- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Biology and Ecology
- Water Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
International Common Names
- English: clownfish
Local Common Names
- : anemonefish
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
There has been no report suggesting that any of the 28 species of the genus Amphiprion is invasive in any part of the world.
Although there are concerns about some of the species being over exploited for the aquarium trade (Shuman et al., 2005), none are listed as a threatened species.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Class: Actinopterygii
- Order: Perciformes
- Suborder: Labroidei
- Family: Pomacentridae
- Genus: Amphiprion
DescriptionTop of page
Amphi= both; prion= saw (referring to the serrated opercula).
Their bodies tend to be high, oval and laterally compressed, with the lateral line incomplete and interrupted. The single, continuous dorsal fin has eight to 17 spines and 10 to 18 soft rays, the anal fin usually has two spines (occasionally three), and the caudal fin is typically forked. One nostril on each side of the head; has a small mouth. The palate is toothless, and the floor of the mouth contains a pharyngeal plate (a triangular fused tooth plate). Teeth may be arranged in one or two rows and may be incisor-like, especially in territorial forms that graze on algae, or conical, often seen in forms that live in the water column and catch small organisms.
Colourations vary with individuals, mood and with locality for the same species. Adults are mostly brilliantly coloured. Juveniles, especially in the territorial bottom-dwellers, often possess different, brighter colours than adults of the same species. The largest reach a length of 18 cm (7 in), whereas the smallest barely reach 10 cm (4 in) (Froese and Pauly, 2009).
DistributionTop of page
Amphiprion naturally live in tropical waters, chiefly marine, rare in brackish waters. All tropical seas, mainly Indo-Pacific from the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, Australia to the Solomon Islands. Indonesia has the highest number of species, while countries like Australia, which has 12 species, also has a number of unique variants. They are not known to the Caribbean, Mediterranean or the Atlantic Ocean (Discover life, 2009).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Indian Ocean, Eastern||Present||Native||Not invasive||Fautin and Allen, 1992|
|Indian Ocean, Western||Present||Native||Not invasive||Carpenter and Niem, 2001|
|Pacific, Western Central||Present||Native||Not invasive||Fautin and Allen, 1992|
|Chagos Archipelago||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|China||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|India||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Andaman and Nicobar Islands||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Indonesia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Nusa Tenggara||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Japan||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|-Ryukyu Archipelago||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Malaysia||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Philippines||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Singapore||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Taiwan||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Thailand||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Vietnam||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Aldabra||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Mauritius||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Seychelles||Present||Native||Not invasive||Fautin and Allen, 1992|
|Australia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Australian Northern Territory||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|-Queensland||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Fiji||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Kiribati||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Marshall Islands||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Micronesia, Federated states of||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|New Caledonia||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Solomon Islands||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Tonga||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
|Vanuatu||Present||Native||Not invasive||Froese and Pauly, 2009|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
Many species of Amphiprion have been introduced to many countries around the world for their spectacular colours, their amusing habits and ease of keeping as ornamental fish. It is claimed that they are the best choice for novice hobbyists and also appeal to more advanced fish keepers because of their ability to breed in tanks (Tullock, 1998). However, no records have been found on history of their introductions into other countries.
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
Anemonefish were the first species of marine fish to be bred in commercial numbers in captivity in the 1980s and now several hatcheries supply a growing percentage for sale to the aquarium hobbyist in the USA (Tullock, 1998). Clownfish shot to fame after the animated movie “Finding Nemo” in 2003; many people started buying them and trying to raise them in aquariums. Hence they are sold in pet shops in more countries than officially documented. For example they are sold in aquariums in England and New Zealand (T Kurwie, UK, personal communication, 2009), yet not documented.
HabitatTop of page
Amphiprion primarily inhabit shallow tropical reef-associated or sandy areas with a depth range of 1-18 m. However species like Amphiprionperideraion can be found in deeper water on shelves or drop-offs to about 38 m. They always dwell in association with sea anemones.
Biology and EcologyTop of page
- Cryptodendrum adhaesivum
- Entacmaea quadricolor
- Macrodactyla doreensis
- Heteractis aurora
- Heteractis crispa
- Heteractis magnifica
- Heteractis malu
- Stichodactyla gigantea
- Stichodactyla haddoni
- Stichodactyla mertensii
ClimateTop of page
|C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate||Tolerated||Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C|
Water TolerancesTop of page
|Parameter||Minimum Value||Maximum Value||Typical Value||Status||Life Stage||Notes|
|Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l)||0||Optimum|
|Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l)||0||Optimum|
|Carbon Dioxide (mg/l)||177.5||Optimum|
|Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate)||3.5||Optimum|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||33||37||Optimum||26 tolerated; wild stock held in captivity|
|Water pH (pH)||8||8.2||Optimum||7.8 tolerated|
|Water temperature (ºC temperature)||24||27||Optimum||19-32 tolerated; wild stock held in captivity|
Natural enemiesTop of page
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Because of their habit of living in association with anemones they benefit from this symbiotic relationship by keeping safe from predation. Their eggs are susceptible to attack from other damselfishes (Pomacentridae), wrasses (Labridae), and brittle stars (Ophiotrichidae). Groupers of the family Serranidae are known predators of pink anemonefish in the waters around Marshall Islands. The orange-clown anemonefish are prey for a number of fish such as sharks, stingrays, and other larger bony fishes. Although the eggs are susceptible to predators, they are attached to a substrate that is protected by the anemone's stinging tentacles (Boyer, 2009). Butterfly fish may also prey on anemonefish (Wild Singapore, 2009).
Economic ImpactTop of page
Many species of Amphiprion are considered to be popular tropical fish to the aquarium trade and certain rare colours are specially sought (Sadovy and Vincent, 2002). Because they are easily bred in captivity they are also used in research (Newcomb and Fink, 2004).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Research on this species by the author found that there is a public outcry to save these fish from overfishing and that production in hatcheries is being advocated rather than relying on wild catch (T Kurwie, UK, personal communication, 2009). According to Wild Singapore (2009), anemonefish are among the most popular live aquarium fishes. Although captive bred specimens are commercially available, these are far more expensive than wild-caught specimens. Thus, anemonefish continue to be unsustainably harvested from the wild. The pressure on wild populations has risen tremendously due to the huge demand following the popular "Finding Nemo" cartoon. Harvest may involve the use of cyanide or explosives, which damage the habitat and kill many other creatures. Like other fish harvested from the wild, most die before they can reach the retailers. Without professional care, most die soon after they are sold, often of starvation, as owners are unable to provide the live food (plankton) that these fishes need to survive. In artificial conditions, many succumb to diseases and poor health. Those that do survive are unlikely to breed (Wild Singapore, 2009). Lev Fishelson (1997) reported that the Amphiprion population in the Gulf of Aqaba has dramatically declined, and during recent years an increasing number of sea anemones are being seen without their symbiotic fish. Moreover the demand for wild fish remains strong since the success of captive breeding has been challenged by high mortality at early life stages (Nelson and Ghlorse, 1999).
Social ImpactTop of page
Wild Singapore (2009) claims that all of their anemonefish are 'Vulnerable' in the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore. Like other creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected by human activities such as reclamation and pollution. Poaching by hobbyists and overfishing can also have an impact on local populations. According to the Singapore Red Data Book, "habitat protection and strict policing against illegal collection are required" to conserve anemonefish.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Has high reproductive potential
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
The other genus of anemonefish is Premnas which contains one valid species. It is very similar to other clownfish but has pointed margin to the operculum as opposed to the serrated sides of the Amphiprion (Myers et al., 2008).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
As previously mentioned, Singapore has listed several species of anemonefish on their national red list. The Ministry of Education in Taiwan has also tried to promote public awareness of the overexploitation of anemonefish (Ministry of Education, Taiwan, 2009).
ReferencesTop of page
Arvedlung M; Larsen K; Winsor H, 2000. The embryonic development of the olfactory system in Amphiprion melanopus (Perciformes: Pomacentridae) related to the host imprinting hypothesis. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 80:1103-1110.
Carpenter K; Niem VH, 2001. The living marine resources of the western central pacific. Vol. 5. Bony fish Menidae to Pomacentridae. FAO publications. 2791-3380. ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/009/y0770e/y0770e00.pdf
Cribb TH; Bray RA; Barker SC; Adlard RD, 1996. Taxonomy and biology of Mitotrema anthostomatum Manter, 1963 (Digenea: Cryptogonimidae) from fishes of the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Journal of the Helminthological Society of Washington, 63(1):110-115.
Dokkaew S; Thomya P, 2007. Preliminary study on crossbreeding of False Clownfish Amphiprion ocellaris Cuvier, 1830 and Percula Clownfish Amphiprion percula (Lacepde, 1802). In: Proceedings of the 45th Kasetsart University Annual Conference, Kasetsart, 30-January - 2 February, 2007. Subject: Fisheries. Bangkok, Thailand: Kasetsart University, 110-117.
Elliott JK; Lougheed SC; Bateman B; McPhee LK; Boag PT, 1998. Molecular phylogenetic evidence for the evolution of specialization in anemonefishes. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 266:677-685.
Galetto MJ; Bellwood DR, 1994. Digestion of algae by Stegastes nigricans and Amphiprion akindynos (Pisces: Pomacentridae), with an evaluation of methods used in digestibility studies. Journal of Fish Biology, 44(3):415-428.
Nelson EJ; Ghlorse WC, 1999. Isolation and identification of Pseudoalteromonas piscicida strain Cura-d associated with diseased damselfish (Pomacentridae) eggs. Journal of Fish Diseases, 22(4):253-260.
Pallipuram Jayasankar, 2004. Random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) fingerprinting resolves species ambiguity of domesticated clown fish (genus: Amphiprion, family: Pomacentridae) from India. Aquaculture Research, 35(10):1006-1009. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/links/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2109.2004.01112.x/abs/
Rattanayuvakorn S; Mungkornkarn P; Thongpan A; Chatchavalvanich K, 2005. Embryonic development of saddleback anemonefish Amphiprion polymnus, Linnaeus (1758). Kasetsart Journal Natural sciences, 39(3):455-436.
Varghese B; Paulraj R; Gopakumar G; Chakraborty K, 2009. Dietary influence on the egg production and larval viability in true sebae clownfish Amphiprion sebae Bleeker 1853. Asian Fisheries Science, 22(1):7-20. http://www.asianfisheriessociety.org/modules/library/singlefile.php?cid=202&lid=759
ContributorsTop of page
04/12/09 Original text by:
Tagried Kurwie, Mahurangi Technical Institute1 Glenmore Drive, Warkworth, New Zealand
Distribution MapsTop of page
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