Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Valiant Valentine

I rescued a badly wounded anemone on the beach in Campbell River this August. (You may remember; the first post is here: and the second, once I'd established it at home.)

It was in poor shape; half cut through, with a quarter of its tentacles gone, and the mouth demolished. Still, it was alive and responding, and it handled the trip home ok. It settled down on the floor of the aquarium and set about healing. Very slowly. At first, s/he* didn't seem to be eating; after all, with the mouth torn up, how could s/he? I mashed crab pellets in water and fed hir* the paste every couple of days. Some of it washed away, but I could see movement in the mouth area; an attempt at swallowing at least.

And the tentacles slowly grew back, the mouth gradually opened up.

S/he's healed now, and actively feeding. Tonight, I watched hir grab a piece of fish that floated by, and pull it in with one tentacle. The mouth gaped open; the fish disappeared.

"Val"**, as I'm calling hir, is getting fat.

Burrowing anemone feeding. The tentacles curved inward just brought in another fish flake.

When I found hir on the beach, s/he was a blob of flesh about 2 cm. across the widest part, including column and disc and tentacles all mushed together. I measured hir tonight. The portion of the column above the sand is about 2 cm. tall, and wider than it is tall. When s/he's feeding, it swells up even more; the 2 cm. was after it shrunk away from my ruler. And there's another centimetre of sand underneath before it reaches the oyster shell where it is anchored.

The tentacles average another 1 1/2 cm., and opened up, they measure 4 cm. across, but can stretch even more to grab an interesting bit of food.

There's still a bit of white scar tissue on one side of the mouth, and the new tentacles on the left are shorter than the others. But they're catching up quickly.

I wonder how big s/he will get? A description from the University of Oregon gives a mature size of 2 1/2 cm. across the crown, about 2 times the length of the tentacles, and a column height of up to 6 cm. So now s/he's about full width, but can grow taller if s/he's happy in my tank.

* Hir and s/he: gender-neutral pronouns. (See Wikipedia.) Because I don't know whether s/he's male or female.

**The name comes from Valentine, for the heart marks on the tentacles, and also for Valiant, which s/he certainly is!


  1. Hardly looks like the same beastie!!! I love the sort of translucent colour of the tentacles!!!

  2. How exciting to see this progress.

    I love your aquarium adventures

  3. Wonderful news! Thanks for the update and photo.

  4. Happy dance at seeing how well "Val" has progressed.

    I'm trying the follow up comments this time. Ha!

  5. SilverlakeDavid4:25 pm

    Amazing! I very much enjoy your blog...thank you.

  6. Anonymous6:45 pm

    Great posts about our tentacled overlords! Quick question: Do you keep aquarium water in line yourself or are you pumping from a natural source?

  7. Thanks, all for the "happy dances".

    Anonymous; I have two sources for water. I used to bring all my water from the bay, hauling it back in two-litre bottles every time we went. Now that we're not able to go as often, I bought a sea-water mix from the aquarium store (20 kg.) and mix it with filtered water that I have let sit for a few days to make sure there are no remnants of chlorine in it. I test it each time for salinity, and test the aquarium itself every couple of days.

    The homemade water is very clear, much more so than bay water, but it's also "dead". "Live" water has food sources such as copepods and planktonic stages of other invertebrates, so I wouldn't go entirely with artificial water.


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