#CreatureFeature – Amphirioninae (Clownfish)

Clownfish come in many different colours, including orange, black, red, and yellow, and most have white patches. They can grow to be 17cm long and as small as 7cm.

Clownfish are commonly found in warm waters, like the Pacific Oceans, sheltered reefs or lagoons, and often dwell in anemone. They feed on small invertebrates and algae.

Clownfish serve a mutual relationship with their anemone homes. The anemone offer protection, and in return, the clownfish use their bright colours to lure other fish into the anemone, who then use poison to kill and eat their prey. The clownfish also fertilise the anemone with their waste.  

These amazing photos were taken by our very own Coastcare Support Officer Alanah Campbell during her time in Papua New Guinea, where she studied many different species of Clownfish!

Fast Facts

  1. Clownfish eggs hatch all year round!
  2. Clownfish are born male and can change gender! Although, once they become female, they cannot change back.
  3. Male clownfish are stay at home dads, taking on the role of primary caretakers of their young.
  4. Clownfish make popping and clicking sounds to communicate with each other and anemone.

Clownfish live in groups of male fish, led by a dominant male and a dominant female. Should the female fish die, the dominant male fish will then change its gender and become the dominant female, and the largest of the males will then become the dominant male.

Clownfish can produce thousands of eggs, which are fertilised by the male after they are laid. Any damaged or under developed eggs are eaten by the male.

Clownfish are under threat, mainly by humans. They make up 43% of the global marine ornamental trade, with 75% of these fish captured from the wild.

Reference: https://www.barrierreef.org/the-reef/animals/clownfish

Paige Kirby – Biodiversity Program Trainee

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