Saddleback clownfish anemone symbiotic relationship

Amphiprioninae - Wikipedia

saddleback clownfish anemone symbiotic relationship

If you've seen the film 'Finding Nemo', you may already be familiar with clownfish and sea anemones. But, do you understand why they can live. The clownfish and the anemone—their relationship has captivated home aquarists since the s, when improvements in the shipping of fish and in tank . The relationship between the sea anemone and clownfish allows the Symbiosis between the two species is achieved in a variety of ways.

Everything You Needed to Know About the Habitat of Clownfish

In captivity, the clownfish can live from 3 to 5 years. In the wild, they live 6 to 10 years. Symbiosis describes the special relationship between clownfish and sea anemones. They are the only fish that do not get stung by the tentacles of the sea anemone.


Clownfish have a slimy mucus covering that protects them from the sea anemone. However, if this covering is wiped off of a clownfish, it will get stung and possibly be killed when it returns home to the anemone. The clownfish and the sea anemone help each other survive in the ocean.

The clownfish, while being provided with food, cleans away fish and algae leftovers from the anemone.

Everything You Needed to Know About the Habitat of Clownfish

In addition, the sea anemones are given better water circulation because the clownfish fan their fins while swimming about. Clownfish live at the bottom of the sea in sheltered reefs or in shallow lagoons, usually in pairs. Clownfish have a special relationship with the anemone and are very important to them. They are a large help to the anemone as they clean the anemone by eating the algae and other food leftovers on them. They also protect the sea anemones by chasing away polyp-eating fish, such as the butterfly fish.

The map below shows where in the world clownfish can be found. They live in the warmer waters of the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. There are no clownfish in the Caribbean.

saddleback clownfish anemone symbiotic relationship

What is the Life Cycle of the Clownfish? The spawning season of the clownfish, a time when they breed, is year round in tropical waters. Males attract the females by courting. Courting behaviours include chasing, biting and extending fins. Clownfish lay their eggs in batches on coral, rock or next to the sea anemone that they call home.

The male clownfish will build a nest on the rock or coral near the anemone in order to be provided with protection from predators. Breeding starts by the male chasing the female to the nest where the eggs are released. One hundred to one thousand eggs are laid.

The male clownfish guards and protects the eggs until they hatch. They hatch within 4 to 5 days. What are Some Special Characteristics of the Clownfish? The shallow water allows the sunlight to reach the seabed and thus, promotes growth of the zooplankton, which are tiny animals.

The presence of the zooplankton invites copepods and isopods which are scavengers by nature. The clownfish feed on the copepods, zooplankton, isopods and the algae present in the shallow waters.

The lagoons formed because of the coral reefs are sheltered from the rage of the seas and function ideally as the habitat for this fish. The clownfish prefer the company of sea anemones which inhabits the deep as well as shallow waters. The natural habitats for this fish are the warmer waters of the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean, but not in those of the Caribbean.

saddleback clownfish anemone symbiotic relationship

They are also found in the coastal regions that extend from the Japan to the Great Barrier reef in northwest Australia. The sea around the Ryukyu Island, the coasts of Malaysia, especially the Indo-Malaysian region and southeast Asia offers favorable conditions for the clownfish.

Clownfish and Sea Anemones

The Red sea is also a known as the habitat for this fish. Characteristics Some of these fish sport a bright red colored coat, with white colored broad strips on their heads, tails and in-between. This attire and waddle like swimming, reminds us of the makeup put on by the clowns and their waddling gait, effected at the time of performance.

saddleback clownfish anemone symbiotic relationship

It has earned this fish the title, "The clown of the sea. A clownfish acts as an innocent party; waddling his way to suggest that he is an easy prey and flashes his colors in front of a big fish to attract it to the sea anemones. When the big fish is within the reach, the sea anemone stuns and kills it with poisonous tentacles and the feast begins. This is a classic example of the carrot and the stick approach that you can observe in the cloak of symbiosis.

The feast ends with the fish gobbling the leftovers by the sea anemones.