Trumpet Anemone

Rock Anemone, Glass Anemone

Trumpet Anemone, Aiptasia mutabilis, Rock Anemone, Glass AnemoneAiptasia mutabilisPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Greg Rothschild

The Trumpet Anemone is a distinctive, colorful Aiptasia, but unique because it is a cold water species!

The Trumpet Anemone Aiptasia mutabilis is one of the hardy varieties of the Aiptasiidae family. This family offers several interesting variations of anemones that are easy to care for and reproduce quickly. The Trumpet Anemone is a cold water aiptasia however, so is not as common in the saltwater aquarium trade as its smaller aiptasia relatives.

The Trumpet Anemone is similar in structure to its smaller, but better known, weedy aiptasia cousins. Like the Glass Anemone, Brown Glass Anemone, and Small Rock Anemone, it too has tons of tapering tentacles on the outer margin of its oral disc. But unlike its cousins it doesn't retract its tentacles as readily. This anemone can easily be recognized by the characteristic color pattern of its tentacles, which are often tinted with greens or blues. It is also quite a bit larger than other Aiptasia, reaching up to 4.75" (12 cm) tall.

The smaller Aiptasia anemones don't have a very good reputation with saltwater hobbyists, and they can reach plague proportions in a saltwater aquarium or a reef tank. Scientific studies have determined that the Aiptasia have strong stings. They use venomous cells, ot nematocysts found in their tentacles, to sting corals and fish.

Infestations of Aiptasia are very hard to get rid of and the smaller species have been known to take over a reef aquarium by quickly reproducing while stinging and killing other tank invertebrates. The Trumpet Anemone, being quite a bit larger, is easier to control. It doesn't have quite the same bad reputation, however they do have strong stings and don't "play nice" with corals and other anemones. Use careful 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
Aiptasia mutabilis
Data provided by
Trumpet Anemone, Aiptasia mutabilis

Report Broken Video
Another species of Aiptasia

Don't let the pretty white center fool you, this Trumpet Anemone is just another species of Aiptasia! One of the most dreaded "hitchhikers" next to the Mantis Shrimp, the Trumpet Anemone can reach plague proportions in a short time. Some natural ways to eliminate them are Peppermint Shrimp, Aiptasia eating nudibranchs and various butterflyfish, especially the Copperbanded Butterflyfish.

Trumpet Anemone - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (189 L)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Temperature: 50.0 to 68.0° F (10.0 to 20.0° C)
  • Size of organism - inches: 4.8 inches (12.07 cm)
  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes

Habitat: Distribution / Background

Sea Anemone Facts: The Trumpet Anemone Aiptasia mutabilis was described by Gravenhorst in 1831. The Aiptasia genus is a member of the Aiptasiidae family and this genus contains 17 species. Other common names it is known by are Rock Anemone and Glass Anemone. Aiptasia mutabilis is not on the IUCN Red List for endangered species.

Where are Sea Anemones Found: This anemone is found in the cold waters of the North Eastern Atlantic, in the Mediterranean, near the Azores Islands, and from Ireland to the Canary Islands and in the region of the British Isles.

Sea Anemone Habitat: Rock Anemones attach to stones, rubble, and other hard substrates. They also are found under rock ledges in shallow areas, and attached to wood structures as well. They feed on zooplankton and fish at depths between 0 - 65 feet (0 - 20 m).

Sea Anemone Species: There are 17 species in the Aiptasia Genus. General common names all the various Aiptasia anemones are known by are the Glass Anemone, Glassrose Anemone, Rock Anemone, Devil's Plague, Aiptasia Anemone, Pest Anemone, and sometimes by this misspelling, Aptasia.

  • Scientific Name: Aiptasia mutabilis
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed


Appearance of a Sea Anemone: The Glass Anemones are somewhat translucent with an overall brown or yellowish-brown coloration, usually marked by green or blue lines radiating from the mouth. Their coloring comes from an algae called zooxanthellae living in their tissues. There are often irregular streaks of opaque white on the column, and the tentacles become pale towards the tips.

Aiptasia mutabilis can reach up to about 4.75" (12 cm) tall. Their body form is the polyp. It is composed of a smooth column, variable in shape but usually trumpet-like. It is topped with an oral disc that has a mouth in the center. There are close to 100 tentacles positioned on the outer margin of the oral disc. They are stout at the base and then taper to a fine point. Their tentacles are perfectly retractable, but they rarely retract them.

How do glass anemones move?: The Trumpet Anemone has a pedal disc or 'foot' with which it attaches to the substrate. If tank conditions are not ideal they will use their "foot" to move along the substrate. They do this by contracting the circular muscles of the foot and pushing forward. They may also crawl on their side by attaching to the substrate with adhesive spots (not easily visible) on the column.

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.

  • Size of organism - inches: 4.8 inches (12.07 cm)
  • Lifespan: - 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.

Difficulty of Care

Sea Anemone Care: The Rock Anemone can be moderate in difficulty to care for. They will do fine in most reef conditions, but must be provided with a cold water environment. When choosing an 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 help remove the anemone from 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 hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

Foods and Feeding

What Do Sea Anemones Eat: The Glass Anemone is a carnivore. In the wild Aiptasia derive nutrition from their symbiotic algae, zooxanthellae, as well as from the water around them. These anemones will use their tentacles to capture fish, mussels, and small crustaceans that happen by, and then insert the food into their mouths for ingestion. 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 - You can feed your anemone chopped silversides, shrimp, krill, and mussels, fresh chopped fish (from your grocery store), as well as frozen carnivore preparations.
  • Feeding Frequency: Weekly - Feed 2 to 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 Trumpet Anemone (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 the 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, but it must be a cold water reef. They need live rock or some other solid material they can attach to. Provide some rock crevices as well as rocky overhangs. 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: Yes
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Amount
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
  • Temperature: 50.0 to 68.0° F (10.0 to 20.0° C)
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: Bottom

Social Behaviors

The Rock Anemone is an aggressive anemone that can kill and eat fish, as well as other corals and anemones. Be very careful when keeping this anemone with any other anemones, corals, or fish. They are not suitable clown fish hosts and clown fish 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, like corals and other invertebrates. After splitting, these anemones will tolerate their own "clones" and sometimes their own species.

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

Sex: Sexual differences

Studies of A. pallida and A. pulchella have determined that Aiptasia individuals are dioecious, meaning that individuals are of separate sexes. However, no sexual difference in appearance is known.

Breeding / Reproduction

Propagating aiptasia anemones is fairly easy, just cut a piece off and it will grow. Anemones in general can multiply by sexual and asexual means. Aiptasia will multiply asexually by fission, which is where a tiny bit of tissue detached from the foot quickly develops into a new and complete anemone.

Aiptasia anemones will tolerate their own "clones", and these anemones are very prolific. This is why it is very difficult to physically remove these anemones from a rock. Any remaining tissues quickly multiply into to new specimens. Sexual reproduction has not been described for the species.

  • Ease of Breeding: Easy

Ailments / Diseases

Problems for the Trumpet 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.


Buy A Sea Anemone: The Trumpet Anemone Aiptasia mutabilis is very rarely available in stores but occasionally found online, and is rather expensive. The cost online is around $12.00 to $14.00.


Author: Clarice Brough CFS, Carrie McBirney
Lastest Animal Stories on Trumpet Anemone