Imitation of an imitation

Animals do extraordinary things to avoid ending up in other animals' bellies. A small fish has been seen to imitate an octopus that acts just like a fish. Confusion all around.
The octopus is Thaumoctopus mimicus. It can imitate various fish, including poisonous flatfish and lionfish. Predator fish, not wanting anything to do with those, leave the octopus alone. An octopus imitating a flatfish slides, flattened out, along the sea floor with all eight arms pressed together in the form of a fish. Its sea snake imitation is achieved by hiding six arms in a hole under itself and waving its other two arms like a snake.

The Stalix histrio is a small fish that lives in a burrow for protection against predators. When, from time to time, the fish does have to go looking for food it hitches a ride with the T. mimicus. The fish has pretty much the same colouring as the octopus, and by sticking close it appears to be a part of the octopus.

The attached link leads to a short film of the fish and the octopus.

Those who discovered this remarkable behaviour of the S. histrio are wondering how long it will last. The Indonesian habitat of the fish and the octopus is seriously threatened by human activity.
Link to the film