Pom- pom Crabs and Anemones: Fascinating Mutualism

Pom- pom Crabs and Anemones: Fascinating Mutualism

Crabs usually use their pincers to tear food apart, but for Pom- pom Crabs this would mean having to put down their anemones, so instead they use their first pair of walking legs to move food to their mouths.

If the crab loses one anemone it splits the remaining one in two and clones it.

Having said that, the three types of anemone (that the pom pom crabs use) can live independently, so it suggests that there is less benefit to the anemone than there is to the crab.

In addition to helping the crab get food, the anemones are also useful in defence against predators or rivals of their own kind due to their stinging cells. However if they do fight, it is a ritualised fight. They don’t contact each other with the anemones due to the risk of being wounded, and the risk of damaging the anemones.

Anemones that are carried by the crab are half the size of free living ones. They also lack pseudo-tentacles around the column, something other anemones use to photosynthesise. This suggests that they’ve evolved symbiotically.

These peaceful animals will only grow to about an inch and do not pose a risk to any but the smallest fishes. They may drop their anemones (Bunodeopsis spp.) when molting. This Indo-Pacific omnivore may be harassed or even eaten by some predatory fishes, so it is best to introduce the pom pom crab with the lights out and very close to the rock work, where it can quickly find refuge.

Based on the scientific classification, the binomial name of Pom -pom Crab is: Lybia tessellatta.

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Further reading

Lybia tessellatta>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lybia_tessellata

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