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Why Is My Anemone Shrinking?

As more and more people take to keeping anemones in their saltwater aquariums, we have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of questions that we see from the community about caring for their anemones correctly.

We have seen a number of people specifically reaching out to ask questions about an anemone shrinking recently so we have decided to publish our own dedicated article on the topic.

Now, there are actually a number of different potential reasons that your anemone may be shrinking but thankfully, the more common ones do tend to be much easier to treat.

This is why the majority of people who do reach out about noticing their anemone shrinking in their tank are able to correct the problem and watch their anemone make a quick recovery.

We have noticed a number of slightly different questions being asked from the community about shrinking anemones recently so we have decided to cover them all in this article.

We have added a table of contents below to better break down the various questions and provide the best possible answers while still allowing you to quickly skip to specific sections of the article.

Why Is My Anemone Shrinking?

The most common reasons that you may have a shrinking anemone in your tank is due to it being stressed, poor lighting conditions, and poor water parameters.

Stress in anemones can be caused by something as simple as a shrimp walking over it too much causing the anemone to shrink up.

Thankfully the more beginner-friendly anemones such as a bubble tip anemone are usually not as sensitive to this type of irritation.

The more sensitive anemones can literally shrink up to a fraction of their normal size due to a shrimp walking over them though. Some of the harder to keep anemone can shrink in size simply due to the lighting conditions fluctuating by a small amount too.

Some species of anemone will shrink due to the slightest change in water parameters too but this can end up working to your advantage as it acts and an obvious, early warning system to something more serious potentially going wrong in your tank.

Most of these anemone will make a full recovery once you work out what’s actually wrong with your water parameters though but a salt water test kit can usually give you an idea of exactly what’s going on with your water parameters.

How Do You Treat A Shrinking Anemone?

The most common cause of a shrinking anemone is due to stress caused by irritation from shrink walking over them or non-reef safe fish picking at them throughout the say.

Most of the time, you will have to separate the anemone and the animal causing the problem to remove the cause of the stress and to get the anemone to grow back to its normal size.

Unfortunately, it is very common for beginners to put non-reef safe fish in their reef tank because they look pretty only to later realise that they cause havoc with the eco system of the tank.

Some of the more common problematic species such as flame anglefish can be fine in some reef tanks but cause havoc in others so we usually recommend that beginners with a single reef tank stick to the more commonly kept reef safe fish if possible.

Problems with your water parameters are relatively easy to fix, especially if you have a salt water test kit to give you a good idea of what your problem may be.

Problems with the lighting for your anemone can be a pain to fix as it will often take a large amount of trial and effort but it is still generally easy to correct if it is the cause of your anemone shrinking.

Is A Shrivelled Up Anemone Going To Die?

Shrivelling up is just a natural response for some types of anemone to temporary problems in their environment. The majority of anemone will return to their normal size without any long term problems once the problem that causes them to shrivel up has been corrected.

As we touched on earlier in the article, for some of the more sensitive types of anemone, this really can be as simple as a shrimp walking over the anemone and stressing it out.

Other more hardy types of anemone that are easier to care for such as a bubble tip anemone will usually need serious problems with their water parameters or lighting to shrivel for a large amount of time.

If whatever is causing your anemone to shrink up is left in the tank for an extended period of time then it may cause the anemone to die.

For the most part though, they will make a full recovery to their normal size and be fine without there being any long term problems.

Depending on the tank, an anemone may shrink right down and then expand back to its normal size multiple times per day without any real issue.

How Much Can An Anemone Shrink And Still Make A Recovary?

Some anemone species can actually shrink to as little as one-fifteenth of their regular size when stressed and still return to their normal size.

This can cause many people new to keeping some types of anemone to think that their anemone is dying due to how small they can get but depending on the species, this can be totally normal.

Although shrinking in an anemone can be a sign of some serious health problems, the shrink rate tends to be much slower when it is due to a health issue than when intentionally shrinking due to a problem.

Most people presume that this is the other way around and the rapid shrinking and expansion of an anemone is the one to worry about but it is usually the slow shrinking that is the more serious problem.

Depending on the cause of the shrinking of your anemone, you may wake up or come home from work to find your anemone a fraction of its normal size.

The first time you see this it really can take you a back due to not being familiar with this happening but it can be common with some anemone species.


That brings our article going over causes of anemone shrinking to an end. We hope that we have been able to help our readers by going over the three most common causes of a shrinking anemone as well as how to fix them. Most of the time, its not a serious issue and it can be totally normal for the anemone to shrink.