2 or 3 fish as far as waste production is concerned. Purigen and Poly-fiber are great products to help in maintaining water quality. Purigen is a synthetic polymer that removes soluble and insoluble impurities from water at an exceptionally high rate and capacity, helping to control ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Additions of Iodine and and trace elements are suggested. Control phosphates with products such as Phosban and the Phosban reactor.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly
  • Alkilinity Levels: - Keeping alkalinity at the typically acceptable range of 3.5 meq/l for reef tanks is advisable.
  • Iodine Levels: - Additions of Iodine and and trace elements are suggested.

Aquarium Setup

The typical live rock/reef environment is what is needed for your H. aurora, with a sand substrate for it to settle into. Have a 4" to 8" sand bed for them to bury their foot into. The Beaded Sea Anemone will attach to a hard surface through the sand. Once it is secured it, if it is happy it will stay put. If it isn't happy and is moving around, be sure to check your lighting and water quality, and also make sure you are feeding it adequately. With all anemones its a good rule of thumb to have all of your pumps covered, most good quality pumps have guards on them.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (189 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Amount
  • Substrate Type: Sand
  • Lighting Needs: High - Strong lighting
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 79.0° F (22.2 to 26.1° C)
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: Bottom

Social Behaviors

All anemones are semi-aggressive because they can be mobile, although a contented Anemone will stay put once it has found a place to settle. It has often been suggested to not put anemones in a reef environment since corals cannot move away from the stinging tentacles. Once you get your anemone situated and it has not moved for several months, it might be safe to add other corals. Keep this in mind when stocking sessile inverts. Some predators can be other anemones, nudibranchs, sea stars and some angelfish. Bristle worms have been known to irritate and chew at Heteractis Anemones.

Beaded Sea Anemones in the tank need to be at least 2-3 feet away from each other. If you have 2 anemones that are 6" across, than your tank should be at least 4-5 feet long. Anemones need to have their own space, otherwise there can be a "chemical" warfare between species. This will usually cause one to not eat, shrink and eventually die. However, after splitting, anemones will tolerate their own "clones", and sometimes their own species. Having excellent filtration and a large tank, (over 100 gallons) will usually allow 2 anemones at opposite ends to thrive. You can also build a natural blockade to help prevent them from wandering into each others "space".

If you want your anemone to host clownfish, be sure it is 3 to 4 times larger in diameter than the length of the clown fish you introduce, or it will be 'loved' to death. A 4 - 6" anemone with clowns that are introduced at a young age of 1" to 1.5" will work out well. Keep in mind, the more clowns you have translates into more "inches" of fish" for your anemone. It is best to buy the anemone first and give it a few months to acclimate and grow before adding clowns. Not all clowns take to all H. aurora.

The Beaded Sea Anemone has been found in nature hosting the following 7 Clownfish species:

  • Venomous: Yes
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Sometimes
    • Anemones: Monitor
    • Mushroom Anemones - Corallimorphs: Monitor
    • Leather Corals: Monitor
    • Zoanthids - Button Polyps, Sea Mats: Monitor
    • Sponges, Tunicates: Monitor
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Monitor
    • Starfish: Threat
    • Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Monitor
    • Clams, Scallops, Oysters: Monitor
    • Crabs: Monitor
    • Snails: Threat
    • Sea Apples, Cucumbers: Monitor
    • Urchins, Sand Dollars: Monitor
    • Nudibranch, Sea Slugs: Threat
    • Copepods, Amphipods, Mini Brittle Stars: Monitor

Sex: Sexual differences

No sexual difference in appearance is known.

Breeding / Reproduction

The H. aurora typically do not breed in captivity. Anemones in general can multiply by sexual and asexual means. One way is using fission, which is when they actually split in half from the foot or mouth to form a clone, although the clone is its own animal, similar to twins. They will also reproduce using male and female sex glands or find another anemone of the opposite sex. This results in the production of ciliated planula larvae. This planula will eventually fall to the sea floor, develop a pedal disk, then begin to grow into a new anemone.

Ailments / Diseases

Problems for the Beaded Sea Anemone are pretty minimal unless your lighting, water movement, feeding and water quality are low. Then your anemone will detach to look for "better conditions." In general, if your anemone moves, it is not happy. Some predators can be other anemones, nudibranchs, sea stars and some angelfish. Bristle worms also have been known to irritate and chew at H. aurora.

Availability

The Beaded Sea Anemone or Sand Anemone H. aurora is easy to find in stores and online. The cost online starts at about $13.00 USD and goes up depending on the size, color and species.

References



Author: Clarice Brough CFS, Carrie McBirney
Lastest Animal Stories on Beaded Sea Anemone