When I go snorkeling I often see anemone. It looks like a long hairy soft carpet that covers the surface of hard rocks. Clownfish lives among the anemone and that's why it is also called anemonefish. There are tens of species of them. Some that I have seen are the Pink Anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion), Red and Black Anemonefish (Amphiprion melanopus), Clark's Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii), False Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris), and Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus).
Coral reef is the natural habitat of a lot of species of marine creatures including clownfish and anemone. They live together building symbiotic mutualism relationship. Based on its physical appearance, anemone is similar to soft plants or sea carpet. However, anemone is an animal - a predator. Its hair like tentacles can sting a prey, usually a small fish, to catch it. This case does not happen to anemonefish, three spots dascyllus, and certain other fish. These fish species can live among the venomous tentacles of the anemone. They eat the undigested food which are released by anemone.
From my previous snorkeling trips with tourists, I saw Pink Anemonefish in the waters of Raja Ampat, and Mansinam island. For Clark's Anemonefish, I saw it in Manim - an islet in the western waters of Numfor island. There is a huge colony of anemone in a big boomie in Bakaro waters of Manokwari. It is the biggest anemone colony that I have ever seen. Because of its huge size, it is like a big soft carpet on the surface of the hard coral where it grows. When I visited this sea carpet, I liked to dive closer to it until I was on the same eye level with it. By doing so, I could take pictures of the fish that were swimming over it. Most species that I saw were Red and Black Anemonefish, and Three-spot Dascyllus. There was also Lemon Damselfish but I was not sure if it was resistant to the venomous sting of anemone's tentacles. In the north coast of Vogelkop region, the anemonefish that I saw were Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula). Its size is very small compared to Spinecheek one.
Clownfish are attractive for visitors who are avid snorkelers. They are small, colorful and are not affected by the venom from the tentacles of the sea anemone. The symbiotic mutualism relationship is nice to be observed. Anemone provies protection to the clownfish from predators. Its venomous tentacles are safe nest for the fish. The movements of clownfish swimming through and wedging inside the anemone has enhanced the circulation of water as well as supply of air to the anemone. Clownfish cleans anemone by eating leftover meals from anemone. Clownfish is a carpet expert. Charles Roring/ 24 May 2019.
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