Clownfish or anemonefish are fishes from the subfamily Amphiprioninae in the family Pomacentridae. Thirty species are recognized: one in the genus Premnas, while the remaining are in the genus Amphiprion. In the wild, they all form symbiotic mutualisms with sea anemones. Depending on species, anemonefish are overall yellow, orange, or a reddish or blackish color, and many show white bars or patches. The largest can reach a length of 18 centimetres (7.1 in), while the smallest barely achieve 10 centimetres (3.9 in).
Distribution and habitat
Anemonefish are native to warmer waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans, including the Great Barrier Reef and the Red Sea. While most species have restricted distributions, others are widespread. Anemonefish live at the bottom of shallow seas in sheltered reefs or in shallow lagoons. There are no anemonefish in the Atlantic.
In the aquarium
Anemonefish make up 43% of the global marine ornamental trade, and 25% of the global trade comes from fish bred in captivity, while the majority are captured from the wild, accounting for decreased densities in exploited areas. Public aquaria and captive breeding programs are essential to sustain their trade as marine ornamentals, and has recently become economically feasible. It is one of a handful of marine ornamentals whose complete life cycle has been closed in captivity. Members of some anemonefish species, such as the maroon clownfish, become aggressive in captivity; others, like the false percula clownfish, can be kept successfully with other individuals of the same species.
When a sea anemone is not available in an aquarium, the anemonefish may settle in some varieties of soft corals, or large polyp stony corals. Once an anemone or coral has been adopted, the anemonefish will defend it. As there is less pressure to forage for food in an aquarium, it is common for anemonefish to remain within 2-4 inches of their host for their entire lifetime. Anemonefish, however, are not obligately tied to hosts, and can survive alone in captivity.
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