How Do Clownfish Benefit Sea Anemones? This Is Awesome!

Finding Nemo caused the popularity of clownfish to skyrocket off the charts.

The Ultimate Guide To Saltwater Fish…

Some parts of the movie are pretty realistic, like the fact that clownfish do have a close relationship with sea anemones.

Sea Anemones benefit clownfish in many ways by providing them protection, food, and shelter. Clownfish also benefit the sea anemones. How do clownfish benefit sea anemones?

Clownfish movements create aeration for the anemone which improves metabolism, stimulating growth and respiration for the anemone. Clownfish chase away predators like butterfly fish that would eat the anemone. Anemones get nutrients form clownfish excrement. Clownfish attract fish that the anemone stings and eats.

The symbiotic relationship that clownfish have with sea anemones is one of the interesting facts that distinguish clownfish from other fish. A symbiotic relationship means that both parties benefit from the relationship.

Not all anemones are gracious hosts to clownfish. The main anemones that host clownfish are:

Bubble Tip Anemone (Entacmaea Quadricolor)

Beaded Sea Anemone (Heteractis Aurora)

Magnificent Sea Anemone (Heteractis Magnififca)

Delicate Sea Anemone (Heteractis Malu)

Long Tentacle Anemone (Macrodactyla Doreensis)

Giant Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla Mertensi)

Merten’s Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla Mertensi)

Adhesive Sea Anemone (Cryptodendrum Adhaesivum)

Sebae Anemone (Heteractis Crispa)

Saddle Anemone (Stichodactyla Haddoni)

Once a clownfish becomes intertwined with one of these anemones, they will live in relationship with the anemone for their entire lives.

In fact, Clownfish rarely move to far away from their anemone. So much so that clownfish will stay within 2-4 inches of the anemone during their life. Clown fish are active during the day, moving around the anemone looking for pieces of food. Clownfish will eat dead pieces of the anemone and leftover pieces of food that the anemone doesn’t eat.

Studies have proven that the poop from the clown fish is fertilizer for the anemone. These same studies have also shown that clownfish help anemones breath, mainly during the night. The study showed that when the clown fish wriggle into the sea anemone tentacles to sleep the continually move during the night. These movements help keep more air moving through the anemone tentacles so the anemone can get more oxygen.

When the clownfish aren’t moving amongst the sea anemone tentacles, there isn’t much movement of water. This cause parts of the anemone to be still for to long. When the anemone is still for too long, it doesn’t attract prey or nutrients but does attract gases to build up.

The clownfish come in and move through the tentacles which creates more water movement and helps the clownfish and sea anemone use more oxygen. This is the same as what happens in coral reefs when the fish create more movements that help keep the coral reef healthier. These studies show how important fish, and their surroundings are for each other.

Summary: How Exactly Do Clownfish Benefit Sea Anemones?

Clownfish chase away predators in the form of other small fish

Clownfish eat parasites that would otherwise harm the anemone.

Anemones receive nutrients from the ammonia rich excrement of clownfish.

Clownfish movement aerates the water improving the metabolism of anemones in turn stimulating growth and respiration.

Clownfish are colorful which attracts other fish that the anemone can sting and eat.

What Does the Clownfish Do for The Sea Anemone?

Some scientists believe that the anemone actually benefits more from the clownfish than the clown fish does from the anemone. Some scientist think the clown fish benefits more but the anemone is immobile while the clownfish can move so if the clownfish isn’t willing to stay with the anemone then what is the anemone going to do about it.

Clownfish protect the anemone form certain predators such as small fish and parasites that the clownfish eat.

Anemones transform the ammonia rich excrement of clownfish into nutrients.

Clown fish aerate the anemone from movements which stimulates the anemone growth and respiration.

The colorfulness of the clownfish attracts other fish that the anemone can sting and eat.

Why Do Clownfish Not Get Stung by Sea Anemone?

Clownfish are covered in a mucous that makes them rather unique from other fish. The mucous is what protects the clownfish from getting stung by the anemone that they pretty much live in. History tells us that people originally thought clownfish were immune to these stings from sea anemones, but it is the mucous that protects the clownfish.

The clownfish are covered in this mucous, but scientists are still trying to pinpoint exactly where it comes from and why exactly it is there. One train of thought tis that is that the clownfish produce this mucous themselves and it has some sort of chemicals that keep the anemone from stinging them. Some scientists think the mucous has sugar and not protein, which would keep the anemone from thinking the clownfish is food.

Another train of thought is that the clownfish sneak amongst the anemone tentacles and steal some mucous from the anemone by rubbing. This would also keep the anemone from stinging the clownfish.

The last explanation for the clownfish not being stung is produced by the movements of the clownfish. Some scientists believe that since there are baby clownfish that live in amongst anemones with no mucous, there must be something in the way that clownfish move that keeps them from being stung. Some scientist think that clownfish move through the sea anemones tentacles in a way that keeps them from being perceived as food, so they are not stung.


Hopefully, you completely understand the relationship between an anemone and a clownfish so the next time you watch finding nemo, it will be more exciting, and you can educate the people watching with you.

However, if you are interested in raising a clownfish in captivity, they do not need an anemone. You can have an anemone in an aquarium with a clownfish but if you are not properly educated on which kind of anemone and how to take care of it, it is better not to get an anemone.

You can use one of the over the counter decorations as a suitable replacement for the clown fish to play and hide in.

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