Tube Anemone

(Cerianthus membranaceus)




Facts about this animal

The Tube Anemone has a crown of more than 200 tapering, non retractable tentacles arranged in several rows. The column, which is up to 40 cm long and 3 cm in diameter, has no basal sucker like other anemones but is sheathed in a tube made of hardened mucus, sand and discharged nettle cells. The tube may reach a length of more than one meter and is well anchored in the ground. The outer tentacles are up to 20 cm long, the inner ones, which hide the oral opening, are shorter and usually have a different colour. Colours of the tentacles may be purple, violet, orange, yellow, white, fluorescent green, brown, bluish and black. Sometimes the long tentacles are banded or striped.

The Tube Anemone is a solitary anthozoan. If attacked the whole animal can retract quickly into the tube, which is open at its lower end to allow the water to give way. Although usually fixed to its place the Tube Anemone can leave its tube to settle at another place where it has to produce a new tube. It feeds on plankton or small fish and crustaceans. The prey is captured by means of the nettle cells on the tentacles. The paralyzed prey is then passed to the mouth. Several species of worms and crustaceans are commensals of the Tube Anemone and live in its tube.

Reproduction is sexual and takes place form January to July. The sexes are not separate and all individuals are hermaphrodites. First sperm is released and later eggs. Cross-fertilization is needed. The larvae live in plankton for a rather long time. Then they settle and construct a tube. The age they can reach is unknown, but some specimens in captivity are more than 50 years old.

Did you know?
that the Tube Anemones in the Aquarium of Naples (Italy) are more than 50 years old?


Name (Scientific) Cerianthus membranaceus
Name (English) Tube Anemone
Name (French) Cérianthaire, Grand cérianthe
Name (German) Grosse Zylinderrose, Mittelmeer-Zylinderrose
Name (Spanish) Cerianto grande
Local names Breton (France): Sutell-garreg-vras, Kouilhenn-garreg-vras
Dutch: Kokeranemone
Italian: Cerianto, Ardichella, Flore di mare
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed




Range Western Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean north to Britany.
Habitat In calm waters on sheltered places, with moderate light only. On sediments like sand and mud. Often at the entrance of caves, at the base of slopes or in seagrass meadows. Rarely in rock pools. From near the surface down to 40 m. Can stand slight degree of pollution.
Wild population Unknown
Zoo population 8 reported to ISIS (2008)

In the Zoo

Why do zoos keep this animal

The Tube Anemone is long-lived and is an attractive exhibit concerning its big crown of colourful tentacles.