North Sea Tube Anemone

Lesser Cylinder Anemone, Orange Tube Anemone

Submit a picture of your North Sea Tube AnemoneCerianthus lloydii

The pretty North Sea Tube Anemone offers a great display option for a large cold water aquarium!

The North Sea Tube Anemone Cerianthus lloydii, also known as the Lesser Cylinder Anemone, shares the unique traits of all the tube dwelling anemones. Its soft body has an elongated cone-shape, with a pointed foot on one end and an oral disc crowned with tentacles on the other. It uses the pointed foot to burrow deep into a sandy or muddy substrate, leaving only the oral disc and tentacles exposed on the surface.

Once in the substrate, the North Sea Tube Anemone constructs a hard tube to live in. It was previously believed that they created their tube by releasing a mucus, which then become 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 disturbed it can instantly withdraw its whole body into the tube and hide.

This anemone, sometimes called an Orange Tube Anemone, is appreciated for its beauty and durability. It comes in a variety of colors making it a prized display in a cold water aquarium. Its column can be brownish or a pretty light yellow, topped with tentacles that are brown, white, or green, sometimes sporting dark brown bands, and at times can be orange in color.

The Lesser Cylinder Anemone is a relatively hardy and durable animal when provided with the right environment. They need to be kept in a good sized aquarium with a deep sand substrate to accommodate their burrowing behavior and ability to expand quite wide. Being a cold water species, a chiller is also needed to maintain optimum health. They will thrive with moderate filtration, low current, subdued lighting, and feedings twice a week.

They can be kept with large fish, but be sure to provide plenty of room for tank mates to keep them out of reach of its stinging tentacles. They get along fine with their own kind as long as only the tips of their tentacles touch. In the wild, they form dense lawn-like colonies.

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

North Sea Tube Anemone, Cerianthus lloydii

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Species specific tank display

The North Sea or Orange Tube Anemone are one of the easier tube anemones to care for. The orange can be brought out with 20K or actinic lighting. They do not need strong lighting but they need very gentle water movement and a deep stand bed to bury their tube that they live in. Some have successfully used PVC that is 1.5 times as long and as wide as the anemone with the bottom closed off. Put in the anemone in 4/5s of the way and back fill with mature sugar fine sand. Be mindful where the anemone is placed as it will grow and open quite wide, although it may look small now.

North Sea Tube Anemone - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (189 L)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Temperature: 50.0 to 65.0° F (10.0 to 18.3° C)
  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No

Habitat: Distribution / Background

Sea Anemone Facts: The North Sea Tube Anemone Cerianthus lloydii was described by Gosse in 1859. The Cerianthus genus is a member of the Cerianthidae family and this genus contains 3 species. Some other common names it is known for are the Lesser Cylinder Anemone, Orange Tube Anemone, and Tube Anemone. The Cerianthus lloydii is not on the IUCN Red List for endangered species.

Where are Sea Anemones Found: This anemone is found in the North Atlantic/Baltic Seas and North Sea.

Sea Anemone Habitat: They are found at depths of 65 - 131 feet (20 - 40m), though occasionally as deep as 328 feet (100 m). They are found most populated in waters where the plankton is very dense. They inhabit soft substrates like sand and mud where they form dense lawn-like colonies, although they can also be found in rock crevices.

  • Scientific Name: Cerianthus lloydii
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed


Appearance of a Sea Anemone: The North Sea Tube 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. lloydii has a long and cylindrical, somewhat cone-like, body that does not have a foot, but a blunt point. They deflate and condense their body to drive into sand or mud. 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 direct sunlight, a strong touch, and excessive feeding.

The Lesser Cylinder Anemone has an oral disc with a crown of more than 70 tapering, non retractable tentacles, and a mouth in the center. The tentacles are of two different types. One type is the long feeding tentacles arranged in several 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. lloydii takes food in, and expels waste through its central cavity, or mouth.

Its column can be brownish or a pretty light yellow, topped with tentacles that are brown, white, or green, sometimes sporting dark brown bands, and at times can be orange in color. Testing the potency of the toxins in Tube Anemones have shown that they have little effect on test subjects, unlike true anemones, which have lethal effects. Tube Anemones use their bioluminescent tentacles to startle fish, thus keeping fish from nibbling on them.

Sea Anemones Life Cycles: Cerianthus lloydii can reach 6" (15 cm) with the tube being 15" (40 cm) long, and tentacles that can be up to 2" (5 cm). It is unknown how long they live, but some tube anemones have lived over 100 years in captivity.

  • Size of organism - inches: - They can reach 6" (15 cm) with the tube being 15" (40 cm) long, and tentacles that can be up to 2" (5 cm).
  • Lifespan: - It is unknown how long they live, but some tube anemones have lived over 100 years in captivity.

Difficulty of Care

Sea Anemone Care: North Sea Tube Anemones can be moderate to care for because they do have specific needs. They need a cold water environment and they require a lot of space. They must be in a large enough aquarium to satisfy their burrowing behavior and their ultimate size.

When choosing a C. lloydii, 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: Moderately Difficult
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

Foods and Feeding

What Do Sea Anemones Eat: The North Sea Tube 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, and 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 - Feed them 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 Lesser Cylinder Anemone, but it must be a cold water reef. It is a good idea to invest in a chiller before you obtain one of these guys. They must also 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. lloydii from finding a spot to burrow and settle in. This can cause them to stress and die.

The sand needs to be quite deep. 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 aquarists 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 must have a very deep fine sand substrate, with enough depth to accommodate their total length.
  • Lighting Needs: Low - subdued lighting - Low, actinic lighting brings out their colors.
  • Temperature: 50.0 to 65.0° F (10.0 to 18.3° C)
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG
  • Water Movement: Weak - Low, as too much turbulence can cause them to get washed out of their tube.
  • Water Region: Bottom

Social Behaviors

The Orange 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. Care should be taken to provide other corals with plenty of room. Make sure when the anemone comes out at night, its tentacles do not come in contact with delicate corals.

Several North Sea Tube Anemone specimens can be kept in an aquarium, but they are not compatible with other anemone species. Though they do coexist with their own kind, they do not get along with their "warm" water siblings. They can be kept with large fish, as they are not disturbed by them, but they do not host clownfish.

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

Sex: Sexual differences

The C. lloydii 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

North Sea Tube Anemones reproduce sexually with the female being larger than the male. These 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 Sea Tube Anemone.

In the wild, they first release sperm and then eggs into the water column, where cross fertilization takes place. Planula larvae development lasts for 3 to 4 months. The larvae have an internal yolk sack that is believed to help sustain them. This larvae then drops, develops into polyps and settles into the sand, and constructs a tube. In captivity, larvae captured in plankton has been successfully reared repeatedly. They will also reproduce asexually by budding off.

  • Ease of Breeding: - In captivity, larvae captured in plankton has been successfully reared repeatedly.

Ailments / Diseases

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


Buy ASea Anemone: The North Sea Tube Anemone C. lloydii is not easy to find in stores or online. Due to the ever changing taxonomy of these creatures, many will be listed under plain old "tube anemone." You will need to inquire as to their origin in order to determine how to care for them properly, in terms of water temperature.


Author: Clarice Brough CFS, Carrie McBirney
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