Tuesday, February 25, 2014

They breed like cloned rabbits

. . . underwater rabbits, that is. A couple of small anemones arrived in the aquarium towards the end of last November. By the first week of December, one had split iself down the middle twice. A few days later, there were 2 more. These 5 then cloned themselves, making 10. And so it went; at last count, there were about 50.

They started out on the wall of the aquarium, up near the water surface, but now that space is crowded, and they've begun to move to the seaweed and stones in the tank. One group is hanging out on the water pump, making a nuisance of themselves when I need to change the filters.

On eelgrass. The column is less than 1/2 an inch tall.

On a brown seaweed, against a background of Turkish towel.

As far as I can tell, these are the orange-striped anemone, Haliplanella lineata, an import that probably came from the far side of the Pacific. (The stripes may be either orange or white, against a greenish background. Most of the ones in the tank are quite pale, maybe because of the light levels or diet.)

These anemones may breed sexually in their home territory, but elsewhere they clone themselves, either by splitting down the middle, then moving apart, or sometimes by just moving over, leaving a tiny blob of tissue behind. A few days later, the blob is a fully-functioning anemone.

They eat tiny swimming organisms; copepods and baby amphipods, etc. Sometimes I give them a treat of mashed shrimp, or they'll catch a pellet of hermit crab food, swept their way by the current.

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