Coral Triangle clownfish figured out how to share

Usually, several individual clownfish of the same species occupy a single anemone — a large and dominant female, an adult male, and several subordinates. But the who gets to live where competition between 28 species of clownfish and 10 species of anemone could get quite competitive. But in the Coral Triangle of Southeast Asia clownfish have figured out how to share and anemones are often home to multiple clownfish species living together peacefully.


In most places, it’s one species of clownfish per anemone but in the Coral Triangle a new study finds, it’s common to find many species of clownfish sharing a single anemone home.

From 2005 to 2014 researchers from University of Technology Sydney gathered data on clownfish and their anemone homes from locations with more than one species of clownfish residents. In 981 underwater survey transects, they encountered 1,508 clownfish, 377 of which lived in groups consisting of two or more fish species in a single anemone. Most of those cohabiting clownfish could be found in the waters of the Coral Triangle

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