04-11-2009, 08:39 PM
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Hosting refers to the relationship the Clownfish establishes with the anemone. Basically, the Clownfish swims within the amenone, using it for protection. The Clownfish first establishes a slime coat which mimics that of the anemone, so that the anemone does not recognize its presence and does not sting it. To do this, the Clownfish will spend several days to weeks "sampling" the slime coat by making brief contact with the tenacles of the anemone. This relationship is two sided, with the Clownfish providing food for the anemone, much in the way a mother bird will return food to its nesting young. Although with Clownfish it is most likely a coincidence, rather than intentional.
Clownfish, by the way, are part of the Damsel family. Generally speaking, only Clownfish and Domino Damsels are seen hosting an anemone. I am not certain if other Damselfish have this ability. I can, however, tell you that fish outside the Damselfish family do not.