CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE RED SEA. NO. 31. OBSERVATIONS AND EXPERIMENTS ON THE RED SEA ANEMONES AND THEIR SYMBIOTIC FISH AMPHIPRION BICINCTUS,
TEL-AVIV UNIV (ISRAEL) DEPT OF ZOOLOGY
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Over a period of seven years, observations have been taken on Amphiprion bicinctus and the two anemones with which it lives symbiotically in the littoral zone of Eilat, Gulf of Aqaba. The larger and more common anemone, Stoichactis sp., is permanently anchored in coral crevices, the second, unindentified species probably Antheopsis koseirensis burrows in the sand. The anemones are essential to the survival of A. bicinctus driven away from its host the fish proves to be a poor swimmer and falls prey to other animals within the tentacles it finds shelter. On the other hand, the fish actively feeds the anemone. Given a morsel too large for it to swallow, a hungry fish will share the food with the anemone by sticking it on the the tentacles and pulling off a part. The young A. bicinctus, 4 cm or less in length, live in schools closely associated with the host anemone larger fish are dispersed with one to three per anemone, and during mating they are living one pair only per host. At all stages the fish defend their territory, but they are especially fierce during the reproduction period. Various aspects of behaviour in A. bicinctus are described settling on the host-anemone, behaviour in the absence of a host, cleaning, fighting and mating movements. Finally, some details on spawning and care of the eggs, and the larvae and fry of 11-12 cm length have been briefly described.