Symbiotic Relationships in the Ocean – Alana Olendorf e-port
This is because the cleaner fish eats harmful parasites and other small sources of food off of the large fish. This gives the cleaner fish a meal, the larger fish is helped because it no longer has these parasites on them. Some small shrimp can also be cleaners. The fish uses the sea anemone for protection from predators and they live in them. In return, the fish occasionally feeds the sea anemone and the fish also protects it from organisms that might try and eat the anemone.
A popular example of a fish that does this is a clown fish.
IUCN Maldives — Fish & Isopods
In this relationship, the Boxer Crab carries around two anemones that sting and it uses them for protection. The anemones are benefited because since the crab carries them around, it allows them to be mobile which increases their options for finding food.
Parasitism Parasitism is not a mutualistic relationship because only one of the species is benefited. The parasite gains from the relationship while the other species involved is harmed.
One example of a parasitic relationship is between fish lice and small fish hosts.
The fish can be killed if there are too many fish lice attached to it. Crabs and Shrimps often form commensalistic symbiotic relationships with anemones in tropical waters, again for the purposes of protection from predation.
For instance the Anemone crab, Neopetrolisthes oshimai, which is a filter feeding Porcelain crab, lives and captures its food from within the tentacles of giant anemones. While diving in Papua New Guinea we have been fortunate enough to see several interesting commensalistic relationships. Apart from the Anemone crabs, we have also filmed Imperial shrimps, Periclimenes imperator, hitching a ride on the large sea cucumbers found here, genera Stichopus.
The shrimps get transported through a large area of potential food by their host with only a minimal expenditure of energy on their part.
They can be observed getting off their host cucumber to feed in productive areas, and back on for a ride to the next spot! The Imperial shrimp also rides on large nudibranchs such as genus Dendrodoris, which although slow moving, afford the shrimp with protection by virtue of their toxic chemical secretions and warning colouration.
Although this is currently classed as a commensalistic relationship, it is possible that the Emperor shrimp may assist the nudibranch by removing parasites.
Imperial shrimp hitching a ride on a Sea-cucumber One especially amazing example of commensalism that I have yet to witness occurs between the Pearlfish and a particular species of sea cucumber.
In this manner it gets a safe place to live; and while not appearing to gain any benefit from the relationship, the cucumber is not harmed. In a parasitic relationship, the host species is always exploited to some degree, although often in such a way that its health is impaired only slowly.
This allows the parasite to exploit its host over a longer period. Many parasites only spend a portion of their lives in the relationship, either to reproduce, or during an initial growth stage.
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Parasites can be divided into two basic categories, Ectoparasites and Endoparasites, the former referring to external parasites, and the latter internal parasites. Although parasitism is an unpleasant concept to many people, the adaptations of parasites are quite amazing when viewed objectively. Isopods for example have a flattened body shape for streamlining against the body of their host, complex sucker-like organs for firm attachment and a set of sharp mandibles.
An interesting adaptation of isopods is their ability to moult only half their exoskeleton at a time unlike most crustaceans, which shed their entire exoskeleton at once.
Symbiotic Relationships in the Ocean
Parasitic Isopod on fish Although Isopods are usually parasitic, there are some species that attach themselves to a fish without damaging tissue, and scavenge floating food particles rather than feeding on their host, ie they are in a commensalistic interrelationship.
Mutualism is one of the most interesting forms of symbiosis, as it is a benefit to both species involved. When approached by a predator it waves these around presenting the stinging tentacles so as to deter the marauder.
The anemones benefit from the small particles of food dropped by the crab during feeding. In some cases, notably with many of the Wrasses, it is just the juvenile of a fish species that is a cleaner, while the mature fish progress onto a diet of larger invertebrates.
As well as removing parasites, cleaners also remove dead skin, tissue and mucous, and in doing so, perform a valuable function in maintaining the health of marine populations. In fact most reef fish spend a reasonably significant proportion of their day at cleaning stations.
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One example of a mutualistic relationship we witnessed in the waters around Milne Bay was that of Alpheid shrimps and certain gobiid species.