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The clownfish is a type of fish that lives in salt water habitats. It is also called an Anemonefish. Clownfish are typically very bright, orange fish that have three white stripes, one at the head, middle and tail.
Clownfish can grow to be from 2 to 5 inches long. The males tend to be significantly smaller than the females. However, there are various types of clownfish that range in colours from blue to yellow.
Clownfish live in a "symbiotic" relationship with certain anemones. This means they benefit from living with the sea anemone, and the sea anemone benefits from the presence of the clownfish. They are the only fish that are able to live in sea anemones and not get stung by their tentacles. Clownfish are very active fish and are extremely aggressive. Because they are quite active, the clownfish are thought to be "clowning around". They defend their territory and the sea anemone that they live in. Clownfish eat the leftovers from fish on the anemone and algae. The leftovers include copepods, isopods and zooplankton.
Clownfish have a few ocean predators, but their greatest threat is humans. People who catch clownfish and keep them as pets in aquariums are making a mistake. There are only ten out of more than one thousand types of anemone that are able to host these fish. Many people put the fish in a tank with the wrong anemone. In captivity, the clownfish can live from 3 to 5 years. In the wild, they live 6 to 10 years.
Western Pacific: Queensland and Melanesia including northern Great Barrier Reef, northern New Guinea, New Britain, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Not known from New Caledonia and the Fiji Islands, although Fowler (1959) recorded it from the latter area. Often confused with Amphiprion ocellaris.
Like all anemonefishes, A. percula forms symbiotic relationships with sea anemones. It uses its host as both shelter and protection from predators. Because of this close relationship, the distribution of suitable host anemone species dictates the habitat of A. percula. Associations involving A. percula and the sea anemone species Heteractis magnifica, Stichodactyla gigantean, and Stichodactyla mertensii are usually found in nature (Elliott and Mariscal, 1996). Both symbionts reside in shallow coastal waters of the tropics where depth rarely exceeds 12 meters and water temperature ranges from 25-28 degrees C. (Randall et al., 1997; Fautin and Allen, 1992). The distribution of sea anemones themselves is limited by the photosynthetic activity of golden-brown algae that occupy the anemones’ tentacles (Fautin and Allen, 1992). The fish and anemone pair generally occurs on coral reefs where the latter is anchored securely and the former can be seen swimming in and out of the protective tentacles of its host.
When several species of anemonefishes occur together in similar habitats, they tend to partition themselves according to microhabitats and available species of sea anemones. A. percula, for example will typically occupy H. magnifica in nearshore zones while Amphiprion perideraion will occupy the same species in offshore zones. Intense competition for limited resources undoubtedly affects the territorial nature of these fishes. Niche differentiation is caused by distribution, abundance, and recruitment patterns of competing species (Elliott and Mariscal, 2001).
Range depth: 1 to 12 m.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; saltwater or marine
Aquatic Biomes: reef ; coastal
The depletion of coral reef habitats and marine aquarium fishes has presented a relatively new market in aquaculture. It is possible to rear A. percula in controlled conditions and it may eventually play a significant role in maintaining stable populations. At present, this species is not threatened or endangered.
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