Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 98, Issue 6, pp 1479–1489 | Cite as

Cryptobenthic fishes and co-inhabiting shrimps associated with the mushroom coral Heliofungia actiniformis (Fungiidae) in the Davao Gulf, Philippines

  • Arthur R. BosEmail author
  • Bert W. Hoeksema


The free-living solitary mushroom coral Heliofungia actiniformis resembles sea anemones by having large, fleshy polyps with long tentacles, which provide shelter to symbiotic organisms. Commensal shrimps are well studied, but little is known about associated fish fauna. Therefore, the associated fauna of 118 coral polyps of H. actiniformis was examined at a depth range of 4–28 m in the Davao Gulf, Philippines. The distribution of associated fishes and symbiotic invertebrates highly depended on the size of the coral host: Large corals polyps (>18 cm) supported co-inhabiting fishes and commensal shrimps, medium-sized polyps (diameter 5–18 cm) hosted either fishes or shrimps, and small coral polyps (<5 cm) were uninhabited. Fifteen fish species, representing the Apogonidae, Gobiidae, Labridae, and Pomacentridae, were found. Among these, the gobies Eviota lachdeberei and E. rubriceps, and the labrid Oxycheilius celebicus were most common, making up for 77 % of all fishes encountered. Total length of the fish ranged from 1 to 6 cm covering adult gobies and juveniles of the other families. Four species of commensal shrimps were hosted by the coral polyps. This study further constitutes the first record of brittle stars of the genus Ophiothrix (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea) living among tentacles of H. actiniformis.


Apogonidae Cuapetes Eviota Gobiidae Labridae Pomacentridae Scleractinia 



The field surveys carried out in this study comply with the “Animal Welfare Act of 1998” issued by the government of the Philippines. We greatly acknowledge J. Bayogan and G. Gumanao (Davao del Norte State College) for providing logistic support during the fieldwork activities. Furthermore, we are grateful for identification confirmations by C. Fransen (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Netherlands), D. Greenfield (University of Hawaii, U.S.A.) and R. Winterbottom (Royal Ontario Museum, Canada). We thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyThe American University in CairoNew CairoEgypt
  2. 2.Department of Marine ZoologyNaturalis Biodiversity CenterLeidenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Research OfficeDavao del Norte State CollegePanaboThe Philippines

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