Bubble Tip Anemone Propagation is possible through the act of cutting your anemone in half using sharp scissors or a razor blade.
Common Names: Bubble Tip Anemone or BTA
Skill Level: Moderate
Light Level: High
Water Flow: Moderate
Water Conditions: 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025
This posting will outline the steps taken to propagate your bubble tip anemone. I have read that it is possible to propagate other anemone species this same way but I have not yet had a chance to try this on other species. At the time of this posting I have cut both green bubble tip anemones and rose bubble tip anemones successfully using the same method outlined below.
Before you cut you cut your bubble tip anemone you need to make sure that the anemone is healthy enough to survive the process. If your anemone has not been in its current tank for at least five months I do not suggest you cut it yet. I also recommend not cutting your BTA until they are at least six inches across. If the anemone is too small the survival rate drops. If you research other sites or forums it has been brought up several times that you can cut your anemones every two weeks but I find this to be very unrealistic. I have spoken with other anemone farmers and the general consensus seems to be cutting every two to three months. This seems to be the average amount of time for anemone to heal and double in growth and in turn it can be cut again. Maybe it’s possible someone has figured out the secret to cutting every two weeks but unfortunately I have not.
After you have selected the anemone you wish to cut, remove it from the tank. If it is an anemone kept in a display tank most likely it will be connected to some live rock. Removing a bubble tip anemone from live rock is an extremely slow process and can be incredibly frustrating. Just make sure you are not too rough and tear the anemones foot. If you do damage to the anemone you might as well put it back in the tank to heal instead of cutting it.
Pulling the anemone off the rock requires a very gentle touch. I have read what is considered a few tricks, such as rubbing ice around the base of the anemone, but I have never had much luck with them and I’m not too sure it’s entirely safe for the anemone either. If I am trying to cut an anemone which is attached to a rock I put on a pair of gloves and very slowly pick at his foot until it releases from the rock. Something to keep in mind is that bubble tip anemone propagation can leave your hands very stinky if you don’t wear gloves!
Once you have removed the anemone from the rock lay it on a flat surface and spread out its tentacles. The purpose is to figure out where you are going to cut the anemone.
You will want to cut the anemone as perfectly in half as possible. This includes getting half of the mouth and half of the foot, which is extremely important. Do your best to make one single clean cut. Sawing on the anemone or having multiple cuts is just asking for the anemone to get an infection or never heal properly and die. I prefer to use scissors to cut bubble tip anemones but a large razor blade works as well. After cutting your bubble tip anemone in half place them in a bucket of tank water for 20 to 30 minutes. The cut pieces will produce large amounts of slime and release stinging cells from the cut tentacles which you do not want in your tank. I have read that some bubble tip anemone propagators will place disinfectant chemicals in the bucket and claim it helps with the survival rate of the anemones. I have never tried this so I cannot really comment on this subject or if it helps or not.
After your 30 minute wait remove the anemones and place them inside some type of container inside the aquarium. Make sure the container will allow some water flow through it. Placing them in the container is important because after cutting, the bubble tip anemones are weak and have difficulty attaching in a strong water flow and you don’t want the newly cut bubble tip anemone sucked into a power head. It may not seem like that big of a deal but the placement of your holding container is important. Try to place it in equal lighting or less. If the container is soaking up too much light it could kill your anemones since they will have no rocks to hide under.
Within the first hour you should be able to see the newly cut anemones pulling their body back together.
By the next day you should see the anemones fully pulled together (this does not mean healed) and attached to your container floor.
I usually leave the cut anemones in the container for a few days to make sure they are safe. A good indicator if the anemone can be removed from the container is if it has started to crawl around. This usually means it’s healthy enough to be removed and placed back in its normal tank.
A few things I have learned from BTA propagation that should be mentioned again:
- Make sure the blades you cut with are very clean between each cutting. If the blade is dirty it’s very possible the anemone will suffer from an infection.
- Do not try to cut an anemone that is too small it most likely will not survive. I recommend cutting anemones which are six inches or larger.
- One single clean cut through the anemone is extremely important. If your cuts are ragged or the anemone is shredded it is highly probable one or both halves will die.
- Once you begin your cut try not to drop the anemone when it starts to scream…just kidding.
- I have read that keeping different colors of BTA’s together in the same propagation system is a bad thing. I have never noticed a drawback to this so I currently keep different colors together.
- A good indicator if a previously cut anemone is ready to be propagated again is if it begins moving around in the aquarium from where you originally placed it.
- Do not feed your anemone for a few days before you cut it.
- Do not feed the anemone for about a week after you cut it.
While it may seem cruel to treat a living animal this way I look at it from this point of view. The more anemone propagation handled by reef keeping enthusiasts the less bubble tip anemones are removed from their natural habitat.
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