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Also called anemonefish, the clownfish is among the most recognizable tropical reef-dwellers, from the subfamily Amphiprioninae. Gaining popularity for their orange and white markings, the clownfish can actually range in various colors and shapes.
See the fact file below for more information on the clownfish or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Clownfish worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Originally, clownfish were categorized based on their morphological features, color patterns, and other distinctions such as the scales on the head, tooth shape, and body proportions. Therefore, species are grouped into six categories: clownfish, tomato, skunk, clarkii, saddleback, and maroon.
- There are at least 30 known species of clownfish, which can be under the genus Premnas or genus.
HABITAT AND DIET
- Clownfish are found in the warmer waters of the Red Sea, Indian and Pacific Ocean, including the Great Barrier Reef. They live at the bottom of the sea in sheltered reefs, or in shallow lagoons.
- They also swim in the waters of Southeast Asia, Japan, and the Indo-Malaysian regions. However, these fish are not found in the Atlantic Ocean.
- They are omnivorous species; they can even eat undigested food from anemones, and fecal matter released by the anemones.
- Most clownfish prey on small zooplankton from the water column, such as copepods and tunicate larvae, and even algae. They may also feed on the tentacles of their host anemone.
RELATIONSHIP WITH ANEMONES
- Symbiosis is a long-term biological interaction between two organisms. Clownfish and sea anemones have a symbiotic, mutualistic relationship, meaning both of them benefit from one another.
- Sea anemones are venomous predatory marine invertebrates under the order Actiniaria. The genera Heteractis and Stichodactyla, and the species Entacmaea quadricolor are the common hosts of the clownfish.
- Sea anemones protect these fish from their predators and even provide food through their leftovers and dead anemone tentacles.
- They also serve as the safest place for clownfish to lay their eggs.
- The clownfish, in return, guards the anemone from its predators and parasites. They also excrete nitrogen, which increases algae count in the tissues of anemones, helping with tissue growth and regeneration.
- Studies also show that the activities of the fish causes more water circulation around the anemone, thus changing the flow of water situated in their tentacles through specific movements, such as wedging and switching. This circulation of air in the anemone’s tentacles creates benefits to the metabolism of both creatures, primarily expanding the respiration of both and increasing the anemone’s body size. Moreover, it is believed that the vibrant coloration of the clownfish lures small fish to the anemone, which then feeds on them.
- There are two theories that suggest the resistance of the clownfish to the sea anemone’s poison. First, the body of a clownfish is covered with a mucus layer composed of sugars instead of proteins. This suggests that anemones fail to identify these fish as a source of food and not excrete their nematocysts (sting organelles). The second theory states that there might have been a coevolution between some clownfish species with certain anemone host species, granting the fish to evolve an immunity to the toxins and sting organelles of the anemone. The orange clownfish (Amphiprion percula) may have established resistance to the toxins from the magnificent sea anemone (Heteractis magnifica).
- Dominance hierarchy is a type of social hierarchy among the members of a social group. This can be strictly observed in a school of anemonefish – the largest and most aggressive female always comes first.
- In a group, only a pair of clownfish reproduce through external fertilization – male’s sperm fertilizes a female’s egg outside the female’s body.
- They are known to be sequential hermaphrodites, meaning an individual changes its sex at some point of its life. A clownfish is born male and is able to change into a female. This phenomenon occurs when the dominant female dies, the dominant male will change its sex into a female and then will find a mate in the group. However, this type of hermaphroditism is not reversible.
- Clownfish lay their eggs on any flat surface near their host anemones.
- Depending on the species, they can lay hundreds or thousands of eggs.
- The reproductive cycle of a clownfish is sometimes correlated with the lunar cycle – they spawn every time there is a full moon.
- Male parents protect their eggs until they hatch in 6 to 10 days, usually two hours after dusk.
- Percula Complex. This is one of the two most common Clownfish usually treated as pets. The True Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion percula) is famous for its bright orange and white markings. The False Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris), on the other hand, has a close resemblance to the True Percula due to its similar color and pattern. The easiest way to differentiate the two species is by the number of their spines. The A. percula has 10 spines in its first dorsal fin and the A. ocellaris has 11.
- Maroon Complex. This has only two species: the Maroon Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus) and the Gold Stripe Maroon Clownfish. They can reach 6 inches in size, making them the largest species of Clownfish.
- Clarkii Complex. Consisting of 11 species, this has band patterns that easily stand out – two broad, white bands, sometimes a third band near the base of the tail. A bright nose and tail fin, usually white to yellow, is the main distinction of the Clarkii Clownfish.
- Saddleback Complex. They are distinguished for the white patch on their back, which looks like a saddle. They can extend to a length of 5 inches and live around 4 to 6 years in an aquarium.
- Tomato Complex. Unlike other clownfish, these species lack patterns on their bright orange bodies. They only have one white vertical stripe behind the eyes.
- Skunk Complex. They are easily distinguished for their white ‘skunk’ type stripe extending along the entire length of their backs.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the clownfish across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Clownfish worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the clownfish which is among the most recognizable tropical reef-dwellers, from the subfamily Amphiprioninae. Gaining popularity for their orange and white markings, the clownfish can actually range in various colors and shapes.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Clownfish Facts
- Meeting a Clownfish
- Clownfish Anatomy
- Fishing Facts
- More Fishy Facts
- Other Clownfish Species
- Anemone Relationship
- Symbiotic Relationship Status
- Fish as Pets
- Nemo’s Story
- Biodiversity in Danger
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Link will appear as Clownfish Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 10, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.