Sebae Anemone - Leathery Sea Anemone

Leather Anemone, Leathery Sebae Sea Anemone

Sebae Anemone, Leather Anemone, Heteractis crispa, Leathery Sea Anemone, Leathery Sebae Sea AnemoneHeteractis crispaPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough

The long, pointed tentacles of the Sebae Anemone are so numerous that sometimes the mouth is not visible at all!

The tentacles of the Sebae Anemone Heteractis crispa are generally whitish, violet, or greenish in color, and some specimens are found with beautiful blue, purple, and mauve tips. Usually it has a gray or violet-brown appearance overall, depending on the concentration of its symbiotic algae, zooxanthallae. It also has a rather leathery look, thus the term 'leather' in various common names. These common names are the Leathery Sea Anemone, Leather Anemone, and Leathery Sebae Sea Anemone.

In nature this anemone has been found as a host to 14 different species of clownfish. It has also been known to associate with the Domino Damselfish Dascyllus trimaculatus and anemone shrimps in the Periclimenes genus. 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. Bristle worms also have been known to irritate and chew at H. crispa.

The Sebae Anemone is the most commonly imported sea anemone. It is favored by aquarists because It will successfully host clown fish in the aquarium, though not all clowns take to all H. crispa. This anemone often doesn't do well in captivity, so it's recommended that they only be attempted by advanced aquarists.

If a healthy specimen is obtained it can do well in captivity, but Sebae Anemones are known to suffer from shipping stress and will often release their zooxanthalle in transport. Sometimes, to enhance their appeal, captive specimens are bleached out so they are also white in color. If they are white, their chances of survival are slim. The Sebae Anemone, as well as the Magnificent Anemone or Ritteri Anemone Heteractis magnifica, is often colored with vegetable or other dyes as well. Be cautious when purchasing them as these treatments can also cause the anemone problems.

 

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


Pet Supply Comparison Shopping
Sebae Anemone - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (189 L)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 79.0° F (22.2 to 26.1° 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 Sebae Anemone Heteractis crispa was described by Ehrenberg in 1834. The Heteractis genus is a member of the Stichodactylidae family and this genus contains about 4 species. Some names they are known for are Leathery Sea Anemone, Leather Anemone, and Leathery Sebae Sea Anemone. The Heteractis crispa is not on the IUCN Red List for endangered species.

Where are Sea Anemones Found: The Heteractis crispa is found in the Indo-West Pacific Ocean from the Red Sea to Tuamotu.

Sea Anemone Habitat: Leathery Sea Anemones are found in waters at depths of 10 to 100 feet (3-35 m). They are found deeply wedged in rock crevices with only the oral disc and tentacles visible. They are usually found with clownfish that forms a symbiotic relationship for the protection and nourishment of both animals. 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: Heteractis crispa
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed

Description

Appearance of a Sea Anemone: The Leather Anemone Heteractis crispa has a gray or violet-brown appearance overall, depending on the concentration of its symbiotic algae, zooxanthallae. It also has a rather leathery look, thus the name. The sticky foot at the base of the pedal column is used to adhere to various surfaces. They also use the "foot" to move around if conditions are not ideal. The foot tends to be much larger than the column in comparison to other anemones. The column is generally whitish, violet, or greenish in color.

There are up to 800 tentacles on the oral disc. They can be a brownish-gray, mauve, or green; and some specimens are found with beautiful blue, purple, and mauve tips. The tentacles are very long and taper at the tip. They are so long that they typically become intertwined.

Tentacles are all over the surface of the oral disc, giving it a 'mop' appearance. The mouth in the center is often barely visible. The mouth should be closed and tight, and will open when hungry, having an oval look. A gaping mouth is a warning signal. The H. crispa takes food in and expels waste through this same opening.

Sea Anemones Life Cycles: These anemones can grow up to 12" (30 cm), 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: - 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.

Difficulty of Care

Sea Anemone Care: The Sebae Anemone can be 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 1 year old and stable before adding your new H. crispa.

Sebae Anemones suffer from shipping stress, and will need dedicated care to become established in the aquarium. They need appropriate water movement and regular feeding. In fact, a lack of feeding is thought to be the second biggest reason for their demise in captivity. Feeding on an almost daily basis is a big help in keeping them alive and from moving around.

When choosing your Leathery Sebae Sea 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.

The H. crispa perish from any type of tissue damage. To take an H. crispa anemone from another aquarium, 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 safely. Don't allow the fresh water of the ice cubes to touch the foot directly as this can cause tissue damage.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Difficult
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Foods and Feeding

What Do Sea Anemones Eat: The Sebae Anemone is a carnivore. In the wild, these anemones are well equipped with nutritional alternatives for their well-being. They derive daily nutrition from their symbiotic algae, zooxanthellae, which 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 H. crispa a mix of chopped fresh shrimp, fish and mussel from your grocery store. This variety is very good for these anemones, as they seem to derive their different dietary needs from these meats. Large anemones need food daily, medium sized anemones need to be fed 5 times a week, and the young or smaller ones need to be fed 2 to 4 times a week. The old adage that anemones should be fed once a month is false and has lead 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
  • Meaty Food: All of Diet - They can be fed a mix of chopped fresh shrimp, fish, and mussel from your grocery store.
  • Feeding Frequency: Daily

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 Sebae 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 H. crispa, with a sand substrate for it to settle into. Have a 4" to 8" sand bed for them to bury their foot into. The Leather Anemone will attach to a hard surface through the sand. Once it is secured it will stay put if it is happy. 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. 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: Little to none
  • Substrate Type: Sand - Have a 4" to 8" sand bed for them to bury their foot into.
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting - Moderate to high.
  • 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

All anemones are semi-aggressive because they can be mobile, although a contented Sebae 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 H. crispa.

Leathery Sea Anemones in the tank need to be at least 2-3 feet away from each other. If you have 2 anemones that are 6" across, than your tank should be at least 4-5 feet long. 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 100 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".

If you want your anemone to host clownfish, 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. Not all clowns take to all H. crispa.

It has been found in nature hosting the following 14 Clownfish species:

  • Venomous: Yes
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Sometimes
    • Anemones: Monitor
    • Mushroom Anemones - Corallimorphs: Monitor
    • Leather Corals: Monitor
    • Starfish: Monitor
    • Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Monitor
    • Nudibranch, Sea Slugs: Monitor

Sex: Sexual differences

No sexual difference in appearance is known.

Breeding / Reproduction

The H. crispa typically do not breed in captivity. 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.

  • Ease of Breeding: Difficult - The H. crispa typically do not breed in captivity.

Ailments / Diseases

Problems for the Sebae 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. Bristle worms also have been known to irritate and chew at H. crispa.

Availability

Buy A Sea Anemone: The Sebae Anemone or Leather Anemone H. crispa is easy to find in stores and online. The cost online starts at about $24.00 USD and goes up depending on size, color and species.

When selecting an anemone, be careful not to buy a bleached anemone or an artificially colored anemone. These conditions, especially bleaching, can be fatal as the anemone works to purge all the color and return to the color it was originally, usually a tan or reddish brown.

References



Author: Clarice Brough CFS, Carrie McBirney
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