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Fun Clownfish Facts

Updated on March 07, 2012

Clownfish Pictures

Clownfish picture of clownfish in the Red Sea.  This photo won a German wildlife photography competition.  Photo taken by Marcus should have got his last name.
Clownfish picture of clownfish in the Red Sea. This photo won a German wildlife photography competition. Photo taken by Marcus should have got his last name.

Did you love Finding Nemo? Would you like to know more about clownfish? Read on for some fun facts about clownfish including their dirtiest secret, mating habits and a behaviour that will have you rethinking this cute little fish.

Clownfish, sometimes called anemone fish are brightly coloured fish with three white stripes. They can be orange like Nemo, but some species can be yellow and white or even blue and white. There are approximately 28 species of clownfish. They live at the bottom of the Indian and Pacific oceans as well as the Great Barrier Reef and the Red Sea.

Clownfish live in sea anemones and have a symbiotic relationship with them, meaning that they both benefit from each other. The sea anemone has tentacles that sting other fish (and humans) if you touch them, so it is a safe place for the clownfish who are immune to the stinging tentacles. How? The cute little clown fish’s bodies are covered in slimy mucus, yep mucus. Still think Nemo is cute? If you wash the mucous off, the clownfish will get stung by the sea anemone.

Clownfish picture of two clownfish protecting their anemone in the Red Sea.
Clownfish picture of two clownfish protecting their anemone in the Red Sea.

The sea anemone paralyzes prey; usually copepods and zoo plankton with their stinging tentacles and clownfish get the leftovers and serve as a housekeeper of sort cleaning away the scraps, keeping the anemone clean. Clownfish reciprocate by providing better circulation to the anemone by swimming and by providing the sea anemones with a tasty treat - their poop. This helps feed the sea anemone and in return the clownfish get a built in house keeper. It’s quite the arrangement and both the clownfish and the sea anemone seem to do their part of the “house work.”

Clownfish are far from being world travellers as seen in Finding Nemo for in reality, most clownfish are homebodies rarely venturing more than 2-4 inches from their sea anemone, since if they go further, they risk losing it to another clownfish. You can imagine that this might make it difficult to find a mate to produce baby clownfish. Clownfish live in small groups that usually consist of a monogamous breeding pair and a few non-reproductive “adolescents” and smaller males. When the female dies the dominant male changes sex and becomes the female. This is called protandrous hermaphroditism. While sex changes are common for many fish species, most species are born females then change sex to become male, called proyogynous hermaphroditism. It comes in pretty handy for the homebody fish – no surgery required and no bad dates looking for the “perfect mate.” At this point I think you can guess Marlin’s future in Finding Nemo for real life, but can you really blame Disney for leaving this part out?

Another surprising fact about clownfish is that they are poor swimmers; imagine that, a fish who is a poor swimmer! Who knew! This is another reason that clownfish are homebodies since most fish are good swimmers, clownfish would be easy prey away from the protection of the sea anemone.

Clownfish may look cute, but they are one of the more aggressive fish in the sea! Even though they are only 2 to 5 inches long, they will approach scuba divers to “chase” them away from their anemone. If scuba divers are persistent, clownfish have even been known to bite scuba divers! Fortunately their teeth aren’t very sharp. Most small fish stay away from scuba divers so clownfish are brave fish to “chase” away divers, especially since divers are ~ 1000 times the size of a clownfish. Can you imagine chasing and attacking an animal that was over 1000 feet long with only small teeth as your weapon? By the way, the larger clownfish that are the most aggressive are female – talk about girl power! You may never think of those “cute” little clownfish the same again.

Remember in Finding Nemo for when Nemo was caught by a scuba diver? In real life this is partially true. Over 50% of clownfish pets for sale come from the wild. After Finding Nemo came out, wild clownfish populations decreased by over 75% since so many people wanted clownfish pets. While clownfish are caught by commercial divers, they usually use cyanide which temporarily paralyzes the fish making them easier to catch, but in the meantime killing other fish and destroying coral reefs. Just as you can Save Sharks, Through Shark Tourism, you can save clownfish by diving or snorkeling with them in their natural habitat.

Furthermore, once you have a clownfish pet at home, keeping him alive is tricky. Out of more than a 1000 different types of anemones, only 10 can host clownfish. Many people mistakenly use the wrong type of anemone and the clownfish pet dies. If you love Nemo and friends, enjoy the movie, go to an aquarium where professionals are trained to care for fish or go diving, but do not keep clownfish pets in a home aquarium. If you absolutely must keep clownfish ipets n an aquarium do your research and ensure that you are purchasing captive bred clownfish pets which are hardier than wild ones in an aquarium and are not depleting clownfish and clownfish habitat in the wild.

Clownfish picture of a clownfish protecting its anemone in the Red Sea
Clownfish picture of a clownfish protecting its anemone in the Red Sea

More Clownfish Pictures and Videos

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    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

      Nice one. Thanks!

    • LRobbins profile image
      Author

      LRobbins 7 years ago from Germany

      Thanks Peter!

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      Interesting Hub again LR. Amazing that a fish so small would actually "chase" humans, but that's nature for you.

    • shamelabboush profile image

      shamelabboush 7 years ago

      I loved this cartoon and I watched twice. Nice fatcs here dear.

    • LRobbins profile image
      Author

      LRobbins 7 years ago from Germany

      Thanks Sabu and shamelaboush. I also loved the cartoon!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      This fish is very beautiful. I like watching "nemo films". Thanks for share

    • profile image

      cosette 7 years ago

      I luv Finding Nemo, and clownfish. groovy blog!

    • LRobbins profile image
      Author

      LRobbins 7 years ago from Germany

      Thanks cosette!

    • profile image

      bob 7 years ago

      i like it not no i like it a lot

    • OTmommy profile image

      OTmommy 7 years ago from Southern USA

      So thorough! My daughter loved watching Finding Nemo & quotes lines from the movie often. She now wants a fish and we are considering buying a clown fish...I will use this as a reference before our purchase.

    • LRobbins profile image
      Author

      LRobbins 7 years ago from Germany

      Thanks OTmommy. There's definitely a lot to keeping a clown fish so you're smart to do your research. Good Luck!

    • profile image

      bob 7 years ago

      cool

    • KaylaJay profile image

      KaylaJay 7 years ago

      I Love Finding Nemo!! Nice hub and interesting facts!

    • Basim ANSARI profile image

      Basim ANSARI 7 years ago from K.S.A

      well nice hub and really informative about clown fishes

    • profile image

      Helen 6 years ago

      this helps a lot on my research paper thanks

    • profile image

      hw3idyyyyyygf c 5 years ago

      ily

      duude awsome

    • profile image

      venkatesh 5 years ago

      hiiiiiiiiiii

      i breed the Amphiprion percula and yessterday only it hatched..

      i am very happy.....

    • profile image

      Kaitlin Rodriguez 5 years ago

      Ayee I love clownfish and this page omgggg i store them in my lab at home and then i cook them for delicious steak with sea salt (no pun intended) and fresh black pepper! Yum!

    • profile image

      Andrew Clark 5 years ago

      Im an in love with clownfish and have 28 in my big lab. My serian wife and I were born in Japan and we go surfing at midnight every single day. We have been in combat a few times but we usually just use our cabbageheads to defend ourselves.

    • profile image

      Andrew Clark 5 years ago

      Thanks a lot Eric!!!

    • profile image

      dfgdgs 5 years ago

      sdgfghssdgf

    • profile image

      Edith 5 years ago

      Learned a lot, I love clown fish and have enjoyed them in Tahiti, saw many different varieties and colors. Also love Finding Nemo.

    • profile image

      Michael Cook 5 years ago

      I love the video

    • profile image

      kemond 5 years ago

      i love it !!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Online Aquarium Stores 5 years ago

      Thanks for giving information about the clownfish. I like your post.

    • profile image

      lola 5 years ago

      clown fish is cool

    • profile image

      lola 5 years ago

      I LOVE IT

    • profile image

      Sophie school girl 5 years ago

      thank you very much!

      it helped me a lot with my school project on the clownfish.

      YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!

      P.S. thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!

    • profile image

      school student 4 years ago

      that was amazing and kinda funny

    • profile image

      Richard Adams 4 years ago

      Makes me feel special!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      hillary 4 years ago

      I LOVE CLOWNFISH BECAUSE THERE SO CUTE AND AMAZING

    • profile image

      jazmine 4 years ago

      they are cute

    • profile image

      jazmine 4 years ago

      sweet

    • profile image

      jazmine 4 years ago

      i love clownfish so much

    • profile image

      chris 4 years ago

      this helped me on a report!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    • profile image

      sandy 4 years ago

      this helped me with my science fair

    • profile image

      pollop 4 years ago

      this helped me on a report!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • khmazz profile image

      Kristen Mazzola 4 years ago from South Florida

      Pretty awesome!! I have tank and love to learn about the different types of fish we keep (one of which is a tomato clown!) Two thumbs up!!

    • profile image

      beatrice 3 years ago

      clown fish are so so good fish i like finding nemo and washing nemo he is a nice fish i want to wash nemo again but i dont no wat tv

    • profile image

      arara 3 years ago

      Very niiiiiiiiiice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      JAMESHENDERSON 3 years ago

      A GOOD PLECE

    • profile image

      Mason 3 years ago

      Man down

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