While it is recommended that the
corkscrew anemone be the only cnidarian
in its setup, I have seen systems that
housed both a long-tentacle anemone and
non-anemone cnidarians, such as hard
and soft corals. Such systems are at their
best when they are big, as in hundreds
of gallons (mid-hundreds to thousands
of liters), well-established (at least half a
year old, though over a year is better), and
have any other stinging-celled life settled
in ahead of time. The substrate space for a
long-tentacle anemone should be set apart
from the other cnidarians, and it should be
set deep enough down in the sand bed so
that it can retract into it fully.
Moving around is a bad sign for this
species: a happy corkscrew anemone
will attach to the tank through the sand
and stay put. If your M. doreensis is
moving around, check the conditions and
parameter settings of your tank. Good
tank circulation and lighting, steady and
purposeful feedings, and superior water
quality will hopefully keep your anemone
from wandering, or at least help your luck
to hold should it go on a walk-about.
This species is almost always found in
shallow water, 15 feet (about 5 meters)
or less in depth, and as such, an aquarist
might correctly surmise that it requires
high intensity, red-spectrum-shifted light.
Metal halides are suggested, though
in moderate water depths— 20 inches
( 50 cm) or so—boosted fluorescents of
sufficient wattage should do. Incandescent
color temperatures of 6,700 to 10,000 K
Selecting a Corkscrew
It’s a rare day when you can visit a
marine livestock wholesaler and not find
any corkscrew anemones to sort through.
These animals, by virtue of their means of
attachment (anchoring in muck and fine
sand) and sturdy discs, are rarely damaged
in collection, holding, and shipping.
Usually they’re “lying down” on their sides
and kept by species grouped in a tank with
outdoor carpeting or a similar substrate for
them to attach to. They are easily picked
up, scooped into a specimen container
(always underwater—it’s best never to lift
such soft-bodied animals into the air), and
placed on the packing table.
Look for a specimen that is relatively
open at its disc surface, with a flat mouth
that is closed (not pursed or flaccid), a
basal area that is whole, evenly colored
(i.e., without any whitish tear marks),
and of course, not torn. Finally, do not
introduce more than one long-tentacle
anemone to a single system unless they are
clones (products of asexual reproduction).
Though not a huge species like the
carpets or magnificent anemones, the
corkscrew can have a disc that opens to
nearly 20 inches ( 50 cm) across, but most
peak at about a foot ( 30 cm) or so. An open
space, including an area around the animal
of at least its diameter, is needed to allow
circulation. Be sure to put some distance
between it and any other sessile tankmate.
Remember, this is an animal that lives in a
soft, mucky bottom, so your live rock, hard
décor, and other items need to leave open
space of at least a foot ( 30 cm) across.
Take a look at the pictures of the wild
specimens of M. doreensis on these pages.
Notice the fine, darkish material their bodies
are sunk into? They flourish naturally in
muddy silt and soft sand—not sharp sand,
crushed coral, aragonite, or silica. Roundish
coral sand is suitable, but sterile sand is
not. Provide sufficient depths of at least 6
inches ( 15 cm) that the anemone can pull
itself completely into should it become
And what does having all this mud in the
tank get you? You might think “terrible water
quality,” but the truth is exactly the opposite;
many reefkeepers employ mud substrates as
part of a natural filtration method. These
animals don’t appreciate much in the
way of free or solubilized nutrients, so no
phosphates and very few nitrates should be
detectable in the water. Great water quality
is required for M. doreensis to flourish.
A corkscrew anemone photographed by the author at Lembeh Strait in Sulawesi, Indonesia.