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One of the most incredible partnerships in the sea is the one between clownfish and anemones. While anemones possess a highly potent venom capable of killing a fish within seconds, the clownfish secretes a mucous coating that protects its body, rendering it immune.

The clownfish seeks refuge in an anemone, relying on its venomous tentacles to defend against predators. In return, the clownfish attracts other fish that, once poisoned, will be consumed by both of them. As a form of mutual benefit, the clownfish also cleans the anemone and, if it fails to capture fish, it ventures out to find small prey to bring back and share with the anemone.

When a colony of clownfish “takes charge” of an anemone, they can even reproduce within it. Considering that a single spawn can contain up to 600 eggs deposited by the clownfish among the tentacles, the challenge lies in the male’s ability to fertilize them in such a rough terrain. The clownfish have found a logical solution to this problem. When forming a colony, all the clownfish are initially male, and then the largest fish undergoes a metamorphosis, transforming into a female. The smaller fish, which are all male, rub against the venomous tentacles, fertilizing the eggs. After a few days, the fry hatch and remain within the protection of the anemone.

In captivity experiments, it has been demonstrated that anemones deprived of clownfish took longer to thrive or even failed to survive. Similarly, when a clownfish was kept in captivity without an anemone, it would often dig a small hole in the tank’s floor, treating it as if it were an anemone. It would spend the day cleaning it and even bring small prey for it to feed on.

Life in the sea continuously surprises us with examples of collaboration between two animals that, despite being very different, complement and assist each other in order to survive in a hostile world.

“One cannot defend what one does not love, and one cannot love what one does not know.”