The Colourful Clownfish Facade Hides A Very Peculiar Private Life
Finding clownfish/anemonefish in Phuket is not a difficult task for our diving guides, we have four different species of the 28 known that we regularly find, all colourful and all have the quirky clownfish attitude that makes them a favourite with divers but behind the cute colours are some very strange facts.
I’m sure you’re aware that they have a symbiotic relationship with anemone’s but this doesn’t come as easy to the clownfish as you might think. The fish don’t hatch with an immunity to the stinging cells of the anemone, when they find their chosen host the juvenile clownfish have to touch it gently with various parts of their body until they eventually get covered with a layer of mucus that doesn’t trigger the neurotoxin laced harpoons that kill other fish.
Once the tricky process is complete they have a secure home and won’t stray more than a metre or so from the host for the rest of lives which can be 10 years in the wild. However if they do go for a bit of a wander then their loud colours reduce that life expectancy to around 10 seconds..
A Great Deal!
So the clownfish has got a very secure home for all the family in a perfect location with lots of food that just passes by but what does the anemone get in return? Pooh is the short answer, in return for the perfect house the clownfish drops it’s pooh on the anemone. Can’t imagine what kind of sophistry was involved in those negotiations. The clownfish also removes parasites, oxygenates and chases away anemone predators but lets not have the truth get in the way of a good story.