Relationship between anemonefish and sea anemones

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Nine species of anemone have been confirmed to inhabit the Wakatobi area. This time, I summarized the relationship between the anemonefish and their host, the sea anemone.

Do you think this relationship benefits both anemonefish and sea anemones?

1. Coral reefs

Which are home to many organisms, have various ecosystems, and there are several types of relationships with other animals. Perhaps the easiest thing to understand is the relationship between fish and sea anemones. Symbiotic relationships refer to the fact that two unrelated organisms live together.

This symbiotic relationship can be beneficial to both sides, beneficial to one and harmless to the other, and advantageous to one but disadvantageous.

So what is the relationship between anemones and sea anemones? Is there merit on one side, or is there merit on both sides? Let’s take a closer look! Photo courtesy of Jett Britnell 2. Benefits of anemonefish: Most divers should know that sea anemones have small cnidocytes on their tentacles. Due to this characteristic, sea anemones, as hosts for anemonefish, seek to eliminate animals other than anemone fish. Clark’s anemones can adapt to the sea anemone’s sting cells, so when threatened by predators, they temporarily escape into the host sea anemone and disappear. And when the enemy is gone, they start swimming near the sea anemone again.

2. Without a host

The clownfish buddies always live in the presence of sea ​​anemones because they are too dangerous and difficult to survive. However, some fish such as moray eels, trumpetfish, scorpionfish, and Thailand may be attacked often, knowing that they can prey.

According to a study by Dr. Gerald Allen, each anemone was caught and eaten near the sea anemone. Especially like a grouper fish. Photo courtesy of Wakatobigest Rodger Klein 4. The study also found that sea anemone-hosted clownfish have a lower mortality rate than other coral reef fish, but the species of anemonefish. It seems that the dependencies are different depending on the Anemonefish, clownfish, scampish, and orange clownfish, which are not very good at swimming, seem closely related to sea anemones.

When this species of fish, which is less agile, swims, it seems to use its pectoral fins more often and swim more exaggeratedly than other species. Also, spend most of your time near the sea anemones, and when predators approach you, hurry to hide in the shelter! Photo courtesy of Wakatobi Guest Scott Michael 5. In contrast, the relationship between orange fin anemonefish and anemone fish anemones seems a bit lost. These good-swimming fish use a solid tail fin for efficient swimming.

This fish species seems to swim some distance, such as eating plankton floating in the water more than 1 m away from the host sea anemone or moving from one sea anemone to another. Therefore, they tend to bravely confront predators who aim for eggs. For example, if we divers get too close to sea anemones, clownfish may come and be bitten. Even in the same situation, anemone fish such as anemonefish will hide in the sea anemone and will not attack.

The tail fin shape tells how much each clownfish companion depends on its host, the sea anemone. In most cases, host-dependent clownfish buddies have rounded tail fins, whereas species less dependent on the host sea anemone have notched tail fins. If you look at the tail fin, you can also see how high your swimming ability is! Photo courtesy of Wakatobi Guest Rob Darmanin 6. Sea anemones also have benefits: Sea anemones, which are the hosts of the anemones, also have benefits, but it seems that sea anemones can live without them. (At least in some areas.) So what are the benefits of sea anemones from their symbiotic relationship with anemone anemones?

One advantage is that the coexistence of anemones increases the growth rate and asexual reproduction of sea anemones. For example, one study reported that when anemone fish were fed with orange fin anemones, they grew three times faster than anemones without anemone fish. Sea anemones that inhabit two or more Clark’s anemones also have a very high probability of fission, and fishless sea anemones also have a low proportion. Photo courtesy of: Wakatobigest Alvin

Rosenfeld 7. Sea anemone-hosted organisms coexist with Clark’s anemones and with unicellular algae known as zooxanthellae. Instead of providing a place for the zooxanthellae to survive, the sea anemones receive the photosynthetic product of the algae. From this, it can be seen that there are also benefits to zooxanthellae that coexist with sea anemones. And algae utilize the excrement of fish that live in sea anemones as a nutrient source. Studies have shown that not only do sea anemones regenerate their antennae faster than fish-free sea anemones, but fish-bearing sea anemones contain more zooxanthellae.

Photo courtesy of Wakatobigest Rodger Klein 8. Inorganic compounds are not the only source of zooxanthellae, but fish swimming stimulates the sense of touch and opens sea anemones, which are rich in oxygen in the sense of touch and skin folds. It facilitates circulation and can also remove debris from the mouth of sea anemones and keep them clean.

One study found that bubble-tip anemones, inhabited by two-band anemonefish, had significantly wider tentacles than fish-free sea anemones. More expansive tentacles allow more surface area to be exposed to sunlight, resulting in zooxanthellae photosynthesis and more nutrients to the sea anemones.

Researchers have also found that if the fish are too small or have no fish, the sea anemones will shrink and sometimes die. Photo courtesy of Warren Baverstock 9. Sea anemones with large fish also have the critical benefit of protecting themselves from predators targeting sea anemones. In some areas, sea anemones without anemones can be quickly eaten by large butterflyfish.

For example, when researchers removed fish from the Great Barrier Reef sea anemones, they seemed to have been eaten and disappeared within 24 hours. In an area with the Red Sea, when the two-band anemonefish disappeared, a kind of butterflyfish attacked the sea anemone, and the sea anemone began to hide in the hole of the coral reef. In subtropical regions such as Japan, there are few predators targeting sea anemones, so even sea anemones without fish have been confirmed to be healthy. However, in areas with more tropical climates such as Indonesia, most host sea anemones appear to coexist with one or several species of anemonefish. Photo courtesy of Eric Cheng

3. It was once thought that anemones lived on sea anemones.

However, reports of such behavior have led to divers becoming rare and tropical fish growers feeding more than necessary. And the clownfish buddies have come to hit the tactile sensation of sea anemones to make food easier to eat. We never catch anything that cannot be swallowed in the wild world, so we never do this. And as a result, the extraordinary symbiotic relationship that benefits both anemones and sea anemones is no longer valid.

If you have a chance to dive next time, take a look at the anemones swimming around in the tentacles of the sea anemone. And I hope you can remember how vital this symbiotic relationship is!

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