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Sea Anemone

Cribrinopsis fernaldi

Sea Anemone

Although Sea Anemones look like flowers, they are predatory animals. These invertebrates have no skeleton at all. They live attached to firm objects in the seas, usually the sea floor, rock, or coral, but they can slide around very slowly. Sea anemones are very long lived. Hermit crabs sometimes attach sea anemones to their shells for camouflage.

Habitat and Distribution :
There are over 1000 species of anemones found in coastal waters worldwide, in shallow waters (including coral reefs), and in deep oceans.

Mutualism :
Clown fish always live near anemones; they are immune from (and protected by) the stinging tentacles. The clown fish help the anemone by cleaning the tentacles (as the fish eat detritus) and perhaps by scaring away predators.

Anatomy :
Sea Anemones come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Radially symmetric, they have a columnar body with a single body opening, the mouth, which is surrounded by tentacles. The tentacles protect the anemone and catch its food; they are studded with microscopic stinging capsules. Sea Anemones are usually about 1 to 4 inches (2.5-10 cm) across, but a few grow to be 6 feet (1.8 m) across.

Diet :
ea Anemones are carnivores that eat marine fish, mussels, zooplankton (like copepods, other small crustaceans, and tiny marine larvae), and worms. They catch food using the tentacles, which have poisonous stingers (called nematocysts).

Predators :
Sea Anemones are eaten by very few animals. Their predators include the Grey Sea Slug and the Tompot Blenny.

Reproduction :
Sea Anemones reproduce by lateral fission (in which an identical animal sprouts out of the anemone's side) and by sexual reproduction (in which anemones release eggs and sperm, producing free-swimming larvae).

Behavior :
Although sea anemones can be deadly to lots of fish, some fish have a symbiotic connection with them. For example, clownfish often put out of sight among anemones of the Heteractis and do not get stung. Clownfish generate mucous on their bodies that stop the anemones from stinging them. Because most fish cannot get near to anemones without being stung and eaten, the clownfish is sheltered from predators.

Interesting facts about Anemones :

  • Zooxanthella prepares food through photosynthesis in response to daylight and the anemones that contain these algae acquire nutrients in this way.
  • Anemones acquire most of their nutrients from zooxanthellae algae. They must have the accurate lighting for a reef tank or they will not stay alive.
  • In addition to the food that zooxanthellae containing anemones acquire through photosynthesis, they also have nematocysts, which are hard tentacles used to obtain food like fishes or crustaceans

Different species of Sea anemones