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

Family Pomacentridae
updated Sep 2020
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 among the sea anemone tentacles. 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 all the fins including the top of the dorsal fin.

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.

In a Giant carpet anemone.
Kusu Island, Jun 04

In a Giant carpet anemone.
Sisters Island, Aug 09
Home Sweet Anemone Home: On our intertidal, the fish is often seen in Giant carpet anemones. It is also sometimes in Magnificent anemones and Merten's carpet anemones.

The anemonefish may sometimes be seen stranded at low tide near its anemone home. It is probably best to leave it alone and NOT try to 'rescue' it by putting it in a pool of water far away from its anemone home. These fishes are adapted to surviving at low tide and it is best that they are are close as possible to their anemone home when the tide turns. As the water rushes in, so do predators which will quickly eat up a defenceless anemonefish far from its protective anemone.

Stranded at low tide: best to leave it alone.
Kusu Island, Aug 19


In a Merten's carpet anemone.
Terumbu Hantu, Apr 12

In a Magnificent anemone.
Terumbu Semakau, Jul 14
An anemonefish seen swimming away from its home anemone as the tide falls.
Terumbu Pempang Laut, Aug 2021
nemo
Amazing gender switch: Anemonefishes can change their gender. Often, a sea anemone will be home to several anemonefishes of the same species. Usually the largest anemonefish in the group is the female and the next largest is the functioning male (although he is often less than half her size). For the Clown anemonefish, besides the difference in size, there are generally no differences in patterns or colours between the genders. If the female is removed from the group, the male becomes a female and the next largest becomes the dominant male. In this way, anemonefishes can continue to breed throughout the year. Small anemonefishes are not necessarily younger, just lower in the "pecking order". It is believed they remain small because of the constant harassment by the dominant pair. Small anemonefishes are thus NOT the babies of larger anemonefishes in the same anemone.

Smaller anemonefishes are NOT the babies
of larger fishes in the same anemone!
Sisters Island, Jul 07



Eggs laid near the sea anemone.
Pulau Sudong, Dec 09
Photo shared by Ivan Kwan g on flickr.
Many Clown anemonefishes of various sizes!Clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) in Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea)
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.

Clown anemonefishes on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores


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.
 


Small Sisters Island, Nov 12
Photo shared by James Koh on flickr.

Sisters Island, Jul 07
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Pulau Jong, May 10
Photo shared by James Koh on flickr.


Pulau Hantu, Nov 12
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

In Magnificaent anemone
Pulau Hantu, Apr 21
Photo shared by Vincent Choo on facebook.


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

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

Cyrene, Sep 20
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.


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 flickr.


Pulau Sudong, Dec 09
Photo shared by Ivan Kwan g on flickr.

Eggs laid near the sea anemone.
Pulau Sudong, Dec 09
Photo shared by Ivan Kwan g on flickr.


Smaller anemonefishes are NOT the babies
of larger fishes in the same anemone!
Sisters Island, Jul 07


Fishes of several different sizes in one Magnificent anemone.
Pulau Pawai, Dec 09
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.


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

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

Links

References

  • 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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