1-714-385-0080

Mon-Thurs 7am-5pm PST
Fri 7am-4pm PST

Questions about products, orders, shipping?
Contact us by call or email
customercare@marinedepot.com

Valentine’s Day Special: Symbiotic Relationships Within Aquariums

  • Brennen Lahn
  • 3 months ago
Valentine’s Day Special: Symbiotic Relationships Within Aquariums

Valentine’s day is reserved for the special someone in your life and to go along with this theme, we are featuring some of the most unique symbiotic relationships in the aquarium world. Having someone to rely on helps these livestock species survive and thrive in an aquarium environment. Within this piece we are going to break down a variety of symbiotic relationships prevalent in the aquatic world while highlighting their potential fit within an aquarium system. While you may be motivated to add one of these pairs to your aquarium, it is crucial to make sure they are a good fit within your tank. Our customer care team is on hand to assist with any questions or recommendations you may be requiring.

In this piece, we will look at a variety of symbiotic relationships within the aquatic world including ones that may work well in an aquarium system. We will begin by taking a look at a saltwater shrimp and fish bond and a fish and urchin relationship. Then, we will examine a cleaner shrimp’s ability to keep your fish parasite free. Finally, we will conclude this article by discussing a mutualistic bond for the oceans greatest predators and the most popular symbiotic aquarium relationship. 

Summary:

The food supplier and the cave manager: Pistol Shrimp and Goby Pair
The frequent cleaner and the spiny protector: Banggai Cardinalfish and Sea Urchin
The thankless cleaning station: Skunk Cleaner Shrimp and Saltwater Fish Species
Parasite prevention and the best of protection: Shark and Remora Species
The aquarium classic: Clownfish and Anemones

The food supplier and the cave manager: Pistol Shrimp and Goby Pair

Wheeler Goby and Pistol Shrimp Courtesy of Felicia McCaulley.

If you’re looking for a fascinating mutualistic relationship to feature in your aquarium, a pistol shrimp and goby pair can be an excellent choice. This relationship is an example of mutualism due to the fact that each species benefits from their interactions. The pistol shrimp digs a tunnel into the sandbed that allows the goby to find shelter and the pistol shrimp brings food back to the shelter to nourish the shrimp. There are a variety of both shrimp and goby species that will work with each other. If you’re interested in potentially keeping this pairing, it is important to ensure they will be in the proper environment. It is crucial to factor in any other species in the aquarium as you don’t want to introduce this pairing to a system with aggressive fish or invertebrates. In terms of the tank setting, it is important to have a deep sand bed that allows the shrimp to create a burrow for both of them to live in. This relationship is one of the most unique and interesting ways to enjoy the aquarium hobby.

The frequent cleaner and the spiny protector: Banggai Cardinalfish and Sea Urchin

Another mutualistic relationship we would like to feature within this article is that of the Banggai Cardinalfish and sea urchin species. The mutualistic features of this relationship include the fact that the sea urchins provide shelter and protection for the cardinalfish from larger predators. In turn, the Cardinalfish eat the algae off of the urchins spines. This relationship is one of the most simple to replicate within an aquarium environment as it does not require a specific environment beyond a standard saltwater aquarium. It is important however to have the proper space in your aquarium to keep an urchin. Urchins are relatively clumsy and you want to make sure that all the rock in your aquarium is stable and attached so that it will not topple over. While this symbiotic relationship is not one of the most awe inspiring in the aquatic world, it is an important and worthy example to display in this piece and, it can be replicated rather easily within a home aquarium.

Banggai Cardinalfish Courtesy of Felicia McCaulley

The thankless cleaning station: Skunk Cleaner Shrimp and Saltwater Fish Species

Skunk Cleaner Shrimp Courtesy of Felicia McCaulley

If you’ve seen a skunk cleaner shrimp establish a cleaning station in an aquarium, it is easy to see what a fascinating behavior they are exhibiting. Skunk Cleaner shrimp and a variety of fish species commonly display another mutualistic relationship that can be recreated within an aquarium environment. The shrimp feed off of the dead cells and parasites that they remove from the fish they are cleaning. The fish in turn will be clean and free of parasites. Beyond just eating the parasites, the shrimp also clean up any fish wounds which will help prevent most infections. Therefore, you can think of purchasing a cleaner shrimp as an investment into the health of your fish. While this relationship does commonly take place in an aquarium environment, in order to see it, you have to be at the right place at the right time. One final thing to factor in if you want to add a cleaner shrimp to your system is the size of the tank and the other species within it. We recommend a minimum of 10 gallons per shrimp. Additionally, we do not recommend keeping the shrimp with any aggressive fish or invertebrate species.

Parasite prevention and the best of protection: Shark and Remora Species

Horn Shark Courtesy of Felicia McCaulley

While this symbiotic relationship will not be practical to pull off in most aquariums, we do want to discuss it since it is one of the most common and fascinating examples of mutualism in the wild. The shark provides both protection and scraps of food to the Remora while the Remora provides the shark with the prevention of parasites and diseases. While both sharks and remora’s can be kept in aquariums, we most commonly do not recommend the purchase of either. You can however take a visit to your local aquarium to view this phenomena in action. This takes place across the world’s oceans with a variety of both remora and shark species. A similar relationship occurs with small fish and larger predator species in both freshwater lakes and rivers as well as the world’s oceans. Even though this can’t be replicated easily within an aquarium environment, it is still important to showcase one of the most captivating symbiotic relationships in the wild.

The aquarium classic: Clownfish and Anemones 

Tips to Get a Clownfish to Host an Anemone

Now onto the most asked about and attempted symbiotic relationship within the aquarium world. Clownfish are the most popular saltwater species kept in aquariums and there are very few aquarium settings more spectacular than seeing an anemone host a harem of clownfish. That being said, it is important to put in the proper research on both the clownfish and anemone species to make sure your selections are compatible. Another thing to factor in is that it may either take time or, your clownfish may never wind up being hosted by the anemone. In our experience this isn’t a process that can be forced for either the clownfish or the anemone. Given time and the proper livestock selection, the clownfish should begin exploring and eventually become hosted by the anemone. This is another example of a mutualistic relationship as the clownfish provides food to the anemone while the anemone provides shelter and protection to the clownfish. With the proper research, environment, and time, it is possible to achieve one of the most incredible and naturally occurring symbiotic relationships within your aquarium.

Final Thoughts:

We hope this article has helped shed some light on a variety of the amazing symbiotic relationships that are on display in the aquarium world. Observing these relationships is not only an amazing sight to behold, it is also a great tool for educating young people about the natural wonders that lie within our oceans. Allowing one of these mutualistic relationships to showcase itself within your tank can be one of the most redeeming ways to enjoy the hobby. If you feel like one of these sets would be a good option for your system, we recommend thoroughly researching them to ensure a seamless fit. Our customer care team will also be happy to assist you in answering any questions you may have. 

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy.