Flowers of the Sea

When I first saw them in the tank, they were clinging to a large chunk of live rock, blowing in the current of the power head hanging in the corner.  I counted, saw 3 of them, each one a little different than the others.  On the tank was marked "rock anemone".  I was hooked.  When we think of an anemone, we think of the soft, gelatin like fingers, tipped in color....clown fish swimming through them happily, playing and hiding within the soft looking touch of that pillowed creature.  Anemones come in all different shapes and colors, and have different habits, likes, and dislikes.  I am just now beginning my research deeper into the invertebrate world, and anemones are top on my list of studies.  This will be another article like the Goby Article, which will grow in chapters as things happen/change, and as I get the time to post my findings. 

I spent a couple of weeks watching these anemones in the tank at the store.  They were peaceful, and oh, so pretty, and lasted far longer than some of the other anemones I'd seen pass through our tanks.  From the time I began my saltwater setup, the anemones appealed to me, the opportunity to hold one had me completely in love.  I watched them closely, and noticed how quickly many of the sebae anemones would loose their color, and begin to "shrivle up" as they withered completely away to nothing.  Anemone after anemone.  I consulted with Rob many times about this, as well as a few other people.  I also read every article I could find, every book in the store, looking for an answer.  It was explained to me that many anemones that are found in stores are dead long before they arrive.  It seems that this amazing creature somehow stores enough food and life energy to thrive for a short time after dying....until this stored supply runs out.  When they arrive in the stores, many are living on this stored supply of life, and once it's gone, we see the after effect of the lost flower.  Thus, with the anemone, the key is to find one that is alive and healthy before the task of finding it's correct environmental needs to keep it that way.  The anemone is not something I would recommend to a beginner in this hobby due to it's difficulty in keeping and the expense involved in finding a healthy specimen.  When the above parameters are established, the reward is absolutely fascinating and breath taking, and will captivate you for hours on end. 

The anemone is extremely sensitive to it's water conditions, even more so than any of the fish I have seen to this point.  This seems to be one of the things that the different species of anemone have in common.  The 3 in my salt water tank are my watchmen, and are always my first indication that something isn't right with my water levels.  When things are gauged as perfect, they are the most beautiful part of my tank (Sorry, Lucky!).  Most of the anemones I've seen are pretty immobile, but the 3 in my tank seem to really get around a lot.  During the course of my research it was explained to me that they will move around until they find a place they are happy, and will tend to stay there until something makes them unhappy, thus they begin a new search.  I honestly don't know if that's the only reason they move around, as I've watched mine, and the better they seem to do, the more they seem to move around.  I am still observing this, and will update in another chapter if this holds true over a period of time.  After much research, and some suggestions to kill them off, I finally believe I have identified their species; The Plume Anemone. I have been unable to find much information on this species specific, so I am still searching.  In the meantime, I have done much of my own observations, and this is what I will write about in this chapter of Flowers of the Sea.  Plans are to take pictures at the store again this weekend, so I hope to have plenty of them in this article by the time it's posted. 

OBSERVATION #1:  In The Beginning

The first thing I found out about the plume anemone is the difficulty in persuading them to move.  After a few weeks of saving, I could finally afford to buy one of them.  I spent much time in selecting which one to take, as I knew there was a chance the others would be sold before I could afford them.  The anemone I chose was buried deep inside a large piece of live rock, with another one of the anemones.  The basic structure of an anemone seems to be pretty basic, with the base of it, called the foot, making it mobile much in the same way a snail is mobile.  The soft gelatin like body molds to its surroundings, and when it finds a good spot to sit, it will fill the nearest hole to this spot.  The rock acts as it's protective barrier, much as the shell protects a snail from it's predators, and the anemone simply fills the hole.   My problem was the deep set hole my new anemone had found to occupy.  After paying for it, Rob and I approached the tank to attempt "anemone/rock separation" procedures. I began by moving the rock, hoping to find an angle that was "uncomfortable" for my anemone, and moving it out of it's "desired spot".  After doing this I began my wait, checking in on it every 15 minutes or so.  After 2 hours, and nearing the end of my shift, it hadn't moved in the slightest.  Concerned about not being able to afford the other anemone, and the rock they were in, I spoke to Rob again.  He quickly scribbled a "hold" on the tank, and told me that as soon as it moved, I could take it home.