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Anem-mom

Wild Sea Nem, Help!

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Anem-mom

Hi all…

 

I’m very much a newbie to this hobby, and am in somewhat of an unusual situation… I really could use some pointers, so please please please bear with me...

 

The extremely condensed version of my story is that I was unwittingly thrown into this hobby when I found a wild sea anemone washed up on the beach (in June) and decided to save the little guy. (And before you give me the lecture about making an “informed decision”, please take the time to read the more detailed account of my situation, which I’ll put at the bottom of this post.) 

 

Here he is the day I found him:

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After some foundational research and a successful trip home, I set him up (temporarily) in an old 1gal tank I already had. I did go out and buy a small Tetra Whisper power filter for the tank and later added some arag-alive sand. He was bleaching big time for a few weeks after the ride home, but once he was in the tank and not being handled he seemingly fully recovered. 

 

After the ride home, waiting for the new tank to filter - he seemed okay!

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After some research, I’m 85% sure that he’s a Tricolor Anemone - Calliactis tricolor - but have SCOURED the internet and found next to no information about them, save a symbiotic relationship with certain hermit crab species.

 

I recently bought a 5gal as an upgrade as I know they need a LOT of space, and it’s currently being prepped and cycled before I add him to it. Knowing about the space thing I would’ve bought a bigger upgrade tank, but a.) he’s pretty small - I’ll attach some pics, and b.) it’s all I can afford right now since I didn’t get any prep time to plan out my tank. The Marina kit that the tank came in had a power filter, an LED hood, and I bought a small Tetra heater to put in there as well. 
 
My water quality has been relatively constant since I’ve had him, and after some experimentation I’ve set his routine at feeding once a week (bits of raw shrimp from the local grocery - frozen when stored, thawed when fed) and full tank water changes once every 2 weeks. I know it wasn’t a good idea to do full-tank changes, but he didn’t like to be bothered once a week, even if it was for a 1/2gal change, and like I said - the tank was only 1gal. 

 

My reason for sharing all of this though, is that recently he’s seemed to lose a bit of his vitality… He deflates and inflates relatively frequently - I know that’s pretty normal - but it seems almost convulsive… not in its speed, but in its shape-? I’ll attach pictures of what I mean - these are from a few weeks ago...

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he improved since then, but worsened again.

 

Recently, however, he’s almost always a little deflated and his tentacles haven’t been inflated in quite a while (days). He is due for a water change, but I’m hoping to get him in the new tank very very soon (hopefully later today) but he seems to be in a fragile condition and I don't want to shock his system too much.

 

I’ve tried to keep up with everything and replicate wild conditions as best I could given the circumstances, and I think he’s done fairly well thus far otherwise… Do you see anything that I’m doing that’s totally wrong? 

 

In essence, I’m hoping to get some advice/thoughts/tips from anyone about what I should do in terms of equipment, routine, and/or anything that you think I can do to help improve life for my wild nem…

 

Thank you so much!

 


More details:
So here’s what happened: I was at the beach with my family this past June, and my cousin and I found a live sea anemone attached to a venus shell that’d washed up after a storm. Being the marine bio enthusiast that I am, my first inclination was to return it to the wild after showing it to my other family members. However, I soon realized that - since there was nothing but sand on the beach (i.e. no rocks or anything the nem could attach to) - ‘returning it to the wild’ would only result in a seabird winning the mealtime lottery. Now I know that death is a natural and vital part of an ecosystem, but I figured I had the foundational knowledge to keep this little guy alive until I could learn more, and hell- those birds were getting plenty to eat from the lady throwing bread down the beach. I only describe all of this for whoever’s made it this far into my post (bless you!) to know that I didn’t make the exact rookie mistake of saying “ooh! I wanna keep it!” 

 

Now I’m by no means an expert, but I do have a passion for marine biology and even did a summer program at a coastal university last year to study marine bio - in which we briefly studied anemone’s - so I already knew a little about what I was dealing with. 

 

So I brought him home and set up the makeshift tank, and after about two weeks he was in the best condition I’d ever seen him in! I’d put some other shells from the beach in the tank and it was so funny to see him exploring around the tank, climbing up the walls and the filter tube (it’s okay, I turned it off), and falling over on himself while trying to ninja-roll over a shell (yes, I have a video :3). He eventually chose one of the shells and hasn’t moved since. We established our routine and stuck to it, but now he isn’t doing too well. I haven’t seen him in his normal, opened, inflated state in days, almost weeks - and he’s never since matched the liveliness of that second and third week (I don’t mean the wandering, I know that’s not a super frequent thing). My profile pic is of that time frame.

 

Also, he's been doing this thing where he appears to shed a layer of white-ish filmy skin-? I read that that could be a normal way of expelling a coat of bad bacteria, but have come up with mixed responses... If that IS the case, should I leave it be until it entirely detaches from him or can I clear what's only hanging on by a thread? And if this isn't normal, please give me your best guess. I realize I make it sound like he's expelling zooxanthellae, and he's done that a couple of times, but this is different.

 

And finally, in the last couple of days there has been stuff that's seemed similar to zooxanthellae that he's expelled through his mouth - it's also white/clear but a little thicker... I would think it's shrimp but I haven't fed him in a few days...

IMG-4063.thumb.JPG.31228a950746a7851e0f03915257c404.JPG

 

Help?
 

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Clown79

What did you do to cycle the tank and what are you using for biological filtration?

 

There is no rock in your tank and liverock is what's used for bio filter.

 

 

Anemones usually need good water quality and lighting.

 

Lighting on standard tanks isn't enough for anemones or corals. Unless you are using a light designed for corals, you will need to buy one.

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tHeKrAk3N

^ also ^^^^

 

im not aware of any beach that allows collection of native marine life except for kelp without a license, ive never had this issue my BTA.i just cant.

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Clown79
3 minutes ago, tHeKrAk3N said:

^ also ^^^^

 

im not aware of any beach that allows collection of native marine life except for kelp without a license, ive never had this issue my BTA.i just cant.

It's most likely not legal. 

 

Personally, it should have been thrown back into the ocean.

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specore

Don't see how this will work TBH.  The anemone most likely needs 1) a mature tank with live rock for bio filtration 2) more light than the led kit that came with your 5g tank can provide 3) temperate water,which would require a chiller

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Snow_Phoenix
19 minutes ago, Clown79 said:

Personally, it should have been thrown back into the ocean.

^This. 

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Anem-mom
6 minutes ago, Clown79 said:

What did you do to cycle the tank and what are you using for biological filtration?

 

There is no rock in your tank and liverock is what's used for bio filter.

 

 

Anemones usually need good water quality and lighting.

 

Lighting on standard tanks isn't enough for anemones or corals. Unless you are using a light designed for corals, you will need to buy one.

I dont have any biological filtration, the filter I'm using is a mechanical-? power filter with filter cartridges. sorry, still familiarizing myself with terms... And I'm in the process of getting some live rock, I just need to make sure he'll make it through these next few days... >.<

 

As far as lighting goes, I've been using this medium-sized LED lamp that I already had, but not often because he doesn't seem to like it very much. The water at the beaches in my state are pretty murky anyway, so I'm not sure he would've been getting too much light in the wild anyway. I can use both the hood's LED's (which are pretty bright) as well as the lamp I already had if you think he needs more...? He just never reacts well to it.

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Anem-mom
17 minutes ago, specore said:

The anemone most likely needs temperate water,which would require a chiller

1

I've also been monitoring temp, and kept it at a steady 70-72 degrees at all times.

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Anem-mom

Also, I've been using this site as my predominant source of info about the species...

Smithsonian Article *

thoughts?

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Anem-mom
26 minutes ago, Clown79 said:

Personally, it should have been thrown back into the ocean.

 

I understand. I realize that I had absolutely NO idea of what I was getting into. I accept and acknowledge that I made a serious mistake, but still, I'm going to do everything in my power to keep the little guy alive... and I could really use some more advice for that.

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Clown79

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calliactis_tricolor

 

 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326815167_First_record_of_Calliactis_tricolor_Le_Sueur_1817_Cnidaria_Actiniaria_Hormathiidae_in_the_Veracruz_reef_system_southwestern_Gulf_of_Mexico

 

 

 

They come from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

 

Which means warmer water and light.

 

He may be reacting poorly to the light because it may be the wrong spectrum and if he's gone without light, he will need acclimating.

 

 

It's not a commonly kept anemone in this hobby so getting a lot of specific advise for it will be hard.

 

I'm not sure how dependent it is on its symbiotic relationship with the hermit, that may be an issue if its very dependent.

 

 

Bio filter in sw is liverock and in a 5g, you want about 3lbs.

 

Depending on what rock you get will dependant on the tank going through a cycle which can kill the anemone.

 

You need cured liverock that is wet and kept wet during transport. which can be safely added without causing a mini spike or full out cycle.

 

I'm not sure how you cycled the current tank?

 

The first things I would recommend is reading up on

 

Biological filtration, mechanical filtration, chemical filtration.  lighting for reefs, anemone needs and care.

 

You may need to upgrade the whisper filter to something that can filter out the water properly. In Saltwater tanks you always go with a higher powered filter with custom media.

 

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OldManSea

The material being expelled is most likely “poop” since you are feeding regularly.    It is not expelling zooxanthellae, this species doesn’t really depend on those.  This anemone generally is found attached to hermit crab shells (the crabs place them there and transfer them to new shells when they change homes).  They occur throughout the Caribbean and up the East coast to southern Virginia (maybe farther north but I would need to do a better search).  When I was a student in South Carolina we often saw them washed up on the beach attached to shells.  We kept some in lab tanks for months and some may have there for years.  

 

On on the East coast they live in murky waters and our tanks never had lights over them, just the fluorescent lights in the ceiling nor did we have heaters or chillers.  Bob Fenner (well known Anemone aquarist) notes the same general conditions in his tanks.  Since you are in NC yours will not require heating or chilling of the water if it is in a house with typical temperatures.  Anemones are very “dirty” creatures when being fed.  I recommend that you change 100% of the water a few hours after feeding and again 3 or so days later.  You should get a sponge filter to grow bacteria to keep ammonia down - probably the major killer of these creatures in small tanks in captivity.  

 

Use artificial water - I use Instant Ocean for all my anemones.  Mix it in a 10 gallon plastic trash can and keep the water circulated with an air stone.  Let new water mix for at least 24 hours prior to using.  Use reverse osmosis or distilled water to make your salt water, never tap water.

 

If you keep the tank clean by doing massive water changes a couple of times each week your Anemone should live a long time.

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holy carp

The white film is probably mucous to protect against the toxic ammonia you're collecting in its tank.  Have you been testing ammonia?  Not sure how you can use the term cycling without understanding biological filtration.  We're talking about the nitrogen cycle - please read up on this ASAP if anything is unclear.

 

 

I've never heard of a bird eating an anemone.  Can't find anything online about birds eating anemones.  *sigh*

 

In any case, my take is this:  

  • You need a properly cycled system that manages ammonia and nitrites and preferably has some other biological activity - You need to ensure that ammonia is 0.  You don't have time to cycle a tank - you need to find a bacteria-populated substrate such as rock, sand, or sponges from an established system to achieve an immediate biofilter quickly enough to save your anemone.
  • You need sufficient water flow and movement to keep that biological activity going and provide sufficient aeration.
  • You need to maintain the right temperature - I don't know what water temperature averages where it was collected, but like @Clown79 said, probably quite a bit warmer than you have it right now.
  • You need a strong enough light to feed the anemone - They generally live in shallows so get a lot of sun all day long.

[EDIT: maybe according to @OldManSea lighting isn't as critical for this specific species.]

  • You need to supplement it with direct feeding - shrimp may be fine, but a variety will be most healthy in the long run.

 

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Daniel91

I think it’s sad that multiple statements goes to what should/could’ve been done instead. Obviously, sometimes thinking on our feet does not lead to the most desirable outcome.

 

Based on the time it took you to write the note, I can definitely see you care and you are doing everything in your power to save the little guy/girl. That is dedicated that deserves acknowledgement.

 

Unfortunatly I do not have any prober advise to give as I am fairly new to the reefing world but hopefully somebody will chip in soon enough.

 

 

Edit: Just saw some replies came through while I was typing this. Solid advise.

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Anem-mom

Thank you so much for all your insight, @OldManSea . I'll be sure to use the heater I just purchased... it supposedly maintains water temps at around 78F constantly.

Any tips for acclimation before I fully switch him over to the new tank?

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Anem-mom
25 minutes ago, Clown79 said:

They come from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

 

Which means warmer water and light.

 

He may be reacting poorly to the light because it may be the wrong spectrum and if he's gone without light, he will need acclimating.

 

 

That's right, I did read that. I'll be sure to use the heater I just got. I see that he may not need additional light... but just so I understand, how would you recommend doing lighting acclimation with a nem? 

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Anem-mom
23 minutes ago, holy carp said:

The white film is probably mucous to protect against the toxic ammonia you're collecting in its tank.  Have you been testing ammonia?  Not sure how you can use the term cycling without understanding biological filtration.  We're talking about the nitrogen cycle - please read up on this ASAP if anything is unclear.

  • You need a properly cycled system that manages ammonia and nitrites and preferably has some other biological activity - You need to ensure that ammonia is 0.  You don't have time to cycle a tank - you need to find a bacteria-populated substrate such as rock, sand, or sponges from an established system to achieve an immediate biofilter quickly enough to save your anemone.
  • You need sufficient water flow and movement to keep that biological activity going and provide sufficient aeration.

 

  • You need to supplement it with direct feeding - shrimp may be fine, but a variety will be most healthy in the long run.

 

 

I've been testing for Ammonia, yes. I do know a bit about tank cycling, but that was my misconception about the biological filtration... sorry. I'll read that right now. And my substrate is & has been live sand, so I do have that going for me.

 

I will keep the filter on constantly now, as I can adjust how much flow it has with the 5g one (previously couldn't, and I think it may have been too strong).

 

What would you recommend I use to supplement the shrimp in terms of feeding?

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specore
8 minutes ago, Anem-mom said:

I've been testing for Ammonia, yes. I do know a bit about tank cycling, but that was my misconception about the biological filtration... sorry. I'll read that right now. And my substrate is & has been live sand, so I do have that going for me.

 

I will keep the filter on constantly now, as I can adjust how much flow it has with the 5g one (previously couldn't, and I think it may have been too strong).

 

What would you recommend I use to supplement the shrimp in terms of feeding?

Any finely chopped fresh seafood (clams, oysters, scallops, etc) or finely chopped frozen silversides.  

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holy carp
11 minutes ago, specore said:

Any finely chopped fresh seafood (clams, oysters, scallops, etc) or finely chopped frozen silversides.  

Yes, I agree with this. 

 

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OldManSea
53 minutes ago, Anem-mom said:

Thank you so much for all your insight, @OldManSea . I'll be sure to use the heater I just purchased... it supposedly maintains water temps at around 78F constantly.

Any tips for acclimation before I fully switch him over to the new tank?

I would be careful about a temp as high as 78 for an Anemone from NC.  At the seabed,even a few hundred feet from shore it would never have experienced a temp so high.  Also, the heaters wit supposedly set temps can run a lot higher.  I would not upset a heater with this specimen.

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Anem-mom

Okay, so here's a pic of the new 5g tank "setup"... (I put quotes since I know its not much of one... BUT I know to avoid sunlight!)

IMG-4087.thumb.JPG.9524dab1fbb7f100db75022035fccc3f.JPG

 I don't have a protein skimmer yet, I'm also working on that... that's what the foam and surface film are from as I understand it.

Also, the black cylinder to the left of the tank is the heater, it was getting in the way of mixing the salt (and seems to enjoy being difficult) so I temporarily removed it. I have tested it, though.

 

here's the new power filter... (It's super loud if the lid sits on correctly, that's why I have it slightly off)

IMG-4088.thumb.JPG.c1e0591098852abffb240e0de6b2717d.JPG

 

and finally, the hood LED's :

IMG-4100.thumb.JPG.b7029bbfc020c643877990b264f95973.JPG

 

there is a silt-y layer sitting atop the live sand that collected after it settled, and it's very quick to be disturbed... That's normal I assume? There wasn't much of it in the 1g so I'm not familiar with how to deal with it, though it is the same exact sand (just more of it).

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Anem-mom
12 minutes ago, OldManSea said:

I would be careful about a temp as high as 78 for an Anemone from NC.  At the seabed,even a few hundred feet from shore it would never have experienced a temp so high.  Also, the heaters wit supposedly set temps can run a lot higher.  I would not upset a heater with this specimen.

actually, that's a relief... It was being difficult during setup anyways. And that makes total sense, I agree.

 

One more thing... how would you suggest I go about changing him from his old(er) water to the new one? I've been doing a bit of makeshift drip acclimation for a couple of hours (I don't have a siphon or anything to use but I understand what it is), but I think he needs to get into the new tank as soon as is possible without harming him more...

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Rob22

You need to ensure the salinity and temp is the same in the new tank as the old, then just move it over. The nem has already been through alot. Drip acclimation is done to bring the shipping water to the same parameters as your tank water. As long as your tank is the same, then just move it over. 

 

You also still dont have any biological filter in there. Live sand will have die off, which will cause ammonia. Do you have a saltwater fish store near you that may have cycled live rock? 

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Clown79
1 hour ago, Anem-mom said:

Okay, so here's a pic of the new 5g tank "setup"... (I put quotes since I know its not much of one... BUT I know to avoid sunlight!)

IMG-4087.thumb.JPG.9524dab1fbb7f100db75022035fccc3f.JPG

 I don't have a protein skimmer yet, I'm also working on that... that's what the foam and surface film are from as I understand it.

Also, the black cylinder to the left of the tank is the heater, it was getting in the way of mixing the salt (and seems to enjoy being difficult) so I temporarily removed it. I have tested it, though.

 

here's the new power filter... (It's super loud if the lid sits on correctly, that's why I have it slightly off)

IMG-4088.thumb.JPG.c1e0591098852abffb240e0de6b2717d.JPG

 

and finally, the hood LED's :

IMG-4100.thumb.JPG.b7029bbfc020c643877990b264f95973.JPG

 

there is a silt-y layer sitting atop the live sand that collected after it settled, and it's very quick to be disturbed... That's normal I assume? There wasn't much of it in the 1g so I'm not familiar with how to deal with it, though it is the same exact sand (just more of it).

That silt is normal if you didn't pre rinse the sand.

 

I use a the pre set Tetra heater and it's been fantastic but it is set to 78 so you have no control on temp. It turns off and stays off when the tank reaches 78.

 

The trick with these heaters is they must be submerged for 30mins prior to plugging in and that's where most ppl have issues with them.

 

You don't need a skimmer for a 5g tank.

 

Using proper filter media, a good filter,  the correct amount of flow, and doing waterchanges is enough for that tank.

 

As for lighting. Does the lid have blue leds because I would start with those only.

 

I have used all new sand, including live and have never seen an ammonia spike but you do need a bio filter.

 

I would try to get liverock from a store or caribsea life rock.

 

Caribsea life rock has bacteria injected so it's safe to use without causing a cycle. 

Not caribsea reef dry rock but the coloured man made bacteria injected Life rock.

 

It's fantastic rock if you can't get liverock.

 

If your temp and salinity match just put the nem in there. 

 

I would also buy Seachem prime in the invent you have an ammonia spike.

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TatorTaco

I know this comment isn't conducive to the topic, but I think Nano-Reef just netted a new reefer.  

Nobody is going to go through this much effort for 1 anenome.  She's already got a new tank, heater, filter, sand, and now is searching for rock.  I'm betting 2 months before she gets more corals.  :-)

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