The Symbiotic Relationship between Clownfish and Anemones

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The Symbiotic Relationship between Clownfish and Anemones
By Krista Guogas​

Many people begin the journey into keeping a saltwater tank because they want to have a “Nemo” with its anemone. Before getting the anemone, I think it is important to understand the relationship between the clownfish and its anemone.

The relationship between the clownfish and anemone is referred to as symbiotic. Symbiotic means living together. This is exactly what is happening in the relationship. The clownfish is being hosted by the anemone. Notice, that I said that the clownfish is being hosted by the anemone. Host is defined as in biology is the organism in which another organism lives. A clownfish lives in the anemone. Therefore, the anemone is the host.

Now, you might be wondering why the clownfish is being hosted by the anemone. Have you seen a clownfish swim? If you have, you may have noticed that the clownfish is a poor swimmer. This makes them an easy target for other fish. In order to survive, clownfish take up residence in anemones. The anemones have nematocysts in its tentacles that will sting other fish. Clownfish have developed a resistance to the stinging cells so they are not affected.

Anemones also benefit from hosting the clowns. Even though the anemones have stinging cells, some fish will try to eat the tentacles. This can harm the anemone. The clownfish will valiantly chase away other fish that come near the anemone. I can vouch for this, since my clowns will bite my hand and arm to the point of drawing blood when I am too close to the anemone. Also, some clownfish will feed the anemone which helps provide some nourishment for the anemone.

As you can see, the relationship between the clownfish and anemone is pretty important. Both organisms can benefit from the relationship. This type of relationship is considered a mutual symbiotic relationship. However, it is also important to note that clowns will not always choose anemones to host them. In the home aquarium, clowns will seek an area where they feel safe and comfortable. This can be another coral, a rock, fake ornament or even filter tubes. Some also believe that captive bred clowns are harder to get to be hosted by anemones.

Here's a pic that demonstrate the symbiotic relationship:

Picture of a Clownfish in an Anemone | Ocean Portal | Smithsonian
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http://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/6956719
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SeahorseKeeper
Hi!!! Unfortunately, I’m currently tankless. :( I still love and research seahorses.

Learning about the creatures we keep.

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