Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nemo helps anemone partner breath by fanning with his fins

Date:
February 27, 2013
Source:
The Journal of Experimental Biology
Summary:
Nestled amongst the tentacles of their anemone sanctuary, clownfish have reached an amicable arrangement with their deadly hosts. But what does the anemone get in return? Biologists have discovered that the helpful fish increase the flow of water through their anemone-haven at night improving the anemone's oxygen supply when it is scarce.

Clownfish at home in the tentacles of a sea anemone.
Credit: formiktopus / Fotolia

Setting up home in the stinging tentacles of a sea anemone might seem like a risky option, but anemonefish -- also known as clownfish and popularised in the movie Finding Nemo -- are perfectly content in their unlikely abode. Fending off peckish anemone predators in return for refuge, plucky clownfish have achieved a satisfactory arrangement with their deadly partners. Yet Joe Szczebak from Auburn University, USA, wondered whether there might be more to the unconventional collaboration than met the eye.

Related Articles


According to Szczebak, coral reefs are awash with oxygen during the day, but levels can plummet overnight when photosynthesis has ceased. Adding that some damselfish waft oxygen-rich water over corals at night to supplement their oxygen supply, Szczebak wondered whether clownfish might have struck a similar deal with their anemone hosts. 'There had been almost no research done on the clownfish-anemone mutualism at night', explains Szczebak. He and his Master's thesis advisor, Nanette Chadwick, publish their discovery that clownfish fan their anemone hosts to supplement the anemone's meagre nocturnal oxygen supply in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

Szczebak and Chadwick travelled to Fuad Al-Horani's physiology lab at the Marine Science Station in Aqaba, Jordan, and went SCUBA diving in the Red Sea to find the diminutive fish and their anemone partners. Then the team isolated each fish from its anemone and measured their individual oxygen consumption rates before reuniting the partners. They discovered that the fish and anemone consumed 1.4 times more oxygen when they were together than when they were apart. Something was happening when the fish and its anemone were together to increase their oxygen consumption, but Szczebak wasn't sure what.

Having successfully returned the fish to their Red Sea home before flying back to the United States, Szczebak repeated the experiments with Ray Henry's help in Chadwick's Auburn lab. However, this time he tried an additional test. Separating the clownfish from its anemone with plastic mesh -- so that the clownfish could still see its partner and they could smell each other -- Szczebak remeasured their oxygen consumption, but it was still lower than when they were in contact. 'There was something about the physical contact between them that was the source of the increase', says Szczebak.

Spending long nights filming the clownfish as they nestled in amongst their anemone's tentacles, Szczebak realised that the fish were much more active than had been thought previously. He frequently saw the fish fanning the anemone with their rapidly weaving fins and the fish often burrowed deep into their host, sometimes making a 180deg turn deep within the mass of tentacles to open up the collapsed anemone and apparently circulate water through it. However, when Szczebak measured the oxygen consumption of isolated anemones as he flowed water through them at speeds ranging from 0.5 to 8.0cm/s, their oxygen consumption never increased by as much as it did when paired with a clownfish, suggesting that the clownfish also contribute the partnership's increased oxygen consumption.

'I think that I have found foundational evidence that, like similar symbioses on coral reefs, anemonefish may actively modulate flow conditions surrounding their host to benefit them under low oxygen scenarios', says Szczebak. He adds that Chadwick's group is continuing to investigate whether the fish indulge in their nocturnal antics purely to supplement the anemone's oxygen supply or for an as-yet-undetermined reason with the additional benefit of improved circulation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Journal of Experimental Biology. The original article was written by Kathryn Knight. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. T. Szczebak, R. P. Henry, F. A. Al-Horani, N. E. Chadwick. Anemonefish oxygenate their anemone hosts at night. Journal of Experimental Biology, 2013; 216 (6): 970 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.075648

Cite This Page:

The Journal of Experimental Biology. "Nemo helps anemone partner breath by fanning with his fins." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130227183450.htm>.
The Journal of Experimental Biology. (2013, February 27). Nemo helps anemone partner breath by fanning with his fins. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130227183450.htm
The Journal of Experimental Biology. "Nemo helps anemone partner breath by fanning with his fins." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130227183450.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins