You Are Not Just a Clown

Facts About Clownfish

Clownfish make their homes well-nigh sea anemones, which protect them from predators.
(Epitome credit: Aleksey Stemmer | Shutterstock)

Best known for being featured in the movies “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory,” the clownfish has get a popular aquarium pet. Nemo and his dad, Marlin, are ocellaris clownfish, also called false clownfish or clown anemonefish. Anemonefish are so-named for the body of water anemones in which they make their homes. There are 28 species of anemonefish, and they come in many colors, such as pink, red, yellow, blackness, dark-brown and multi-colored stripes.

Size & clarification

Most simulated clownfish are orange
with three white bands on the head and body. The white bands are outlined in black. Their bodies are a bit more than 3 inches (88 millimeters) long on average, but they may abound up to 4 inches (110 mm), according to the Beast Diversity Web (ADW). The tail is rounded and the dorsal fin is lined with xi spines.


Simulated clownfish live in the coral reefs off the coasts of Australia and Southeast Asia as far north as southern Nippon. They are found mainly around certain kinds of anemones, a creature that anchors itself to the sea flooring and uses its tentacles to attract nutrient. The anemone’south tentacles have stinging cells called nematocysts that release a toxin when prey or predator touches it.

Clownfish, however,
develop immunity to the toxin
(opens in new tab)

past very carefully touching the tentacles with different parts of their bodies, according to National Geographic. A layer of mucus builds upward, protecting the clownfish from the toxin. The pair forms a symbiotic relationship. The anemone provides protection and leftovers for the clownfish, while the clownfish brings food to the anemone and preens its host, removing parasites.

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All anemonefish, including clownfish, are hermaphrodites. They are all born male, according to National Geographic. They have the ability to plough themselves female, but one time the change is made, they can’t go back to existence male. Sometimes the change is fabricated when mating. Two males will become mates and the larger, dominant fish will go the female.

These social fish live in groups that are led past one ascendant female, according to the ADW. The 2d largest fish is the dominant male while all of the other fish in the grouping are smaller males. If the female dies, the dominant male person will get a female to replace her. The largest of the smaller males will then get the dominant male person of the group.

Clownfish communicate by making popping and clicking noises, according to a study on the periodical PLOS One. Researchers say the
chatter helps maintain the rank and file
amongst grouping members. “Audio could exist an interesting strategy for preventing conflict between grouping members,” lead written report writer Orphal Colleye, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Liège, Belgium, told LiveScience in a 2012 article.

Nemo? A clown anemonefish, Papua New Guinea.

(Image credit: © Jürgen Freund / WWF-Canon.)


Clownfish are omnivores, which ways they eat meat and plants. They typically consume algae, zooplankton, worms and small crustaceans, according to the
National Aquarium.

When small, the fish tend to stay within the confines of their anemone host. As they become larger, they will seek out nutrient, though they don’t venture much more than a few meters from the anemone, according to the ADW.

Mating & offspring

Fiddling is known specifically almost false clownfish mating behaviors, but the general behaviors of anemonefish are known. All anemonefish are monogamous. Before spawning, the male prepares a nest by immigration a spot on bare rock well-nigh the anemone, according to the ADW. He then courts a female person with
a testify of extended fins, bitter and chasing, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History. He chases the female to the nest, only after that information technology is up to her to make the next movement.

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She will make several passes over the nest before depositing her eggs. She volition lay from 100 to i,000 eggs, which are 3 to four millimeters long. The male person then passes over the nest and releases sperm to fertilize the eggs. Then, the female person swims off.

The male does well-nigh of the “egg sitting.” He volition fan them and swallow whatever eggs that are infertile or damaged by fungus, according to the ADW. The eggs hatch six to eight days subsequently. The larvae float away and spend virtually ten days adrift. They start their lives clear or transparent, merely as they brainstorm to mature they start to gain the color of their species. Equally juveniles, the young will settle to the bottom of the reef to search for a host anemone.


This is the taxonomy of false clownfish, according to the
Integrated Taxonomic Data Organisation (ITIS):

Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: Bilateria
Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclass: Osteichthyes
Grade: Actinopterygii
Subclass: Neopterygii
Infraclass: Teleostei
Superorder: Acanthopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Suborder: Labroidei
Family unit: Pomacentridae
Amphiprion ocellaris

Conservation status

Ocellaris clownfish are not endangered. However, in the last generation, xv to xxx per centum of the earth’s reefs have been lost, according to the ADW. Some of the destruction has been caused past fishermen catching clownfish to sell as pets.

Co-ordinate to National Geographic, since “Finding Nemo” premiered clownfish sales have tripled. Conservationists are concerned about the “Nemo Effect,” as some areas are overfished to meet the need for these popular aquarium fish. Likewise, according to the
Aquarium Welfare Clan
(AWA), many people bought the clownfish without knowing how to properly treat them. Inspired by a line in the movie, hundreds of children flushed their clownfish down the toilet in the hope of setting them free.

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Other facts

Clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) are called false clownfish considering they resemble the orange clownfish (Amphiprion percula). There are some subtle differences between them, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History:

  • The clown anemonefish has thin blackness bands, while the orange clownfish has thick black bands separating the orange and white coloration of the trunk.
  • The clown anemonefish ofttimes has a slightly less brilliant colour than the orangish clownfish.
  • Viewed head-on, the clown anemonefish’s head appears plain while the orange clownfish’s caput has a pronounced bulging face similar to a frog.
  • The clown anemonefish’due south eyes are grayish orange and appear to exist larger than they really are; the orange clownfish has a vivid orange iris, which has the effect of making the eyes look smaller.

Additional Resource

Alina Bradford is a contributing writer for Live Scientific discipline. Over the past sixteen years, Alina has covered everything from Ebola to androids while writing health, science and tech manufactures for major publications. She has multiple health, safety and lifesaving certifications from Oklahoma Country Academy. Alina’south goal in life is to endeavor as many experiences as possible. To date, she has been a volunteer firefighter, a dispatcher, substitute teacher, artist, janitor, children’due south volume author, pizza maker, effect coordinator and much more.