Caribbean Carpet Anemone
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Caribbean Carpet Anemone

Sun Anemone, Caribbean Sea anemone

Caribbean Carpet Anemone, Stichodactyla helianthus, Sun Anemone, Caribbean Carpet AnemoneStichodactyla helianthusPhoto Wiki Commons, courtesy Line1.
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A carpet anemone without a Clownfish is like cookies without milk!... but the Caribbean Carpet Anemone does not host clownfish!

The Caribbean Carpet Anemone Stichodactyla helianthus hails from Atlantic waters where clownfish do not live, so it does not host clown fish. Yet this anemone does host over 40 different invertebrates and fishes. Included in the invertebrate mix are the Banded Clinging Crab Mithrax cinctimanus and the Sexy Anemone Shrimp Thor amboinensis.

This Carpet Anemone, also known as the Sun Anemone, is a smaller carpet with a maximum size only up to 12" (30 cm). Carpet Anemones grow wide rather than tall and are covered with many short tentacles that make them look like a "plush" or "shaggy" carpet, thus the name. This anemone has a sticky feel and slightly longer tentacles than other carpets, but still has a flattened appearance.

It has a look similar to its Indo-Pacific cousin, the Saddle Carpet Anemone Stichodactyla Haddoni, and like its relative it is a fairly durable species. Compared to the Saddle Anemone, it folds its oral disc relatively little and its sticky tentacles have a stronger sting. Also, it doesn't have as much color, but this smaller Carpet Anemone makes a fine ornamental anemone in the aquarium. Its tentacles are green, brown, or a gray green.

This is one of the hardier carpet anemones. Its care requirements are similar to those of the Giant Carpet Anemone S. gigantea. Unlike the Giant Carpet however, it is inappropriate as a clown fish anemone. It has a sting that can and does harm other aquarium life and it will eat fish. Provide this anemone with good water quality, a moderate to slow water movement, and a deep sandy substrate. In general if a Caribbean Carpet Anemone is not moving about, it is happy.

These anemones use their venomous cells or nematocysts found in their tentacles to sting and deflect any possible threats or attacks. Some predators of the Sun Anemone can be other anemones, nudibranchs, sea stars and some angelfish, triggers and large wrasses.


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Caribbean Carpet Anemone - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Size of organizm - inches: 12.0 inches (30.48 cm)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Minimum Tank Size: 100 gal (379 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8° C)
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Habitat: Distribution / Background

Sea Anemone Facts: The Caribbean Carpet Anemone, also known as the Sun Anemone, Stichodactyla helianthus was described by Ellis in 1768. The Stichodactyla genus is a member of the Stichodactylidae family and this genus contains 6 species. Some other names they are known for are Caribbean sea anemone and Caribbean Sun Anemone. This anemone is not on the IUCN Red List for endangered species.

Where are Sea Anemones Found: The S. helianthus is found in the tropical West Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean.

Sea Anemone Habitat: These anemones dwell in shallow and sandy protected areas at depths of 3 to 30 feet (1 to 10 m). This anemone hosts a plethora of different invertebrates and fish species, though not clownfish. They use their venomous cells or nematocysts found in their tentacles to sting and deflect any possible threats or attacks. Some predators can be other anemones, nudibranchs, sea stars and some angelfish, triggers and large wrasses.

  • Scientific Name: Stichodactyla helianthus
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed

Description

Appearance of a Sea Anemone: The Caribbean Carpet Anemone Stichodactyla helianthus has a pedal column that is often relatively narrow with a sticky foot that they use to adhere to rocks below the sand..The also use this "foot" to move around if conditions are not ideal. The color can be green, brown, or green-gray. Tentacles are short and stubby, measuring 6 mm.

This Sun Anemone has a lot less folding on the oral disc than others in its genus. At first glance it looks more like a mushroom, a BIG mushroom. As with all anemones the mouth is in the center. The mouth should be closed and tight, and will open when hungry, having an oval look, yet a gaping mouth is a warning signal. The S. helianthus takes food in, and expels waste through this same opening.

Sea Anemones Life Cycles: The Caribbean Sea Anemone is a smaller carpet that only reaches about to 12" (30 cm) in diameter. It is unknown how long they live, some anemones can be hundreds of years old in the wild, and in captivity have been known to last decades. The S. helianthus have not been bred in captivity and rarely do they split on their own.

  • Size of organizm - inches: 12.0 inches (30.48 cm)
  • Lifespan: - It is unknown how long they live, some anemones can be hundreds of years old in the wild, and in captivity have been known to live for decades.

Difficulty of Care

Sea Anemone Care: The Caribbean Carpet Anemone is a relatively hardy carpet anemone. It can be moderately difficult 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 12 months old and stable before adding your new S. helianthus.

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 remove an S. helianthus from another aquarium when it is stuck on the glass, 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.

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

Foods and Feeding

What Do Sea Anemones Eat: The Caribbean Carpet Anemone is a carnivore. Stichodactyla anemones are well equipped with nutritional alternatives for their well-being. In the wild 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. This is usually blind prey like urchins, snails, crabs, shrimps, as well as small fish that come into range. They absorb nutrients from the water around them and they consume wastes from resident animals like clownfish. For their well-being 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 S. helianthus chopped silversides, shrimp, krill, and mussels, fresh chopped fish (from your grocery store), as well as frozen carnivore preparations. It is sufficient to feed them 2 to 4 times a week, and this avoids overfeeding.

  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • 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 2-4 times per 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. A Caribbean Carpet Anemone (6" to 8") is equal to 3 or 4 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 are suggested. Keeping salinity stable with a top off mechanism is highly suggested. Control phosphates with products such as Phosban and the Phosban reactor.

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

Aquarium Setup

The typical live rock/reef environment is what is needed for a Caribbean Carpet Anemone. Provide wide, yet not too heavy rock on top of a 4" sand bed. Make sure there are cracks or crevices between the rocks for them to squeeze through. They will want to bury their foot in the sand while adhering to a hard surface below. You can make a little "pocket" to get them started burying their foot.

Once it is secured, 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, also make sure you are feeding it adequately. A good protein skimmer is a must. 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: 100 gal (379 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Amount
  • Substrate Type: Sand
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting - They need moderate to high lighting.
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8° 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 Caribbean Carpet 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 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, triggers and large wrasses.

With the Caribbean Sea Anemone, it is generally recommended that you don't put any other anemones in the same tank. 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 200 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".

The experience of almost every Carpet Anemone owner is that most of their fish will eventually be eaten. However there are some animals which have been recorded as being associated with these anemones.The Caribbean Carpet Anemone is known to host up to 40 different invertebrates and fish species, but not clownfish. A couple invertebrates it has also been known to associate are the Banded Clinging Crab Mithrax cinctimanus and the Sexy Anemone Shrimp Thor amboinensis.

  • Venomous: Yes
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Sometimes - They will tolerate their own clones and sometimes others of their own species.
    • 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 S. helianthus have not been bred in captivity and rarely do they split on their own. Propagating is not recommended. 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, and then begin to grow into a new anemone.

Fish Diseases

Problems for the Caribbean Carpet 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. With any change in shape, color, or other indications that there is a problem, you need to check your lighting and water quality. If there are any non-reef type fish in the aquarium, like large wrasses, look for possible attack marks. Some predators can be other anemones, nudibranchs, sea stars and some angelfish, triggers and large wrasses.

Availability

The Caribbean Carpet Anemone S. helianthus is easy to find in stores and online. The cost online can start from $10.00 USD and up depending on size and color.

References



Author: Clarice Brough CFS, Carrie McBirney

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