by: Keith Quince
Clown fish are known technically as Anemonefishes. Anemonefishes are a subfamily of damselfish, in the pomacentridae family. There are 26 unique species of 'Clownfish', 25 of them being in the Amphiprion genus and only 1 in the Premnas genus. They are typically a small fish, mature males only growing anywhere from 2 to 5 inches in length.
Clownfish are only found in the tropical waters of the Indian or Pacific oceans, and the Red sea. These climits provide a suitable environment for enemonefishes due to their warm temperatures. Clownfish tend to be bottom dwellers, and most notably reside in inshore reefs, specifically inside sea anemones. The anemone provides protection for the Clownfish both by enabling the fish to hide, and with it's poisonus tenticles, keeping other fish away. There is no definite information why the Clownfish is not stung by the anemone, but many theories exist.
Prey or Preditor?
In nature a clownfish will attract it's pray by swiming around it's anemone and displaying it's bright colors. Once the victim, all the time thinking that he is the preditor, begins to aproach, the clownfish will recede into the anemone with his prey following closely behind. The sea anemone once in contact with the 'preditor' will sting, kill, and begin to eat the prey. This leaves the leftovers for the Clownfish to snack on. Other forms of food are planktonic crustaceans and algae that may develope on coral or nearby rocks. Anomenes themselves may provide food as the clownfish will pick at and consume dead tenticles.
This fish is a very good first choice for saltwater tanks, which is one of the reasons they have become so popular in the united states and parts of europe. Part of their suitability is found with anemonefishes having a very small territory; which is good for the small area offered in fish tanks. The substrate area of tank, meaning the area on the bottom of your tank adjusted for protruding rocks and sunken ships, is more important then the total volume of the tank. A 20 gallon tank would be considered the minimum recommended size for Clownfish. Living peaceably in your fish tank a Clownfish would require aprox. 14 hours of light and 10 hours of darness every day. These amounts may be adjusted and are only suggestions. Be carefull of high nitrate levels. Mature Clownfish can sometimes tollerate these levels, but the larva and babies will almost certainly not. Include a large variety of food when feeding Clownfish. Feedings should include live brine shrimp, frozen food, algae and the traditional flakes. Being that clownfish will have no preditors in a fish tank a sea anomone is not requird to protect them.
Many people believe anemonefishes will not breed without the presence of a sea anemone, but this is not the case. After some time, a particular spawning site will be chosen. This spawning site will remain the same throughout the life of the Clownfish pair. Clownfish will spawn all year round laying their eggs in large batches. In the wild eggs are normally laid on coral or rock that is near the anemone, though in your tank they may be laid anywhere. Once laid by the female, the male clownfish assumes the job of gaurding the eggs until they hatch, typically 4 or 5 days aftwards. When clownfish reach sexual maturity they will strike out on their own, searching for a vacant sea anomone. Clownfish may be expected to live around 3 to 5 years in captivity.