Curlique Anemone - Curly-Cue Anemone

Curly Cue Anemone, Ringed Anemone, Corkscrew Anemone

Curlique Anemone, Bartholomea annulata, Curly-Cue Anemone, Ringed Anemone, Corkscrew AnemoneBartholomea annulataPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough

The Curlique Anemone is very attractive, but just like its Glass Anemone cousins, this guy retracts into its hole in a flash if bothered!

The Curlique Anemone Bartholomea annulata is one of the several interesting variations of anemones that are easy to care for and reproduce quickly in the Aiptasiidae family. They are brown or tan and have very long thin ringed or spotted tentacles that can extend far from the base. Though similar in appearance to the Aiptasia genus of Glass Anemones, which are also in this family, the Curly-Cue is a much larger anemone.

A number of scientific studies have determined that both these anemones and 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 and kill and eat fish and shrimp. Of the two, the small Aiptasia glass anemones don't have a very good reputation. 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. The Curlique or Corkscrew Anemone, being quite a bit larger and easier to control, doesn't have the same bad reputation.

With cute names like "Curley-Cue Anemone" or "Curly Q Anemone", hobbyists are encouraged to purchase this anemone. It is quite cool looking and inexpensive, but there are a couple cautions to keep in mind. The Curlique Anemone is an aggressive anemone. It can kill and eat fish as well as other anemones. Though not suitable clownfish hosts, this is a safe ornamental anemone for most reef tanks. Just keep in mind these anemones will sting everything they can reach. Fortunately they usually stay in one place and don't move around much. This can be a great anemone for reef tanks if you are careful with their placement, and keep other invertebrates out of their reach.

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

Geographic Distribution
Bartholomea annulata
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Curlique Anemone, Bartholomea annulata

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Close up and personal

Related to the Aiptasia or Glass Anemone, the Curlique Anemone is also a quick draw into it's crack or crevice when disturbed. Unlike the pest anemone, it will not multiply as fast. They will also stay put if they have proper light, food and water movement that is not strong as this will prevent it from opening fully. They are not clown hosting anemones, but have a beauty all their own. Provide a tank that is at least 50 gallons and feed them what you would feed any anemone and feed several times a week. This anemone will split and form clones.

Curlique Anemone - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (189 L)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 79.0° F (22.2 to 26.1° C)
  • Size of organism - inches: 11.0 inches (27.94 cm)
  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No

Habitat: Distribution / Background

Sea Anemone Facts: The Bartholomea genus was described by Lesieur in 1817. The Bartholomea genus belongs to the Aiptasiidae family, and this genus contains 4 species. This species, Bartholomea annulata, is most commonly know as Curlique Anemone, Curly-Cue Anemone, Ringed Anemone, and Corkscrew Anemone. However there are quite a number of other very similar name spellings, and a few other descriptive names you may see it called by as well. These include the Curleycue Anemone, Curlicue anemone, Curly Q Anemone, Curlycue Anemone, Curly Sea Anemone, Trumpet Anemone, and Rock Anemone. This anemone is not on the IUCN Red List for endangered species.

Where are Sea Anemones Found: The Bartholomea Anemones are found in the Western Atlantic Ocean in the Caribbean from Bermuda to South America.

Sea Anemone Habitat: In their natural habitat, these anemones are found alone in lagoons and bays that are sandy/muddy with their foot completely buried within the sand on top of a solid surface, and among Halimeda populations. They also are found under rock ledges as well. Found at depths from 3 to 130 feet (1-40 m), they await an unsuspecting fish or crustacean to invite to dinner.

Sea Anemone Species: General common names Bartholomea anemones are known by are Ringed Anemone, Curleycue Anemone, Aiptasia Anemone, and Pest Anemone. Common names of other well known Bartholomea species include:

  • Bartholomea sp. = Curliycue Anemone, Curley-cue Anemone
  • Bartholomea lucida = Knobby Anemone
  • Scientific Name: Bartholomea annulata
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed


Appearance of a Sea Anemone: The Curly-Cue Anemones have a pedal column and a sticky foot that they use to adhere to rock and other surfaces. They also use this "foot" to move around if conditions are not ideal. The tentacles are on the outer margin of the oral disc, with the mouth being in the center. They can be 8-11" (20-30 cm) in diameter, yet the 200 tentacles can stretch way beyond the base. Quick as a whip, the Corkscrew Anemone will rapidly retract its tentacles and become a very small ball. It will retract into its hole or crevice if it feels threatened.

The color of the Curlique Anemone or Ringed Anemone is brown or tan, due to an algae called zooxanthellae living in its tissue. The tentacles are brown to brownish violet and tend to be translucent. With corkscrew markings or spotting on the tentacles, the anemone appears "fuzzy" or "curly," which is one of its most endearing qualities.

Sea Anemones Life Cycles: 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. That doesn't count all the clones they will make as the years progress.

  • Size of organism - inches: 11.0 inches (27.94 cm) - Their base can reach 11" in diameter, however their 200 tentacles can stretch way beyond the base.
  • Lifespan: - It is unknown how long they live, but in captivity anemones have been known to last more than 80 years.

Difficulty of Care

Sea Anemone Care: The Curly-Cue Anemone or Corkscrew Anemone can be moderate in difficulty to care for. They do have good lighting needs and will do fine in most reef conditions. Putting an anemone in a new tank will result in failure. The tank should be at least 4 months old and stable before adding your new Bartholomea anemone.

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. Using a very thin blunt item like a credit card, wiggle it under the foot and slowly nudge it away to get the anemone off the glass. On a rock, well, you will never get it off and you would need to purchase the rock as well.

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

Foods and Feeding

What Do Sea Anemones Eat: The Curlique Anemone is a carnivore. In the wild they eat fish, mussels and small crustaceans. In captivity you can feed your anemone chopped silversides, shrimp, krill, and mussels, fresh chopped fish (from your grocery store), as well as frozen carnivore preparations. They need to be fed 2 to 4 times a week.

  • 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, yet the more nutrients you have the happier it will be. One average sized Curlique 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 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 anemone. They need live rock or some other solid material they can attach to. Provide some rock crevices as well as rocky overhangs as they do best living in areas where they can pull back and be hidden when they feel threatened. 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: 50 gal (189 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Amount
  • Substrate Type: Sand
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal 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

The Curlique Anemone is an aggressive anemone that can kill and eat fish, as well as other anemones. They do well in an environment that is specifically designed for their needs. After splitting, anemones will tolerate their own "clones" and sometimes their own species. In the wild they are often a host to a variety of commensal shrimp

Be very careful when keeping this anemone with any other anemones, corals, or fish. They are not suitable clown fish hosts and clownfish can be eaten, as can any other fish that happens by and gets caught. This is a safe ornamental anemone for most reef tanks. Just keep in mind these anemones will sting everything they can reach, including corals and other invertebrates. Fortunately they usually stay in one place and don't move around much. This can be a great anemone for reef tanks if you are careful with their placement, and keep other invertebrates out of their reach.

  • Venomous: Yes
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Sometimes
    • 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
    • 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
    • Stony Corals: Threat - is aggressive
    • Soft Corals: Threat - is aggressive

Sex: Sexual differences

No sexual difference in appearance is known.

Breeding / Reproduction

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. Like other anemones in the B. Annulata, they can multiply by fission.

The Bartholomea anemones are known to easily reproduce in captivity, but there is not much information on breeding these anemones. The following procedures have worked with some anemones and may work for these:

  • Your anemone must be in good health.
  • It is always best to have done a large water change before propagation.
  • 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.
  • Place your 2 halves in a "recovery" tank with the same water as the main display.

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.

  • Ease of Breeding: Easy

Ailments / Diseases

Problems for the Curlique Anemone or Ringed 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.


The Curlique Anemone, Curly-Cue Anemone, or Ringed Anemone B. annulata is easy to find in stores and online and is inexpensive. The cost online is around $4.00 for two.


Author: Clarice Brough CFS, Carrie McBirney
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