The Curlique Anemone is very attractive, but quick to disappear if bothered!

The Curlique Anemone Bartholomea annulata, just like its cousins, will retract into its hole in a flash of pestered. There are several interesting variations of glass anemones in the Aiptasiidae family that are easy to care for and reproduce quickly. They are all brown or tan, and they also all have very long, thin ringed or spotted tentacles that extend far from the base. However, the Curlique Anemone of the Bartholomea genus is easy to spot. Though similar in appearance to the glass anemones of the Aiptasia genus, is a much larger anemone. Its base can extend 8-12″ (20-30 cm) in diameter while its smaller cousins will only reach about an inch or so.

With cute names like “Curley-Cue Anemone†or “Curly Q Anemone” as well as being inexpensive and quite cool looking, hobbyists are encouraged to purchase this anemone. But there are a couple cautions to keep in mind. The Curlique Anemone is an aggressive anemone that can kill and eat fish as well as other tank inhabitants.

A number of scientific studies have determined that both the Curlique Anemone and the Aiptasia glass anemones have strong stings, and don’t “play nice†with other corals and fish. They use venomous cells, nematocyst found in their tentacles, to sting, kill, and eat fish and shrimp. The small Aiptasia glass anemones don’t have a very good reputation. They are very hard to get rid of and have been known to take over a reef aquarium by quickly reproducing, while stinging and killing other tank invertebrates. Being quite a bit larger, the Curlique Anemone is easier to control, and doesn’t have the same bad reputation.

Though not suitable as a clownfish host, this is a safe ornamental anemone for most reef tanks. Just keep in mind these anemones will sting everything they can reach. Fortunately they usually settle in one place and don’t move around much. They can be great anemones for a reef tank if you are careful with their placement, and keep other invertebrates out of their reach.

For more about the types of Sea Anemone Species, see:
Sea Anemone – Tube Anemone

Curlique Anemone, Bartholomea annulata

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Close up and personal

Related to the Aiptasia or Glass Anemone, the Curlique Anemone is also a quick draw into it’s crack or crevice when disturbed. Unlike the pest anemone, it will not multiply as fast. They will also stay put if they have proper light, food and water movement that is not strong as this will prevent it from opening fully. They are not clown hosting anemones, but have a beauty all their own. Provide a tank that is at least 50 gallons and feed them what you would feed any anemone and feed several times a week. This anemone will split and form clones.

Curlique Anemone – Quick Aquarium Care
  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (189 L)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 79.0° F (22.2 to 26.1&deg C)
  • Size of organism – inches: 12.0 inches (30.48 cm)
  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No

Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Curlique Anemone Bartholomea annulata was described by Le Sueur in 1817. The Bartholomea genus belongs to the Aiptasiidae family and contains 4 species. They are found in the Western Atlantic Ocean in the Caribbean from Bermuda to South America. This anemone is not on the IUCN Red List for endangered species.

The Bartholomea genus is a member of the Aiptasiidae family and currently contains 4 species. This Bartholomea anemone is most commonly know as Curlique Anemone, Curly-Cue Anemone, Ringed Anemone, and Corkscrew Anemone, along with a number of other name spellings and a few descriptive names well, including Curleycue Anemone, Curlicue anemone, Curly Q Anemone, Curlycue Anemone, Curly Sea Anemone, Trumpet Anemone, Rock Anemone.

There can be some confusion when it comes to common names, however. This is because common names used in general for all the Bartholomea anemones can also be Ringed Anemone and Curleycue Anemone, as well as Aiptasia Anemone and Pest Anemone. Fortunenately one of the species has its own distinct name, Bartholomea lucida is commonly known as the Knobby Anemone.

Curly-Cue or Ringed Anemones are found alone in lagoons and bays that are sandy/muddy with their foot completely buried within the sand on top of a solid surface, among Halimeda populations. They also are found under rock ledges as well. Found at depths from 3 to 130 feet (1-40 m), they await an unsuspecting fish or crustacean to invite to dinner.

In their natural habitat, these anemones occur at depths between 3 to 130 feet (1-40 m). They,are found alone in lagoons and bays that have sandy/muddy substrates, and among Halimeda populations. The anemone’s foot is completely buried within the sand, but attached to the top of a solid surface below. They also are found in holes or crevices, or under rock ledges. They eat fish, mussels and small crustaceans. They await an unsuspecting fish or crustacean to wander close by, and will then sting, kill and feed on them.

Certain shrimps and starfish, butterflyfish, nudibranchs, and sea spiders are predators. However, they do live in association with some species of cleaner shrimps, including the Spotted Cleaner Shrimp Periclimenes yucatanicus and Pederson Cleaner Shrimp Ancylomenes pedersoni, as well as the opossum shrimp species Heteromysis actiniae. They stay close to the Curlique Anemone or among its tentacles where they are protected from other predators, and will nibble on any external parasites residing on the anemone.

  • Scientific Name: Bartholomea annulata
  • IUCN Red List: NE – Not Evaluated or not listed


Curlique Anemones can grow pretty large. They can reach 8-12″ (20-30 cm) in diameter, yet the 200 or so tentacles can stretch way beyond the base. It is unknown how long they live, however, some anemones can be hundreds of years old in the wild, and in captivity have been known to last 80 years or more. That doesn’t count all the clones they will make as the years progress.

The color of the Curlique Anemone is brown or tan, due to an algae called zooxanthellae living in its tissue. The tentacles are brown to brownish violet and tend to be translucent. With corkscrew markings or spotting on the tentacles, the anemone appears “fuzzy†or “curly” which is one of its most endearing qualities. Hence its other common names, Corkscrew Anemone and Ringed Anemone.

The Curly-Cue Anemones have a short, wide pedal column topped with an oral disc, and a sticky foot that they use to adhere to rock and other surfaces. They also use this “foot” to move along the substrate if conditions are not ideal. They do this by contracting the circular muscles of the foot and pushing forward, or they may crawl on their side.

Their tentacles are on the outer margin of the oral disc, with the mouth being in the center. The mouth can be up to 4.7″ (12 cm) wide. Just like their glass anemone cousins, quick as a whip, the Corkscrew Anemone will rapidly retract its tentacles if disturbed and will become a very small ball. Also, it will retract into its hole or crevice if it feels threatened.

  • Size of organism – inches: 12.0 inches (30.48 cm) – Tentacles can stretch way beyond the base.
  • Lifespan: 80 years – It is unknown how long they live, however, 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

The Curlique Anemone can be moderate to care for. They do have good lighting needs and will do fine in most reef conditions. Putting an anemone in a new tank, however, will result in failure. The tank should be at least 4 months old and stable before adding your new Bartholomea anemone.

When choosing your Bartholomea 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 nudging it away will get the anemone off 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

The Curlique Anemone is a carnivore. In the wild they eat fish, mussels and small crustaceans. 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
  • Flake Food: Occasionally – If they like it.
  • Tablet / Pellet: Occasionally – If they like it.
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Liquid Foods: Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: All of Diet – From marine sources.
  • Feeding Frequency: Weekly – They should be fed 2-4 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. Monitor your water quality for your particular situation and adjust your water changes accordingly. Waste production created by your anemone can be calculated in inches. Basically, every inch of anemone is equal to an inch of fish, so an average-sized Curlique Anemone (6†to 8â€) produces a bio-load equivalent to that of about three or four 2-3″ fish.

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. Additional chemical additives, such Chemi-Pure, GFO, and carbon also help maintain quality water parameters. Poly-fiber can be cut and used in sumps, etc. A good protein skimmer is a must.

Although anemones are not as dependent on calcium as stony corals, magnesium and calcium is still needed to keep the pH and alkalinity stable and within the correct parameters. Additions of trace elements are suggested. Phosphates should be kept around 0.03 or less. Control phosphates with products such as Phosban and the Phosban reactor.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly
  • Calcium Levels: 380.0 – 450.0 ppm – Helps to balance alkalinity. Aim for 420 ppm, or 385 ppm if you are using Seachem calcium.
  • Alkalinity Levels: 7.0 – 11.0 dKH – (2.5 to 3.9 meq/L) Aim for 10 dKH (3.5 meq/l) for reef tanks.
  • Magnesium Levels: 1,250.0 – 1,350.0 ppm – Test magnesium levels and adjust before checking Calcium.
  • Strontium Levels: 5.0 – 15.0 ppm – Aim for 8 ppm
  • Iodine Levels: – .030 to .060 ppm: Control is not recommended.

Aquarium Setup

The Curlique Anemone gets pretty large, needing an aquarium of 50-gallons or more to thrive. The typical reef environment is best for these anemones. However, the tank should be at least 4 months old, stable, and completely cycled. Like most anemone species, they need live rock or some other solid material they can attach to. Provide some rock crevices as well as rocky overhangs as they do best living in areas where they can pull back and be hidden when they feel threatened.

They need the same type of lighting found in a typical reef, and moderate lighting is suggested. Provide a sand substrate and moderate water movement. 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: No
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Amount
  • Substrate Type: Sand
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate – normal lighting
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 79.0° F (22.2 to 26.1&deg C)
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: Bottom

Social Behaviors

The Curlique Anemone is an aggressive anemone that can kill and eat fish, as well as other anemones. They do well in an environment that is specifically designed for their needs. After splitting, anemones will tolerate their own “clones†and sometimes their own species. In the wild they are often a host to a variety of commensal shrimp.

Be very careful when keeping this anemone with any other anemones, corals, or fish. However, in the wild they are often a host to a variety of commensal shrimp, including the Spotted Cleaner Shrimp Periclimenes yucatanicus and Pederson Cleaner Shrimp Ancylomenes pedersoni, as well as the opossum shrimp species Heteromysis actiniae. They are not suitable clown fish hosts and clownfish 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, including corals and other invertebrates. Fortunately they usually stay in one place and don’t move around much. This can be a great anemone for reef tanks if you are careful with their placement, and keep other invertebrates out of their reach.

  • Venomous: Yes
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Yes
    • Anemones: Threat
    • Mushroom Anemones – Corallimorphs: Threat
    • Leather Corals: Threat
    • Zoanthids – Button Polyps, Sea Mats: Threat
    • Sponges, Tunicates: Threat
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Monitor
    • Starfish: Threat
    • Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Threat
    • Clams, Scallops, Oysters: Threat
    • Crabs: Monitor
    • Snails: Monitor
    • Sea Apples, Cucumbers: Threat
    • Urchins, Sand Dollars: Monitor
    • Nudibranch, Sea Slugs: Monitor
    • Copepods, Amphipods, Mini Brittle Stars: Monitor
    • Stony Corals: Threat – is aggressive
    • Soft Corals: Threat – is aggressive

Sex: Sexual differences

No sexual difference in appearance is known.

Breeding / Reproduction

Propagating Curlique Anemones is fairly easy, anemones in general can multiply by sexual and asexual means. They 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. 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, then begin to grow into a new anemone. Like other anemones in the B. Annulata, they can multiply by fission

The Bartholomea anemones are known to easily reproduce in captivity, but there is not much information on breeding these anemones. The following procedures have worked with some anemones and may work for these:

  • Your anemone must be in good health.
  • It is always best to have done a large water change before propagation.
  • Remove the animal to a clean, non-slippery and damp surface, mouth side up.
  • Using sharp scissors or a scalpel, cut the anemone in half right down the center, through the mouth. This results in 2 equal halves.
  • Place your 2 halves in a “recovery†tank with the same water as the main display.

It would be prudent to wash your hands if you didn’t use gloves. Within a few days your anemone should have started to wrap around and heal itself.

  • Ease of Breeding: Easy

Ailments / Diseases

Problems for the Curlique Anemone or Ringed 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. This usually results in an unpleasant experience with a water pump. Make sure your lighting and water quality is good, and that the food you are offering is to their liking. Some predators include certain shrimps and starfish, butterflyfish, nudibranchs, and sea spiders.


The Curlique Anemone, also referred to as the Corkscrew Anemone or Ringed Anemone, is easy to find in stores and online, and is inexpensive.


Featured Image Credit: Jesus Cobaleda, Shutterstock