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the Legacy continues…………………….
Gregory R. Mann, Ph.D. {ret.}

Clownfish

“Amphiprion percula”

Anyone with kids and a DVD player probably thinks they know all there is to know about the Anemonefish or simply, the Clownfish. What they may not know is that the heroes of Finding Nemo are actually called false Anemonefish. True Clownfish are nearly identical, but have subtle differences in shape and live in different habitats. Bright orange with 3 distinctive white bars, Clownfish are among the most recognizable of all reef-dwellers. They reach about 4.3 inches (11 centimeters) in length and are named for the multicolored Sea Anemone in which they make their homes. Clownfish perform an elaborate dance with an anemone before taking up residence, gently touching its tentacles with different parts of their bodies until they are acclimated to their host. A layer of mucus on the Clownfish’s skin makes it immune to the fish-eating Anemone’s lethal sting. In exchange for safety from predators & food scraps, the Clownfish drives off intruders and preens its host, removing parasites. There are 28 known species of Clownfish, most of which live in the shallow waters of the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the western Pacific Ocean. They are not found in the Caribbean, Mediterranean or Atlantic Ocean. Surprisingly, all Clownfish are born male. They have the ability to switch their sex, but will do so only to become the dominant female of a group. The change is irreversible.

Interesting Facts

*  The Clownfish are small in size. They can reach between 2 and 5 inches in length.

*  The Clownfish can be easily recognized because of the beautifully colored bodies.

*  The Clownfish are covered with white stripes that are combined with orange, red, yellow, blue or black basic color of the body.

*  The Clownfish are also known as “Anemonefish” because they live in community with Sea Anemones.

*  The relationship between the Clownfish and the Anemone is called symbiosis, which means that both species have benefits from mutual life. The Clownfish eat Anemone’s leftovers (pieces of fish, for example) and use venomous tentacles to protect itself from various predators. Anemone uses the Clownfish for the removal of dead tentacles and to increase circulation of water (fast movement of fins increases aeration of water and amount of available food).

*  The Clownfish is immune to the venom of anemone because it has thick layer of mucus on the surface of the body.

*  The Clownfish introduces itself to the Anemone by performing a dance.

*  Besides dead tentacles and anemone’s leftovers, the Clownfish eats various algae & plankton.

*  Even though anemone provides protection against predators, the Clownfish is often preyed by large fish, eels & sharks.

*  The Clownfish lives in small family groups composed of mating couple and their offspring.

*  The Clownfish is territorial animal that will fiercely defend its home (Anemone) against other Clownfish.

*  The Clownfish is aggressive by nature. They will attack divers if they try to approach the Anemones.

*  Interesting fact about the Clownfish is that all eggs hatch as males. When the female in the group dies, dominant male undergoes sex change and turns into female.

*  Females lay few hundred or thousands of eggs (depending on the species) during the full moon. Eggs are placed on the underwater rocks. The male takes care of them until they hatch. Incubation lasts between 6 to 10 days and ends with huge number of young Clownfish that appear usually 2 hours after dusk.

*  Almost all fertilized eggs of the Clownfish will hatch and reach adulthood. Because of that, number of Clownfish is high and their population is stable.

*  The Clownfish are often kept as pets but they can survive only 3 to 5 years in the aquariums but live much longer in the wild (up to 10 years).

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