AQWA Facts: Clown anemonefish

Binomial name: Amphiprion ocellaris

Clowning around
Clownfish get their name from their bold, blotchy colours that are like the face paints worn by clowns.

There are at least 17 species of clownfish found in Australia, with four found in Western Australia.

Home sweet home
Clownfish live in a sea anemone – animals related to jellyfish that have stinging tentacles. Anemonefish are picky about their pad – clown anemonefish will only consider four types of anemones and will inspect an anemone before investing in it. They will tap the anemone’s tentacles with their fins and body to make sure it is a suitable home.

Slime’s the secret
Clownfish are immune to the stings of anemones because they are covered in a protective slime! By living in the stinging cells of sea anemones, clownfish are protected from predators and have a safe place to lay their eggs. In return, clownfish keep anemones clean and chase away anemone-eating butterflyfish.

Noisy neighbours
After carefully selecting a home, female clownfish will fiercely protect it. They clack their jaws together to make a threatening sound which acts as a noisy alarm to deter intruders.

Power parents
Clownfish parents make a great team and may even mate for life! Mums protect the nest and her mate while dads clean and care for the eggs – sometimes even forgetting to eat!

Did you know?
After hatching, clownfish larvae are swept up by currents and travel kilometres away from their birthplace. They then sniff their way back to their home ‘suburb’!

Where at AQWA?
See if you can ‘find Nemo’ in AQWA’s Far North exhibit area.

Fast facts
Size: 8 cm
Diet: Algae, plankton, worms
Main predator (as eggs): Brittle stars, damselfish, wrasse
Habitat: Reef 315 m depth
Found: Australia, Japan, South East Asia