Much like anemones and clownfish, pistol shrimp and certain bottom-dwelling gobies share a symbiotic relationship in which each partner benefits.

These two species both live in expansive sandy burrows on the sea floor. The shrimp digs and maintains the burrow and is responsible for covering the burrow openings at night. The shrimp disrupts small invertebrates with its digging, which the goby feasts upon. The shrimp eats the detritus left after the goby is done.

As the gobey uses the shrimp’s burrow for protection from predators, it also acts as “eyes” for the pistol shrimp. During the day, the gobey hovers above the burrow, feeding and interacting with other gobies. Meanwhile, the shrimp uses its antennae to stay in constant contact with the gobey’s tail while searching for food (detritus, tiny crustaceans and worms) and maintaining the burrow opening. If a predatory fish approaches, the gobey flicks its tail several times, alerting the shrimp to retreat into the burrow. If the predator comes within striking distance, the gobey will dart headfirst into the burrow. During the night, the two simply rest together in the burrow.