Bubble Tip Anemones are a beautiful and interesting animal that many aquarists want to own. In fact, we get questions about them all the time!
They’re fairly low maintenance and they can add a really neat look to your tank.
But Bubble Tip Anemone care requires you to have a strong understanding of these invertebrates if you want them to thrive. They’re not as easy to own as many people think!
This guide will go over everything you need to know about these animals if you want to keep them in your tank. By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll be ready to go.
Table of Contents
Bubble Tip Anemones (Entacmaea quadricolor) are one of the most popular marine invertebrates around. They’re a staple in the trade and are often the first exposure aquarists get to marine fish-keeping.
These anemones are beautiful creatures that never get boring. Thanks to the symbiotic relationship they form with certain fish, they are a joy to watch and care for.
In the wild Bubble Tip Anemones are widespread. They’re mostly found residing in tropical waters in the Indo-Pacific area. Today, the invertebrates are readily available from most fish shops.
This species splits and propagates very easily in the right conditions, resulting in large captive populations throughout the world!
Appearance & Types
Bubble Tip Anemones are unique sea creatures with a distinct look. As their trade name would imply, the anemone features tentacles with a bulbous tip.
Author Note: Currently, scientists aren’t quite sure why these bulbs form. Some theorize that the shape is related to light while others believe it’s caused by diet. Either way, the tentacle shape is what distinguishes the anemone from other species.
The length of the tentacles can vary. The same goes for the size and shape of the bulb. With some specimens, the bulb is accompanied by a small tip.
Interestingly enough, the tentacles can change based on the anemone’s environment. Those found in deeper waters with less light tend to have long tentacles. They usually lack the iconic bulbous tip and take on a more stringy look.
This can occur in low-light aquariums as well. However, most captive anemones are going to look like wild specimen found closer to the surface. They feature the familiar short tentacles with the bubble tip.
Below the splay of tentacles is the anemone’s foot. The foot is delicate. Yet, it has simple muscle fibers that help the creature move and anchor onto rocks.
There are several types of Bubble Tip Anemones available for in the saltwater aquarium trade. They all have similar physical features. The difference lies in color and behavior.
Rose Bubble Tip Anemone
Rose Bubble Tip Anemones are, by far, the most common type you’ll see on the market. They’re prolific propagators, which undoubtedly contributes to their popularity. This type is quite affordable and is a good option for first-time anemone owners.
The color is beautiful and stands out well in natural decor. The anemone takes on a deep pink color, hence its name.
Rainbow Bubble Tip Anemone
Here’s a Bubble Tip Anemone that’s usually considered to be “exotic.” They’re rarer than standard Rose varieties. Pricing usually reflects that.
The base of the Rainbow Bubble Tip Anemone is vibrant neon blue. This color gradually fades into a rose color on the tips of the tentacles. They’re a beautiful variety that can add a lot of color to your tank.
Green Bubble Tip Anemone
Green Bubble Tip Anemones are fairly common. Like the Rose variety, these anemones are quite affordable and readily available in the trade.
The tentacles take on a greenish-blue color. It blends in nicely with the surrounding rocks. However, it can also glow under the right lighting conditions.
Black Widow Bubble Tip Anemone
If you can get your hands on a Black Widow Bubble Tip Anemone, jump on the opportunity. This is a rare variety that can cost several hundred dollars.
These anemones are highly sought-after because of their blood-red color. The color isn’t very common with coral or invertebrates. As a result, it offers a nice contrast in your tank. Pair the anemone with contrasting fish and you’ll have a beautiful display.
When they’re first sold, Bubble Tip Anemones usually measure a few inches in diameter. However, they can quickly grow to about a foot wide!
Author Note: Once they reach their maximum length, most will split for preservation.
Bubble Tip Anemone Care
Many new and seasoned aquarists dream of owning these invertebrates. But proper Bubble Tip Anemone care requires a bit of work to keep these creatures healthy!
In short, we usually don’t recommend them for first-time aquarists. Having thorough knowledge about these animals is a must.
The invertebrates are sensitive to water changes and require pristine conditions to stay in good shape. Failing to meet their needs can result in early death and damage to the tank environment as a whole.
If you’re thinking about caring for a Bubble Tip Anemone, here are some requirements and guidelines you need to know.
The most important thing you’ll need to take care of before you bring your anemone home is perfecting the tank and water conditions. You should never place a Bubble Tip Anemone into a tank you just set up.
Take some time to get parameters just right and let the closed environment cycle for several months. This ensures that conditions are stable and safe.
Bubble Tip Anemones prefer warmer temperatures. Water should be on the alkali side as well. Monitor water conditions regularly to avoid any major changes. Ammonia and nitrate levels should be undetectable at all times.
Here are some water parameters to follow.
- Water temperature: Between 72°F and 82°F (stay close to the middle of this range)
- pH level: 8.1 to 8.4
- Water hardness: 8 to 12 dKH
- Specific gravity: 1.023 to 1.025
We highly recommend investing in an accurate water test kit and performing regular tests early on. This will make sure the water conditions are optimal before you begin decreasing the frequency of the tests.
Tank Setup & Placement
Bubble Tip Anemones do well in standard tank natural aquarium setups. The only major requirement these creatures will need in terms of decoration is live rock.
This species is a bit unique in how it anchors itself into place. Rather than anchoring its foot into the sand, it anchors underneath the rock. As a result, the anemone doesn’t disturb the sand (in most cases).
Author Note: One thing you will need to be wary of is coral. The anemone will use its tentacles to sting the coral, which can kill your live coral. There must be several inches of space between the anemone and any coral in the tank to avoid any problems.
When you first introduce the anemone to the tank, turn down any pumps. The flow should be minimal until the anemone gets settled in. Chances are, your new Bubble Tip Anemone will move around the tank until it finds a suitable spot to call home.
If it starts to move towards any coral, simply direct your water jets to the coral. This will discourage the anemone from anchoring near it. It will move to another area to attach.
Bubble Tip Anemone lighting is a very important aspect of their care. These creatures need a lot of light to truly thrive because they’re photosynthetic.
Basically, that means that they absorb light to make food and grow.
The anemone has zooxanthellae in its body, which are symbiotic microorganisms they feed on. Without proper lighting, the anemone will expel the zooxanthellae and turn white. This process is called bleaching and often leads to death.
Moderate to high lighting levels can be achieved in several ways. You can use appropriate LED lights, metal halide lights, or even fluorescent bulbs.
Author Note: Keep the lights on for about 12 hours every day for proper development.
A moderate amount of flow is recommended. Many aquarists agree that too much flow will cause the anemone to stretch out and look stringy. Keeping things moderate will help avoid this from happening.
More importantly, avoid directing your jets at the anemone. The creatures enjoy subtle movement at all times. But too much direct flow hitting the anemone will force it to move.
Bubble Tip Anemones feeding is one of the easiest parts of their care. These animals get food from a lot of different sources.
As we mentioned earlier, they are photosynthetic and use light to create food. However, they will also eat food off of the fish they host.
All that said, you still need to provide occasional meals. Periodic feedings help improve color and overall health.
You can provide protein-based snacks several times a week. These anemones enjoy small morsels of shrimp and squid. They will also accept many frozen foods.
To feed the anemone, attach the food to a stick or large tweezers. Then, touch the anemone with it. The creature will use its tentacles to grab onto the food and consume it.
Author Note: Be careful when feeding the invertebrate. Do not poke it or shove food towards its mouth.
At most, you should feed your anemone three times per week. If there is an Anemonefish in the tank, you can reduce those feedings. The fish will actively provide nourishment for this invertebrate!
Like all anemones, Bubble Tips are simple creatures that aren’t very active. Once they anchor themselves in, they will usually stay there and act more like plants than living animals.
That said, Bubble Tip Anemones do have a reputation of being a bit more active than most species.
You might see the creature moving slowly to new spots every once in a while. They can also close up or spread depending on the conditions.
Of course, the most important behavior of the Bubble Tip Anemones is playing host to fish. These creatures can host a wide range of Clownfish, which are also referred to as Anemonefish.
They’re known to host species like:
- Gold Maroon
- Red Saddleback
How To Induce Splitting For Propagation
There are a couple of ways to induce splitting. Oftentimes, Bubble Tip Anemones will split naturally as they grow. This can also occur when the fish becomes stressed.
Author Note: Splitting is an act of self-preservation. You can use this knowledge to grow your population and propagate future generations.
The easiest method is to simply feed them more frequently. The more you feed the anemone, the faster it will grow. This doesn’t mean you should feed the anemone larger chunks of food.
Instead, consider providing small snacks every day. Once it reaches its maximum size of about 12 inches, it will naturally split off into smaller pieces that you can then propagate.
As you can tell, Bubble Tip Anemone care is not something to be scared of. As long as you follow the recommended care guidelines you should be just fine!
If you’re on the fence about getting these animals we definitely recommend it. For such a low-activity animal they’re actually quite fun to look at.
If you have any other questions about this beautiful invertebrate, feel free to ask us directly. We love helping (and hearing from) our readers!