Clownfish or Anemonefish, a subfamily of the Damselfishes (family Pomacentridae), have developed a symbiotic relationship with anemones. Juveniles of the Three-spot Dascyllus (Dascyllus trimaculatus) also belong to the same family of Damsels. They enjoy the protective refuge of coelenterates too, but only when they are in their juvenile phase.
Clownfish, also known as Anemonefish, and anemones share a remarkable symbiotic relationship that benefits both parties. Anemonefish are small and brightly mostly with an orange hue coloured fish that live in the tentacles of anemones, which are sessile marine animals belonging to the Cnidarians, soft-bodied stinging animals. The phylum's name is derived from the Greek word “cnid” meaning nettle, a stinging plant. The partnership between these two species is known as mutualism because it provides benefits to both animals. It is actually more than fascinating because they both depend on each other for survival.
The anemone provides a safe and secure home for the clownfish. The anemone's tentacles have stinging cells, just like jellyfish, that protect the anemone from predators. These stinging cells are called nematocysts which are harpoon-like stingers on the anemone’s tentacles used to capture prey and ward off predators. The anemonefish, thanks to a protective layer of mucus on their bodies, are immune to these stings and use the anemone's tentacles for protection from predators.
Additionally, the anemone's tentacles provide a source of food for the anemonefish. The anemone captures small fish and plankton in its tentacles, and some of this food drifts towards the anemonefish.
In return, the anemonefish protect the anemone from its predators. The anemonefish are territorial and will aggressively defend their home, chasing away parasites and potential predators of the anemone, such as butterflyfish that feed on the tentacles of the anemone. They also bring food to the anemone in the form of ammonia-rich clownfish waste, which fertilises the anemone and helps it breathe, grow, and reproduce. Once the Threespot Dascyllus reach adulthood, they leave the protection of their host to wander alone or in small groups on the reef.
Many anemones also host different species of crustaceans like Porcelain Crabs (Porcellandidae) and Commercial Shrimps (Paleomonidae). These crustaceans usually live in harmony with the anemonefish with whom they share their host.
However, juveniles of the Threespot Dascyllus, which are not anemonefish, seek protection from predators by sheltering between the spines of Diadema sea urchins, the branches of hard corals, the spiny appendages of soft corals, and the tentacles of anemones. They, on the other hand, form a commensal relationship with the anemone, meaning they use the anemone for protection without benefiting the cnidarian in any way from this relationship. Once the Threespot Dascyllus reach adulthood they leave the protection of their host to wander alone or in small groups on the reef.
This little juvenile clownfish (Amphiprion chrysogaster), an endemic species of the Mascarene archipelago, however, has no intention of sharing its host with these juvenile Damsels. Clownfish are known to have a strong and fierce character as shown in the animated film “Finding Nemo”.
This scene clearly shows the benefit of using music. The right music will enhance the viewer's perception.
This short underwater videoclip has been filmed in Mauritius 🇲🇺
Also you can capture the magic of the underwater world with our online Marine Wildlife Videography course!