that are too small or minimally populated, this species typically eats
itself out of house and home and starves to death.
If you plan to keep this fish, hold off on introducing it until the
system has become well established. In a 100-gallon tank, your
sandbed will be sufficiently large, but it’s still very important to give
it time to become populated. Plus, you’ll likely need to add more live
sand from time to time in order to replenish the tiny organisms as
they become depleted. If you’re able to plumb a thriving refugium
into your system, all the better!
I know that anemones have a poor track record of
survival in the aquarium, but I’m really drawn to
them. Can you recommend an alternative—something
similar to an anemone but is easier to keep alive? What
is your opinion on Heliofungia actiniformis?
Hilton Head, South Carolina
The long-tentacled plate coral Heliofungia actiniformis is often mistaken
for an anemone by casual observers.
The other evening, I decided to take a look at my
55-gallon reef tank with a flashlight after dark. As
I was scanning around, looking to see if I might
I hate to say it, but Heliofungia actiniformis—the
so-called long-tentacled plate coral—doesn’t have a
much better captive track record than the anemones it
favors in appearance. In the aquarium, this coral often
to brown jelly infections due to rough handling during
collection and shipping. It also seems to be especially sensitive to the
stings of other corals.
I would be more inclined to steer you toward the elegance coral
Catalaphyllia jardinei or one of the Euphyllia corals, such as
the torch coral E. glabrescens or the frogspawn coral E. divisa.
Like H. actiniformis, these species are also fairly anemone-like in
appearance but, from my experience, have a much better rate of
survival in captivity.