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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrata > fishes > Family Pomacentridae > Genus Amphiprion
Clown anemonefish
Amphiprion ocellaris

Family Pomacentridae
updated Oct 2016
if you learn only 3 things about it ...
The fish needs its host anemone. Do not disturb it or the anemone.
One anemone may be home to many anemonefishes.
These fishes are threatened by over-collection for the aquarium trade. Don't keep Nemo in your home, he belongs in the ocean.

Where seen? This delightful fish is commonly seen in large sea anemones on some of our Southern Islands. At low tide, it is usually well hidden under or inside the sea anemone. It is more active when the sea anemone is submerged. Look for it with the outgoing tide, when the water is clearer (than the incoming tide).

Features: 2-9cm. Red to reddish-brown with three broad white bars (the middle bar widening at the middle of the side of the body towards the head) and black bands on the edges of the fins including the top of the dorsal fin.

On our intertidal, the fish is often seen in the Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea) and sometimes in the Magnificent anemone (Heteractis magnifica) . Elsewhere, it is recorded to also live in Merten's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla mertensii).

False Clown? Our clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) is sometimes called the False clown anemonefish, to distinguish it from another closely related fish called the Orange anemonefish (Amphiprion percula) which has black bands on the white body bars (see SeaLife Base fact sheet). The natural distribution of these two species of anemonefishes do NOT overlap.

Human uses: Unfortunately, these fishes are taken in large numbers from the wild for the aquarium trade. The harvest may involve the use of cyanide or blasting, which damage the habitat and kill many other creatures. Like other fish and creatures harvested from the wild, most die before they can reach the retailers. Without professional care, most die soon after they are sold. Often of starvation as owners are unable to provide the small creatures and plants that these fishes need to survive. In artificial conditions, many succumb to diseases and poor health. Those that do survive are unlikely to breed.

There have been some success in breeding anemonefish for the aquarium trade. Although captive bred anemonefish are hardier, they are more expensive. Harvesting from the wild will probably continue so long as there are unscrupulous traders and aquarists.

Status and threats: The Clown anemonefish is listed as 'Vulnerable' on the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore. According to the Singapore Red Data Book, "habitat protection and strict policing against illegal collection are required" to conserve our anemonefishes.

In a Giant carpet anemone.
Sisters Island, Aug 09

At low tide, sheltering in a pool
away from their anemone.
Kusu Island, May 05

Tiny juvenile anemonefish.
Sentosa, Jun 07

Clown anemonefishes on Singapore shores

Photos of Clown anemonefishes for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map

Terumbu Buran, Nov 10
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Seringat Kias, Apr 12
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog.

Pulau Semakau, Feb 08
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on her flickr.

Terumbu Semakau, May 10

Terumbu Raya, May 10
Photo shared byGeraldine Lee on her blog.

Terumbu Semakau, Jun 10
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Terumbu Bemban, Jun 10
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoom on her blog.

Pulau Berkas, May 10
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his flickr.

Pulau Pawai, Dec 09
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his flickr.

Pulau Pawai, Dec 09

Pulau Senang, Jun 10
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his flickr.

Pulau Senang, Jun 10
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.



  • Davison, G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore). 285 pp.
  • Lieske, Ewald and Robert Myers. 2001. Coral Reef Fishes of the World Periplus Editions. 400pp.
  • Bond, Carl E., 1996. Biology of Fishes 2nd ed. Thomson Learning Inc., 750pp.
  • Lim, S., P. Ng, L. Tan, & W. Y. Chin, 1994. Rhythm of the Sea: The Life and Times of Labrador Beach. Division of Biology, School of Science, Nanyang Technological University & Department of Zoology, the National University of Singapore. 160 pp.
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