Does BTA sting SPS corals?


New member
I have a BTA and i noticed that it is getting really close to my Acropora. I was just wondering if the contact would cause my acropora to die? This morning i had to fish out a cleaner shrimp because my bta had it in a head lock. If that is the case, i will give away my bta......its a cheap piece of crap anyways.
BTA will actually sting any corals that it comes in contact with. SPS are not immune to its sting. If you have a reef tank, I don't recommend keeping one. But their sting is a lot less serious compared to most other speices.
I have two E. Quadricolor anemone's in my tank, and they yearly are responsible for destroying lots of corals. Give them a wide berth, or else leave your stuff around them on little pieces of rock you can easily move/rearrange. If your anemone does will, it will grow, and split, and those are trying times for a lowly frag farmer, let me tell you...

- Mac
I keep my BTA on a large rock under my centre brace which I never kept corals on anyway so it has a very large area to grow and wave about in the fow without risking any corals. IMO this is the only way to keep an anemone in a reef tank.
I have three BTA's at this moment. If they ever start to get too large I cut them in half and sell/trade one half away. I know this is somewhat controversial, but I view it as no worse than fragging a coral. I can keep BTA's about 6" - 8" this way, and plus have some nice clones to trade for frags or whatever. I have found that my BTA's don't like super bright light, so if I keep my SPS up on a reef flat high in my tank, my BTA's don't wander up there - they stay down by the sand under overhangs, etc.

They will certainly sting your corals if given the chance.
BonsaiNut said:
I have three BTA's at this moment. If they ever start to get too large I cut them in half and sell/trade one half away.

THIS I have to hear more about?!?!?!
Not trying to flame, genuinely curious. I've been letting my anemone's split naturally, but I've heard of people intentionally/unintentionally forcing the matter by cutting the pseudopod. Is this your technique? I'd like to hear more.

- Mac
In response to cutting a BTA. My local club (Chesapeake Marine Aquarium society) recently had Anthony Calfo as a guest speaker. He stated that he has "fragged" BTAs this way. Just cut them in half and put them back in their original spot in the tank. Both halves should recover and form two full anemones. JM2C. :p
I was planning to post a more comprehensive note on the coral propagation board about this, so here is the "Reader's Digest" version :)

Take a large healthy BTA, take it out of your tank, cut it exactly in half through the center (very important to make sure the cut goes through the center of the oral cavity), place both halves back in your tank. Use a razor blade or other very sharp knife. Do not place both halves in the tank at the same spot or they might heal back together.

I would not recommend this unless you are very comfortable with anemones and have a very healthy reef system. I have never lost an anemone or clone doing this (knock on wood). I have only tried this with BTA's - if I had more room I would next try it on H. magnificas, and then S. haddonis. Magnificas split in the wild, but haddonis are not believed to split so that could be more challenging and might kill the mother colony.



Photos of the two clones one hour after cutting. They should look healthy like this is you did it right, though it takes them 3-4 weeks to completely heal. The first week they are very unhappy, and inflate/deflate a lot. Over the first couple of days they slowly go from a half circle shape to a crescent as the two ends extend in towards each other. By the end of the first week, both ends should be touching with the remainder of the oral cavity tucked in the middle. Then the two ends heal together and the oral cavity heals to become a complete new "mouth".


Last edited:
BonsaiNut.. that is really interesting. I have heard of people performing this operation, but have never seen it in person.

Thanks for posting the pics.

Is there any thing that you do before hand??
I don't do anything special. I do not, for example, have a special anemone rearing tank with U/V or ozone, so my biggest worry is secondary infections, though I have been lucky so far.

It is my opinion that the most important aspect is to start with a thriving adult. Once you cut the anemones they do not have a way to take in additional nutrients until their oral cavities heal. I am not sure if their zooxanthelle provides nutrients during this time either, given the damage the clone has taken. It seems that for the first 3 weeks or so after the split, the clones live off their own tissues (with maybe a little help from zooxanthelle). The tentacles get smaller and the clone as a whole shrinks. Once the oral disk has healed the anemone tends to strengthen quickly. It is therefore my opinion that you want to start with a dark anemone with plenty of zooxanthelle, and want to feed heavily in the few days before you cut, so that the anemone is as healthy and full of energy stores as possible. If a clone were to lose its zooxanthelle (i.e. through shock or poor post-cut lighting) I would think its survival potential would be diminished (though I do not really know).

This is all my opinion based on personal observation only.

Here is another photo of one of the clones from above on day 3. You can see how it curls in upon itself and is in good shape to continue healing. Color remains good and the body is inflated. It no longer looks like half an anemone, but rather an anemone with an inury.

Well I'll be *** damned... it's that simple. JESUS!
I dunno if I'll ever have the cahone's to try it one of mine, but I thank you for sharing that, anyways.

- Mac

Come on, Mac. Watch your language, dude.

Last edited by a moderator:
This demo raises and interesting question. If it is that simple to propagate BTAs, why are we paying so much for the Rose ones?:confused:

It seems that if you have a good healthy Rose BTA you are sitting on a lot of money. People are paying over $100 a piece for those things.

Gentlmen, start your scalpels....:p
Well, I have to admit it is a spooky experience regardless of the success you have had. Even though I have never lost an anemone this way, I still have not taken my knife to a $260 tri-color BTA that I have never seen another that looks half as cool. I am waiting till it splits naturally before I dare start chopping one of the clones. I just don't want to risk it.
Has anyone tried this on a carpet anemone?? I have a large specimen that could be better if it were chopped so to speak.

Hey ..BonsaiNut.. thanks again for all the info.

I have a Rose BTA, but I will wait for it to split a few times before trying this..
Anthony Calfo came to our St. Louis group this last fall and although I missed the 2nd day get togather on the Illinois side, I keep hearing about him splitting the anemone in front of everyone. He just casually split it in half like it was no big deal.
I saw Anthony Calfo do this in-person last summer. He took an BTA, a very sharp, clean pair of scissors and cut the BTA right down the center (throughtthe mouth) into two pieces. By the end of his 6 hour presentation, the two pieces looked fine.