This cold weather is rather adverse to the full enjoyment of water scenes, and to talk of shoal gatherings, and brook dragging, might make delicate folks shrug their shoulders; but I find it very agreeable to stir the fire with one hand, while with the other I point my friend to a pretty collection of sea flowers, lately fished for me on the French coast. Lovers of the aquarium should know that the available stock is no longer confined to the species indigenous to our own shores, and it may be a bit of welcome news, if I here make known one of the plans now adopted for securing specimens from other coasts. The idea originated with Mr. Hall, of London Wall, who opened a subscription list, to which all subscribers of a guinea were entitled to a guinea's worth of foreign gatherings. With the subscriptions in his pocket, and a pair of water boots on his legs, Hall steamed away, and at last found himself treading the sands on a chosen spot of the French coast, where Actinia abounds. With a plentiful gathering he returned, and at once distributed to his subscribers a proportionate number of specimens, in liquidation of their subscriptions, and my share of the booty has been delighting me for six weeks past, and it is with no small pleasure that I contrast their novel forms and colorings with those from our own coasts, and from which they differ much more than might have been expected.

Bright orange and amber, delicate opal, or intense snowy white, are the predominant colors; and although it is easy to detect in many the closest possible alliance with well-known species, of which they are but delicately-colored varieties, others have such distinct characteristics, that if cannot be doubted the lists of species admitted to our tanks will soon be considerably increased. When Mr. Hall goes off to make his next gathering, I purpose making arrangements with him, with a view to determine the genera and species distinctly before the gatherings are distributed, and if we can get him to push on to the Mediterranean this summer, we may, in our aquarium studies, manage to keep pace with the horticultural world; the glory of which is its bold ignoring of both latitude and longitude, in the appropriation of specimens for culture.

Sea Anemones are the kinds of stock which take precedence in the culture of the marine aquarium. There is much certainty attendant on their preservation, immense variety, as to their forms and colors, and they admit us to their own peculiar region of Protean changes, so that we never fatigue of observing their habits, or admiring their changing beauty.

In the subjoined cut are represented four of the best Sea Anemones, whether for a beginner or an adept In the richest collection the common "Mes," or Actinia mesembry anthemum, is as valuable as the rarest, on account of its intrinsic beauty, and as to hardiness and longevity, no creature of the deep, ever yet brought within domesticating influences, can equal it. When all goes wrong, and the pretty creatures drop from their stony pinnacles and perish; - when the water gets putrid, and, perhaps, half a dozen degrees of specific gravity too dense - "Mes" will still be found alive and unhurt, and will display its coral fingers and bright blue beads the moment he is lifted into a purer element. This is known by many popular names, of which the most common is "Strawberry Anemone," for the most plentiful form of it is that which strongly resembles, when closed, a well-grown Sir Harry. But it has so many varieties, that for mere effect this species is, in itself, sufficient for a small tank. In its most common form it is spotted on a crimson ground, strawberry fashion; in another it is of a deep maroon, without spots. There is another variety of a deep quiet chestnut; another of a dark olive green, and a rarer and exquisitely beautiful one of a very bright, almost grass, green.

I have sometimes managed to get one or two specimens of each of these varieties together at the same time, and by a little manoeuvering to have them all expanded, side by side, and their distinctness and variety had a most charming effect.

But there are other reasons for commencing the study of marine objects with the well-known "Mes," for its habits give us the key to the general management of collections, and its anatomy illustrates the internal construction, and physiological economy, of the whole class of Zoophytes. Take a plump "Mes" that has not been handled, or in any way ill-used, and cut him clean in half, vertically, and drop each half into a vessel of fresh sea-water, that has been agitated well; throw in also a tuft of Ulva; leave the divided victim alone for a week in a very partial daylight, and you will be surprised to find, that each division has become a perfect animal. Then either lift out the specimens into fresh searwater, or draw off the water they are in, and agitate it in the open air, and return it quickly, and each will at once expand, and present as perfect a shape and arrangement of parts, as if their several origins had been distinct, and no relationship existed between them. The experiment illustrates the nearness of this tribe to the vegetable kingdom, and justifies the collective term Zoophyte, as applied to the various divisions of this lowest section of the animal kingdom.

Sea Flowers 130089

One very striking characteristic of the sea flowers, is their capability of changing their forms, and this is in no species so powerfully exemplified, as in Sagartia, anguicoma, of which there are three specimens, in different stages of expansion, represented in the cut. This is a most valuable aquarium species, and may be preserved for almost any length of time, if properly tended. It has one bad habit, and that is, that it will frequently let go its foothold, and lay prostrate on the pebbles, so that the slightest agitation of the water may spin it into some crevice among the rockwork, or send it bouncing against the glass sides. Its coloring is very quiet, grey, buff, pale brown, and opal white predominate; and the markings of the disk are generally pleasing and delicate. Its long flexile tentaculee catch the eye of the most indifferent observer, and the patient watcher finds his reward in its many extraordinary changes of form. When you receive specimens packed in wet seaweed, they are like little buttons of dirty white gelatine, but in less than half an hour after you drop them into the tank, they throw up their tall stems, and expand their long delicate tentacles in most various ways, so that among fifty specimens, there will not be two alike; and yet in every stage of presentation, there is not the slightest difficulty experienced in determining what they are.

Sometimes they take it into their heads to lie full length altogether unattached, now contracting themselves to a mere pimple, then blowing out the disk, and contracting the base, and at other times assuming a regular spiral form, like a fleshy corkscrew; but the tentacles are almost always expanded, be the shape of the creature what it may.

The base of an Anemone, which corresponds very closely to the organ of adherence in a snail, or periwinkle, is the most delicate part of the whole structure. Though hard and leathery, in some species almost horny, it must never be in the slightest degree injured; like Achilles, the most vulnerable part of an Anemone is the foot, and though most species take little note of a few tentacula, and will even mend a hole in their jackets if an accident occurs to them, an injury to the sucking base is pretty sure to prove fatal. When first introduced to the tank, Anemones usually lie on their sides for a few hours, though1 they generally expand the disk at once; after a while they get hold of whatever their base is nearest to, and if they are healthy, they soon hold tight, and have little disposition to move about. In a vessel now before me, there are nine out of twelve Actineae that have not moved the tenth part of an inch during the last six or eight weeks, but a couple of anguicoma, have been all that while, and long before, perpetually on the move; and one has now ensconced himself in a dark hole which he is endeavoring to illuminate with his splendid snowy stars of moving tentacula.

Bunodes clavata, here represented, is one that seldom stirs from its original site; and, when well placed to show off its beauty, it conveys to the mind an idea of a flower carved in ivory, by the most cunning fairy fingers. The specimen from which this has been sketched, has been seated on a block of granite since the 10th of December last, and in that time it has perceptibly grown, and appears to increase in beauty every day. It is nearly always expanded, very seldom indulges in contractions, and has a first-rate appetite. But the most perfect resemblance to a true flower, is that presented by Aclinia bellis, the sea Daisy, of which there are many beautiful varieties, all of them moderately hardy. This and Clavata require the water to be kept very pure, and well aired; a few days' neglect of the vessel may result in their death, and the demise of one specimen, if not detected in time, may lead to the ruin of the whole, and a general break up of the collection, so that those who desire to enjoy the presence of these rare sea flowers, must be vigilant in their attentions.

The numbers on the cut refer to the specimens as follows: - 1, 2, 3, Sagar-tia anguicoma, or snaky-locked Anemone, in three different states, the last being shrunk up; 4, Bunodes clavata in its ordinary force of expansion; 5,. the common "Mes" expanded, and closed; the row of heads resembling torquoises which surround the tentacles, is peculiar to this species, and adds vastly to its beauty, especially in the rose and coral-colored specimens; 7, Actinia bellis, the sea Daisy; 8, the lovely red Alga delesseria sanguinea, drawn from a very fine specimen; the plant on the other side is Furcellaria fastigiata; 6, one of the few purple Algae that may be preserved in small collections. - S. H., in Gawenas Chronicle.