Introduction to the Long Tentacle Anemone

The Long Tentacle Anemone, Macrodactyla doreensis, is also known as the Corkscrew Anemone. It’s a very nice, large growing anemone with the ability to reach up to 19” (48 cm). It has a brownish/red – orange coloring with some very distinct white spots seen on its foot. Many people place is low in tank for this reason.

It does well with bright lighting, some fine substrates of sand or mud and mature reef. Ensure you have at least 4” of substrate or even deeper. Crushed coral is not recommended as the anemone can lacerate its foot.

As seen in the Bubble Tip Anemones, these Long Tentacles Anemones don’t always house Clownfish. However, they will on occasion form symbiotic relationships with them. If housing in a tank, don’t expect the relationship to be guaranteed as its fairly low chances. Regardless, they are a beautiful anemone on their own.

The Long Tentacle Anemone

Long Tentacle Anemone Quick Facts

  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Hardiness: Sensitive
  • Minimum Tank Size: 100 gal (380 L)
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate to high
  • Temperature: 72° – 82° F (22.2° – 27.8° C)
  • Gravity: 1.023 – 1.025

This anemone has venomous cells or nematocysts in their tentacles, which are used for both capturing food and also stinging and deflecting any threats or attacks from predators or other corals. Some of their predators include predator sea stars, some butterfly fish and some angelfish. Like other anemones, if it is mobile a lot and not settled, it means it’s not happy.

The Long Tentacle anemone is also known as the Snaky Sea Anemone, Red Base Anemone, Sand Anemone, Corkscrew Long Tentacled Anemone and the Corkscrew Anemone. When you are purchasing one of these, ensure you are not buying a bleached one or one that has been artificially colored. Bleaching can be fatal as it will purge all of the fake coloring before turning back to its original color of tan or brown.

Description

This anemone can be described as having a soft spongy body that can be tube shaped as well. Its pedal column has a sticky foot that as is able to adhere to different surface types. This foot will also allow them to be mobile in order to find the ideal spot. Its color is brown, reddish brown-orange and will have white spots on its foot.

Their tentacles are spaced further apart than that of other similar anemones, with these surface tentacles surrounding a mouth or oral disc in the center. Tentacles will be white with purple, tan, pinkish or pink tips. These tentacles will either be a basic shape, corkscrew or striated pattern.

Their mouth or oral disc should be closed tightly and only open when hungry. Open, gaping mouths are a big sign of ill health. The Long Tentacle Anemone will take food in and expel waste from the same hole. Some anemones will be found with Acrorhagi which are smaller tentacles found in the underside of the mouth and will be exposed when the anemone is closed up.

The Long Tentacle Anemone in captivity

Aquarium

A sand only substrate, typical live rock/reef setup is what is required for this anemone. You should have at least 1 foot in diameter of mud or sand for them to settle in. The anemone will extend its foot through the sand and attach itself to a hard surface. Once this is done, it will stay here if it feels comfortable, if not it will begin to move around the tank in search of a better spot. If housing any anemones, ensure all of your pumps are covered as they are known to get caught up in them during walkabouts.

Long Tentacle Anemone Aquarium & Parameter Checklist

  • Minimum Tank Size: 100 gal (380 L)
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate to high
  • Temperature: 72° – 82° F (22.2° – 27.8° C)
  • Specific gravity: 1.023 – 1.025
  • Alkalinity Levels: 3.5 – 4.8 MEQ/L (8 – 11 dKh)
  • Calcium: 380 – 430 ppm
  • Phosphates: 0 (Avoid Phosphates)
  • Magnesium Levels: 1200 – 1350
  • Strontium Levels: 8 – 10
  • Water Movement: Low
  • Tank Region: Bottom

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Young Clownfish with a Long Tentacle Anemone

Difficulty

This coral is known to be quite difficult to look after as they have high lighting requirements and need to be kept in a large enough tank to support their potential size. Adding them to a new tank will see them perish, so a tank of at least 1 years maturity is a minimum.

When choosing a Long Tentacle Anemone to purchase, ensure they hold a good color and their mouth is not open and gaping and the foot and tentacles are sticky when you touch them. Ideally, they should be already attached to something. If possible, inspect the foot for any damage that can come from being pulled off the rocks.

If moving from one aquarium to another during purchase, use a thin blunt object to gently wiggle under the foot. A credit card is good or a plastic spoon. Slowly nudge it away from the glass and massage its foot at the same time. If it is already attached to a rock, purchase the whole rock with it and take it home. If not, gently wiggle the rock upside down in front (but not directly) of a water pump and gently tickle its foot.

Foods and Feeding

The Long Tentacle Anemone are carnivores in the wild and are well equipped for such a diet. They will receive nutrition on a daily basis from their zooxanthellae which lives within their tissue. They also have venomous cells or nematocysts in their tentacles which are used to sting and capture prey. They have the ability to absorb nutrients from the water and will also consume waste such as that from Clownfish. They do not rely on Clownfish to feed them but will accept any chucks of food that they do take them.

You can feed your anemone with chopped fresh fish, mussels, krill, shrimp and silversides as well as frozen carnivore preparations. If Clownfish are hosted by your anemone, do not rely on them to feed your anemone. They often will prioritize themselves and not feed the anemone. You can offer them larger pieces of food that they may take down to the anemone or just consume themselves.

Social

A happy, healthy and comfortable anemone will stay put once they are settled. These anemones are however considered semi-aggressive as they can wander around your tank causing a bit of destruction. Adding them to a reef tank should be done very cautiously. Other corals can’t move away so will perish if the anemone continues to sting it. Some hobbyists will completely avoid adding them at all as they don’t wish to risk their precious corals.

Adding an anemone is often best done early before adding other corals. Once an anemone has made itself a home and is settled for some months, it can be safe to add other corals around your tank. Also, be mindful if you are stocking sessile inverts. When adding corals to your tank that has an anemone, sticking them to movable rocks and plugs will give you the chance to move them and save them if your anemone decides to go for a walk.

Different species need to be housed away from each other, at least 2-3 feet so large tanks are needed if you are keeping more than 1. They require having their own space, and if they are placed too close to each other a “chemical war” between species can begin. This war will often cause one of them not to eat, shrink and die. Having a large tank of over 100 gallons and great filtration will generally create an environment for 2 different anemone species to be kept. Some people will build natural blockades to prevent them from wandering over to each other. Adding them when they are young and small can also be a safe way of starting them out.

Breeding – Reproduction

Propagating this anemone is not suggested as so far, they never seem to recover from it. Anemones are able to multiply both sexually and asexually. One method is by using fission, which is when the Anemone will split in half from its foot or mouth and will form a clone of itself. The clone is in fact its own animal, similar to that of twins.

They can also reproduce by using female and male sex glands, or even locate another anemone that is the opposite sex. From this will come the production of ciliated planula larvae which will fall to the sea floor, eventually develop a pedal dish and start to grow into a whole new anemone.

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