Friday, 14 August 2015

Why couldn’t the Clownfish buy a house?

 Because he didn’t have anemone!


As part of our work in Perhentian, we have started to try and document and identify as many different species as we can, and we thought we’d start you all off with a volunteer favourite, Nemo!

You may or may not know that Nemo is a False Clown Fish (Amphiprion ocellaris), not your typical Clown Fish (Amphiprion percula). You may also be interested to know that Nemo and his ‘false clown fish’ daddy are just one of at least 20 different Anemonefish species. Because people love Anemonefish, and commonly mistake them all as Nemo or Clownfish, we thought we’d provide you a simple breakdown and summary of the different varieties we get here in Perhentian.

Anemonefish live in symbiosis with their anemones, that is, both the anemone and the fish give and receive something necessary to survive! The anemone protects the clownfish from potential predators and are provided a food source (algae and other creatures caught stung by anemone), whilst the clownfish has been suggested to do a wiggle dance that increases the oxygen flow through the anemone for a healthier lifestyle!


False Clown Fish (Amphiprion ocellaris)

The False Clown fish is orange, with three white bars and grow up to about 9cm. When they initially hatch they hang out near the surface, but quickly descend in search of an anemone in which to live. They are territorial and aggressive about it, and very protective of their domain and family, swimming out of the anemone to bite and harass would be attackers (even innocent by-standing divers just admiring their beauty!

Clark’s Anemone Fish (Amphriprion clarkii)

Clark’s Anemone fish are black to entirely orange with a pair of white or pale bluish bars. The tail is white or ellow with an abrupt boundary. Can grow to 12cm. Is omnivorous and will feed on zooplankton as well as algae. Helps to defend the anemone from would be attackers, such at Butterfly fish which may attempt to eat tentacles of anemone.

Pink Anemone Fish (Amphiprion perideraion)

The Pink Anemone fish is a common one in Perhentian, and found at most dive or snorkel sites. It is pink to orange with a narrow white head bar and a white dorsal stripe between the eyes going along the back. Commonly found with the Magnificent Anemone up to 20m depth. They can grow up to 10cm. As with other Anemone fish species, omnivorous species that feeds on both algae and zooplankton. Unlike the first two species mentioned, the Pink Anemone fish is much shier and hides within their anemone when divers approach. 

Red and Black Anemone Fish (Amphiprion polymnus)

The unique and excitingly named Red and Black Anemone fish is unsurprisingly reddish orange with varying amounts of black on the sides, and a white to pale bluish bar on the head, just being the eyes. Juveniles have 2-3 whitish blue bars. This one is sometimes called the Cinnamon clown fish and similar to the False Clown and Clark’s, can be aggressive towards invasive peoples. Only found in three anemone types; Bubble Tip, Leathery and Magnificent.

Saddleback Anemone Fish (Amphiprion polymnus)

Probably my favourite of the Perhentian Anemone fish, the Saddleback has varying amounts of black to dark brown and yellow-orange, with a white head bar and broad oft forward slanting mid-body bar. Usually found with Haddon’s Anemone on sandy bottoms. The first sighting was at Police Wreck, sitting off the wreck in the sand at about 21m depth, since then we have found a few locations around the islands. Their defence mechanism appears to be less aggressive than other species, they dance around in the water like madmen to distract you from the anemone (and baby fish). Crafty diversion strategy.

Tomato Anemone Fish (Amphiprion frenatus)

The aptly named Tomato Anemone fish tastes exactly like a tomato, or maybe just looks like one. Males are orange to red with a single white or pale bluish head bar, the males are considerably smaller than the females at only 6cm. Females grow to 14cm and are primarily black on the sides with a red snout breast and belly. Typically live with Bulb-tentacle anemone up to depths of 12m. They lay their eggs on a flat surface and both tend to them until they hatch (6-11 days).

Hopefully you have been inspired to further research fish and join us in Perhentian for some fun identification and diving times! Get in touch for more information!