Bubble Tip Anemone

Bulb Tentacle Anemone, Rose Bubble Tip Anemone

Bubble Tip Anemone, Bulb Tentacle Anemone, Entacmaea quadricolor also called Rose Bubble Tip Anemone and Maroon AnemoneEntacmaea quadricolorPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
Latest Reader Comment - See More
I'm wondering if I can get a snowflake eel with my two tomato clowns, bubble tip, and African red starfish? Will it irritate them if I get the snowflake?  Fishnerd2000

The Bubble-Tip Anemone is a favorite of aquarists and highly favored by clownfish, hosting 13 different clown fish species in the wild!

The attractive Bubble-Tip Anemone Entacmaea quadricolor is perhaps the most popular of the clown hosting anemones because it is one of the easier ones to maintain. It will also host, and be accepted by, most of the types of clownfish that are readily available to the aquarist. It hosts 13 species of clownfish in the wild as well as an additional species in captivity. Only the Sebae Anemone Heteractis crispa hosts as many clownfish. It is best suited to a large aquarium as it tends to wander more than other anemones, but with proper aquarium conditions and lighting, you can showcase an attractive, long lived anemone.

The column of the this anemone is usually brown but its tentacles can be a wide variety of hues ranging from orange and reds to brown, green and bluish-greens, even creams, depending on the concentration of its symbiotic algae, zooxanthellae. There is also a delicate rosy hue that has led to the common name Rose Bubble Tip Anemone. The shape of this anemone's tentacles are one of its most spectacular and peculiar features. The tentacles can inflate to form an attractive bulbous, or pear shaped enlargement just below the tip. They can also be without this swelling, more closely resembling the tentacles of the Long Tentacle Anemone Macrodactyla doreensis.

It is unknown exactly why a particular Bulb Tentacle Anemone may or may not inflate its tentacles. It has been suggested that the presence of a clownfish triggers them to inflate. The level of lighting is also suggested to possibly have an affect, as low illumination seems to encourage tentacles that are long and stringy. It is also suggested that they inflate after being fed. Although all of these conditions have been observed with particular anemones, none of them have proven to be conclusive.

In the wild, Bubble Tip Anemones can be found in shallower waters of the intertidal zone down to depths of 130 feet (40 m). Depending upon the location where they are found, they have two different types. Large colonies of the smaller Bubble-Tip Anemone are found in shallow waters while the larger specimens are solitary and found in deeper waters. Each type also hosts the specific species of clownfish living in the same area, that inhabits the same depth.

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


Pet Supply Comparison Shopping
Bubble Tip Anemone - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (189 L)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 83.0° F (22.2 to 28.3° C)
  • Size of organizm - inches: 12.0 inches (30.48 cm)
  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No

Habitat: Distribution / Background

Sea Anemone Facts: The Bubble Tip Anemone or Bulb Tentacle Anemone Entacmaea quadricolor was described by Ruppell and Leuckart in 1828. The Entacmaea genus is a member of the Actiniidae family. Some names they are known for are Bulb Anemone, Rose Bubble Tip Anemone, Four-Colored Anemone, Bulb Tip Anemone, Rose Anemone, Maroon Sea Anemone, and Maroon Anemone. This anemone is not on the IUCN Red List for endangered species.

Where are Sea Anemones Found: The Entacmaea quadricolor is found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean from the Red Sea to Samoa.

Sea Anemone Habitat: Bulb Tentacle Anemones are widespread and common. They are found in intertidal zones to depths of 130 feet (40 m). There are two variations of this anemone. The smaller anemones are found in shallow clear water reefs. These form dense colonies in waters that have gentle movement. The deeper water variations are found singly, yet are much larger. They are usually found with clownfish who form a symbiotic relationships for the protection and nourishment of both animals.

They bury their column into rocky crevices, quickly retracting if they feel threatened. 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.

  • Scientific Name: Entacmaea quadricolor
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed

Description

Appearance of a Sea Anemone: The Bubble Tip Anemone Entacmaea quadricolor has a pedal column, that has a sticky foot that they use to adhere to various surfaces. They also use this "foot" to move around if conditions are not ideal. The color is generally brown, tan, green, or bluish greens, but can also be cream pink, red, and brick red. There is also a delicate rosy hue that has led to the common name Rose Bubble-Tip Anemone.

The tentacles are all over the surface of the oral disc, with the mouth being in the center. These tentacles can be bulbous, usually with a pear-shape, or smooth and tapered. Even with a lot of research, it still has not been determined what causes the "bulbous" ends to form. The mouth should be closed and tight, and will open when hungry, having an oval look. A gaping mouth is a warning signal. The E. quadricolor take food in and expel waste through this same opening.

Sea Anemones Life Cycles: These anemones can grow up to 12" (30 cm). They have been bred in captivity, 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: 12.0 inches (30.48 cm)
  • Lifespan: - In captivity some have been known to live 80 years or more.

Difficulty of Care

Sea Anemone Care: The Bubble Tip Anemone can be moderate to care for because they do have high lighting needs and must be in a large enough aquarium to satisfy their ultimate size. Putting an anemone in a new tank will result in failure. The tank should be at least 1 year old and stable before adding your new E. quadricolor.

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 E. quadricolor anemone from another aquarium, use a thin blunt item like a credit card, gently wiggle it under the foot, slowly nudging it away from the glass. If its 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 also work.

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

Foods and Feeding

What Do Sea Anemones Eat: The Bubble Tip Anemone is a carnivore. In the wild, 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 clownfish. 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 E. quadricolor chopped silversides, shrimp, krill, and mussels, fresh chopped fish (from your grocery store), as well as frozen carnivore preparations. They need food 2 to 4 times a week. Younger ones and ones that are sick and have lost their zooxanthellae need almost daily feedings with food that is finely clopped. The old adage that anemones should be fed once a month is false and has led 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
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: All of Diet - They can be fed chopped silversides, shrimp, krill, and mussels, fresh chopped fish (from your grocery store), as well as frozen carnivore preparations.
  • Feeding Frequency: Weekly - They should be fed 2 to 4 times a week.

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 Bubble Tip 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 E. quadricolor. The anemone will bury its column into crevices in rock. If you have it on sand, put branches of coral down into the sand for it to attach to. Once it is secured, if it is happy it will generally stay put, but not always. This anemone will go where it is most comfortable after placing them, and it is known to wander about even when it isn't stressed or unhappy. With all anemones it's 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 83.0° F (22.2 to 28.3° C)
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: Middle - Place them from the middle to the top, depending on how strong the lighting is.

Social Behaviors

All anemones are semi-aggressive because they can be mobile, although a contented Bubble Tip 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 because corals cannot move away from the stinging tentacles. Once you have 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 also have been known to irritate and chew at E. quadricolor.

After splitting, anemones will tolerate their own "clones" and sometimes their own species. Bubble Tip Anemones are often found in dense colonies in the wild, and have been known to like to colonize its substrate in the aquarium. Different species of anemones in the tank need to be at least 2-3 feet away from each other. They 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. Having excellent filtration and a large tank (over 100 gallons), will usually allow 2 different anemone species at opposite ends to thrive. You can also build a natural blockade, 2 "pillars" with sand in between them, to help prevent them from wandering into each others "space".

If you want your anemone to host clown fish, 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.

It has been found in nature hosting the following 13 Clownfish species:

Additionally, in captivity it has been known to also host the following clownfish:

  • 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: Monitor
    • Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Monitor
    • Clams, Scallops, Oysters: Monitor
    • Crabs: Monitor
    • Snails: Monitor
    • Sea Apples, Cucumbers: Monitor
    • Urchins, Sand Dollars: Monitor
    • Nudibranch, Sea Slugs: Monitor
    • Copepods, Amphipods, Mini Brittle Stars: Monitor

Sex: Sexual differences

No sexual difference in appearance is known.

Breeding / Reproduction

The E. quadricolor have been bred in captivity. Anemones 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. At least on pair of Bubble-Tip Anemones has been reported to mouth brood. This is where the Bubble-Tip Anemone will brood juvenile anemones for a few days within the oral cavity before releasing them into the water. This supplies the embryos with their first zooxanthellae. When released, the embryos or planula float and then connect and start out as a fully formed anemone, or with the zooxanthellae, may be able to travel some distance without feeding.

Propagating the Bubble-Tip anemone is fairly easy, yet needs to be done in a clean system.

  • Your anemone must be in good health.
  • It is always best to have recently done a large water change to your main tank before propagation. Wait a day and then put this water into a "recovery" tank if desired.
  • Remove the animal to a clean, non-slippery and damp surface, mouth side up.
  • Using sharp scissors or a scalpel, cut the anemone in half right down the center, through the mouth. This results in 2 equal halves. If it is large enough, 4 individuals can be made.
  • If it is attached to a rock, another method is to just cut though the center of the mouth on one side only (do this long-ways, running with the length of the mouth), encouraging the anemone to finish the "split".
  • Place your new "pieces" into a moderately sized "recovery" tank. Use the same water as the main display (as you did a large water change, you would use this cleaner water).
  • Do 20% water changes a few days after after this little surgery.
  • If they were on a rock, put that same rock in the recovery tank for them to reattach.

If your tank is very large, over 100 gallons, then a 30-40% water change before the cut will help in recovery. Place them back on their favorite rock if they detached, since this will encourage reattachment. It would be prudent to wash your hands if you didn't use gloves. Within a few days your anemone should have started to wrap around and heal itself. Do not feed or bother it during this time and keep Clown fish away, if you have any in your tank.

  • Ease of Breeding: Moderate

Ailments / Diseases

Problems for this 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.

Availability

The Bubble Tip Anemone or Bulb Tentacle Anemone E. quadricolor is easy to find in stores and online. The cost online starts at about $29.00 USD and goes up depending on size and color. Rose Bubble Tip Anemones start at about $65.00 USD and up.

References



Author: Clarice Brough CFS, Carrie McBirney
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Lastest Animal Stories on Bubble Tip Anemone

Fishnerd2000 - 2014-03-18
I'm wondering if I can get a snowflake eel with my two tomato clowns, bubble tip, and African red starfish? Will it irritate them if I get the snowflake?

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-03-20
    The eel won't eat the anemones, but it will eat the starfish. Initially compatiblity will not be a problem with the fish as they occupy different areas, with the clowns in the anemone and the eel hiding in the rockwork. Over time however, the eel can grow up to about 40' and protein is its diet, so eventually the clownfish may become a snack if they are small enough to fit in the eels mouth.
  • Fishnerd2000 - 2014-03-21
    I don't think so, the eel is not bothering anything and it only gets to 24 inches. Also the clowns are too big, I think it's going to be fine.
  • Fishnerd2000 - 2014-03-24
    Also snowflake eels don't typically get more than 12 inches in a 55 gal and it's very rare for it to happen but thanks for the info anyways.
Reply
Fishnerd2000 - 2014-03-22
Ok I have 55 gal tank with an African star, a snowflake eel, and two tomato clowns. Sadly my anemone died for some reason but I'm wondering if I could get a Niger trigger fish? If not what fish can go with them? I've heard tomato clowns are not nice to other fish but they didn't do CRAP when I had Daniels..... PLEASE HELP ME HERE.

Reply
rob krausse - 2014-01-26
I think I killed mine!!!
Got mine the other day. Took awhile to open and close; feed it yesterday but today it is inside out. Looks like it is shedding with a lot of mucous; anybody ever have this happen?

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-01-26
    Yes, I have had them turn inside out. It's usually either because it was very stressed when you got it, or the tank conditions were not to it's liking. Check with your supplier, they may get you a replacement.
  • Clarice Brough - 2014-01-26
    Yes, I have had them turn inside out. It's usually either because it was very stressed when you got it, or the tank conditions were not to it's liking. Check with your supplier, they may get you a replacement.
  • Clarice Brough - 2014-01-26
    Yes, I have had them turn inside out. It's usually either because it was very stressed when you got it, or the tank conditions were not to it's liking. Check with your supplier, they may get you a replacement.
Reply
MaryM - 2013-05-17
I bought a bubble tip anenome yesterday and woke this morning to a disaster. The anenome had committed suicide. Sometime in the night it crawled into my wave fan and got shredded. Will it come back or is it dead? And when I tried to remove it from my fan, I made it worse. And now my hand feels weird. What can I do, if anything?

  • Jeremy Roche - 2013-05-17
    That little creature that Nemo has such trouble pronouncing correctly looks like a flower buried on the bottom of the ocean floor. They can be beautiful to look at; less beautiful to come into contact with. Those mesmerizing tentacles that wave back and forth are actually adorned with very unpleasant stinging cells that when you step on them with your foot or brush against them with a bare arm while diving can be just as painful as having a jellyfish slip up your swimsuit and sting your frank and beans. The treatment for a sting provided by a sea anemone is the same as a jellyfish. Avoiding the temptation to rub the affected area, stay away from fresh water, and make that paste or use alcohol.
Reply
Justin Dancing Hawk - 2011-09-12
I just got a lovely and HUGE Green Bubble tipped anemone with reddish tips on its tentacles. It's gorgeous and is hosting a small Maroon Clownfish that's absolutely adorable! I've been calling him "Little Red" and come to think of it, that sort of Honors Mr. Red Skelton and that is surely something I am highly pleased to do! He filled my childhood with many hours of delight while my family faithfully watched his show every week without fail! I've been naming my Clownfish after famous clowns. My Tomato Clownfish is named "Emmitt" ( I wasn't sure of the spelling ! LOL! ) after the wonderful Emmitt Kelly. My new Anemone is at least 5 inches. I couldn't tell at first just how big it was because it is in a fake rock that I'm currently trying hard to evict it from so I can return it to the store, since it is a very undesired feature! You can imagine my delight when I discovered I'd just gotten a smoking deal ( $20 bucks !! ) on this huge anemone!! GOD I love Petco!! LOL!

  • Anonymous - 2012-04-24
    Can a bubble tip anemone(green) fit into a 14G?
  • Thomas Herrick - 2012-10-17
    I wouldn't trust Petco with purchases on live creatures. Since they don't receive DIRECT shipments, the percentage of receiving a creature with certain ailments (I bought a beautiful Coral Beauty Angelfish, only to see the small white dots, that were invariably Marine Ick, on it,) SKYROCKETS. By the time I treated the water, and did hyposalinity treatments, half of my fish were wiped out. As far as anemones go, I haven't had particular issues with any (Condylactis, Green Bubble Tip, Rosebud, and Sebae anemones.) HOWEVER, keep in mind that parasites can often latch on to anemones (even though they provide no nutrition,) until they find themselves being put into your tank. Remain cautious, and try your best to refrain from purchasing live aquaria from CHAIN stores. Other than that, hope your system is doing well.
  • Fishnerd2000 - 2014-03-18
    I have two tomato clowns, a bubble tip, and an African red starfish. The clowns had ick and then the ick disappeared and I got them from Petco. I trust them a lot.
  • Fishnerd2000 - 2014-03-22
    Though I trust my Pedro in r Eau Claire WI I wouldn't trust shipping though. I would just go to the store make it easy.
Reply

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