Clown anemone fish, “Amphiprion ocellaris” are also known as common clown fish, false clown
Anemone fish, false anemone fish or simply “Nemo” from the Disney movie “Finding Nemo”.
The color pattern is the key feature used to identify anemone fish. It is normally bright orange with three white vertical bars and all the bars and fins have black borders around them. The fish maximum length is about 11 cm.
Anemone fish are found in the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, South East Asia region, northern Australia, and the Western Pacific. They are not known to the Caribbean, Mediterranean or the Atlantic Ocean.
Most anemone fish can be found in shallow water reefs or sand from 1 -18 meters depth
Anemone fish have an unusual symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with sea anemones. Normally, the stinging cells of an anemone’s tentacles release when fish brush against the tentacles, paralyze the fish. But anemone fish appear to be “at home” among the tentacles, even hiding between them as predators draw near. The most widespread theory is that these fish have a unique biochemical makeup in their mucus-layer that provides protection from the stinging cells.
Host-anemone-species are normally Heteractis magnifica, Stichodactyla gigantea, and Stichodactyla mertensii. Ones again there are different theories to what is actually going on in this symbiotic relationship; One theory is that the anemone fish chase off small creatures that prey on anemone and keeps it clean from debris and parasites, and the other is that anemone fish lure other fish for the anemone to kill and eat. What is not a theory though is that the rather clumsy anemonefish cannot live without their anemones. Without their anemone fish, some anemones are swiftly destroyed by predators, such as butterfly fish and turtles, which are immune to the anemone’s stings.
There is a strong hierarchy within the groups of anemone fish living in each anemone. Typically, a large female dominates. She mates only with the largest males. The female lays eggs in or near the anemone.
Some reef fish species are able to turn from females into males. This is actually a common ability. But anemone fish have the ability to sex-change from male to female! All anemone fish are born male with active male and dormant female reproductive organs. If the female dies, then the dominant male will sex-change into a female and a non-dominant male will become a dominant male. This allows anemone fish living in one anemone to remain self-sufficient in a way that if the female dies there is no need for the male to find a new mate. The responsibility for caring for the eggs then becomes the “new” female’s job.