Among the dozen or so species of anemones that are naturally symbiotic with clownfish, Macrodactyla doreensis, the
corkscrew or long-tentacle anemone, is
a standout—if somewhat underutilized—
addition to any suitable reef aquascape.
Their lack of general popularity in
the hobby is certainly not due to any
deficiency in the good looks department,
as M. doreensis is among the prettiest of sea
anemones in both form and color. Perhaps
their underutilization is a result of aquarists
being apprehensive after hearing about,
or personally having, bad experiences
with carpet anemones eating all of their
swimming and crawling tankmates.
Granted, some reef aquarium species are
less than popular because they grow too
large, require too much light, are too toxic,
or won’t eat captive food. But none of these
factors apply to M. doreensis, whose only
possible downside is its need for a fine sand
substrate with a reasonable depth in which
it can take root.
This attractive animal comes in many
different colors and patterns, and as far as
the large clownfish-symbiotic anemones
go, it is relatively hardy and undemanding.
The corkscrew anemone in particular is a
good choice for advanced aquarists with
the requisite tankspace, patience, and
knowledge of its husbandry.
M. doreensis, which is found under such
trade names as the corkscrew anemone,
long-tentacle anemone, sand anemone,
and red-based anemone, is generally
colored a dull orange to red on the lower
part and white up top. Its oral disc has
a wide flare and prominent white radial
lines, while the tentacles should appear
uniformly sinewy and corkscrew-like.
It has distinctive eyelike protuberances
(verrucae) in rows on the stalk.
The corkscrew anemone has the
most restricted range of all clownfish-symbiotic anemones. It is found only
in the western Pacific and ranging from
southern Japan through the Philippines,
eastern Indonesia, New Guinea, and
Only five species of clownfish are
observed with this anemone in the wild
(see sidebar p. 29). However, in an artificial
environment, artificial things happen.
Tank-bred clowns of naturally associating
species may not form such a partnership,
while other clown species not on the list
may. Only time, patience, and experience
will tell. As symbiotic anemones go, the
long-tentacle anemone is distinct in often
being encountered without protective
The Corkscrew Anemone
Bob Fenner is an aquatic Renaissance
man. His professional life has
included jobs in tropical fish retailing,
wholesaling, collection, photography,
research, aquarium maintenance, and
writing, while he is an accomplished
freshwater, marine, and reef aquarist,
and an authority on aquatic plants
and ponds as well. Bob is a frequent
speaker at national and local aquarium
society events, a long-time TFH and
Microcosm author, and the expert the
experts go to for advice. For more from
Bob, visit www.wetwebmedia.com.