Clown fish, iconic among marine organisms, possess a number of unique characteristics, most of them adaptations to their famous symbiosis with sea anemones. They have specialized behavioral characteristics and physical traits, and interesting life cycles.
In a group of clownfish, there is a strict hierarchy of dominance. The largest and most aggressive female is found at the top. Only two clownfish, a male and a female, in a group reproduce through external fertilization. The clownfish are hermaphrodites, meaning that they develop into males first, and when they mature, they become females. Also, as mentioned earlier, more than one clownfish is able to live in a sea anemone. If the female clownfish is removed from the group, such as by death, one of the largest and most dominant males would become a female. The rest of the remaining males will move up a rank on the hierarchy.
In order to live among the anemone, clownfish first and foremost protect themselves from nematocyst strikes. Nematocysts are harpoon-like stingers on the anemone’s tentacles used to capture prey and ward off predators. While most fish try to eat the nutrient-rich tentacles, the possibility of being stung while eating deters the clownfish from nibbling on it. In return, the anemone has evolved to not strike the clownfish.
On the off chance the clownfish is struck, it is protected by a thick mucus layer. The mucus layer is three to four times thicker than other fish, and can be a combination of both anemone and clownfish mucus. The clownfish is born with a mucus layer that is already thicker than average, but as it grows, it can mix its mucus with that of the anemone’s to create a stronger barrier.
Clownfish are hermaphrodites. They are all born male but ability to turn themselves female and can’t go back to being male. Two males will become mates and the larger, dominant fish will become the female.
These social fish live in groups that are led by one dominant female. If the female dies, the largest of the smaller males will then become the dominant male of the group. This allows a wider clown fish distribution.
Who enjoy keeping Ocellaris clownfish, they are quite easy to keep healthy and happy in a well maintained aquarium in captivity. They do not usually need a lot of room to swim like some fish do, as they will often swim up and down in a relatively small area much of the time. They will be even happier in a small tank if they have a host, such as an anemone or a coral, that they can use for refuge.
Aquarium keeping is not a passive hobby between viewer and fish, it is an interaction between caretaker and precious marine life in a carefully established microcosm of an ocean reef. But if you do not have the conditions to take care of a clown fish, you can still play and watch them by having Nemo pop up card custom.
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