This symbiosis is made possible because the juvenile clownfish coat themselves with the anemone's mucus by brushing against them over and over. That mucus contains a substance than inhibits the effects of the anemone's stinging cells.
This clownfish only lives symbiotically with two species of anemone: Heteractis magnifica and Stichodactyla gigantea.
According to one behavioural study, the orange clownfish is the one that leaves its host anemone the least: it almost never moves more than 12 cm away!
This species lives in groups formed of one couple and a few immature young fish. The community has a clear hierarchy: the largest female is dominant, followed by her male partner and, lastly, the juveniles.
When the female dies, the male changes sex and takes her place, and then the largest juvenile becomes the reproducing male.
Clownfish feed on small prey like crustaceans found in plankton and a few types of algae.
They regularly lay eggs that they deposit on a smooth surface close to an anemone. As soon as they hatch, we retrieve and isolate the young fish, just 3 mm long, so that we can provide them with appropriate care.
Rearing fish at the larval stage is a delicate process that is under study at the Aquarium. »
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