North American Tube Anemone
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North American Tube Anemone

American Tube Dwelling Anemone, Burrowing Mud Anemone, Sloppy Gut Anemone

North American Tube Anemone, Ceriantheopsis americanus, American Tube Dwelling Anemone, Burrowing Mud Anemone, Sloppy Gut AnemoneCeriantheopsis americanus
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The North American Tube Anemone is typically a deep water species, found in depths down to 227 feet (70 m)!

The North American Tube Anemone Ceriantheopsis americanus has a long, soft, cylindrical body with a pointed foot on one end and is topped with a crown of tentacles on the other. It uses its pointed foot to burrow deep into muddy substrates, thus the common name of Burrowing Mud Anemone. Once in the substrate it builds a tube in a vertical burrow as much as 18 in (45 cm) deep to live in.

The name ' tube dwelling anemone' is derived from their ability to build a tube to live in. It was previously believed that they created their tube by releasing a mucus, which then becomes covered with sand. Today, however, it is known that they create the tube by releasing threads of a special type of nematocyst called a 'ptychocyst'. The result is a woven fibrous structure of stinging cells that help protect it from attack. Though its tentacles are non-retractable, if it is frightened or touched it can instantly withdraw its whole body into the tube for safety.

Only the oral disc and tentacles of The North American Tube Anemone extend from the tube. It is very pretty, with distinctive tentacles. Around the central mouth of its disc are short tentacles, and there are two rings of really long delicate, wispy tentacles on the outer margin. It spreads its longer tentacles over the surface of the mud or sand to capture prey, and then uses the smaller tentacles to manipulate the food into its mouth. Usually they are cream colored, but can range from brown or tan to shades of purplish red. At the base of the tentacles is a purple or plum color, with the long outer tentacles being whitish to pink and the inner ones becoming a deep peach.

Depending on where the anemone originates it can be either a cold or warm water specimen. As they can be difficult to care for, they are recommended for advanced aquarists. They need a good sized aquarium with a very deep sandy substrate to accommodate their burrowing behavior and ability to expand quite wide. They also require good quality water and may need a chiller. If their needs are met, they will reward the aquarist with an interesting glimpse into their secretive world. Be sure to provide plenty of room for tank mates to help them stay out of reach of the anemones stinging tentacles. They are not compatible with other anemone species.

For more facts about Tube-Dwelling Anemones, see:
Tube Anemone - Burrowing Sea Anemone


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North American Tube Anemone - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (189 L)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Temperature: 60.0 to 82.0° F (15.6 to 27.8° C)
  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No

Habitat: Distribution / Background

Sea Anemone Facts: The North American Tube Anemone Ceriantheopsis americanus was described by Agassiz in Verrill, in 1864. The Ceriantheopsis genus is a member of the Cerianthidae family. Some other common names it is known for are the American Tube Anemone, Burrowing Mud Anemone, American Tube Dwelling Anemone, Sloppy Gut Anemone, Burrowing Anemone, and Tube Sea Anemone. The Ceriantheopsis genus consists of about 4 species including this species, C. americana, C. brasiliensis, and C. nikitai. The Ceriantheopsis americanus is not on the IUCN Red List for endangered species.

Where are Sea Anemones Found: The Ceriantheopsis americanus are found in the North Atlantic off the northern east coast of the United States from Cape Cod south into the Gulf of Mexico, in the Caribbean and in the West Indies.

Sea Anemone Habitat: They are typically a cold water species, found in inter tidal zones at depths down to 227 feet (70 m). They burrow deep into muddy or sandy bottoms, dwelling in vertical tubes as much as 18 in (45 cm) deep with only the oral disc and tentacles extending from the tube.

  • Scientific Name: Ceriantheopsis americanus
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed

Description

Appearance of a Sea Anemone: The American Tube Dwelling Anemone differs from true sea anemones both internally and externally. External differences are apparent. Unlike true anemones, they have 2 different sets of tentacles on their oral disc and they lack a pedal disc foot used to attach to surfaces. They also differ from many true anemones in that they lack zooxanthellae.

The C. americanus has a long and cylindrical, somewhat worm-like body that does not have a foot, but a blunt point. They deflate and condense their body to drive into mud or sand. Once in the substrate they construct a very long tube. This structure is fibrous, with woven threads of stinging cells to help protect it from attack.They do not form a "ball" like other anemones do to hide, rather they retract into their "tube." Disturbances that can cause it to retract are sudden illumination, a strong touch, and excessive feeding. Usually they are cream colored, but can range from brown or tan to shades of purplish red.

This tube anemone has an oral disc with a crown of more than 100 tapering, non retractable tentacles, and a mouth in the center. The tentacles are of two different types. One type consists of really long delicate, wispy tentacles arranged in two rows around the margin of the oral disc. The other type are shorter labial tentacles over the mouth that are used to manipulate foods. The C. americanus takes food in, and expels waste through its central cavity, or mouth.

It spreads its longer tentacles over the surface of the mud or sand to capture prey, and then uses the smaller tentacles to manipulate the food into its mouth. At the base of the tentacles is a purple or plum color, with the long outer tentacles being whitish to pink and the inner ones becoming a deep peach. Testing the potency of the toxins in these tube anemones has shown that they have little effect on test subjects, unlike true anemones, which have lethal effects. Tube Anemones use these bioluminescent tentacles to startle fish, thus keeping fish from nibbling on them.

Sea Anemones Life Cycles: Ceriantheopsis americanus can reach up to 14 in (36 cm) in length and its vertical burrow as much as 18 in (45 cm) deep. It is unknown how long they live, but some species have been known to survive in captivity for more than 30 years.

  • Size of organizm - inches: - They can reach up to 14 in (36 cm) in length and its vertical burrow can grow as much as 18 in (45 cm) deep.
  • Lifespan: - It is unknown how long they live, but some species have been known to survive in captivity for more than 30 years.

Difficulty of Care

Sea Anemone Care: The North American Tube anemones in general can be difficult to care for, so are recommended for advanced aquarists. Their care difficulty comes in part because each species will have specific needs depending on where they originate from. They require a lot of space and must be in a large enough aquarium to satisfy their burrowing behavior and ultimate size.

When choosing a C. americanus, make sure the color is good, the mouth is not gaping open, and that there are no tears. When being removed from another aquarium, a healthy specimen should immediately retract, ejecting the water from its mouth.

Check that the tube is intact and in good condition. If the tube is missing, that can create challenges. Although they can regrow the tube, it takes a lot of energy that sometimes will deplete the animal into a weakened condition. If they have difficulty creating a tube, you can provide a section of acrylic tubing for it to live in. Place the tubing at an angle in the sand, but be certain that both ends are unobstructed and there are no sharp edges.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Difficult
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Foods and Feeding

What Do Sea Anemones Eat: The Burrowing Mud Anemone is a carnivore. Feed your anemone finely minced krill, fish, shrimp and/or frozen or live brine or mysis shrimp. Feed nightly unless you have a lot of copepods, amphipods and other small prey, then you can feed twice a week. Be careful not to feed with large pieces of food because it will damage the delicate tentacles.

  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Meaty Food: All of Diet - They can be fed finely minced krill, fish, shrimp and/or frozen or live brine or mysis shrimp.
  • Feeding Frequency: Daily - Feed them nightly.

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 with a sand substrate is what is needed for your North American Tube Anemone. They must have a very deep fine sand substrate, with enough depth to accommodate their total length. Hitting a bare bottom, as well as trying to burrow through course gravel (rice sized or larger), will prevent the C. americanus from finding a spot to burrow and settle. This can cause them to stress and die.

The sand needs to be quite deep, just a couple inches of sand is not enough. A trick when you don't have a deep enough substrate is to use a PVC tube that is 1.5 times longer than the animal. Place the animal's tube into the pipe about 4/5's of the way, pour fine sand around the animal, and fill to the top. Gluing a solid base at the bottom end will prevent the sand from coming out if you have to move it. Some aquarist also suggest pots, or built up areas on one side of the aquarium. Be sure their delicate tentacles are not within reach of power heads.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (189 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Amount
  • Substrate Type: Sand - They need a deep fine sand substrate to accommodate their total length.
  • Lighting Needs: Low - subdued lighting - Low actinic lighting brings out their colors.
  • Temperature: 60.0 to 82.0° F (15.6 to 27.8° C)
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG
  • Water Movement: Weak
  • Water Region: Bottom

Social Behaviors

The North American Tube Anemone is semi-aggressive, yet as far as "anemone" type corals go, they do not have as powerful of a sting as true anemones. Several North American Tube Anemone specimens can be kept in an aquarium, but they are not compatible with other anemone species. Care should be taken to provide other corals with plenty of room. Make sure when the North American Tube Anemone comes out at night, their tentacles do not come in contact with delicate corals.

  • Venomous: Yes
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes
    • Anemones: Threat
    • Mushroom Anemones - Corallimorphs: Monitor
    • Leather Corals: Monitor

Sex: Sexual differences

The C. americanus are hermaphrodites, meaning each specimen develops as both male and female. At a smaller size it is a male. After crossing over to a larger size/age, it will turn into a female.

Breeding / Reproduction

The American Tube Dwelling Anemones reproduce sexually with the female being larger than the male. Unlike the true anemones, they do not reproduce through asexual means such as fission, where the anemone is divided or split into parts to create a new anemone. North American Tube Anemones are hermaphrodites, meaning they are both male and female.  Although each animal can produce both eggs and sperm, they do not produce them at the same time, so it takes two specimens to produce a zygote. The Zygote is a fertilized egg, the beginnings of a new North American Tube Anemone.

In the wild, they first release sperm and then eggs into the water column, where cross fertilization takes place. It is believed the larvae live in plankton for a quite a long time, and then settle into the sand and construct a tube. How they provide brood care is not fully known, though some species have a tentacled larval stage that extends into the planktonic phase. Fertilized eggs have been spawned in the laboratory.

  • Ease of Breeding: - Fertilized eggs have been spawned in the laboratory.

Ailments / Diseases

Problems for the Sloppy Gut Anemone are pretty minimal if they are provided with an adequate environment and fed regularly. There is not a lot known about potential ailments, these anemones seem to be either alive and very well, or dead.

Availability

Buy A Sea Anemone: The Ceriantheopsis genus is hard to find in stores and online. Usually they will be sold under "Tube Anemones" without the proper scientific name. You will need to inquire as to their origin in order to determine how to care for them properly, in terms of water temperature.

References



Author: Clarice Brough CFS
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