Did your kid finish watching ‘Finding Nemo’ and turned to you asking curious questions like – How does his favourite clownfish work in sync with the sea anemone? What’s the average lifespan of clownfish living with other quirky marine animals in the warm waters of Queensland? Is it true that every clownfish is born as a male?
Well, if that’s the case, rest assured you’re not the only one living in Queensland, struggling to still their inquisitiveness about clownfish. The little ones are bound to have millions of questions bombarding their minds during the formative years. So, don’t fret if you don’t know all the answers.
Read on to get the knowledge you require to feed their curiosity and educate them about the adorable clownfish:
Mostly found in the warm waters of the tropical coral reefs in the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific Oceans, the clownfish can also be located far north in the Red Sea. It is also commonly encountered in northwest Australia, Southeast Asia and the Indo-Malaysian regions. Also, the delightful creature is distinguished to be one of the most solicited tourist attractions inhabiting the Great Coral Reef along the Gold Coast, Cairns and the east coast of Australia.
- Physical characteristics
Clownfish, also known as the false anemonefish, is bright orange and hence is one of the most recognisable creature among the reef dwellers. Other varieties of clownfish possess a yellow, reddish and blackish colour bearing white patches or bars on their skin. They maintain an average lifespan of 6-8 years and grow up to an average length of 4.3 inches.
- Gender dominance
There are about 28-30 recognised species of clownfish and all are born male (National Geographic). Yes, you read that right! The permanent and voluntary switching of gender is often taken up to become the commanding female of a group. If the female dies, the aggressive male will become a female to replace her.
This change is mostly made during mating where the larger, dominant fish becomes the female.
- The symbiotic relationship
Clownfish bears the so-called symbiotic relationship with anemone, the long-term mutually benefitting proposition wherein the clownfish drives off the intruders and preens the sea anemone (removes the parasites). To trade for this, the host creature, anemone provides safety and food scraps to the fish. The diet of clownfish principally includes algae, zooplankton, worms and small crustaceans.
Before commencing the biological relationship, the clownfish introduces itself to the host’s body by gently touching its tentacles. The mucus layer on the fish’s skin serves as a barrier in protecting it against the anemone’s otherwise lethal sting.
- Nemo’s popularity
After the famous animated movie Finding Nemo (2003) was released, the clownfish gained a lot of attention. People acquired them in large numbers from the aquatic stores and fish breeders. However, not all of them could cope up with the responsibility of keeping the fish, and many of them consequently died.
Even today, 40% of the world’s marine ornamental trade is composed of clownfish wherein they are captured from oceans or bred in-house. It’s natural to be intrigued by this delightful sea creature owing to the unique characteristics it holds.