Sea anemones have many friends. They also eat strange things!
What do sea anemones eat? Sea anemones may use mucus to trap small particles, detritus and plankton from the water.
But large ones especially, can capture and swallow prey such as fishes whole. Prey is captured and immobilised with stingers. Tentacles may push larger prey into the central mouth. The edges of the mouth may be inflated into 'lips' that pucker to hold prey as it is swallowed. The mouth and body column can expand wide to accommodate the prey whole. Or the anemone may fold its oral disk over the prey.
Like many other cnidarians, the sea anemone lacks an anus. So it has to spit out any indigestible bits through the mouth.The large carpet anemones on Chek Jawa have been seen to eat a variety of animals including fish and sand dollars!
Should I ‘save’ animals trapped in an anemone?
Please don't. If you do, you will be depriving the anemone of a meal. It might not get so lucky again for a while. The animal that you 'saved' might also not survive if it was badly stung by the anemone.
Should I feed the anemones?
Please don’t. Anemones know how to feed themselves. You might hurt the anemone if you put the wrong thing on it. If you put another living animal on an anemone you will be hurting two animals. Please don't put objects such as litter or dead crabs on an anemone either.
Because sea anemones have stingers, they are a nice safe place to stay in if an animal can avoid being stung. Clown anemonefishes, better known as 'Nemo' have a way to do just so, and are found in our large sea anemones!
The False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) is usually found in our Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea).The Tomato clown anemonefish (Amphiprion frenatus) is often found in our Bulb-tip sea anemone (Entacmea quadricolor).Anemoneshrimps also live in our sea anemones. Usually a sea anemone will have a pair of these shrimps, the bigger and more brightly marked one is the female!Anemones in turn may live with other animals.
Some sea anemones hitch a ride on the shell occupied by hermit crabs. They get to nibble on the hermit crab's leftovers, while their stingers protect the hermit crabs from animals like the octopus.There are also sea anemones that hitch a ride on living snails!So the next time you see a sea anemone, look closely to observe their lifestyles and habits!