This is an anemonefish, a unique type of fish which makes its
home among the stinging tentacles of a sea anemone. The relationship between these two
animal species is called symbiosis. The exact term
describing the relationship of this anemonefish to its anemone is obligate symbiosis,
meaning the anemonefish must live with the anemone in order to survive. Most anemones, in
contrast, do not need the anemonefish for survival. This is called facultative symbiosis.
Anemonefish, when threatened by an approaching predator, dive into the tentacles of the
anemone. Unlike other fish, anemonefish are protected from the sting of the nematocysts
(stinging cells) of the host anemone by their protective mucus (slime) layer. This
protective mucus is a feature common to all fish, but the anemonefish's mucus has special
chemical properties that assist in protecting it from its host anemone's sting.
There are over 1,000 species of sea anemones, of which only ten are host to anemonefishes.
There are 28 species of anemonefishes.
The distribution of anemonefishes with host anemones is restricted to a large area of the
Indo-Pacific. Some places, such as Hawaii, may have one or more of the ten species of
anemone that are capable of hosting anemonefish, but without any anemonefish (anemones are
facultative symbionts). Contrary to popular belief, there are no anemonefish in the
Identification of anemonefish: Amphiprion ocellaris (common name: False
Identification of anemone: Heteractis magnifica
For more views and information about anemones and anemonefish on this site, visit
the "my buddy Eric..." page, the "pink
anemonefish" close-up view page, or the Anemonefish Gallery for more