Peek a Goby :Gobies are ornamental fish popular in home aquariums.

Peek a Goby :Gobies are ornamental fish popular in home aquariums. But these inch-long jeweled creatures are the unlikely heroes of coral reefs. Corals are threatened by seaweed that grow rapidly in tropical waters, thanks to overfishing and warming temperatures. They produce an oily substance that reacts chemically with the coral, bleaching it within a few days and decreasing coral’s photosynthetic ability by 80%.

Gobies to the Rescue: Within minutes of seaweed contact, or contact from only seaweed chemical extract, the coral releases its own chemical compound (not yet identified) that recruits gobies to trim the seaweed and dramatically reduce coral damage. In turn, the gobies become more toxic to their predators after consumption of this noxious alga and protect their home site.  Mutualism for the win!

Reference and Podcast: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/338/6108/804

Image: Maze dweller by Chhaya Werner http://goo.gl/DfzWi

#ScienceEveryday  

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18 Responses to Peek a Goby :Gobies are ornamental fish popular in home aquariums.


  1. You should delete this comment after the correction, but shouldn’t prey be predators?

  2. Rajini Rao says:


    Oh yes, thanks Irving Drommond ! Editing right away 🙂

  3. Ernest W says:


    Goby. Coral friend.


  4. Good stuff. Goby’s a good guy.

  5. Rajini Rao says:


    It has enormous eyes! 🙂

  6. Rajini Rao says:


    That’s argobiably the best pun I’ve heard for a while. Perhaps William McGarvey can wrack his brain and corral up something else? 🙂


  7. Of chorus, Rajini Rao!  I always enjoyed J. S. Bach’s great coral works, for they always encouraged one in a sea of troubles to goby at peace.


  8. Excellent, Mistress Erica!  I was thinking along the lines of Wachtet Auf, Gobies

  9. Rajini Rao says:


    Gobi eating seaweed: more than just dessert.


  10. Good read, but there is another relationship missing from the text.  Coral by themselves do not photosynthesize, they are members of the animal kingdom.  They have another mutualistic relationship with algae, the zooxanthellae, which produce oxygen and help them remove wastes.  I’m guessing the seaweed inhibits the good algae.  

  11. Rajini Rao says:


    Shannan Muskopf , thanks! It’s neat to see the layers of mutualism, perhaps we can include humans in this equation too 🙂

  12. sri bab says:


    Great information about seaweed…thnk q dear


  13. Rajini Rao you have me thinking: how can i start such a symbiotic relationship with my next door neighbor?

  14. Rajini Rao says:


    Haha, nomad dimitri , I wish my neighbors would come and weed my garden 🙂

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