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Clownfish are classified
to the family Pomacentridae.
is among a group of species commonly referred to as damselfish. There
are 28 recognized species of clownfish.
Of those, 27 belong to the
genus Amphiprion. Clownfish are native to both the Indian and Pacific
Oceans. Their natural habitat includes the Great Barrier Reef and the
among clownfish depending on the species.
They can be found in orange, reddish orange, maroon, yellow or black.
Most species have the characteristic white bars with black trimming on
their bodies for which they are named. These white and black stripes
contrasting against the fish’s body color make them look as
if they are
wearing a clown costume. Clownfish grow from 4-6 inches depending on
the species. Their lifespan ranges from 3-6 years.
Clown fish are
for the symbiotic mutualism they share
with the sea anemone. The co-evolution of these two animals makes for
one of the most interesting symbiotic relationships found in nature.
Sea anemones are highly toxic to most marine life. This exotic creature
paralyzes its prey with powerful neurotoxins. It then uses it tentacles
to draw the prey into its gastrovascular cavity for digestion. This
singular cavity functions as both a mouth and an anus. The digestive
process results in semi-digested matter floating around the immediate
vicinity of the anemone. Clownfish ingests this matter as a source of
protein. They then excrete fecal matter which is an additional source
of protein for the anemone.
membrane surrounding their bodies that acts
as a natural barrier against the anemone’s poisonous
Scientific experimentation has resulted in the death of clownfishes
exposed to these neurotoxins after being stripped of their protective
mucus. This mucus allows the clownfish to seek shelter from predation
within the protection of the anemone’s tentacles. It is
common for the
clownfish to remain within 2-4 inches of its host for its entire
lifetime. This symbiosis has lead to clownfish being commonly called an
docile creatures. They make an excellent
choice for amateur aquarists. They are also the perfect addition to a
marine reef tank. Maintaining sea anemones presents more of a
challenge. Fortunately for the beginner, clownfish can be kept without
their natural host animals present. Just make sure to provide them with
adequate hiding places and avoid mixing them with more aggressive
species and you will be fine. Once you become more experienced you can
choose to add an anemone to your aquarium. Make sure to check for
compatibility with your local fish store or online retailer. Individual
species of clownfish are compatible with different sea anemones.
nature, clownfish will exhibit territorial
behavior toward other clownfish, especially clownfish of the same
species. It is best to keep a single clownfish or a pair.
commercially bred in captivity. When purchasing
any fish that can be bred in captivity you want to buy captive-born
rather than a fish caught in the wild. You will have a happy, healthier
fish that is much more likely to acclimate to its new surroundings. And
tank bred fish are generally more disease resistant than their wild
A clownfish raised without the presence
of a sea anemone can be fed vitamin enriched brine shrimp, or
zooplankton in combination with marine frozen foods formulated for
most hermaphroditic fish species clownfish are sequential
hermaphrodites. All clownfish are born as males as opposed to protogyny
hermaphrodites who are always born as females. If there are two
clownfish in an aquarium together the larger more dominant of the two
will transform into a female.
You will want to use a breeding tank if you are attempting to breed
clownfish couple in captivity. Place a piece of pvc pipe in the bottom
of your aquarium floor to be used as a breeding chamber. Eggs will be
deposited either on the bottom of the pipe or on the surface of a flat
rock near by. The fry will hatch 6-10 days later.
Newly hatched fry are very small. They should be fed rotifers until
they mature. Once they get a little larger they can be fed newly
hatched brine shrimp or powdered dry food.
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