Beadlet Anemone

European Sea Anemone, Red Sea Anemone, Horse Anemone

Beadlet Anemone, Actinia equina, EuropeanSea Anemone, Red Sea Anemone, Horse AnemoneActinia equinaPhoto Wiki Commons, courtesy
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I live in Tassie. Got one in a 60 ltr tank. Mine's bright Fluro red/orange., that's about it lol=)  Daz

When it comes to tough, the Beadlet Anemone takes the cake... it's one of the most durable anemones you can find!

The Beadlet Anemone Actinia equina is one tough little anemone dude. This hardy sea anemone can handle a wide variety of temperatures and salinity levels. But that's not all, it can also be left out of water for periods of time. It will survive just fine as long as it doesn't totally dry out. It will typically close up to retain water when exposed to the air, resembling a little slimy blob.

Of the two best known species in the Actinia genus, the Australian Red Waratah Sea Anemone A. tenebrosa and the Beadlet Anemone A. equina, the Beadlet Anemone is the one that is most often available. The two are commonly confused, and often mis-labeled, but the Beadlet is typically what an aquarist purchases. This is fortunate as the Beadlet is a tropical anemone typical of most captive environments, while the Red Waratah Anemone needs much cooler water.

This Anemone is an amazing member of the Actiniidae family. It is usually a uniform blood red color although there are wide variations of tan, brown, purple, green or orange hues. There is also a green color, but it has been stated that this may be another species, A. prasina the Green Beadlet Anemone. Some other common names it is known by are the European Sea Anemone, Red Sea Anemone, Horse Anemone, and African Beadlet Anemone.

This is a small, durable, tropical species that only grows from 1" to 2.75" (3 to 7 cm) in size, the average size is 1.9" (4.5 cm). The European Sea Anemone can readily be kept in a small nano reef of just 20 gallons or more. Given a typical reef environment with proper care and feeding, they can do well. Provided with the correct husbandry, they will also reproduce in captivity. They reproduce internally and give birth to live baby anemones that can be a variety different of colors. Thus they make their own unique display in the aquarium.

For more about the types of Sea Anemone Species, see:
Sea Anemone - Tube Anemone

Beadlet Anemone, Actinia equina

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Video of anemone slowly opening

The Beadlet Anemone is about as bullet proof as you can get when it comes to an anemone! While you can have several in one tank, they should not be near each other unless they are offspring (division). If cared for properly, they will reproduce internally, releasing live baby anemones in different colors! How cool is that! They are fin in a tank that is 20 gallons or more and they are only 2" in size on average. Do not confuse them with the Waratah Anemone (Actinia tenebrosa) which is a cold water anemone that will die in our tropical tanks! The Beadlet Anemone, A. equina can tolerate waters from 35 to 82˚F (1.7 to 27.8˚C)!

Beadlet Anemone - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Temperature: 35.0 to 82.0° F (1.7 to 27.8° C)
  • Size of organism - inches: 2.8 inches (6.99 cm)
  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes

Habitat: Distribution / Background

Sea Anemone Facts: The Beadlet Anemone or European Sea Anemone Actinia equina was described by Linnaeus in 1758. The Actinia genus is a member of the Actiniidae family, and this genus contains 13 species. This anemone can tolerate warmer waters, typical of most captive environments. Other common names this anemone is known by are the European Sea Anemone, Red Sea Anemone, Horse Anemone, and African Beadlet Anemone. This anemone is not on the IUCN Red List for endangered species.

Australian Red Waratah Sea Anemone Actinia tenebrosa was described by Farquhar in 1898. This colder water species is named after the Waratah flower, which is the state emblem for NSW, Australia. This anemone is also known as the Cherry Anemone, Waratah Anemone, and Red Waratah Anemone.

The Actinia was founded by Linnaeus in 1767. There are 29 species and subspecies in this genus. Besides the Australian Red Waratah Sea Anemone and the Beadlet Anemone Actinia equina (also a very similar green form that is said to possibly be A. prasina, and called the Green Beadlet Anemone) a few other species are A bermudensis, A. denticulosa, A. fragacea, A. gemma, A. gracilis, A. grobbeni, A. infecunda, A. kraemeri, A. prasina, and A. striata.

Don't confuse the this Anemone with the Australian Red Waratah Anemone. Their requirements are much different, the Beadlet is subtropical while the Waratah needs much cooler water. The two are commonly confused, and generally mislabeled, but because the Beadlet is the one most commonly available, it is the one most aquarists purchase.

Where are Sea Anemones Found: This anemone is found in the cold waters of the Eastern Atlantic Ocean around Britain and Ireland as well as the Mediterranean in subtropical waters. They tolerate temperatures in the range of 35° - 82° F (2° - 28° C). The Australian Red Waratah Anemone A tenebrosa is found in New Zealand, and Shark Bay in western Australia in depths of 16 feet (5 m) or more, and in Tasmania in cold waters ranging from 50° to 68° F (10° - 20° C).

Sea Anemone Habitat: The Actinia genus is found in intertidal zones, lower shores and sheltered areas. They inhabit shaded vertical rock walls and tide pools, usually in groups. They feed on food particles at high tide, and at low tide will enclose themselves into a little jelly blob to keep from drying out in the open air.

Beadlet Anemones are not usually in water levels over 65 feet (20 m) deep. They have been seen in estuaries, indicating a tolerance for salinity fluctuations. Actinia species have reproduced in captivity. They use their venomous cells or nematocysts found in their tentacles to sting and deflect any possible threats or attacks.

  • Scientific Name: Actinia equina
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed


Appearance of a Sea Anemone: The Actinia genus has a pedal column, with a sticky foot at the bottom that they use to adhere to various surfaces. The also use this "foot" to move around if needed. The body is distinctly separate from the tentacles on the disc by a ridge and adjacent furrow. This is called an acrorhagi, which has tentacles that look more like bumps, and possess nematocyst cells.

The Beadlet Anemone or European Sea Anemone is variable in both form and color. Its color is usually a uniform blood red color but there are variations of purple, tan, brown, green or orange. It has been stated that the green color may be A. prasina. It has a blue to purplish blue acrorhagi. Australian Red Waratah Anemone A. tenebrosa is generally bright red in color and is smaller, only growing to 1.5" (4 cm).

There are two very distinct forms of A. equina, one has a purplish blue acrorhag, with 192 tentacles and it can reach 2.75" (7 cm). The other is brownish red with 124 tentacles, and reaches only 1.18" (3 cm). The tentacles are arranged in 6 circles around the surface of the oral disc. The oral disc does not have any pattern on it. In low tide, the anemone will close up to retain water when exposed to the air, resembling little slimy blobs. They also tend to only open at night, so are often contracted during daylight hours.

The mouth is in the center of the oral disc. Healthy anemones have a mouth that is closed and tight. It will open when hungry, having an oval look, yet a gaping mouth is a warning signal. The A. equina take food in, and expel waste through this same opening.

Sea Anemones Life Cycles: These anemones will also reproduce in captivity, but it is unknown how long they live. In fact some anemones can be hundreds of years old in the wild, and in captivity have been known to last 80 years or more.

  • Size of organism - inches: 2.8 inches (6.99 cm)
  • Lifespan: 80 years - In captivity they have been known to last 80 years or more.

Difficulty of Care

Sea Anemone Care: The Beadlet Anemone is moderate to difficult to care for since some do have cold water needs and all anemones must have proper lighting. Putting an anemone in a new tank will result in failure. A saltwater aquarium should be at least 9 months old and stable before adding a new A. equina.

When choosing your 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 A. equina anemone from another aquarium, use a very thin blunt item like a credit card to get under the foot. Slowly nudging it away will help move the anemone off the glass. If it is attached to a rock, ideally you can simply purchase the rock as well. if you cannot purchase the rock then directing water at it or wiggling the rock gently upside down under water while tickling the foot can work.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

Foods and Feeding

What Do Sea Anemones Eat: The Beadlet Anemone or European Sea Anemone is a carnivore. In nature they use their tentacles to sting and capture prey, often careless fish and invertebrates that bump into them. In captivity hand feed your Actinia anemone minced mussel flesh, shrimp flesh, and tubifex worms.

They need to be fed 2 to 3 times a month due to the fact they are cooler water creatures. Their metabolism is not as fast as warmer water anemones. If you have a Beadlet Anemone A. equina, however, you may find they eat more often in a warmer water environment. So use good judgment, if they seem hungry more often, then feed them as needed.

  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Meaty Food: All of Diet - They can be hand-fed minced mussel flesh, shrimp flesh, and tubifex worms.
  • Feeding Frequency: Weekly

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. 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.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly
  • Iodine Levels: - Additions of Iodine and and trace elements are suggested.

Aquarium Setup

The typical reef environment is what is needed for your Beadlet Anemone. They need live rock or some other solid material they can attach to. Be sure to have all of your pumps covered, most good quality pumps have guards on them and are worth the investment.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Amount
  • Substrate Type: Mix - Sand + Coral
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
  • Temperature: 35.0 to 82.0° F (1.7 to 27.8° C)
  • Specific gravity: 1.021-1.027 SG
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: Middle - These anemones will at times move about, sometimes inhabiting the upper regions of the aquarium's rock structures.

Social Behaviors

The Actinia anemones are very aggressive because they can be mobile and can sting stationary corals. They will often move, stinging and eating neighboring anemones. Putting these in a reef environment with other corals is not suggested due to their reproductive process. You may wake up one morning to find a bunch of babies all over your tank, stinging all of your corals. After reproducing, these anemones will tolerate their own offspring, but will devour other Actinia anemones that are unrelated. Do not buy a clownfish to host with this anemone, it will be eaten.

  • Venomous: Yes
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Sometimes - They will tolerate their own offspring.
    • Anemones: Threat
    • Mushroom Anemones - Corallimorphs: Threat
    • Leather Corals: Threat
    • Zoanthids - Button Polyps, Sea Mats: Threat
    • Sponges, Tunicates: Threat
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Monitor
    • Starfish: Monitor
    • Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Monitor
    • Crabs: Monitor
    • Snails: Monitor
    • Sea Apples, Cucumbers: Monitor
    • Urchins, Sand Dollars: Monitor
    • Nudibranch, Sea Slugs: Monitor
    • Copepods, Amphipods, Mini Brittle Stars: Monitor
    • Stony Corals: Threat - is aggressive
    • Soft Corals: Threat - is aggressive

Sex: Sexual differences

No sexual difference in appearance is known.

Breeding / Reproduction

There is no information as of yet on propagation techniques developed for the A. equina. The Actinia genus reproduces by viviparity, which is why these anemones need their own aquarium. Viviparity is basically where each anemone can produce 12 to 100 fully formed live baby anemones. They give birth all at once, dispersing the juveniles all over the water, where they immediately attach and start feeding. Some say that they use an internal laceration.

Ailments / Diseases

Problems for the Beadlet 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." This usually results in an unpleasant experience with a water pump. Predators are unknown for these anemones.


The Beadlet Anemone, as well as other species in the Actinia genus are easy to find in stores and online. The cost online starts at $19.00 USD and up.

Note that the actual species recommended for warmer water aquariums is the one being discussed here, the Beadlet Anemone A. equina, not the Australian Red Waratah Sea Anemone A. tenebrosa, which is a cooler water anemone.


Author: Clarice Brough CFS
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