Brown Glass Anemone ~ Pale anemone

Pale anemone, Glass Anemone, Yellow Anemone

Brown Glass Anemone, Aiptasia pallida, Pale Anemone, Yellow AnemoneBrown Glass Anemone or Pale AnemoneAiptasia pallidaPhotos © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
Latest Reader Comment - See More
These are very dangerous if u have them I suggest the peppermint shrimp to get rid of these pesky pests because they can kill your corals  chris

The Brown Glass Anemone may not be a hero in the reef tank, but it has a claim to fame in the world of research!

The Brown Glass Anemone, or Pale Anemone, is one of the Rock Anemones whose fame is in its contribution to the understanding of coral bleaching. It is a hermatypic anemone, meaning that it contains and depends upon zooxanthellae (algae) for nutrients. This is one of the anemones, along with the Glass Anemone, being used in experimental modeling studies to understand how the stress of increased water temperatures affects this symbiotic relationship. Hopes are to learn how environmental causes of bleaching are linked to climate change and disease. Other Aiptasia being used in various types of research include the Small Rock Anemone Aiptasia diaphana.

Small Aiptasia glass anemones don't have a very good reputation with saltwater hobbyists, and this Pale Glass Anemone is no exception. A number of scientific studies have determined that the Glass Anemones have strong stings, and don't "play nice" with other corals and fish. They use venomous cells, nematocysts found in their tentacles, to sting corals and fish. They are very hard to get rid of and have been known to take over a reef aquarium by quickly reproducing while stinging and killing other tank invertebrates.

This Anemone can reach plague proportions in captivity and is often considered a pest. Corals and other anemones are the most affected by it. This aiptasia needs to be removed as soon as possible if you don't want it taking over. Once Aiptasia finds a foothold, manual removal to keep populations in check may very well become an ongoing activity.

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

Geographic Distribution
Aiptasia pallida
Data provided by
Brown Glass Anemone, Aiptasia pallida

Report Broken Video
Awesome video of Peppermint Shrimp eating this pest anemone

Brown Glass Anemones will quickly become the scourge of a captive environment! There are True Peppermint Shrimp that will eat this pest, however if they have plenty of other foods to choose from, they may not be as affective. These anemones will reproduce like rabbits, sting corals and fish and make a new aquarist just give up! Quarantining live rock and all new corals is the best prevention since these little buggers can slip and hide into the smallest opening under a coral edge or in any rock!

Brown Glass Anemone - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Minimum Tank Size: 1 gal (4 L)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Temperature: 68.0 to 83.0° F (20.0 to 28.3° C)
  • Size of organism - inches: 2.0 inches (5.08 cm)
  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes

Habitat: Distribution / Background

Sea Anemone Facts: The Brown Glass Anemone Aiptasia pallida was described by Agassiz in Verrill, 1864. The Aiptasia genus is a member of the Aiptasiidae family, and this genus contains 16 species. It is also commonly known as the Pale Anemone. A few other common names it is known as are the Glass Anemone, Rock Anemone, and Yellow Anemone. This anemone is not on the IUCN Red List for endangered species.

Where are Sea Anemones Found: This Anemone is found in the Western Atlantic Ocean in the coastal ranges of the southern United States Atlantic and Gulf coasts, ranging from North Carolina to Texas, as well as the coastal Caribbean.

Sea Anemone Habitat: These Anemones are generally found singly where there is hard substrata in shallow water. It is common around floating docks and oyster reefs as well as attached to stones in rubble areas, mangrove roots, dead corals, and other hard substrates. They will also form dense colonies in areas of shallow water. They generally eat zooplankton, but will always accept other food particles.

Sea Anemone Species: There are 17 species in the Aiptasia Genus. General common names all the various Aiptasia anemones are known by are Aiptasia, Glassrose Anemone, Rock Anemone, Devil's Plague, Aiptasia Anemone, Pest Anemone, and sometimes by this misspelling, Aptasia.

  • Scientific Name: Aiptasia pallida
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed


Appearance of a Sea Anemone: The Aiptasia pallida are somewhat translucent and occur in two colors, one is white and the other is a rich brownish- yellow. This may account for their two regularly used common names, Pale Anemone and Brown Glass Anemone. The color comes from an algae called zooxanthellae living in its tissues.

Aiptasia pallida can reach up to about 2" (5 cm) tall, but most specimens only reach about 1" (2.5 cm) tall. Their body form is the polyp. It is composed of a long, thin column with an oral disc on top that has a mouth in the center. There are 100 long stinging tentacles, alternating between long and short, and positioned in narrow rings on the outer margin of the oral disc. The disc supporting these tentacles is only about 1 cm wide! If it feels threatened, quick as a whip, the Pale Anemone will rapidly retract its tentacles, becoming a very small ball, and it will retract into its hole or crevice.

How do glass anemones move?: The Brown Glass Anemone, or Pale Anemone, has a pedal disc or 'foot' with which it attaches to the substrate. If tank conditions are not ideal they will use their "foot" to move along the substrate. They do this by contracting the circular muscles of the foot and pushing forward, or they may crawl on their side, moving about 4 cm per hour. Aiptasia pallida will often opt to simply disconnect and float around, or swim by moving in a spiral motion, until they find a new spot to adhere too.

Sea Anemones Life Cycles: It is unknown how long Aiptasia can live, but they do reproduce quickly. Mature specimens can produce dozens of juveniles in a single day if they have plenty of nutrients.

  • Size of organism - inches: 2.0 inches (5.08 cm) - Most specimens only reach about 1" (2.5 cm) tall.

Difficulty of Care

Sea Anemone Care: Some aquarists use aiptasia in their refugiums to take out nutrients from the water. Brown Glass Anemones are easy to care for and they are quite hardy and durable. They have the ability to reproduce rapidly in saltwater aquariums where there are plenty of nutrients and good lighting.

The Brown Glass Anemone can reach plague proportions in captivity. In some aquariums they will reproduce faster than in others, but the exact reason is unknown. They do seem to reproduce faster in environments high in nutrients and detritus. This anemone as well as any species of Aiptasia is generally regarded as a pest. They can be difficult to control and / or eliminate once they get a foothold.

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

Foods and Feeding

What Do Sea Anemones Eat: The Brown Glass Anemone is a carnivore. In the wild Aiptasia derive nutrition from their symbiotic algae, zooxanthellae, as well as from the water around them. They use their tentacles to capture organic matter that floats by, then insert the food into their mouths for ingestion. They generally eat zooplankton, but will always accept other food particles.

  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Feeding Frequency: Seldom

Aquarium Care

Water changes of 10% bi-monthly or 20% a month are typical for most anemones, but with Aiptasia, the more nutrients you have the happier it will be. They will flourish in poor water-quality environments that are rich in organic nutrients.

  • Water Changes: Monthly

Aquarium Setup

Using aiptasia in refugiums to take out nutrients can be effective, yet it can also be risky if any part of an aiptasia migrates to the main tank through the filtration. The typical reef environment is best for these anemones. Like most anemone species, they need live rock or some other solid material they can attach to. In a refugium use screening to prevent free floating aiptasia from migrating to your main tank. Be sure to have all of your pumps covered. Most good quality pumps have guards on them.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 1 gal (4 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Amount
  • Substrate Type: Mix - Sand + Coral
  • Lighting Needs: Any
  • Temperature: 68.0 to 83.0° F (20.0 to 28.3° C)
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG
  • Water Movement: Weak - Low to Moderate.
  • Water Region: Bottom

Social Behaviors

The Brown Glass Anemones are aggressive anemones that have strong stings that can harm, and even kill other corals and fish. Saltwater hobbyists don't purchase these anemones, rather they are acquired accidentally and they are able to out compete other species in the reef tank. When disturbed they eject dangerous white stinging threads, or acontia. By using venomous cells or nematocysts found in their tentacles, they sting and push other inhabitants away from their "turf". They have strong stings that can harm, and even kill other corals and fish.

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

Sex: Sexual differences

Studies of A. pallida and A. pulchella have determined that individuals are dioecious, meaning that individuals are of separate sexes. However, no sexual difference in appearance is known.

Breeding / Reproduction

Propagating aiptasia anemones is fairly easy, just cut a piece off and it will grow. Anemones in general can multiply by sexual and asexual means. Aiptasia will multiply asexually by fission, which is where a tiny bit of tissue detached from the foot quickly develops into a new and complete anemone.

Aiptasia anemones will tolerate their own "clones", and these anemones are very prolific. This is why it is very difficult to physically remove these anemones from a rock. Any remaining tissues quickly multiply into to new specimens. Sexual reproduction has not been described for the species.

  • Ease of Breeding: Easy

Ailments / Diseases

Problems for the Brown Glass Anemone or Pale Anemone are pretty minimal unless your lighting, water movement, feeding and water quality are exceptionally low. Then your anemone will detach to look for "better conditions." With better conditions, they can quickly multiply, and having a quickly expanding population of Aiptasia then becomes the problem.

Regular and time consuming manual removal is often required so that an aquarium is not overrun by dense populations of Aiptasia. There are various ways to reduce and control aiptasia populations. Sea anemone predators provide a natural, biological method of controlling and possibly eliminating Aiptasia anemones. Other methods include chemical removal and the more risky method of physical removal. There are important considerations when using either of these two methods.

For information on Aiptasia removal and control, see: Aiptasia Pests - Getting Rid of Glass Anemones.


Saltwater aquarists don't usually buy Brown Glass Anemones, but Aiptasia are available alive from supply companies for research and scientific study. Aquarists generally acquire them as hitchhikers, arriving with live rock or attached to the base of corals..


Author: Clarice Brough CFS, Carrie McBirney
Lastest Animal Stories on Brown Glass Anemone