, Volume 30, Issue 2, p 369
Date: 04 Jan 2011

Clownfishes Amphiprion clarkii and A. sandaracinos (Pomacentridae) coexist in the sea anemone Stichodactyla mertensii

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Clownfishes (Pomacentridae) are obligate symbionts of sea anemones and usually do not share hosts due to their highly territorial behaviour. Therefore, coexistence of two clownfish species within one host anemone has been considered a rare exception (Fautin 1991) and possible only if fish species divide the host in exclusive territories without sharing space (Fautin and Allen 1992). Coexisting clownfishes, however, always behave aggressively towards one another (Elliott and Mariscal 2001). For example, Amphiprion clarkii (Bennett, 1830) and A. perideraion Bleeker, 1855 coexisted in the anemone Heteractis crispa (Hemprich and Ehrenberg, 1834), where, with intervals of several minutes, A. clarkii was aggressive towards A. perideraion (Hattori 2002).

Between July and October 2010, I observed sea anemones occupied by more than one species of clownfish in the Davao Gulf (the Philippines). A specimen of the sea anemone Stichodactyla mertensii Brandt, 1835 (diameter 32 cm at 1 m below mean low