Asexual propagation of sea anemones that host anemonefishes: implications for the marine ornamental aquarium trade and restocking programs
Scott, A, Hardefeldt, JM & Hall, KC 2014, 'Asexual propagation of sea anemones that host anemonefishes: implications for the marine ornamental aquarium trade and restocking programs', PLoS One, vol. 9, no. 10, e109566.
Anemonefishes and their host sea anemones form an iconic symbiotic association in reef environments, and are highly sought after in the marine aquarium trade. This study examines asexual propagation as a method for culturing a geographically widespread and commonly traded species of host sea anemone, Entacmaea quadricolor. Two experiments were done: the first to establish whether size or colour morph influenced survival after cutting into halves or quarters; and the second to see whether feeding was needed to maximise survival and growth after cutting. Survival rates were high in both experiments, with 89.3 and 93.8% of the anemones cut in half, and 62.5 and 80.4% cut in quarters surviving in experiments 1 and 2, respectively. Anemones that were cut in half were larger in size, and healed and grew quicker than those cut in quarters. However, even though survival was lower when the individuals were cut in quarters, this treatment produced the greatest number of anemones. Feeding increased oral disc diameter growth and reduced wet weight loss, but did not significantly influence pedal disc diameter. Given that the anemones took up to 56 d to form an off-centre mouth, it is highly likely that feeding may have produced greater effect if the experiment was run for longer. This low technology method of propagation could be used to produce individuals throughout the year and the anemones could then be used to supply the aquarium trade or restock depleted habitats, thus supporting biodiversity conservation in coral reef areas.