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Fiji's Reefs



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Parenthood With a Twist
Photograph by Tim Laman

A clownfish guards and aerates its eggs, laid on rock below the protective umbrella of the host anemone. (It also nibbles on a tentacle, which helps it maintain its resistance to the anemone's stings.) Clownfish change sex to suit the needs of procreation. There may be half a dozen clownfish in the same anemone, but there's only one female, and she mates with the largest male. When the female dies, her male partner will change sex and mate with the next male down in the hierarchy. The system guarantees a new generation of fish by ensuring that each anemone harbors one productive pair. As often as twice a month the lead pair will lay several hundred eggs. They tend them for several days until the eggs hatch, releasing young into the sea to fend for themselves.



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