Clownfish and anemones, a perfect relationship?

Clownfish and anemones, a perfect relationship?

A favourite with photographers, the clownfish shot to fame as Nemo in a popular movie. They are charismatic little creatures and easy to find – often looking like they are playing a game of hide-and-seek between the tentacles of anemones. But, there’s more to it than a game of hide-and-seek…

Clownfish and anemones have a near perfect symbiotic relationship, a mutually beneficial partnership. To most creatures the tentacles of anemones are dangerous – they contain harpoon-like stinging capsules on them called nematocysts. The anemone is a predator, and from its rock attachment it waits for unsuspecting prey to come within striking distance before paralyzing it with a sting. But the clownfish make the anemones their home and are unharmed due to a layer of protective mucus on their skin.

The clownfish benefits from their relationship with the anemone as they are protected from predators by the stinging tentacles, the clownfish also makes its meals from the anemones leftovers.

How does the anemone benefit from this relationship? The clownfish acts as a lure – creatures trying to predate on the clownfish get stung and become food for the anemone. The clownfish will also eat any dead tentacles and keep the area clean. The cute wiggle that the clownfish seemingly perform for photographers could also benefit the anemone by increasing water flow and therefore oxygen around it, so helping it to breathe.

A salty symbiotic match made in heaven!