Clownfish, or Orange fish, are fishes from the subfamily Amphiprioninae of the Pomacentridae family. There are plenty of different species of Clownfish that can be found in warm waters around the world, including the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The Maldives are home to several Clownfish varieties.
The Clownfish is well-known for forming symbiotic mutualisms with sea anemones which are closely related to corals. Another interesting fact about the Clownfish is that it is born with both male and female organs but tends to adopt a life strategy known as sequential hermaphroditism.
As mentioned before the Clownfish inhabits warm waters and can be found in large numbers on the Maldives Islands. Most of their species have restricted distributions yet some are more widespread.
Clownfish live in small groups that consist of a breeding pair and a few “non-reproductive”, smaller male Clownfish. Interestingly enough, when the female dies, the dominant male changes sex and becomes the female.
The Clownfish is named for its bright colors which are reminiscent of clowns. The Clownfish is orange with three white bars that run across its body. The bright colors of the Clownfish serve as a warning to any predator that might try to eat it because bright colors are a sign of venom.
Since the Clownfish forms a symbiotic mutualism with the sea anemone it feeds on any undigested matter that could potentially harm its friend. At the same time, the sea anemone feeds on the nutrients provided by the fecal matter of the Clownfish and offers protection to the fish within the anemone’s “tentacles”.
Clownfish are also omnivorous meaning they eat both plants and animals. In the wild, they can also feed on algae, mollusks, crustaceans, and plankton.
Clownfish Behavior Towards Scuba Divers
Clownfish can be a potential threat to scuba divers who are trying to collect them. They can be quite ferocious when protecting their host the sea anemone and they might even bite. But to a scuba diver who simply wants to watch the Clownfish in its natural habitat, there is no threat.
Depending on the species, Clownfish tend to lay hundreds to thousands of eggs on any flat surface that’s close to their host, the sea anemones, who protect them. The Clownfish rubs the anemone and gets it to fully open up and shelter the clownfish eggs with its tentacles. Clownfish usually spawn around the time of the full moon and the male parent guards the offspring until they hatch 6 to 10 days later.
Threats to Clownfish
Clownfish are a stable species; meaning that they are not declining in number and are not sensitive to any pressures from human activity or natural events.
However, they are very popular fish for reef aquariums and they can even be tank-bred; so most of them are caught for decoration purposes and not for food.
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