Bali clownfish

Marine life in Bali, clownfish

Scuba diving in Bali with clownfish.

Species

Clownfish is also known as anemone fish. The reason is because they live in sea anemones, and they maintain a symbiotic relationship.

It belongs to the subfamily amphiprioninae and there are 30 different species. The famous Nemo is a false clownfish or false anemone fish.

Clownfish usually has a length that varies between 9 and 11 centimetres. The dominant female is the largest one.

Anemone fish live on the reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Also at the Red Sea and the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.

Diet

clownfish

Clownfish is omnivorous, meaning, it eats both plants and animals.

When juveniles, they usually stay within the shelter of the anemone host. As they grow larger, they will seek out for food, though they don’t venture much more than a few meters from their home.

They normally feed on algae, small mollusks, crustaceans, plankton, and smaller fish as well.

Memory

The clownfish has a very good memory. It is able to find his way to the coral reef where he was born after spending several months in the open sea.

Behavior

These fish live in groups led by a dominant female.

false-clownfish

The second largest fish is the dominant male, while all other fish in the group are smaller males.

Clownfish is hermaphrodite

All clownfish are born male and have the ability to change into a female, but once the change is made, they cannot reverse it. This happens when the female dies. Then the dominant male will become a female to replace her. At the same time, the largest of the smallest males will become the dominant male in the group.

The change of sex is a natural mechanism to guarantee the survival of the species. Nature makes sure there is another reproductive couple without the need to change the anemone.

Bali clownfish – Reproduction

anemone-fish

All anemonefish are monogamous. The largest clownfish will be the one that mates with the female of the group and she will only mate with him.

When the female is about to spawn, the male searches for a flat surface near the anemone. The male constantly cleans the area while the female repeatedly checks that the nest is indeed clean.

Before spawning, the male courts the female. It does so by extending its fins while chasing the female. The female makes several passes over the nest, and when the time comes, she lays the eggs. Depending on the species, they can lay between 100 and 1,000 eggs at a time. The male then passes over the nest releasing sperm to fertilize the eggs and the female returns to the anemone.

Clownfish and its relationship with anemones

The clownfish has a symbiotic relationship with anemones. This means that both species benefit from each other.

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Anemones are predatory animals that anchor at the bottom of the sea. They feed on fish which paralyzes with a powerful poison that it injects into the prey if the slightest friction occurs with any of its tentacles.

Anemone fish perform an elaborate dance with an anemone before taking up residence. They gently touch their tentacles with different parts of their bodies until they are acclimated to their host. At the same time, clownfish develops an immunity to the anemone toxin.

Clownfish use the anemone to protect itself from predators and parasites. On the other hand, the anemone feeds on the feces of the clownfish. They also use clownfish because they protect it from the butterflyfish that love to eat its tentacles.

In addition, thanks to the clownfish swimming, the tentacles of the anemone get oxygen it needs.

Now, if for any reason an injury or detachment of the protective mucosa of the clownfish occurs, this, like any other animal, would be poisoned on contact with the anemone and die irremediably.

This relationship established by the clownfish and anemones, is not a relationship of dependency since both can live without each other. In other words, the clownfish would not die without the presence of anemones or vice versa, but nevertheless, the life of these two marine species together is much easier.

Dangers: Nemo effect

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Unfortunately, following the 2003 movie Finding Nemo, the number of aquarium clownfish sales skyrocketed.

Furthermore, due to global warming and acidification of the waters, many reefs where clownfish live are being lost. This has caused a great decrease in the number of these fish.

Where can we dive in Bali with clownfish?

Clownfish are very common in Bali. Many different species live here and we can see them in almost all the dives on the East coast, for example in Candidasa, Padangbai, Amed and Tulamben.

Visit our blog to learn more about marine life in Bali

Would you like to dive with us? Send us an email to southerndreamsdiving@gmail.com