Developing anemone aquaculture for the marine aquarium trade: A case study using the bubble‐tip anemone Entacmaea quadricolor

Gordon J. Watson, Joanne Younger

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Anemones are important aquaculture targets for the marine aquarium trade. We explore survival and growth of whole (W) and half (H) bubble-tip anemones (Entacmaea quadricolor) under: no food (−F−N), directed feeding (+F−N) and/or providing dissolved nutrients (−F+N, +F+N). Treatment effects were assessed using multiple endpoints including: survivorship, weight loss, behaviour and symbiotic-community responses. Survival analysis confirms highly significant differences among treatments. All treatments resulted in weight loss, but only +F−N resulted in significantly lower weight loss than -F+N. All anemones were highly mobile; however, no significant differences for days active, upside down and detached were recorded and the vast majority of anemones did not expel zooxanthellae. Zooxanthellae and chlorophyll pigment concentrations varied over time indicating host-symbiont plasticity. Cutting does not affect zooxanthellae number or pigment concentrations, but dissolved nutrient delivery significantly reduces zooxanthellae numbers and the chlorophyll C concentration per zooxanthellae cell compared with controls. Cutting is a simple culture method that should be routinely used, but more precise regulation of nutrient delivery and feeding is required before they can be incorporated. Finally, for hobbyists to make informed decisions about choosing an anemone, we recommend a review of E. quadricolor's and other species’ suitability for long-term aquarium captivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2697-2707
JournalAquaculture Research
Issue number7
Early online date20 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


  • marine ornamental trade
  • aquaculture
  • cnidarian
  • sea anemone
  • symbiosis


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