Clownfishes

Reef fishes don’t get any more iconic than the Clownfishes, or Anemonefishes as they are known by some. As members of the Amphiprioninae subfamily (which is just one of four that form the larger Pomacentridae family), the 30 different recognised species are all contained in the Amphiprion genus except one species.

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Amphiprion genus – with 29 species, this genus contains all but one of the clownfishes. Generally, these fish remain at a small to moderate size, with dominant females becoming the largest. Although many species can be distinctive, others can be very similar to each other, and thus quite tricky to identify. The more unusual species are only rarely available, usually wild-caught and can be expensive to buy. These fishes make for fascinating reef aquarium residents but potential keepers should understand all aspects of their behaviour and biology before taking the plunge. Captive-bred clownfishes are by far the best option.

Premnas genus – the single species in this genus takes the total number of clownfish species to 30. In nature, it is found in the Malay Archipelago and Western Pacific Ocean north of the Great Barrier Reef. It is distinctive from other clownfishes due to it’s cheek-spine however the genus designation is currently disputed and it may become part of the Amphiprion genus in the future. The wild colouration and pattern of this species can be quite variable with the famous “lightning maroon clown” serving as a good example. Beyond this, numerous captive-bred “strains” are available and there has even been questionable cross-breeding of P. biaculeatus and A. ocellaris.

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