What is the Symbiotic Relationship Between Clownfish and Sea Anemone

Clownfish and sea anemone maintain a mutualistic relationship between them. Mutualism is a symbiotic relationship where both parties receive benefits. Clownfish are a type of bony fish while sea anemones are cnidarians. Both clownfish and sea anemone are predatory animals. Since clownfish are colorful fish, they attract prey for sea anemone. Clownfish feeds on the leftovers from the meal of sea anemone. Sea anemone also provides residence for clownfish within the venomous tentacles of it.

Key Areas Covered

1. Clownfish – Definition, Classification, Features
2. Sea Anemone – Definition, Classification, Features
3. What is the Symbiotic Relationship Between Clownfish and Sea Anemone
     – Mutualism Between Clownfish and Sea Anemone

Key Terms: Clownfish, Food, Mutualism, Predators, Residence, Sea Anemone

What is the Symbiotic Relationship Between Clownfish and Sea Anemone- Infograph

Clownfish – Definition, Classification, Features

Clownfish is a small, tropical, marine fish that have bright coloration with bold vertical strips. It lives in close association with anemones. This means clownfish are the only species that can protect themselves from the deadly stings of the sea anemone. Clownfish become immune to the stings of the sea anemone because of their mucus layer. Clownfish belong to the subfamily Amphiprioninae.

Features of Clownfish


Pacific ocean, red sea, great barrier reef, Indian ocean,


2-5 inches


Black, red, purple, orange, yellow


3-10 years




Mollusks, crustaceans, isopods, algae, zooplankton, plankton


Aggressive, temperamental, territorial

What is the Symbiotic Relationship Between Clownfish and Sea Anemone

Figure 1: Clownfish and Sea Anemone

Sea Anemone – Definition, Classification, Features

Sea anemone is a sedentary marine cnidarian with a columnar body that bears stinging tentacles around the mouth. By shooting nematocysts from their tentacles, sea anemones capture their prey. Sea anemone belongs to the class Anthozoa.

Features of Sea Anemone


Tropical water and shallow water, mostly attached to rocks


0.5 inches to 6 feet




Several months to 50 years




Small fish and shrimp

What is the Symbiotic Relationship Between Clownfish and Sea Anemone

Both clownfish and sea anemone maintain a mutualistic relationship to get benefits for both parties.

Benefits Received by Clownfish

  • Sea anemone provides an ideal home for clownfish. The venomous tentacles provide protection to clownfish from its predators.
  • Clownfish feed upon the leftovers of the sea anemone meal.
  • Clownfish eat dead tentacles of the sea anemone.

Benefits Received by Sea Anemone

  • Clownfish help sea anemone to capture prey by attracting them to the sea anemone.
  • Clownfish keep sea anemone clean by eating dead tentacles and algae that settle on the sea anemone.
  • Water circulation is enhanced by fanning the fins of clownfish while they swim.
  • Fecal matter of clownfish provides nutrition for the growth of sea anemone.
  • Territorial clownfish drive tentacle-eating fishes away from the sea anemone.


Clownfish and sea anemone maintain a mutualistic relationship. Clownfish attract prey for sea anemone and clownfish feed on the leftovers of sea anemone meal. Sea anemone provides clownfish a place to live while clownfish drive away the predators of the sea anemone.


1. “The Enigmatic Relationship Between Clownfish and Sea Anemone.” AnimalSake, .

Image Courtesy:

1. “1496866” (CC0) via

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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