Anemonefish, Amphiprioninae, or clownfish, as they are also known, are unique species of fish that are most well-known for forming a strong symbiotic connection with sea anemones. They are commonly known as smaller species of fish, usually of an orange color with vertical white stripes. Clownfish are native to the warmer waters of the central Pacific and Indian Ocean, and they are also found in the renowned Great Barrier Reef. Diving enthusiasts can find them at the bottom of shallow waters, either in sheltered reefs or shallow lagoons.
Anemonefish can also present deeper red or black colored features, and they normally grow to a size of about 10-18 centimeters. This species of fish features subtle differences in color and shape when compared to Amphiprion Percula – a highly similar species that is commonly mistaken for clownfish. Considered by researchers to be some of the most recognizable species of fish among all reef-dwellers, anemonefish are also quite diverse, they are divided into no less than 28 different species, most of which are found in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. Clownfish are not found in the Atlantic Ocean, nor in the Caribbean or Mediterranean Sea.
When it comes to the feeding habits of anemonefish, Amphiprioninae experts point out that these fish are actually omnivorous. They feed on both plant matter and small animals such as zooplankton from the water column, and their diets also include copepods and tunicate larvae. Anemonefish also form a strong symbiotic relationship with their host anemone, and they generally prefer species from the genera Heteractis and Stichodactyla, with whom they share many mutual benefits such as defending each other from predators and pests. Clownfish may also consume the dead tentacles originating from their host anemone, while providing the anemone with nutrients through their excrements.
The largest, most aggressive female is usually the one that reproduces the most. Anemonefish are sequential hermaphrodites with specific reproduction cycles. They first develop into males, then the strongest male specimens become females in order to perpetuate the species. If, by any chance, the female happens to die, the next male in the hierarchy will transform into a female, while the remaining males increase in rank in terms of dominance. Whether you are an experienced or beginner diver looking for beautiful anemonefish, Amphiprioninae can be found in many areas around the world and in most cases you only have to go as deep as a few feet to successfully spot them.