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Black Clownfish

Interesting Facts about the Black Clownfish

There is likely not a child over the age of two who doesn’t recognize Nemo, the orange and white striped fish of Disney fame; however, the cousin of this type of fish, the black clownfish, is just as appealing.  

The anemonefish

 Scientifically, the small striped fish are known as anemonefish; to the common aquarist, they are simply the clownfish. Because of their amusing and eye catching appearance as well as their casual transit through their watery home, they have become one of the most popular of all aquarium fish.

There are actually several different species of clownfish; each with their own unique appearance and their own personality.  Included in the classification are the maroon, the Clarkii, the saddleback, the tomato, the Percula and the skunk.   All species are saltwater dwellers, and are fascinating additions to the saltwater aquarium.

Their unusual symbiotic association with specific types of anemone is how they garnered their scientific identification of anemonefish.  These small, colorful fish live peacefully among the anemone, which are known for their deadly stinging tentacles.  No harm comes to the clownfish, however, as they swim easily within the gracefully waving tentacles.  Each of the creatures provides a benefit to the other in this symbiotic relationship.  Since anemone are stationary creatures, they depend on food coming to them; the clownfish help by circulating the water around them which directs more food their way.   In addition, the feces of the clownfish are a nutritional food for the plant.  In return, the anemone provides a safety net for the small fish, as no other fish is able to withstand the poisonous sting.  The clownfish also feed upon the algae that are swept into the anemone tentacles. 

Black clownfish

Orange and white striped clownfish markings may be the familiar “Nemo” trademark, but a variety of colors decorate these delightful fish.  Black is a striking color against the three wide white bands of the black Percula clownfish.  They are commonly found swimming within the reefs of the Coral Sea, amongst their odd bedfellows the anemone.  Another dark horse within the clownfish classification is the black Clarkii.  The brilliant contrast of blue or yellow bands against the black body can be a red flag to their predators, which is when the anemone association comes in very handy for the clownfish.

In the wild, the clownfish is an omnivore, meaning that it eats both plant and animal matter.  Algae that floats in the water along with the remains of any predator fish lured into the anemone’s deadly reach comprise the diet of the little fish.  In addition, they will feed upon marine worms, microscopic shrimp and other equally sized food.  Aquarium bound fish can eat a variety of foods, from minced meat and vegetables that have not been fried or cooked in a sauce to commercially prepared foods.  Flakes and live foods are eagerly consumed by the black clownfish, especially brine shrimp, krill and bloodworms.  A supplemental food called spirulina flakes provides a nutrient that is not found in other foods; protecting the fish’s immune system from bacteria as well as enhancing their natural brilliant coloration.

Care of aquarium clownfish

With the proper care and maintenance, the clownfish in the aquarium can provide years of viewing pleasure for their caretakers.  Feeding of these popular fish should once each day, offering only enough that will be immediately consumed.  Overfeeding should be strictly prohibited; if your fish are unable to finish their feeding within 5 minutes, too much food is being given.

The popularity of the clownfish amongst children may be due to Nemo’s fame; however, among aquarists the beauty and delightful nature of the black clownfish and its relatives have been known and favored long before the Disney movie.