Clownfish also knwn as anemonefish is a small tropical marine fish with bright coloration.
There are 30 species of clownfish.
The lifespan of clownfish is about 6 to 10 years in the wild and about 3 to 5 years in captivity.
The largest can reach a length of 15 to 16 centimeters (5.9 to 6.3 inches), while the smallest barely achieve length of 7 to 8 centimeters (2.8 to 3.1 inches).
Depending on species, clownfish coloration are overall yellow, orange, or a reddish or blackish color, and many show white bars or patches.
Clownfish live at the bottom of the sea in sheltered reefs or in shallow lagoons, usually in pairs.
They live in a symbiotic relationship with certain anemones. A symbiotic relationship essentially means a relationship between two organisms, which may or may not benefit one or both.
They can only live in ten out of more than one thousand species of sea anemone. Clownfish have a mucus covering that protects them from the sting of the sea anemone’s tentacles. This mucus prevents them from being harmed, and allows clownfish to live in sea anemone. The anemone’s tentacles provide the clownfish with protection from predators.
Clownfish are a large help to the anemone as they clean the anemone by eating the algae and other food leftovers on them. They also protect the sea anemones by chasing away polyp-eating fish, such as the butterfly fish.
Clownfish are omnivores, which means they eat meat and plants. They typically eat algae, zooplankton, worms and small crustaceans.
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.
In a group of clownfish, there is a strict hierarchy of dominance. The largest and most aggressive female is found at the top. Only two clownfish, a male and a female, in a group reproduce through external fertilization.
All clownfish are born male. As they mature, they usually pair off with another clownfish, and the dominant individual becomes a female. The female lays eggs, which are defended and aerated by both parents until they hatch.
Clownfish have a few ocean predators including stingrays, sharks, eels and other big fish; 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.
Anemonefish make up 43% of the global marine ornamental trade, and 25% of the global trade comes from fish bred in captivity, while the majority is captured from the wild, accounting for decreased densities in exploited areas.
Even though clown fish are edible it is highly advised that people don’t eat them because their slimy substance on their skin.
In Disney/Pixar’s 2003 film Finding Nemo and its 2016 sequel Finding Dory, main characters Marlin and Nemo are clownfish. The popularity of clownfish greatly increased following the release of these films, thus also greatly increasing the amount of captured specimens.