The Give-and-Take Fish
Clownfish live at the bottom of the sea in sheltered reefs or in shallow lagoons and usually in pairs. They are small fish that live among anemones. Anemones are fish-eating animals that look like undersea flowers and have hundreds of poisonous tentacles. Usually the anemone’s tentacles kill other fish that touch them, but scientists think that the clownfish may be coated with a mucous that protects it from the poison. These clownfish are bright orange in color with three distinctive white bars.
Clownfish reach about 4.3 inches in length- about the length of a twelve year olds palm. They live in a “symbiotic”- or give and take- relationship with certain anemones. This means they benefit from living with the sea anemone, and the sea anemone benefits from the presence of the clownfish. Clownfish eat the leftovers after the anemone has finished feeding. In return, they defend their territory and the sea anemone that they live near. The leftovers include copepods, isopods and zooplankton. Clownfish also eat dead anemone tentacles and plankton. They are very active fish and because they bounce around a lot, they are thought to be “clowning around”.
Clownfish have a few ocean predators, but their greatest threat is humans. Despite the rising levels of pollution in the world’s oceans and destruction of the habitats on the ocean floor, Clownfish are not considered to be threatened. This is mainly due to the fact that they lay many eggs at a time.