Clown Fish : Facts On Marine Clown Fish

Ocellaris Clown Fish

Photo kindly provided by Debbie and Sean
Photo kindly provided by Debbie and Sean

Clown Fish Facts

Family : Pomacentridae
Genus : Amphiprion, Premnas

The clownfish are the most popular group of marine fishes in the saltwater aquarium hobby today. Two of them, the very similar Ocellaris clownfish (Amphiprion Ocellaris) and the Percula clownfish (Amphiprion Percula) are perhaps the most recognized marine fish in the world. Their fame increased after the release of the movie Finding Nemo.

Clownfishes are part of the family Pomacentridae and they make up the genus Amphiprion and Premnas. They are represented by 29 known species with only one member in the genus Premnas, the giant Maroon Clownfish.

Percula Clownfish

They are also known as Anemone fish because they share a symbiotic relationship with anemones in the wild. Nature has given them a way to live within anemones without getting stung. Clownfish protect themselves from the anemones sting by covering their bodies in a type of mucus. In the wild, clownfish will spend their entire lives near their preferred anemone, they eat, sleep and breed around it.

In the marine aquarium hobby, they are great fish for beginners as most of them adapt, cost very little and are very hardy. The clownfish is the most heavily traded marine fish along with damsels (Also a member of Pomacentridae) and most species are commonly available. Walk into the marine section of any pet store and you'll always find at least a few clownfish and damsels.

The most popular of the clownfishes are of course the ocellaris and percula clownfish, which are differentiated by the number of spines on their dorsal fins.Ocellaris clownfish have 11 spines while Percula's have 10. Other popular members of the family include the maroon clownfish, tomato clownfish and the clarkii clownfish.

Amphiprion Ocellaris

The Most Popular Clownfish in the hobby.
The Most Popular Clownfish in the hobby.

Black Ocellaris

Amphiprion Ocellaris Variant. Exactly the same fish besides color. Expensive.
Amphiprion Ocellaris Variant. Exactly the same fish besides color. Expensive.

Amphiprion Percula

Very similar to Ocellaris. Costs more and not as common.
Very similar to Ocellaris. Costs more and not as common.

Black Percula

Never all black like black ocellaris. Expensive.
Never all black like black ocellaris. Expensive.

3. Premnas Biaculeatus

The maroon clownfish, cute when small, aggressive when large.
The maroon clownfish, cute when small, aggressive when large.

4. Amphiprion Frenatus

The Tomato Clownfish. Another cheap clownfish that is commonly available.
The Tomato Clownfish. Another cheap clownfish that is commonly available.

5. Amphiprion clarkii

Amphiprion Melanopus

Amphiprion Perideraion

Popular Clown Fish


Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion Ocellaris). The mainstay of the hobby, everyone in the hobby either has one or has had one in the past. Cheap, plentiful and great for beginners.







Black Ocellaris Clownfish. A black variant that is uncommon and expensive. Care and requirements for both the regular and black variants are exactly the same.

Complete Amphiprion Ocellaris Guide.





Amphiprion Percula (Percula Clownfish). Just as popular as the Ocellaris Clownfish, but more expensive, not as common but just as hardy.






Black Percula. Exactly the same as A.Percula except for more black on its body. Uncommon and expensive. Care for both A.Percula and the black percula is exactly the same.

Complete Amphiprion Percula Guide.






Picasso Clownfish. The new craze. Percula clowns with odd patterns. You either love them or you hate them. Rare. Very expensive depending on the design. Care for this fish is exactly the same as A.Percula.






Maroon Clownfish (Premnas Biaculeatus). A beautiful and endearing clownfish when small, turns big and nasty in the end.

Complete Maroon Clownfish Guide






Tomato Clownfish (Amphiprion Frenatus). Another common clownfish that is heavily traded. Somewhat cheap.

Complete Tomato Clownfish Guide







Clarkii Clownfish (Amphiprion Clarkii). Not as common as the rest of the top 5, the most expensive clownfish in this group.






Cinnamon Clownfish (Amphiprion Melanopus). Looks very similar to the Tomato Clownfish, care and requirements are the same.






Pink Skunk Clownfish (Amphiprion Perideraion). An unusual looking clown. Pink and orange throughout its body with a single qhite stripe on its head and cheek.

Amphiprion Latezonatus

Amphiprion Mccullochi

Rare Clown Fish

Pictured are some very rare species of clownfish that come into the trade only rarely and with very high prices.

Amphiprion Latezonatus. Commonly known as the blue-lip clownfish and the wide-band clownfish. Hails from Australia where collection is restricted. Expect to pay a few hundred USD for one, if you can find one for sale.


Amphiprion Mccullochi. Commonly known as the whitesnout clownfish. The rarest, most expensive clownfish on the market. Endemic to a few places in Australia. You will almost never find this clownfish for sale, and when you do, expect to pay well in the thousands. Liveaquaria had a pair some months back that were going for a whopping $6000 USD!

Ocellaris clownfish group

A female with two smaller males.
A female with two smaller males.

Maroon Clownfish Pair

A Pair in their anemone. The darker, bigger maroon clownfish is the female.
A Pair in their anemone. The darker, bigger maroon clownfish is the female.

Clown Fish : Social hierarchy and gender

All clownfishes are protandrous hermaphrodites, which means they are all initially male and if social conditions are right, they become females. Females cannot revert back into males.

Male ----> Strongest in the pack ----> Female

The determinant of gender change is directly correlated to an individuals rank in its social group. If you house a group of young males together, only the most dominant male will become a female. If she dies, the strongest male will begin transforming into a female and take her place.

Dwarf angelfish (centropyge) Also live by the same rules. In this genus, a female remains a female when dominated by a male or a higher ranking female. Without the presence of another higher ranked angelfish in the harem, she will begin changing into a male.



Ocellaris clownfish laying eggs

Ocellaris clownfish babies

Percula Clownfish eggs ready to hatch

Any day now Ma!
Any day now Ma!

Clown Fish Breeding

As the most popular marine fish in the hobby, it should stand to reason that it is also the most popular home bred fish in the hobby. Just about every species in the Amphiprion and Premnas genus have been bred at one time or another.

Some are harder to breed and raise, some are easier, but on the whole clownfishes are easiest marine fish to breed. Which is great news because that means eventually, we can stop harvesting them from the wild. The only things that are stopping said scenario from happening are the prices of tank-raised clownfish and the availability of said clowns. There aren't enough tank-bred clowns for the entire market.

As mentioned above, breeding clownfishes is pretty easy as far as breeding marine fishes go. A pair will readily breed in something as small as 10 gallons, however something larger like a 20 gallon is preffered.

The reason they manage to bred in such tight spaces is because they are a site attached fish. Recall how they rarely leave their anemone for any reason in the wild, their entire lives are spent in a small location, their anemone. The same goes for them in captivity. An anemone is not needed, a simple clay pot would suffice as housing.

Clownfishes: A Guide to Their Captive Care, Breeding & Natural History
Clownfishes: A Guide to Their Captive Care, Breeding & Natural History

The most comprehensive book on clownfish every written. Published 10 years ago, it still hasn't been outdone.

 

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Comments 18 comments

LRobbins profile image

LRobbins 7 years ago from Germany

Very interesting hub! I've put a link to this hub from my clownfish hub since we focus on different things.


Tamarind 6 years ago

Awesome pictures and info. Thanks.


PirateFX profile image

PirateFX 6 years ago Author

Thanks =)


angela_michelle profile image

angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States

Great article. I referenced it in my newest hub! I thought it was the best one on the topic~!


PirateFX profile image

PirateFX 6 years ago Author

Hi Angella, glad you liked it!


Debs 5 years ago

Just want to know, where did you take the Occelaris Clownfish picture from?


PirateFX profile image

PirateFX 5 years ago Author

Hi Debs, the first one? Belongs to a friend on a reef forum.


fred 5 years ago

They r soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cute


Dennis 5 years ago

I keep getting different stories abouth wheter or not I can have more than 1 Clown in my tank or if I max Ocellaris Clownfish with Percula? Does anyone know for sure??


PirateFX profile image

PirateFX 5 years ago Author

@Dennis - You can mix them, how bigs your tank?


Dennis 5 years ago

PirateFX-- 29 gallon BioCube


PirateFX profile image

PirateFX 5 years ago Author

@Dennis - A 29g is alright for a mated pair. But getting two species may be a problem, there's not enough space. As long as you stick to a single species and get a mated pair (If you want more than one clown), you should be fine. Expect fighting to occur if you try mix two clown species in a tank that size.

There have been cases where mixing species has worked in an aquarium as small as 29g's, but that's not the norm. Better to Err on the side of caution i say.


Dennis 5 years ago

@PirateFX--Thanks for the input. I think I'll just stick with the one I have an build some smakker fish around it. I Appreciate the reply


Doni Marie 5 years ago

Nice Picasso photo. Please either give me credit for the photo or have it removed ASAP.

In the future, please ask prior to using any of my pictures.

Doni Marie

store at donisreef dot com


PirateFX profile image

PirateFX 5 years ago Author

@Doni Marie - My humblest apologies. Not only will i credit it to you, i shall provide a link to your store for those looking for Picasso's.


cmlindblom profile image

cmlindblom 5 years ago from middletown, ct

Nice hub. I'm writing a hub on basic clownfish breeding right now and I'm going to link to this hub.


candy 4 years ago

Can anyone tell me why my smaller clown has for the last 2 days been swimming like he is demented only stopping to feed, all other fish are quite sane. Water condition is good. PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN.


Aaron 4 years ago

please people !! all this cute creature belongs to the big natural sea environment . please think twice. the seller are actually killing them.

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