Many stony coral-dwelling fishes exhibit adaptations to deal with hypoxia among the branches of their hosts; however, no information exists on the respiratory ecophysiology of obligate fish associates of non-coral organisms such as sea anemones and sponges. This study investigated metabolic and behavioral interactions between two-band anemonefish (Amphiprion bicinctus) and bulb-tentacle sea anemones (Entacmaea quadricolor) at night. We measured the net dark oxygen uptake (, μmol O2 h−1) of fish–anemone pairs when partners were separate from each other, together as a unit, and together as a unit but separated by a mesh screen that prevented physical contact. We also measured the effects of water current on sea anemone and quantified the nocturnal behaviors of fish in the absence and presence of host anemones in order to discern the impacts of anemone presence on fish behavior. Net of united pairs was significantly higher than that of both separated pairs and united pairs that were separated by a mesh screen. Anemone increased with flow rate from 0.5 to 2.0 cm s−1, after which remained constant up to a water flow rate of 8.0 cm s−1. Furthermore, the percentage time and bout frequency of flow-modulating behaviors by fish increased significantly when anemones were present. We conclude that physical contact between anemonefish and sea anemones elevates the of at least one of the partners at night, and anemonefish behavior at night appears to oxygenate sea anemone hosts and to augment the metabolism of both partners.
Supplementary material available online at http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/content/full/216/6/970/DC1
Funding for this study was provided by the National Science Foundation [grant no. 0733604 to N.E.C.].
- © 2013. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd