Home | Aquarium Livestock | Damselfishes and Clownfishes – Part 2 – The Percula Clownfish

Damselfishes and Clownfishes – Part 2 – The Percula Clownfish

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Please see Part I of this article for information on the natural history of the clownfishes and their close relatives, the damselfishes.  Today we’ll take a look at the most popularly kept of the clownfishes, the beautifully-colored Percula clownfish, Amphiprion ocellaris.

Even before being skyrocketed to fame by the movie Finding Nemo, the Percula was an aquarium favorite, and one of the most widely-recognized marine fishes in the world.  Its brilliant orange and white coloration and seemingly “comic” mode of swimming endears it to all. 

Natural History

Percula ClownfishHailing from the Indo-Pacific region (western Pacific and eastern Indian Oceans, including the Great Barrier Reef), this clownfish reaches a length of 3.2 inches in captivity; wild specimens are reported to exceed 4 inches in length, but captive bred animals are generally smaller.

Observations of free living Percula clowns indicate that they usually colonize magnificent sea anemones, Heteractis magnifica.  I have not read any research indicating that the various clownfishes seek out host anemones based upon their ability to survive within a particular species (please see Part I), but such would certainly be interesting to investigate.  Please note: Maldive Clownfishes are pictured here with a Magnificent Sea Anemone.

Clownfishes in the Aquarium

Like all clownfishes, the Percula is territorial and quite protective of the anemone in which it lives.  Generally only one mated pair can be maintained in an aquarium, unless it is very large and well stocked with coral and other sight barriers. 

Percula Clowns are omnivorous, and accept a wide variety of dry, frozen and live foods.   A mix of vegetable-based and meaty items should be provided.

Fortunately, captive bred specimens are readily available.  If considering a Percula Clownfish, please be sure to select a captive bred animal. 

The Anemone-Clownfish Relationship

Percula ClownfishPercula clowns do fine in captivity without an anemone in which to live, but not so
in the wild….there, clownfishes deprived of an anemone’s protection are quickly consumed by predators.  However, they are at their best when displayed with a living anemone, and when kept so will reveal a great many of their interesting interactions with these invertebrates (please see Part I of this article for further information).

The keeping of live sea anemones differs somewhat from fish-keeping.  For further information, please see the following articles on our blog: Unusual Invertebrates for marine Aquariums and Anemone Movement: Common Aquarium Questions .

Further Reading

Please check out the book I’ve written on marine and fresh water aquariums: The Everything Aquarium Book.

You can learn about clownfish natural history here.

 

Please write in with your questions and comments. 

Thanks, until next time,

Frank Indiviglio

2 comments

  1. avatar

    I have a queston every time I put Sea Anemones in my Aquarium they seem to die on me. Could you give me some info on what to do. thanks

  2. avatar

    do you have other inverts in the tank? do they die immediately or after some time?

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About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.