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Nemo helps anemone partner breath by fanning with his fins
Date:2/27/2013

ted the experiments with Ray Henry's help in Chadwick's Auburn lab. However, this time he tried an additional test. Separating the clownfish from its anemone with plastic mesh so that the clownfish could still see its partner and they could smell each other Szczebak remeasured their oxygen consumption, but it was still lower than when they were in contact. 'There was something about the physical contact between them that was the source of the increase', says Szczebak.

Spending long nights filming the clownfish as they nestled in amongst their anemone's tentacles, Szczebak realised that the fish were much more active than had been thought previously. He frequently saw the fish fanning the anemone with their rapidly weaving fins and the fish often burrowed deep into their host, sometimes making a 180deg turn deep within the mass of tentacles to open up the collapsed anemone and apparently circulate water through it. However, when Szczebak measured the oxygen consumption of isolated anemones as he flowed water through them at speeds ranging from 0.5 to 8.0cm/s, their oxygen consumption never increased by as much as it did when paired with a clownfish, suggesting that the clownfish also contribute the partnership's increased oxygen consumption.

'I think that I have found foundational evidence that, like similar symbioses on coral reefs, anemonefish may actively modulate flow conditions surrounding their host to benefit them under low oxygen scenarios', says Szczebak. He adds that Chadwick's group is continuing to investigate whether the fish indulge in their nocturnal antics purely to supplement the anemone's oxygen supply or for an as-yet-undetermined reason with the additional benefit of improved circulation.


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Contact: Nicola Stead
nicola.stead@biologists.com
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The Company of Biologists
Source:Eurekalert

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