Reef Builders is proud to welcome Morgan Moore as our newest contributor. Residing in Florida, she is is a professional coral aquaculturist and the owner of the Reef Gardener.
I have always been a champion of the underdog when it comes to corals in this hobby and what is considered the most popular at the moment, often times are not my favorites. Flower anemones (Epicystis crucifer) are a truly underappreciated animal, mainly because they do not host clown fish and most retailers only carry the common tan, white, army green color morphs.
Many people I talk with seem to think all anemones are created equal meaning they are hard to keep, move all around your tank killing corals in the process, grow very large, and will jump into your powerhead at a moment’s notice. The popular clownfish-hosting anemones, like rose bubble tip (Entacmaea quadricolor) and long tentacle anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis), do tend to support this belief.
Flower anemones may not host clownfish but they have so much more going for them. They are one of the easiest anemones to keep and once introduced to a rocky spot in your tank that has good light, they usually will never move. If they do move they creep and will not jump off into the water column. They do host porcelain crabs, sexy shrimp, and anemone shrimp which are very entertaining and interesting to keep in a reef tank.
Flower anemones can be kept in groups, creating a beautiful anemone garden. They love light as their main source of food and can also be trained to take mysis shrimp if you want your anemone to grow faster. Most flower anemones grow to about 5 to 6 in. wide and it takes a long time for most to reach this size without supplemental feedings.
Best of all, flower anemones come in some really phenomenal color morphs. I even received some slightly deeper water morphs this spring from Jesus Larralde of Farside Tropicals that I had never seen before. These particular flower anemones came from about 30 feet of water and preferred shadier areas of the reef compared to the more light-loving flower anemones I usually keep. Though these morphs are quite rare, there are plenty of neon colored flower anemones that are more readily available.
If you are looking to buck the status quo and try something new, do not hesitate to get one or more of these hardy, beautiful anemones that will be a definite standout in your tank.