What is a clown fish


The Clown fish

e.g. Amphiprion ocellaris

Family: anemonefish (Pomacentridae)

Drawing: Jens Müller, Kronshagen


Its bright orange-red color is interrupted by three white, vertical stripes which are in turn lined with a black border. Depending on the origin of the fish, the black border is wider or narrower. Their coloring also has a very special meaning: the fish can recognize each other.

Clownfish reach a size of about 8 cm.

Another specialty of the clownfish: they are all born males and only a few later develop into females!

Clownfish are found from the eastern Indian Ocean to the western Pacific. They live in the seas around Thailand, India, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, China, Taiwan, Japan and off the coast of the Philippines.

Their habitat are coral reefs and there they live in sea anemones. When in danger, they hide in the tentacles of their sea anemones.

There are a total of 27 different species of clownfish. Representatives are, for example, the Indian white-backed clownfish, the black three-banded anemonefish and of course the western clownfish Amphiprion ocellaris.

Clownfish live in pairs or in small groups. They fiercely defend their sea anemone, which offers them protection, against intruders. Although anemones look like plants, they are animals. They are related to jellyfish and corals. Sea anemones and sea carnations are also called flower animals because of their similarity. They have many tentacles through which they can release toxic substances that drive away or even kill other fish. But clownfish become immune to these substances.

In the case of clownfish living in groups, the largest animal always becomes the female, which lays around 500 eggs on stones every two weeks. The male then takes care of the eggs until they hatch after a week to 10 days. After hatching, the young clownfish are about three to four centimeters tall and still colorless. Only after a week do they take on the typical color. At this time they do not yet live with anemones because they are not yet immune to their poison. Only when they are big do they look for an anemone.

Clownfish feed on plankton floating in the water, as well as algae and fry. Clownfish kept in the aquarium are fed brine shrimp and the minced meat of clams, fish and shrimp. However, you cannot keep clownfish in a normal indoor aquarium, this is animal cruelty. You need a specially set up seawater pool with a lot of additional technology (so that the anemones also stay healthy). In addition, the tank must be large, the minimum size is 160 liters, for most of the large anemones with clown fish at least 500 liters of aquarium size are necessary.

Animal rights activists fear that many people who have seen the film will want to buy clownfish. In Australia, three times as many clownfish have been sold since the film! This is bad, because the fish in their homeland are already threatened by the loss of their coral reef habitat (due to climate change and marine pollution).

And of course you should never throw animals into a toilet to free them like in the film. This never leads to freedom, but to the certain death of the animals! In the sewers, the clownfish die immediately, because there is no sea water, and there are poisonous substances, low temperatures and hungry rats. At the latest in the sewage treatment plant, all other animals would be over. And in Europe clownfish have no business in nature anyway, in the North or Baltic Sea the water is far too cold for them and there are nowhere suitable giant sea anemones.

Text by: Birgit Sc. (Neufahrn near Freising, 14 years)


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Last update of this page: August 20, 2015

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