Clownfish: 43% of the global marine ornamental trade

Clownfish or anemonefish are fishes and thirty species are recognized. In the wild, they all form symbiotic mutualisms with sea anemones.

 

What is a clownfish?

Depending on species, anemonefish are overall yellow, orange, or a reddish or blackish color, and many show white bars or patches. The largest can reach a length of 18 centimetres (7.1 in), while the smallest barely achieve 10 centimetres (3.9 in)

Distribution and habitats

Anemonefish are native to warmer waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans, including the Great Barrier Reef and the Red Sea. While most species have restricted distributions, others are widespread. Anemonefish live at the bottom of shallow seas in sheltered reefs or in shallow lagoons. There are no anemonefish in the Atlantic.

Reproduction

In a group of anemonefish, there is a strict dominance hierarchy. The largest and most aggressive female is found at the top. Only two anemonefish, a male and a female, in a group reproduce through external fertilization. Anemonefish are sequential hermaphrodites, meaning that they develop into males first, and when they mature, they become females. If the female anemonefish is removed from the group, such as by death, one of the largest and most dominant males will become a female. The remaining males will move up a rank in the hierarchy.

Anemonefish lay eggs on any flat surface close to their host anemones. In the wild, anemonefish spawn around the time of the full moon. Depending on the species, anemonefish can lay hundreds or thousands of eggs. The male parent guards the eggs until they hatch about six to ten days later, typically two hours after dusk.

In the aquarium

Anemonefish make up 43% of the global marine ornamental trade, and 25% of the global trade comes from fish bred in captivity, while the majority are captured from the wild, accounting for decreased densities in exploited areas. Public aquaria and captive breeding programs are essential to sustain their trade as marine ornamentals, and has recently become economically feasible. It is one of a handful of marine ornamentals whose complete life cycle has been closed in captivity. Members of some anemonefish species, such as the maroon clownfish, become aggressive in captivity; others, like the false percula clownfish, can be kept successfully with other individuals of the same species.

When a sea anemone is not available in an aquarium, the anemonefish may settle in some varieties of soft corals, or large polyp stony corals. Once an anemone or coral has been adopted, the anemonefish will defend it. Anemonefish, however, are not obligately tied to hosts, and can survive alone in captivity.

Image: Photo by Tyler Smith 
Text: Wikipedia contributors. “Amphiprioninae.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 Aug. 2017. Web. 24 Aug. 2017.

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