Tube Anemone

Colored Tube Anemone, Tube Dwelling Anemone, Burrowing Anemone, Giant Cerianthus of the Sand

Tube Anemone, Cerianthus membranaceus, Colored Tube Anemone, Tube Dwelling Anemone, Burrowing AnemoneCerianthus membranaceusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Greg Rothschild

The Tube Anemone burrows so only its crown is visible, but if disturbed will instantly retract so its whole body is hidden!

The Tube Anemone Cerianthus membranaceus, like all tube dwelling anemones, has some very unique traits. It has a long, soft, cylindrical body with a pointed foot on one end and topped with a crown of tentacles on the other. It uses its 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 it constructs a hard tube 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 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 become hidden.

This anemone is also known as the Colored Tube Anemone because it comes in many different fluorescent hues and combinations of colors. Unlike some of the true anemones, the Tube Anemone is rarely artificially dyed or colored. Its gorgeous coloration is all natural.

Tube Anemones are colorful and hardy, making them prized for aquarium displays. These durable animals can tolerate a fairly wide temperature range, subdued lighting, and moderate filtration. They do require a good sized aquarium however, due to their burrowing behavior and ability to expand quite wide. They can reach 8" (20 cm) across and their tentacles can reach up to 12" (30.5 cm) or more. They can also produce quite a bit of waste from the excretion of tube slime.

Be sure to provide plenty of room for tank mates to keep them out of reach of these anemones stinging tentacles. In the wild, some species of burrowing sea anemones have been known to live commensally with a variety of crustaceans and worms, but in the aquarium compatibility is limited. Several Tube Anemone specimens can be kept in a large aquarium, but they are not compatible with other anemone species. Also triggerfish and large angelfish, as well as large crabs, lobsters, and snails should not be kept with them.

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


Pet Supply Comparison Shopping
Tube Anemone - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8° C)
  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes

Habitat: Distribution / Background

Sea Anemone Facts: The Tube Anemone or Tube Dwelling Anemone Cerianthus membranaceus was described by Spallanzani in 1784. The Cerianthus genus is a member of the the Cerianthidae family. Some other common names it is known for are the Colored Tube Anemone, Cerianthus Anemone, Giant Cerianthus of the Sand, Large Mediterranean Tube Anemone, Tube Sea Anemone, Burrowing Anemone, and Burrowing Sea Anemone. The Cerianthus membranaceus is not on the IUCN Red List for endangered species.

Where are Sea Anemones Found: The Cerianthus membranaceus is found in various locations including the Mediterranean Sea, Bay of Biscay north of Spain, then off the coast of Liberia in Africa, and Papua New Guinea.

Sea Anemone Habitat: They are found most populated in waters where the plankton is very dense. Phytoplankton blooms, zooplankton, and excess detritus also result in a population increases of certain species.

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

Description

Appearance of a Sea Anemone: The Colored Tube Anemone differs from 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. membranaceus 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 sudden illumination, a strong touch, and excessive feeding.

The Tube Anemone has an oral disc with a crown of more than 200 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. These 2 sets of tentacles can be contrasting or similar in color. The C. membranaceus takes food in, and expels waste through its central cavity, or mouth.

Tentacle colors can be fluorescent in hue and include purples, violets, oranges, blues, greens, pinks, yellows, white, brown, and various other shades of these colors. Sometimes the long tentacles are banded or striped. 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: Cerianthus membranaceus can reach 8" (20 cm) across and the tentacles can reach up to 12" (30.5 cm) or more. It is unknown how long they live, but Tube Anemones introduced into the aquarium at Naples at its inception are now over 100 years old.

  • Size of organizm - inches: - They can reach 8" across, with tentacles reaching up to 12".
  • Lifespan: - It is unknown how long they live, but Tube Anemones introduced into the aquarium at Naples at its inception are now over 100 years old.

Difficulty of Care

Sea Anemone Care: Tube Dwelling Anemones can be moderate to care for because they do have specific needs. 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. membranaceus, make sure the color is good, the mouth is not gaping open, and 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 Burrowing Anemone is a carnivore. Feed your Tube 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 feed twice a week. Be careful not to feed with large pieces of food because it can 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 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 Giant Cerianthus of the Sand. 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. membranaceus 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 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: 20 gal (76 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
  • 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: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8° C) - This Anemone requires temperatures below 68° F (20° C) for a few months during the winter.
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG
  • Water Movement: Weak - Low to moderate.
  • Water Region: Bottom

Social Behaviors

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

In the wild they have a commensal relationship with a variety of crustaceans and worm species, with these species living within their tubes. In the aquarium, you can include small hermit crabs, small shrimps, and most worms. Triggerfish and large angelfish, as well as large crabs, lobsters, and snails should not be kept with them. They do not host clownfish.

  • Venomous: Yes
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes
    • Anemones: Threat
    • Mushroom Anemones - Corallimorphs: Monitor
    • Leather Corals: Monitor
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Monitor - In the aquarium, you can include small hermit crabs and small shrimps.
    • Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Monitor - Most worm species are compatible.
    • Crabs: Monitor - Do not keep large crabs in the aquarium, however small hermit crabs usually do fine.
    • Snails: Monitor - Do not keep large snails in the aquarium.

Sex: Sexual differences

The C. membranaceus 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

These 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. 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 tube anemone. There is no information yet on breeding these anemones in captivity.

In the wild, reproduction takes place form January to July. First sperm is released, followed by eggs and then cross fertilization takes place in the water column. 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.

  • Ease of Breeding: Unknown - There is no information yet on breeding these anemones in captivity.

Ailments / Diseases

Problems for the Tube Anemone or Tube Dwelling 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 C. membranaceus is easy to find in stores and online. The cost online is around $34.00 or more depending on color and size.

References



Author: Clarice Brough CFS, Carrie McBirney
Available From These Merchants
Tube Anemone Cerianthus Membranaceus Small Tube Anemone Cerianthus Membranaceus Small
Offered By: That Pet Place
Price: $49.99
Compare products and prices!


Copyright © [Animal-World] 1998-2012. All rights reserved.