Bubble Tip Anemone: A Simple Care Guide for Saltwater Aquariums

Updated on August 1, 2019
ssaffery profile image

I own a green bubble tip anemone. I am fascinated by these beautiful creatures, and I enjoy sharing what I've learned about them.

Caring for a Bubble Tip Anemone

Bubble tip anemones come in all sorts of colors. Green is the most common color. Their scientific name is Entacmaea quadricolor, and this article will go over some of the basic care requirements as well as a few characteristics of this type of anemone. This article will also feature photos and videos of my very own green bubble tip anemone that I bought October 20, 2013.

How to Select a Healthy Bubble Tip Anemone

  • Make sure the anemone's foot is not damaged or cut as this is the most important thing to look for when buying a new anemone. Do not buy a damaged foot anemone.
  • Make sure the mouth is not gaping wide open with the stomach expelled. Do not buy a "barfed" anemone.
  • Do not buy a "white"/pale anemone as they have expelled all their symbiotic zooxanthellae. Anemones are photosynthetic and absorb sunshine into their bodies, which the anemone then converts into algae and eats to make energy for strength and growth. Without zooxanthellae, anemones cannot photosynthesize—so do not buy a "white"/pale one. Zooxanthellae gives the anemone "color," so you will know the anemone lost all its zooxanthellae because it looks bleached.
  • A non-sticky anemone is okay to buy. They will become sticky again once established in your home saltwater aquarium.
  • Make sure the anemone is not constantly closed up.
  • Make sure the anemone anchored its foot to something; even the glass bottom is okay.
  • Always ask the pet store owner what day the anemone was brought in.
  • You will know a bad anemone when you see one. Avoid buying it.


Do not buy a bubble tip anemone if your saltwater aquarium is less than 6 months old. The pH in your aquarium is not stable enough yet.

Proper Acclimation

  1. Float the bagged anemone in your aquarium for 20 minutes to let it acclimate to the temperature.
  2. Slowly drip your aquarium water into the bag for an hour. One hour is recommended; 2 hours is best.
  3. Discard the water in the bag and transfer the anemone into your saltwater aquarium.
  4. Bubble tip anemones prefer to attach their foot inside the rock crevices of your saltwater aquarium, so place the anemone within the rocks of your aquarium.

This is my new bubble tip anemone being acclimated at 4:30pm October 20, 2013 in my saltwater aquarium. The anemone is still inside the bag, and the bag is floating inside my saltwater aquarium.
This is my new bubble tip anemone being acclimated at 4:30pm October 20, 2013 in my saltwater aquarium. The anemone is still inside the bag, and the bag is floating inside my saltwater aquarium.

Proper Saltwater Aquarium Parameters

Maintaining these parameters in your home saltwater aquarium is ideal if you want your bubble tip anemone and everything else in your aquarium to live happily.

  • Keep your specific gravity stable at 1.025 (this is where I keep mine).
  • Keep your temperature at 78 degrees +/- 2 degrees.

The rest of the parameters can be easily kept in check with regular water changes and also getting free macro algae from other saltwater aquarium people in your area—so don't worry about them.

  • Specific Gravity: 1.024–1.026
  • Temperature: 78–80°F
  • pH: 8.1–8.4
  • Alkalinity: 8–12
  • Ammonia (NH3): Undetectable
  • Nitrite (NO2): Undetectable
  • Nitrate - Nitrogen (NO3): < 1.0 ppm
  • Phosphate (PO4): < 0.2 ppm
  • Calcium: 350–450 ppm
  • Magnesium: 1250–1350 ppm
  • Iodine: 0.06–0.10 ppm
  • Strontium: 8–14 ppm

Bubble Tips and Clownfish

Bubble tip anemones are known to host several species of clownfish, which make them very popular in the saltwater aquarium hobby. Some species of anemone will not host clownfish at all, such as the purple tip giant anemone. Maroon, common percula, and clarkii clownfish will host in a bubble tip anemone.

Feeding Tips

  • Over time, bubble tip anemones will lose their bubbles and their tentacles will be long. This is normal. Feed them thawed frozen shrimp a week after they have settled in and they will bubble back up.
  • Do not feed them big pieces of frozen shrimp. Cut the shrimp up to a size that can fit in their mouth. Giving them huge pieces of food will damage their stomach and they can die.
  • Not feeding your bubble tip anemone is okay, too, but to get them to bubble up again, you will need to feed them. Because of the anemone's zooxanthellae algae inside of their living tissues, as mentioned earlier, these anemones can absorb sunshine and photosynthesize energy for strength and growth. So feeding bubble tip anemones are optional.

Why Did My Anemone Move?

Anemones (this goes for all species) are stubborn. Your anemone might move from the place where it attached its foot for the following reasons:

  • Your water quality is not within range.
  • It's receiving too much light.
  • It's receiving too much flow.

Only Buy an Anemone If You're Truly Prepared

Do not, I repeat, do not buy a bubble tip anemone or any anemone if your saltwater aquarium has not been up and running for at least 6 months. Your aquarium is still undergoing rapid fluctuations in pH, so do not buy any anemone for your saltwater aquarium if it is less than 6 months old.

A Happy, Acclimated Anemone

The photos directly above are my bubble tip anemone fully acclimated to my saltwater aquarium October 21, 2013 at 10:21 am. Notice the anemone is inflated and its tentacles are healthy with bubbles. This is a happy anemone!
The photos directly above are my bubble tip anemone fully acclimated to my saltwater aquarium October 21, 2013 at 10:21 am. Notice the anemone is inflated and its tentacles are healthy with bubbles. This is a happy anemone!

© 2013 ssaffery


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    • profile image

      Mike B 

      3 months ago

      Oops! I wish I had read your article first because I've made the biggest mistake by only having my tank setup for a month and my first anemone arrives in the morning. Ouch! I previously had saltwater tank for five years but had been without a tank for the past three years and so excited about getting started again with this hobby. I'm glad I found your site for advice etc.


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