Almost everyone wants a pair of clownfish and an anemone, but few hobbyists are actually successful in their attempts. The most widely available and cheapest sea anemone is the Condylactis species. Most hobbyists purchase this anemone because it looks cool, but are disappointed when they learn that most clownfish will not host in it. A Condylactis Anemone is a fine to purchase if you want to try an easy anemone, but you need to accept that your clownfish may not use it. These anemones can be kept under power compact lighting and are more tolerable to less than perfect water parameters.
Sea Anemone Tips
Most anemones will being to walk around if sufficient light, substrate, rock structure or water quality is not present. This can be devastating in a reef tank because they will sting most corals with their tentacles. Sometimes they will get sucked into a powerhead or pump if not attached to live rock. If they do not find a suitable place, they will often begin to bleach, wither and eventually start to die. If an anemone appears to be rotting or falling apart, immediately remove it from your aquarium, as it will release harmful ammonia into the water. Siphon or net out any free floating chunks.
The least difficult and most common anemones that most clownfish will host in are Bubble or Bulb Tip Anemones and Long Tentacle Anemones. More difficult anemones are Sebae, Ritteri or Magnificient and Carpet Anemones; these anemones should be avoided by beginners and do not make a good first anemone. Bulb and Long Tentacle Anemones require a minimum of Power Compact lighting, but T5 or Metal Halide Lighting is preferred by most. The aquarium should also be fairly established and contain no ammonia, nitrites and less than 20ppm of nitrates. Another popular anemone is the Rose Bulb Anemone which is a variety of the common green or white bulb anemone.
Buying a Sea Anemone
When you are ready to purchase an anemone, start by examining the base. Look to see that there are no visible rips or tears. Be sure the tentacles and anemone are fully inflated, and it does not appear bleached or faded out. Although some anemones are naturally cream colored, a transparent white is a strong indicator that the anemone is not healthy.
Acclimate the anemone to your aquarium and place its foot into a hole in the live rock or the proper substrate. They typically prefer a specific gravity of 1.025. The anemone should be placed in gentle water flow; if it is too turbulent it will blow away or move to a different location. If this happens, try placing the anemone in a new location. You may also shut off your powerheads for a few hours. Once the anemone is established you can begin feeding it pieces of krill, shrimp or even small fish once or twice a week. The anemone will typically deflate to consume food and then expel waste when it opens.
Clownfish Sea Anemone Hosting
Most wild clownfish will host an anemone almost immediately, but some will appear to have no interest. For uninterested wild caught clownfish and tank raised clownfish, getting the fish to host in an anemone can be difficult. Here are a few anemone hosting tips.
1. Wait a few hours after your aquarium lights have turned off.
2. Keep the lights off; the clownfish will appear to be in a trance.
3. Using your hand, gently guide the clownfish over to the anemone.
4. You may need to repeat these steps for a few nights, but the clownfish will eventually make the anemone its home.