Finding Emo

Our maroon clownfish, Emo, lives in a sprawling anthelia coral at the bottom of the reef.

Most clownfish live in anemone “hosts,” but since an anemone would sting the seahorses I can’t have one in the tank. Most seahorse keepers don’t keep clownfish, either – particularly maroon clowns, which have a tendency to become aggressive with age. On occasion, however, an individual learns to play nicely and when we saw the tiny tank-raised baby clown in the coral breeder’s tank we decided to chance it.

I’m glad we did.

Although Emo defends “his” coral against the other fish in the tank and drives them away when they get too close to his demesne, he makes a startling exception where the seahorses are concerned. Emo ignores the larger seahorses entirely, but he’s struck up a strange and entertaining friendship with Ghillie, my little male seahorse.

Other creatures – including my camera – get chased away from the coral without exception.

But in Ghillie little Emo has found a friend.

Most nights, I go in to feed the tank and find them sitting side by side in the coral, watching their world go by. No one I know can explain why a normally territorial clownfish would strike up such a friendship – or why timid Ghillie, who spends much of his time in hiding, would reciprocate.

It’s just one more example of how you can’t always judge a tank, a book, or a friendship by appearances alone.

What’s the most unusual friendship you’ve ever seen or experienced? Swim into the comments and let me know!

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