Choosing a nem’ to host your Clownfish?


Personally I would look no further once I found a nice bubble tip!

In mine and many others opinion the best anemone to keep and to host a Clownfish has got to be a bubble-tipped anemone (commonly known as BTA’s).

This anemone is attractive, cheap, hardy and adaptable. It also hosts the largest range of Clownfish species: a whopping 13, and is not a fussy eater and usually don’t grow very big.

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It’s scientific name is Entacmaea quadricolor the bubble tip, bulb tip (or tipped) or Rose anemone. They come in colors from tan, green, orange, pink, red, purple – the red ones being commonly called Rose anemones.

Some stay small (only a few inches across when mature) and some can grow quite large (over 40 cm across).

They need a tank size of at least 30 gallons, prefer attaching to solid substrate and should be kept with a Clownfish to be optimally happy.

bubble tipped anemones

Bubble tips are undoubtedly some of the most attractive anemones (image credit Ken Traub)


How to ensure your bubble tip actually has bubbles

This anemone is easily recognized by the cool looking “bubble” swelling on each tentacle just before the tip. But many bubble tips don’t have bubbles or they lose them…

Usually specimens that have very short or very long tentacles do not form bubbles, so avoid these ones.

Popular theory goes that BTA’s that host anemonefish and enjoy high intensity lighting are much more likely to grow and retain their bubbles.

bulb tipped anemones

BTA’s can host 13 different species of Clownfish! (image credit: John Mundy)

Other advantages of keeping bubble tips

  • This type of anemone does not often roam around the aquarium, once it finds a spot it likes, which is nice
  • They are easy to “frag” by splitting yourself (in 4 with a razor blade through the mouth) or naturally
  • They thrive with “reef” minerals such as iodine and the same conditions (water quality and lighting) found in a reef aquarium
  • Most corals are resistant to their stings except some SPS corals which may get hurt if a BTA gets too close
  • They are usually going to be the easiest anemone to pair your Clownfish up with, in an aquarium they even host anemonefish their never found with in the wild
  • They have separate sexes, individuals are male or female, and they will spawn from time to time by releasing large numbers of sperm and eggs into surrounding waters – awesome!
  • BTA’s are very easy to place: put them on a hard surface and they will take care of themselves moving slightly to find their ideal spot if they don’t like where you’ve put them. They will typically put their foot down a hole or crevice.
  • Bubble tips are also not too fussy when it comes to water movement as long as they don’t have a powerhead pointed directly at them.


Clownfish hosting

The color variation of bubble tips is impressive (image credit: Robert Howie)


Top tips for thriving bubble tips

  • BTA’s are primarily photosynthetic but also benefit from meaty supplementary feeding – less feeding is necessary when hosted by an Anemonefish because the fish actually can feed them and the nem’ gets nutrition from their droppings.
  • For optimal bubble tips feed at least once per week chopped up shrimp, brine shrimp, shellfish or fish with a turkey baster or by hand. Feed into their tentacles and don’t ever squirt food into their mouths as they can overeat and die
  • Metal halide lighting is unnecessary for bubble tips, they thrive with T5’s, LED’s, power compacts or VHO fluoros
anemone tips

Big bubbles means maximum health (image credit: Shenghung-lin)

  • When selecting your BTA look for firm attachment to a solid substrate (preferably glass) expanded and not droopy tentacles, no shriveling, a closed mouth and of course no damage to the foot
  • When it comes to size choose small ideally around 3 to 4 inches in diameter. This size usually has the best chance of handling the trials of shipping the best.
  • If the tentacles appear elongated and stringy, your BTA probably doesn’t have enough light or is not being fed enough.

I totally think a BTA is your best bet for hosting an anemone and they also happen to be my favorite saltwater aquarium anemone, comment below if you have any tips or tricks I haven’t covered!

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