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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

False Clown Anemonefish Amphiprion ocellaris

The most surprising thing about the false clown anemonefish is its home. It lives inside a giant stinging anemone. This small orange and white fish spends its whole life with its chosen anemone, which can be one of three species. At night, the false clown anemonefish sleeps among the bases of the tentacles on the anemone’s disk. The fish is not stung and eaten because the anemone does not know it is there: a special slime covers the fish’s body and prevents the anemone from recognizing it as food. Each anemone usually supports a large female false clown anemonefish, her smaller male partner, and several immature fish.

If the female dies, the male changes sex and becomes female and the largest immature fish takes on the male role. Both the false clown and the clown anemonefish are among the most popular aquarium fish, and numbers have been reduced in some areas by overcollecting.

False Clown Anemonefishzoom image
  • Order Perciformes
  • Length Up to 4 in (11 cm)
  • Weight Not recorded
  • Depth 3–50 ft (1–15 m)
  • Distribution Tropical waters of eastern Indian Ocean and western Pacific
False Clown Anemonefish habitat mapzoom image