Orange Clownfish – Species Spotlight

Orange clownfish

Orange Clownfish: Amphiprion percula

The orange clownfish is a popular fish in the pet industry and they have become further well known after the Finding Nemo movie (Who is looking forward to Finding Dory later this year!? 😀 ), although Nemo and Marlin are Amphiprion ocellaris (False percula clownfish). Amphiprion percula and Amphiprion ocellaris are often confused as they are so similar (and I do not claim to be an expert on clownfish), but can be identified by the number of spines in the first dorsal fin, with A. percular having  10 and A. ocellaris having 11.

These fish are within a group of fishes termed anemonefish. This is due to their mutualistic (both organisms benefit) relationships with anemones. The anemones protect the fish by detering/consuming predators with their nematocysts/stings, whilst the fish protect the anemones mostly from parasites. The anemones may also get some nutrition from the clownfish excrement, as the clownfish may potentially consume dead matter from the anemone.

Research suggests that they can swim about the anemone without getting stung due to a mucus secreted from the fish. A. percula has also been found to be toxin resistant to some anemone toxins, yet not all anemonefish seem to posses this quality (Mebs, 1994).

The Orange clownfish is not currently listed as endangered, although some populations may be affected by fish being removed from the wild to become pets or add to pet industry breeding stocks.

Mebs, D 1994, “Anemonefish symbiosis: vulnerability and resistance to of fish to the toxin of the sea anemone”, Toxicon, Vol. 32, No. 9, pp. 1059-1068.