Sea anemones are marine animals in the Cnidaria phylum. These sea
creatures are often mistaken as marine plants or flowers. The body
is composed of a columnar structure, with one end of the column
attacked to a substrate, and the other end houses the mouth and
tentacle structures or nematocysts, a type of cnidae. The cnidae
or nematocysts contain stinging cells that paralyze the prey. Sea
anemones do not actively seek food, instead they are opportunistic
feeders, meaning they wait for passing prey.
They are found in coastal regions throughout the world, but mainly
in warm temperate regions. The depth at which they are found varies,
some sea anemones can be found in shallow parts of the ocean, while
others occupy deep-sea waters. The home for sea anemones vary, some
seek substrates that are sedentary - like rocks. While, others seek
mobile substrates, such as a hermit crab shell. In coral reef areas,
space is limited so some sea anemones compete for space. The anemones
use their nematocysts as weapons.
The clownfish or damselfish is a fish found in warm waters, mostly
in the coral reefs. The fish colored bright orange with white stripes.
They are highly defensive of their territory, but are often mistaken
as "clowning around," hence the name. Clownfish are small and are
easily sought as prey. To avoid predation, the fish seek refuge
among tentacles of sea anemones.
The relationship between the Clownfish and sea anemones is called
symbiosis. In Greek, symbiosis means 'life together', where two
organisms maintain a relationship with each other in order to survive.
The association can be described as mutualistic, in that they both
benefit from living together. The Clownfish seeks protection among
the tentacles of the sea anemone, and the sea anemone obtains food
by capturing the clownfishes' predator.
In order for the Clownfish to live within the tentacles of the
sea anemone, it must develop immunity to the stinging cells of the
anemone. It does this by touching one or two tentacles at a time,
over time the number of tentacles touched are numerous and eventually
the fish creates mucus that protects it from the sting cells of
that specific sea anemone. Once the clownfish does create a relationship
with an anemone, it must stay with that specific anemone, because
the stinging cells of individual sea anemones are different.
Studies have showed that the clownfish are initially attracted
to the chemical secretions of the sea anemone. And eventually it
is able to recognize the sea anemone visually. Clownfishes do not
usually venture far from the sea anemone, because it must rely on
it for protection. Studies have found that the clownfishes do not
survive for long if they leave the vicinity of its specific sea