Quicker Than A Ray Of Light (The Sunburst Anemone)

No, I am not talking about Madonna! The Sunburst Anemone is much more interesting, at least more family friendly! This anemone was actually created in Colorado, not the sea! It is a strain of Ectacmaea Quadricolor, but not your every day rose. This bad boy is ORANGE! There is another anemone in the sea that lives off the California coast that is a whole other monster and should not be confused with the Bubble Tipped version.


sunburst bubble tipped anemone image via reef2reef member @ladyreefer1983

Anthopleura sola is a solitary anemone that is closely related the aggregated anemone, but was not named as its own species until a short time ago. They are a solitary anemone that does not clone. They are territorial and will even sting each other for space. Like all anemone, they are very responsive to movement and lighting. These are only found off the coast of California and are populating more and more as the ocean is heating up from global warming. These are NOT the ones you want in your reef tank. They are very pretty, though in comparison to the Colorado raised Sunburst, which is not related, they do not truly live up to their name.


anthopleura sola anemone via wunderground.com

The Sunburst morph of Ectacmaea Quadricolor is a much more suitable reef inhabitant. Bubble Tips are much more peaceful and will host clownfish quite readily. The combination of a pair of designer clowns in a Sunburst Bubble Tip is outstanding! These anemones are very bright. Under actinic lighting they stand out more than most other inhabitants in the aquarium. Lighting is an extreme factor in this creatures bright color.


image via reef2reef member @Reefer831

The best way to keep the Sunburst BTA’s color as orange as it can is to have the best lighting available. Metal halides in the 20,000K spectrum with purple and actinic T5HO supplements will give you ultimate viewing pleasure. LEDs seem to make the anemone loose its rich color and can even start to resemble a Lemon Drop BTA. Originally, these were propagated under VHO lighting. As long as you have a lot of power and a quality fixture the anemone will look great. Playing with the lighting is playing with the color of the creature as well. Experiment to find what looks best to you.

Like all BTAs, these creatures need mature tanks. They can potentially sting corals, so adding them before you have a full blown reef is much less risky. These guys also do not move much once they find a spot on the tank they like, but are capable of mobility. They all accept clownfish as long as the clownfish accepts them. If they do, feeding the anemone is no longer your job! Otherwise they need a regular mixed meaty diet along with a variety of zooplankton, usually picked up in the water column from feeding other corals.

They appreciate strong lighting and will split on their own in a healthy environment. Keeping your pH around 8.2 and waste parameters down as low as humanly possible will ensure a healthy clone. Feeding them more frequently will also make them grow faster and induce self fragging. Another wonderful thing about all BTAs is their ease of manual fragging. If you can cut a pie, you can cut one of these guys!


fragging anemone by cutting in half

There are a couple ways to successfully clone your specimen. Before you do anything you should be wearing gloves and safety goggles. The nematocysts can really do some damage to open wounds and eyeballs. The simple method requires nothing more than a pair of very sharp shears. Grab the anemone and hold it in your hand to locate its oral disc. Once you have located that, locate its foot. You want the oral disc to be directly over the foot, resembling a flattened mushroom with tentacles. Take your shears and cut the anemone across its diameter, making sure part of the oral disc is on both sides of the incision. You can cut the anemone multiple times if it is large enough. The next method is to use a razor or surgical blade on a cutting surface. Simply slice it like a pizza! This may be a better approach for cutting multiple clones. Either way is acceptable. After they are sliced up try to put them as close to their original location as possible while they heal back into a fully formed Sunburst BTA.

These are some awesome looking anemones that will stand out in anyone’s tank. Even the clownfish will love the thing! The best part about this amazing morph is that it is 100% made in the USA! There is no chance that you have a wild caught specimen unless someone broke the law and released one into the ocean. The natural sunlight would most likely make it loose its amazing color and it would probably overpopulate unless it was put in an environment that BTAs naturally inhabit.


image via reef2reef member @MarvinsReef
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