Propagating anemones by division.

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Advice' started by elegance coral, 25 Nov 2009.

  1. elegance coral

    elegance coral

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    Hello Sara and everyone in South Africa!:wave2:

    There is a growing belief in the hobby that cutting any host anemone in two is a viable means of propagation. This has had me very concerned, so I e-mailed Dr. Daphne Fautin. I thought I would share what she had to say with our fellow reefers across the pond. This is what she had to say.

    "To prevent taking animals from the wild, some well-intentioned people propose cutting sea anemones in pieces to propagate them artificially. I am astonished how often I receive such proposals! It appears that only (or nearly only) anemones that naturally divide will predictably survive this treatment. Despite a persistent belief otherwise, anemones of most species do not reproduce asexually: only two of the 10 species that are natural hosts to anemonefishes do, and that may be a pretty good estimate of the prevalence of that ability among all anemones - 20% of species.

    Perhaps the myth that division is how anemones reproduce is due in part to the feeling that anemones are "primitive" and division is a "primitive" attribute (in fact, anemones have been on earth far longer than humans, so can be argued to be more evolved!), and in part because pests such as *Aiptasia* are many peoples' ideas of a "typical" anemone. In fact, they are so prevalent and common precisely because they have that unusual ability - most of the 1000 or so species of anemones are less conspicuous because they do not occur in such densities at least in part because they lack that ability.

    Another possible source of the misconception about anemone division is the practice of fragging corals. Clearly anemones and scleractinian corals are closely related. But that does not mean they can be treated identically. All anemones are solitary (even those that divide separate entirely once they have formed separate bodies, whereas polyps of corals in a colony remain physically attached to one another after they have arisen asexually). So fragging is dividing colonies (groups of polyps) into smaller colonies (fewer polyps per piece). By contrast, cutting an anemone into pieces is analogous to cutting you into two or more pieces; and for anemones of most species, the result would be precisely the same -- we would not have numerous identical yous, we would have no you.

    Associated with an ability in some anemones to divide (into two or many pieces, depending on the species) is an ability to heal; obviously healing is necessary for regeneration. And although the reverse is not necessarily the case, it seems that animals that do not normally divide also have poor healing ability. So the prospects are dim for propagating anemones of species that do not naturally divide by cutting them into two or more pieces. One person who wrote to me rather triumphantly with a proposal to reduce collection from nature by cutting anemones in pieces as a means of artificial propagation was so pleased because he had cut in half two anemones of a species that does not reproduce asexually (as I recall, it was a species of *Stichodactyla*), and although both halves of one had died, both of the other had survived. So he started with two and ended with two, each half as large as the originals. I failed to see promise in this approach.

    And even for the two species of anemonefish host anemones that seem to divide in nature, differences from place to place make me think there may be more than one species of what we think is a single species of each or there may be differences among individuals. Thus, even an anemone that is thought to be able to propagate asexually (*Entacmaea quadricolor*, the bubble-tip, and *Heteractis magnifica*, the "Ritteri" anemone) may die from being cut up.


    Daphne Fautin


    Daphne G. Fautin
    Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    Curator, Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center
    Haworth Hall
    University of Kansas"
     
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  3. Anemone

    Anemone

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    Not all species of host anemones propagate well. The E. quadricolor is by far the safest to propagate IMO. However, even with the E. quadricolor, precautions need to be taken. When precautions are taken there is no guarantee that the anemones will survive. However it is more likely to survive than not when working with a healthy anemone in an adequate environment.
     
  4. jacquesb

    jacquesb Retired Moderator

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    WOW Elegance Coral! Many thanks for this! This sure is enlightening...... HHHmmm - I wonder if any other "specialists" have more views on this?
     
  5. mnd123

    mnd123

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    Very interesting, thanks for posting
     
  6. crispin

    crispin

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    very intresting post, many thanks
     
  7. schaun

    schaun

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    Hi man, thanks for the info.
    Had no idea till now.
     
  8. elegance coral

    elegance coral Thread Starter

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    You are all very welcome. I just hope you found the information helpful.
     
  9. Anemone

    Anemone

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    Here is Anthony Calfo's and Eric Borneman's view on the subject:

    Propagating anemones by division.
     
  10. Anemone

    Anemone

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    Sorry! Double post!
     
  11. mnd123

    mnd123

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    Wow! Borneman et al did NOT take kindly to this post!

    Nice to hear both sides on this I must say, not to get into the argument here though.

    Thanks for posting Anem
     
  12. Warr7207

    Warr7207

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    Interesting thread.

    Brenda, what are your vies on propagation ?
     
  13. Anemone

    Anemone

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    I don’t believe the average hobbyist should run out and start propagating the more difficult species. I myself do not feel comfortable propagating any of the carpet anemones or the H. magnifica, even though there have been claims of success. It is still too few for me to recommend propagation with these species.

    I feel that the anemones that have been easily and successfully propagated should be the only ones available to purchase in this hobby and I recommend this practice for these anemones. The E. quadricolor is by far the safest to propagate, and I would like to see the harvesting of this species eliminated. Caution still needs to be taken when propagating the easier anemones.

    Even though the H. magnifica has been known to divide naturally, it is one of the toughest to keep here in the US. Because they ship so poorly it is very difficult to get a healthy H. magnifica, which makes propagation difficult, and I have not seen a lot of success with this species. Many people here in the US strongly discourage keeping this species because of shipping and the slow reproduction on the reefs.

    I also believe that in time we will learn how to successfully propagate safely all 10 species of the hosting anemones with a more positive outcome. There are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to anemones. Dr. Fautin, Anthony Calfo and Eric Borneman all have valid points. Both sides should be taken into consideration before making the decision to propagate the more difficult anemones.
     
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