Clown Fish bodies are a bit more than 7.6 cm long on average, but they may grow up to 10.2 cm. The tail is rounded and the dorsal fin is lined with 11 spines.
Best known for being featured in the movies “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory,” the clownfish has become a popular aquarium pet. Nemo and his dad, Marlin, are ocellaris clownfish, also called false clownfish or clown anemonefish.
False clownfish live in the coral reefs off the coasts of Australia and Southeast Asia as far north as southern Japan. They are found mainly around certain kinds of anemones, a creature that anchors itself to the sea floor and uses its tentacles to attract food. The anemone’s tentacles have stinging cells called nematocysts that release a toxin when prey or predator touches it.
Clownfish, however, develop immunity to the toxin by very carefully touching the tentacles with different parts of their bodies, according to National Geographic. A layer of mucus builds up, 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.
All anemonefish, including clownfish, are hermaphrodites. They are all born male, according to National Geographic. They have the ability to turn themselves female, but once the change is made, they can’t go back to being male. Sometimes the change is made when mating. Two males will become mates and the larger, dominant fish will become the female.
These social fish live in groups that are led by one dominant femal.. The second largest fish is the dominant male while all of the other fish in the group are smaller males. If the female dies, the dominant male will become a female to replace her. The largest of the smaller males will then become the dominant male of the group.
Clownfish are omnivores, which means they eat meat and plants. They typically eat algae, zooplankton, worms and small crustaceans.
When small, the fish tend to stay within the confines of their anemone host. As they get larger, they will seek out food, though they don’t venture much more than a few meters from the anemone.
Mating & offspring
Little is known specifically about false clownfish mating behaviors, but the general behaviors of anemonefish are known. All anemonefish are monogamous. Before spawning, the male prepares a nest by clearing a spot on bare rock near the anemone, according to the ADW. He then courts a female with a show of extended fins, biting and chasing, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History. He chases the female to the nest, but after that it is up to her to make the next move.
Kingdom: Animalia Subkingdom: Bilateria Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Infraphylum: Gnathostomata Superclass: Osteichthyes Class: Actinopterygii Subclass: Neopterygii Infraclass: Teleostei Superorder: Acanthopterygii Order: Perciformes Suborder: Labroidei Family: Pomacentridae Genus: Amphiprion Species: Amphiprion ocellaris
Ocellaris clownfish are not endangered. However, in the last generation, 15 to 30 percent of the world’s reefs have been lost. Some of the destruction has been caused by fishermen catching clownfish to sell as pets.
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