Clown anemonefish

(Amphiprion ocellaris)


Clown anemonefish IUCN NOT EVALUATED (NE)


Facts about this animal

The clown anemonefish reaches a mamimum length of 11 cm. It is bright orange coloured with three white bars, the middle one with a forward-projecting bulge; bars have narrow black margins. The dorsal fin has 11, sometimes 10, spines.

Anemonefish are born male with active male and dormant female reproductive organs. If the female dies, then the dominant male will change sex into a female, and a non-dominant male will change into a dominant male.

Clown anemonefish live in a symbiotic association with about 10 different species of sea anemones, most frequently with em>Heteractis magnifica, Stichodactyla gigantea, and Stichodactyla mertensii. They clean the anemone by eating the algae and food leftovers on it. They also help to protect the anemone by chasing away polyp-eating fish such as the butterfly fish. In turn the anemone protects the clownfish.

There is a strong hierarchy within a group of anemonefish inhabiting one anemone. Usually, a large female dominates. She mates only with the largest males. The female lays eggs in or near the anemone. If a suitable surface is not available, the female may even drag one near the anemone. The parents care for their spawn by fanning the eggs with their fins, removing litter or dead eggs using their mouths with great precision, and keeping other fish away.

Did you know?
that anemone fish stick their eggs on the rock, at the basis of the anemone they are living? The eggs are then guarded by the male. It ventilates them waving the fins, through mouthing it transfers antibiotic substances, and it protect them agains predation.


Name (Scientific) Amphiprion ocellaris
Name (English) Clown anemonefish
Name (French) Poisson clown à trois bandes
Name (German) Clown-Anemonenfisch
Name (Spanish) Pez Payaso ocellaris
Local names Malaysia: Bombin
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Jenny Huang



Range Northwest Australia, Southeast Asia, Southwest Japan
Habitat Coral reefs and sheltered lagoons, in or near anemones
Wild population Unknown
Zoo population 241 reported to ISIS, but this species is frequently kept as a pet by privat aquarists. Considering that most publc aquaria are not part of the WAZA system and do not register their collections with ISIS, available ISIS data are not significant.

In the Zoo

Clown anemonefish


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 51 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.

Fish must be unpacked carefully and under low illumination.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Zoo Düsseldorf

Why do zoos keep this animal

The clown anemonefish or clown fish is known to a broad public from the movie “Finding Nemo”, which created quite a demand for home aquariums. However, clownfish have very specific keeping requirements, which in many cases will not be met by private holders. Zoos and aquariums can therfore educate te public that it is best that Nemo and his friends remain in their natural habitat, where they belong.

Also their special symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with sea anemones makes anemonefish valuable from an educational perspective.