White-Spotted Rose Anemone, Urticina lofotensis, Strawberry Anemone, Tealia Anemone
Urticina lofotensis

The beautiful White-Spotted Rose Anemone is truly a ‘flower of the sea’!

The White-spotted Rose Anemone Urticina lofotensis is a very handsome animal. A showy anemone that has a distinct red pedal column decorated with many white dots, thus, it is also known as the Strawberry Anemone. The unique and attractive coloring makes the White-spotted Rose Anemone one of the easiest of the sea anemones to identify. It is also fairly small, only growing to about 4″ (10 cm) in diameter and 6†(15 cm) tall. This handsome anemone can make a great attraction for a cold water reef tank.

Some other common names it is known by are Spotted Red Anemone, White-Spotted Anemone and Tealia Anemone. The term “tealia” means blooming, likening these beauties to “flowers of the sea.” The common name, Tealia Anemone is very enchanting and is also used for one of its flowery relatives, the Fish Eating Anemone Urticina piscivora, but the two anemones are quite distinctive in appearance.

They are generally found alone or in small groupings. The White-spotted Rose Anemones attach to shaded rocks along rocky sand covered shore lines and in tide pools. Like all anemones, they are carnivorous, feasting on sea urchins, small fish, crabs, and mussels that happen by.

Although not much information has been written about U. lofotensis, using similar husbandry for other cold water anemones is suggested. Like all anemones, they use their venomous cells, or nematocyst, found in their tentacles to sting and deflect any possible threats or attacks. But they mostly utilize them for stunning and capturing prey.

Some predators of this anemone can be certain nudibranchs, sea stars, and snails. Interestingly, in the wild Painted Greenling Oxylebius pictus juveniles are found in association with this anemone, swimming or resting around its tentacles and column. Adults may sleep near its base. The anemone gives them protection from predators and the opportunity to feed on copepods and other small invertebrates.

For more facts about Urticina Sea Anemones, see:
Nettle Anemones

White-Spotted Rose Anemone, Urticina lofotensis

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Time lapse of opening and closing

This video shows how the White-Spotted Rose Anemone spends it’s day. They do, of course, require cold water marine tanks and are found from the Alaskan Coast to the California coast. They only need to be fed a few times per month due to the cold water and they do not host clownfish. Only reaching 6,” they are great for a cold water marine nano tank!

White-Spotted Rose Anemone – Quick Aquarium Care
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Temperature: 55.0 to 68.0° F (12.8 to 20.0&deg C)
  • Size of organism – inches: 4.0 inches (10.16 cm)
  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes

Habitat: Distribution / Background

The White-Spotted Rose Anemone was described by Danielssen in 1890 as Urticina lofotensis, and this is widely used at present. It is found in the eastern Pacific along the coast of California up to Alaska. This anemone is not on the IUCN Red List for endangered species. Some other common names it is known by are White-Spotted Anemone, Spotted Red Anemone, Strawberry Anemone, and Tealia Anemone.

A recent revision by Sanamyan & Sanamyan in 2006, suggests it should be described as Cribrinopsis albopunctata, as those found in the Pacific may be a different species than those found in the Atlantic. The first scientific designation, Urticina lofotensis, is also suggested to be an invalid name because it was originally applied to a very different European species, one that is currently known as Urticina eques. This European species is very different in its appearance, with no external resemblance to the Pacific anemone. However, this is unreviewed and currently not accepted by WORMS, the World Register of Marine Species, SealifeBase, nor the Encyclopedia of Life.

White-Spotted Rose Anemones are located in colder subtidal waters. They occur solitary or in small groupings, attached to shaded rocks along rocky, sand-covered shore lines and in tide pools. But they can also be found at depths down to 82 feet (0-25 m). They use their venomous cells or nematocyst found in their tentacles to sting and deflect any possible threats or attacks, but they mostly utilize them for stunning and capturing prey. This cold water anemone feasts on sea urchins, small fish, crabs, and mussels.

According to researcher Joel Elliot (1992), in the wild Painted Greenling Oxylebius pictus juveniles are found in association with this anemone in more exposed environments where both these fish and the anemone is plentiful. They will swim or rest around its tentacles and column, giving them protection from predators and affording them the opportunity to feed on copepods and other small invertebrates. Adults may sleep near its base. It is not thought that the anemone receives any benefit from this relationship, but these small fish seem to be immune to the anemone’s sting. Some predators include certain nudibranchs, sea stars, and snails.

  • Scientific Name: Urticina lofotensis
  • IUCN Red List: NE – Not Evaluated or not listed


White-Spotted Rose Anemones can grow up to 4″ (10 cm) in diameter, with a length up to 6†(15 cm). It is unknown how long anemones live, in fact, some anemones can be hundreds of years old in the wild and in captivity some have been known to last 80 years or more. It is believed Urticina anemones can live between 60 to 80 years in the wild.

This anemone has a red-to-orange cylindrical pedal column with distinct vertical rows of white dots, or tubercles, all over. These tubercles are non-adhesive, so are generally free of shell fragments, gravel, or other debris. The pedal column has a sticky foot at the bottom which they use to adhere to various surfaces. They also use this “foot” to move around if conditions are not ideal. The color of the foot is brown, or reddish brown to orange, and has distinctive white spots.

At the top of the column is an oral disc with an opening, or mouth, in the center. The U. lofotensis takes food in and expels waste through this opening. The mouth should be closed and tight. It will open when hungry, having an oval look. A gaping mouth is a warning signal that the anemone is not doing too well.

White-Spotted Rose Anemones have sturdy tentacles, well-spaced on the oral disc. They are situated in 5 or more rows surrounding the mouth. The tentacles are usually light gray, white, red, or orange, and a combination of those can be on each tentacle. The tentacles are thicker at the base and are thinner toward the top with a little “bulbous” tip. The oral disc and mouth are lighter in color.

  • Size of organism – inches: 4.0 inches (10.16 cm) – It can grow up to 4″ (10 cm) in diameter with a height up to 6†(15 cm).
  • Lifespan: 80 years – Urticina anemones can live between 60 to 80 years in the wild.

Difficulty of Care

The White-Spotted Rose Anemone is very rarely available to aquarists from a retailer. These anemones can be difficult to care for because they must be kept in cold water. A chiller should be able to keep the tank temperature between 55 and 68°F. As with most anemones, the tank should be at least 1 year old and stable before adding your new Strawberry Anemone.

When selecting a White-Spotted Rose 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, but make sure there is no damage to the foot area, often a result of pulling the anemone off its surface.

To take one of these anemones from another aquarium, use a thin blunt item like a credit card. Gently wiggle it under the foot and slowly nudge the anemone away from the glass. If it’s attached to a rock, ideally you can simply purchase the rock as well. If you cannot purchase the rock, then directing water at it or wiggling the rock gently upside down under water while tickling the foot can work.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Difficult
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Foods and Feeding

The White-Spotted Rose Anemone is a carnivore. In nature, they use their potent sting to immobilize small fish and invertebrates, primarily sea urchins, crabs, and mussels. In captivity feed your anemone chopped silversides, shrimp, krill, and mussels, fresh chopped fish (from your grocery store), as well as frozen carnivore preparations.

The White-Spotted Rose Anemones metabolism is not as fast as warmer water anemones. They are cooler water creatures, so usually only need to be fed once a week or twice a month.

  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Flake Food: No
  • Tablet / Pellet: No
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet – From marine sources.
  • Liquid Foods: Some of Diet – Zooplankton.
  • Meaty Food: All of Diet – Sources of marine flesh and frozen/thawed preparations for carnivores.
  • Feeding Frequency: Weekly – Feed only once a week or twice a month, because cold water anemones have much slower metabolisms.

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. 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 White-Spotted Rose Anemone produces a bio-load equivalent to that of about one 4″ 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. Phosphates should be less than 0.03 ppm.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly – Water changes of 10% twice a month, or 20% a month are typical.
  • 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 White-Spotted Rose Anemone can be kept in an aquarium of 50-gallons or more when full grown. The typical reef environment is what is needed, but it must be a cold water reef. They need live rock or some other solid material they can attach to. You can even use submersed bio-balls. Provide some rock crevices as well as rocky overhangs.

Because bacterial formations take a very long time in cooler water, the most important thing for the reef is mechanical and chemical filtration. Provide a good skimmer and use filter floss and chemical additives, such Chemi-Pure, GFO, and carbon in the filter to help keep the water clean. Chemi-Pure helps remove heavy metals, copper, phenol, ammonia and other nitrogenous waste. It also helps keep the pH at a consistently safe range. Granular ferric oxide, or GFO, helps with phosphate control. The addition of a refugium with a deep sand bed can help maintain normal parameters, too.

They need a low to moderate water movement and moderate lighting. The temperature can be between 55.0 to 68.0° F (12.8 to 20.0° C), but keep it stable as fluctuations can be stressful to the anemone. A chiller will be needed, but this allows you to have both inter-tidal and sub-tidal animals. Acrylic tanks are best for insulating against temperature fluctuations, each 1/2″ will give a thermal barrier of 5° F. Be sure to have all of your pumps covered, most good quality pumps have guards on them.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L) – They do best in 50-gallons or more when full grown.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Amount
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate – normal lighting
  • Temperature: 55.0 to 68.0° F (12.8 to 20.0&deg C)
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG
  • Water Movement: Weak – Low to Moderate.
  • Water Region: Bottom

Social Behaviors

The White-Spotted Rose Anemone is considered semi-aggressive because they can be mobile, yet most of the cold water anemones stay still if their needs are met. It has often been suggested to not put anemones in a reef environment since corals cannot move away from the stinging tentacles. Once you get your anemone situated and it has not moved for several months, it might be safe to add other corals. Just keep in mind these anemones will sting everything they can reach, like corals and other invertebrates. Anemones will move if your lighting is not good, or the water quality is not to their liking.

These anemones may split often once settled, similar to others in their genus. After splitting, anemones will tolerate their own “clones†and sometimes their own species. All anemones in the tank 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. Having excellent filtration and a large tank 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 “spaceâ€.

When housing them with fish, if the tank is very large and you are keeping larger cold water fish, they should be fine. The problem occurs when keeping small gobies, blennies or other small cold water fish that can easily become dinner if they wander into the very sticky (more sticky than typical) tentacles.

They multiply rather quickly once adjusted, so keeping corals in the tank may be a risky thing to do. If attempting to add cold water corals, allow the anemones to settle and once they are in place, try to place a coral away from them. This may work for a while, however, the way they reproduce will eventually have detrimental affects on any other corals or anemones.

  • Venomous: Yes
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Sometimes
    • Anemones: Threat
    • Mushroom Anemones – Corallimorphs: Threat
    • Leather Corals: Threat
    • Zoanthids – Button Polyps, Sea Mats: Threat
    • Sponges, Tunicates: Threat
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Monitor
    • Starfish: Monitor – Reef safe only.
    • Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Threat
    • Clams, Scallops, Oysters: Threat
    • Crabs: Monitor – Cool water species only.
    • Snails: Monitor
    • Sea Apples, Cucumbers: Threat
    • Urchins, Sand Dollars: Threat
    • Nudibranch, Sea Slugs: Threat
    • 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

The White-Spotted Rose Anemone will divide captivity. There is no information on the propagation of cold water anemones, however, but it may be just like other anemones. Similar to other cold water anemones, they reproduce by fission or external fertilization of egg and sperm.

They will spawn when the water temperature drops from its highest for the year. The best success for breeding them is when they spawn, in April and May. When they spawn, they produce larvae that will float away, and eventually finding a spot to land. They then attach and develop a pedal disk that grows into a new anemone.

  • Ease of Breeding: Easy

Ailments / Diseases

Problems for the White-Spotted Rose 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. Make sure your lighting and water quality is good, and that the food you are offering is to their liking. Some predators include certain nudibranchs, sea stars, and snails.


The White-Spotted Rose Anemone or Strawberry Anemone is generally unavailable to aquarists through retailers.


Featured Image Credit: Michael Warwick, Shutterstock