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Clownfish are known technically as anemonefishes. Anemonefishes are a subfamily of damselfish, in the pomacentridae family. There are 26 unique species of clownfish, 25 of them being in the Amphiprion genus and only 1 in the Premnas genus. They are typically a small fish. Mature males only grow anywhere from 5 to 12 cm in length.

HABITAT Clownfish are only found in the tropical waters of the Indian or Pacific oceans, and the Red Sea. Clownfish tend to be bottom dwellers, and most notably reside in inshore reefs, specifically inside sea anemones. The anemone provides protection for the clownfish both by enabling the fish to hide and by its poisonous tentacles keeping other fish away. There is no definite information why the clownfish is not stung by the anemone, but many theories exist.

PREY OR PREDATOR? In nature, a clownfish will attract its prey by swimming around its anemone and displaying its bright colours. Once a victim (thinking it’s a predator) begins to approach, the clownfish will recede into the anemone with his prey following closely behind. The sea anemone will sting, kill and begin to eat the prey. This leaves the leftovers for the clownfish to snack on. Other forms of food are planktonic crustaceans and algae that may develop on coral or nearby rocks. Anemones themselves may provide food as the clownfish will pick at and consume dead tentacles.

CAPTIVITY This fish is a very good first choice for saltwater tanks as they have a small territory, which is one of the reasons they have become so popular. The substrate area of a tank, meaning the area on the bottom and adjusted for protruding rocks and sunken ships, is more important than the volume of a tank. A 75 litre tank would be considered the minimum recommended size for clownfish. Living peaceably in your fish tank, a clownfish may require approximately 14 hours of light and 10 hours of darkness every day. These amounts may be adjusted and are only suggestions. Be careful of high nitrate levels. Mature clownfish can sometimes tolerate these levels, but the larva and babies will almost certainly not. Include a large variety of food in your clownfish’s diet. Feedings should include live brine shrimp, frozen food, algae and traditional flakes. They do not require a sea anemone as they will have no predators in a tank. Clownfish may be expected to live around 3 to 5 years in captivity.

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