Species Interactions | BioNinja
Meet a brilliantly colored fish that's at home on the world's coral reefs. Learn how the butterflyfish's vivid colors can help it to survive. The clownfish is a type of fish that lives in salt water habitats. Clownfish live in a "symbiotic" relationship with certain anemones. They also protect the sea anemones by chasing away polyp-eating fish, such as the butterfly fish. Clownfish lay their eggs in batches on coral, rock or next to the sea anemone that they call. An example of predation in the coral reef, involves the saddled butterflyfish and the sea anemone. Clownfish protect the anemone against their.
Yellowfin goatfish change their colouration so they can school with the blue-striped snapper. Coral grouper sometimes cooperate with giant morays in hunting. Specialised carnivores[ edit ] Large schools of forage fishsuch as surgeonfish and cardinalfishmove around the reef feeding on tiny zooplankton. The forage fish are, in turn, eaten by larger fish, such as the bigeye trevally. Fish receive many benefits from schooling behaviourincluding defence against predators through better predator detection, since each fish is on the lookout.
Schooling fish have developed remarkable displays of precise choreography which confuse and evade predators. For this they have evolved special pressure sensors along their sides, called lateral linesthat let them feel each other's movements and stay synchronized.
They are swift predators who patrol the reef in hunting packs. When they find a school of forage fish, such as cardinalfish, they surround them and herd them close to the reef. This panics the prey fish, and their schooling becomes chaotic, leaving them open to attack by the trevally. Cardinalfish swim in schools for protection against trevally. Bigeye trevally hunt cardinalfish in packs and herd them against the reef.
When the cardinalfish panic and break school formation, the trevally pick them off. Porcupinefish inflate themselves by swallowing water or air, which restricts potential predators to those with bigger mouths.
The titan triggerfish can move relatively large rocks when feeding and is often followed by smaller fishes that feed on leftovers. They also use a jet of water to uncover sand dollars buried in sand.
Threadfin Butterflyfish, Chaetodon auriga, Auriga Butterflyfish
Barracuda are ferocious predators on other fishes, with razor-sharp conical teeth which make it easy for them to rip their prey to shreds. Barracuda patrol the outer reef in large schools, and are extremely fast swimmers with streamlined, torpedo-shaped bodies. They inflate their body by swallowing water, reducing potential predators to those with much bigger mouths.
External image Porcupinefish with cleaner wrasses Fish can not groom themselves. Some fish specialise as cleaner fishand establish cleaning stations where other fish can come to have their parasites nibbled away. The "resident fish doctor and dentist on the reef is the bluestreak cleaner wrasse ". As the bluestreak snacks on the parasites it gently tickles its client. This seems to bring the larger fish back again for regular servicing.
But other parasites find the mucus itself good to eat. So lizardfish visit the cleaner wrasse, which clean the parasites from the skin, gills and mouth. Two small cleaner wrasses servicing a larger fish at a cleaning station The reef lizardfish secretes a mucus coating which reduces drag when they swim. But some parasites find the mucus good to eat.
Herbivores[ edit ] Surgeonfish are among the most common of coral reef herbivoresoften feeding in shoals. This may be a mechanism for overwhelming the highly aggressive defence responses of small territorial damselfishes that vigorously guard small patches of algae on coral reefs. The four largest groups of coral reef fishes that feed on plants are the parrotfishesdamselfishesrabbitfishesand surgeonfishes.
All feed primarily on microscopic and macroscopic algae growing on or near coral reefs. Algae can drape reefs in kaleidoscopes of colours and shapes.
Algae are primary producerswhich means they are plants synthesising food directly from solar energy and carbon dioxide and other simple nutrient molecules. Without algae, everything on the reef would die. One important algal group, the bottom dwelling benthic algae, grows over dead coral and other inert surfaces, and provides grazing fields for herbivores such as parrotfish. They are large herbivores that graze on the algae that grows on hard dead corals.
Equipped with two pairs of crushing jaws and their beaks, they pulverize chunks of algae-coated coral, digesting the algae and excreting the coral as fine sand.
They have evolved to find protection by schoolingsometimes with other species like shoaling rabbitfish. Spinefoot rabbitfish are named for their defensive venomous spines, and they are seldom attacked by predators. Spines are a last-ditch defence. It is better to avoid predator detection in the first place, and avoid being thrust into risky spine-to-fang battles. So rabbitfish have also evolved skilful colour changing abilities.
They are small, typically five centimetres two inches long. Many species are aggressive towards other fishes which also graze on algae, such as surgeonfish. Surgeonfish sometimes use schooling as a countermeasure to defensive attacks by solitary damselfish. Ferocious barracuda prey in schools on parrotfish. Coral rabbitfish have venomous spines which they erect if threatened. Schooling spinefoot rabbitfish are often joined by defenceless parrotfish. Symbiosis[ edit ] A hawkfishsafely perched on Acroporasurveys its surroundings Symbiosis refers to two species that have a close relationship with each other.
The relationship can be mutualisticwhen both species benefit from the relationship, commensalisticwhen one species benefits and the other is unaffected, and parasitisticwhen one species benefits, and the other is harmed.
An example of commensalism occurs between the hawkfish and fire coral. Thanks to their large, skinless pectoral fins, hawkfish can perch on fire corals without harm. Fire corals are not true coralsbut are hydrozoans possessing stinging cells called nematocysts which would normally prevent close contact.
The protection fire corals offer hawkfish means the hawkfish has the high ground of the reef, and can safely survey its surroundings like a hawk. Hawkfish usually stay motionless, but dart out and grab crustaceans and other small invertebrates as they pass by. They are mostly solitary, although some species form pairs and share a head of coral.
A more bizarre example of commensalism occurs between the slim, eel-shaped pinhead pearlfish and a particular species of sea cucumber. The pearlfish enters the sea cucumber through its anus, and spends the day safely protected inside the seacucumbers alimentary tract. At night it emerges the same way and feeds on small crustaceans.
The tentacles of sea anemones bristle with tiny harpoons nematocysts primed with toxinsand are an effective deterrent against most predators. Saddle butterflyfish usually flutter gently rather than swim. But in the presence of their preferred food, sea anemones, this gentleness disappears, and the butterflyfish dash in and out, ripping off the anemone tentacles.
Saddle butterflyfish are resistant to the sea anemone toxin. Yellowtail clownfish with sea anemone Common clownfish guarding their sea anemone home Monogenean parasites of the genus Pseudorhabdosynochus arrows on the gill filament of a grouper.
There is a mutualistic relationship between sea anemones and clownfish. The clownfish, while being provided with food, cleans away fish and algae leftovers from the anemone.
In addition, the sea anemones are given better water circulation because the clownfish fan their fins while swimming about. Clownfish live at the bottom of the sea in sheltered reefs or in shallow lagoons, usually in pairs. Clownfish have a special relationship with the anemone and are very important to them.
They are a large help to the anemone as they clean the anemone by eating the algae and other food leftovers on them. They also protect the sea anemones by chasing away polyp-eating fish, such as the butterfly fish. The map below shows where in the world clownfish can be found. They live in the warmer waters of the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. There are no clownfish in the Caribbean. What is the Life Cycle of the Clownfish? The spawning season of the clownfish, a time when they breed, is year round in tropical waters.
Males attract the females by courting. Courting behaviours include chasing, biting and extending fins. Clownfish lay their eggs in batches on coral, rock or next to the sea anemone that they call home. The male clownfish will build a nest on the rock or coral near the anemone in order to be provided with protection from predators. Breeding starts by the male chasing the female to the nest where the eggs are released.
One hundred to one thousand eggs are laid.
The male clownfish guards and protects the eggs until they hatch. Most species of butterfly fish feed on the plankton in the water, coral and sea anemones and occasionally snack on small crustaceans.
Those butterfly fish that primarily feed on the plankton in the water are generally the smaller species of butterfly fish and can be seen in large groups. The larger species of butterfly fish are fairly solitary or stay with their mating partner. Butterfly fish are preyed upon by a number of large predators including fish such as snappers, eels and sharks.Foureye Butterflyfish added to SPS Reef Tank for Aiptaisa control
Due to the fact that the butterfly fish is small in sizeit is able to tuck itself into crevices in the coral in order to escape danger and prevent itself from being eaten. Butterfly fish form mating pairs that they remain with for life.
Butterfly fish release their eggs into the water which form part of the plankton it is because of this that many butterfly fish eggs are accidentally eaten by animals that live on plankton.