I am going to add quite a bit here because 95% of the questions that I receive via the help form is about this.
First, don't buy one that has short tentacles, no matter how cheap it is.
I had on my site that they can be saved, but I am starting to see that there are many people that buy these Anemones cheap in hopes of saving them.
But they can not be saved in an inexperienced persons tank.
Without the perfect conditions in the tank, and special care most do not survive.
So please, do not purchase these Anemone's , no matter how cheap they are.
Now, if you have purchased one, please read further.
You are in for a long haul, they need food and plenty of it.
As I have stated, Silversides are the preferred food for them.
But at times, they are so weak from starvation and or bleaching that they can not digest fish with bones and skull.
So try this, thaw a half of a Marine cuisine for them and drop it directly onto the mouth.
Now, if you have clowns that host in it, or have shrimp or fish in the tank, you must cover the Anemone with something.
So get a small plastic tub, a butter tub with lots of holes cut into is is perfect. I use a kitchen colander that is very small, about 6 inches across.
But that is for smaller Anemones.
A large regular size one is great for larger Anemone's , never use metal in the tank, always plastic.
( I also use it if an Anemone let's go and wants to float around).
Feed the Anemone than cover it immediately and use a half of a glass cleaning magnet to hold it in place or a small rock that is in the tank.
Leave it covered for at least an hour and then remove it from over the Anemone.
If it has swallowed the Silverside, or Marine cuisine then give it the other half of the cube. Thawed of course.
If it swallows that, you are on your way to saving it.
If not, feed it to your fish and try again the next day.
Once it does start to take it, feed it daily a whole cube, cut in half before thawing(do not thaw one half)so that the second half does not spoil or need to be thawed out if you don't use it.
Now, make sure that you have plenty of flow on the little bugger as it is really important to keep the water moving around your little sick Anemone.
But make sure that it is not blowing over onto it self.
But swaying in the current.
Also, for it to recover, you have to have a minimum of 4 watts per gallon of water, without that, it will not grow and regain it's Zooxanthellae which most have lost from starvation.
So the combination is hard to cure, but it can be done with patience and the correct care.
Also, make sure that you keep up with your water changes, it is utmost important that the water in your tank remain clean and clear. Any yellowing of your water (look from the end through your tank) is not a good sign.
If you can not do a water change and see yellowing, add carbon to your filter, that will help clear it up.
But a water change is best.
Do a weekly water change, about 5 to 10% is fine.
They love fresh cool saltwater, do not add warm, give them a cool bath of new saltwater, you will see them perk right up.
You must keep all of the above up until it starts to regain it's color.
First you will see a Tan color by the base of the Tentacles, where they attach to the head of the Anemone.
Don't worry, it is regaining it's Zooxanthellae and that is a good thing.
Then slowly as it regains it's health, the color will move up the Tentacles, and they will also start to elongate as it slowly recovers.
Soon you will see it starting to grasp food with them. That is a great sign.
Once it has regained it's color and the tentacles have started to elongate , which may take up to 6 months, you can stop the constant water changes with the tank.
Keep it fed Silversides once or twice a week to keep it happy and healthy.
Good water movement is a must for all BTA's and you need at least 2 power heads for a 30 to 75 gallon tank.
Over 75 gallons you need 3 or more.
I run 2 power heads, plus skimmer and filter in my 75 so it keeps current moving all around the tank.
I will be trying out a wave maker soon and am anxious to see how they react to it.
I am sure they will love it as they love current.
So, I hope that this explanation will help all of you that have this problem.
Please, as I said, do not purchase these sick Anemones from any Saltwater store because when you do they just turn around and order more, making more sick and passing away.
Best of luck and I hope that this detailed explanation about the care of these starving Anemones will help to cut back on the amount of email that I receive daily about this problem.
I have added below the last picture about fish stores and what to look for in the good one's and bad ones.
Below you will see several Anemone's that are starving from lack of food.
They will slowly devour themselves to stay alive, thus the Tentacles get shorter and shorter, they also
usually loose all of their color turning white or light see through pink in color.
This is a sign of a very unhealthy Anemone. If it is in a fish store, pass it by.
They also usually will not attach to anything and just sit on the sand.
If your Anemone looks like these, it needs food and NOW.( See above)
Once stressed to this point, then moving them to a new tank is usually a death sentence for them.
I have found some old pictures of Anemones that I had that were starving when they arrived to my home.
Tentacles will be very small to almost none.
I refer to them as nubs.
They will not grasp food at all. Mouth will show stress most of the time, meaning it will be slightly open to gaping most of the day . A clear sign of needing something to eat.
Usually the edges of the mouth are also ragged and not smooth like a healthy Anemone.
I have removed the part about force feeding as I do not recommend it for the inexperienced.
Below you see the short buds of the Tentacles, they are short from lack of food and this Anemone has not been
fed nor cared for for a long time.
It is trying very hard to retain it's Zooxanthellae but it has started to get so sick that it is starting to bleach out, (loosing it's Zooxanthellae)
Again, I must state very clearly, if you find an Anemone in this condition, do NOT purchase it.
You are only telling the retailer that you do NOT know what you are doing and once purchased they
will order more, starving them to death again.
I can not stress enough about this. Find a local person that has Anemone's and go look at the ir tank and the Anemone's.
The condition of the tank as well as his livestock tell a lot about how they are taken care of.
It is important to not purchase livestock from any Saltwater store that does not care about their livestock enough to even feed them.
There are some people that do get splits from healthy , beautiful specimens and for a few dollars more , it is worth the price to get one that has been taken care of.
Below the next picture, I will tell you what to look for in a a bad tank setup or Saltwater store.
What to look for when you enter a Saltwater store.
A bad saltwater store does not have the correct lighting over any of their tanks, that is except usually a display tank,
which is very deceiving to all that enter the store.
They want you to believe that they know how to take care of their stock, where in reality, they don't care if they can
not even bother to keep a decent light over them until they are sold.
Something else to remember is that usually saltwater stores water is all the same, that is to say it all goes to the same Refugium or sump and then back to the tanks. This is how sickness and disease transfer from one tank to the other. Making them all sick.
Look for tanks that are clean, no algae growing on the rock work at all.
If the sand and or rock is covered in algae, either brown or green, go to another fish store.
If you are looking at an Anemone tank and they have no rock in it, pass them by.
The least they could do is give them a rock to anchor to, not having to stick to the glass.
A good Saltwater store will place rubble rock in the tank for them to attach to, and then insist that you take the
rock and the Anemone all in one, whether you have to pay for that rock or not, it is in the best interest to take
it attached to the rock.
Watch any sales person while she catches any fish up, if she exposes them to air. You can tell her that it is not the way
to do it.
Always submerge the capture cup into the water and scoot the fish into it with the net, not touching the fish.
Also, using a net for any fish is not a good thing. Especially saltwater fish.
Do they use gloves when putting their hands in the water?
They should, do you know how many things they have handled between sales?
Money, peoples hands, other pets, ink from the register , dog, cat or any other food, do they use hand lotion?
Never should the sales person put a bare hand into any saltwater tank. Never.
Anemones should never be raised out of the water, if they do that, pass them by or school them in how
to properly bag an Anemone.
(Bagging an Anemone is easy.)
Lower the bag into the tank, add water from the tank, keep the bag under water, slowly lift the Anemone and it's rock into the back, carefully placing it on the bottom of the bag.
Gently raise the bag out of the water, making sure not to be harsh with the Anemone in the bag.
Then seal it with a rubber band and place in a dark bag to keep it dark and cool for the ride home.
If you have a long drive home, ask them if they will box the Anemone for you. Saltwater stores get all of their livestock in Styrofoam boxes with lids and they should always keep them on hand for any person requesting them.
Do they give you a box and or offer you one? If not , ask them for one.
Ask them what they have been feeding the Anemone's. If they say brine shrimp or Mysis, you can bet they are starving
and are getting ready to go downhill fast.
But if they say shrimp, Silversides or cubes, then they and you are on the right track for purchasing a nice healthy Anemone.
Also, do they ask YOU about your tank? They should.
They should want to know about your filtration, lighting and rock. Also what fish you have.
If they don't then you should know that they don't really care about the Anemone, just the sale of it.
So, now that I have been pretty harsh on Fish stores, I hope that it helps you to pick out a store that truly loves what they
are doing for a living and love the creatures in their care enough to feed them and give them what they need until the new home comes along.
And , make sure YOU are ready for one. Don't just go in and buy on impulse, that is what kills 95% of livestock in our hobby.
Impulse buying. Know what you are doing first and if you do not have the right setup for a Beloved BTA. Don't get one and hope for the best.
Remember, their life is in your hands. You need to protect it at all costs.