clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris), es a marine animal known throughout the world for its orange and white stripes. However, there are other breeds of clownfish that have other colors. It is also called anemone fish, since to survive it needs to collaborate with anemones. There are currently about 30 different species of clownfish.

Clown fish in the wild

Clown fish in the wild

Features

Clownfish are quite small at 10-18 cm in length, although females are larger than males. The different species of clownfish can have a great variety of colors in different shades such as yellows, reds, pinks, oranges and there are even some races with dark tones. In all breeds, any shade is always divided by three white stripes located on the head, the center of the body and ending on its tail. The edge of its fins ends in black.

Being very bad swimmers, they seek the safety of the reefs and seek the protection of anemones. To achieve this, their skin is covered by a layer of mucus made up of stinging cells that prevent the clownfish from being affected by its venom.

It is one of those animals that benefit from "symbiotic relationships" consisting of the close and persistent relationship between two organisms of different species to benefit from each other.

Therefore, it lives collaborating with the anemones, since for the fish it serves as food and protection against predators and parasites, and in return the anemone receives rich nutrients from the fish's feces. It is also kept clean and protected from predators such as butterfly fish that feed on the anemone's tentacles. To protect itself from predators at night it sleeps inside where it cannot "detect" it.

Its small size does not prevent it from being a very aggressive and territorial fish. It has a very strict social hierarchy where the largest and most aggressive female is the one who dictates the rules. If the dominant female dies, the stronger male changes sex to take his place.

Habitat

The clown is a sea animal that lives in the Pacific and Indian oceans. It also inhabits the Great Australian Barrier Reef and the Red Sea. All these locations have in common, that they have reefs in shallow waters where the fish can find the anemones they need to survive.

Clown fish among anemones

Clown fish among anemones

Food

The clownfish is an omnivorous animal and regarding its size we could say that they do not need much to eat, but they are gluttons. The diet is made up of a wide variety of foods such as algae, zooplankton, and small crustaceans and mollusks. Sometimes they feed on the rest of the food left by the anemones and on the tentacles that are detached from the anemones.

Predators

The clownfish, despite being under the protection of anemones, also has several natural predators such as eels or sharks. In addition, man is also their predator, since they are hunted to later sell them to other humans who will put them in a saltwater aquarium.

The eggs also suffer from predators like damselfish, but especially at night because the male fish leaves the anemone and can be eaten by starfish and ophiuros.

Reproduction

The reproduction of the clownfish is very special, since it is one of those hermaphroditic animals that have the ability to change sex when necessary, since they are born with both sexual organs (male and female) but they are sexually reproductive fish, therefore They continue to need another individual with a different sex in order to reproduce.

The first organs to mature are male, so at a certain stage an entire generation is male. When the mating season arrives, one of the males of the group, the most aggressive and strongest, will develop its female organs, thus becoming the dominant female. The rest of the males in the group will stay the same, and the new female will mate with the larger male. During the change the male sexual organs atrophy making the change irreversible.

They mate in sync with the moon, on a full moon or new moon. When the eggs are fertilized, the female lays hundreds or thousands of eggs inside an anemone. The male will be the one who protects the eggs for 6 - 10 days.

State of conservation

The clownfish has a stable population but in recent years it has been captured by humans, which is reducing its population in some regions. They are trapped to take them to saltwater aquariums.

Popular culture

Orange / white variant clownfish stars in animated film "Finding Nemo" created by Pixar. The film tells the story of a small clown fish named "Nemo" who gets lost at sea and is captured by humans. His father will cross the sea to find him and bring him back. It grossed more than $ 940 million at the box office in cinemas around the world.

Nemo and dory

Nemo and dory

The success of the film greatly increased the clownfish among children around the world and it began to be sued as a pet, despite the film itself criticizing the use of saltwater aquariums that are difficult to maintain and deteriorate the environment. On the positive side, tourism increased in Australia to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

Decades later, Pixar returned to the clownfish with the sequ"Finding Dory" where this time Dory is starring a regal surgeonfish (Paracanthurus hepatus) who comes out of the protection of the reef to look for her parents. Nemo and father come to save her as Dory has a bad memory. This movie was more successful than the previous one and grossed about $ 1.029 million.

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