A favourite of many divers; the clownfish is more complex than its innocent face would have you believe.
Most clownfish are home dwellers and far from the portrayal of Marlon searching the seas, they rarely venture more than 4 inches from their homes.
As incredibly fast swimmers they are frustrating to photographers as they move at up to 9.5 body lengths per second (even Olympic swimmers can only move at 2 lengths per second)
The dominant sex is the female which is the main aggressor when seeing off predators and curious divers. You will normally find a dominant couple with a few non-reproducing males. When the female dies the dominant male becomes female…a fact Disney omitted from Marlon’s future.
Clownfish and their host, the anemone, live in symbiosis: each providing a necessary function for the other. The anemone has stinging tentacles which sting other fish and humans, the clownfish is covered with a layer of mucous which prevents the clownfish from being stung. In return for its protective home the anemone is provided nutrients by the flow of water from the swift swimming of the clownfish, food from the scraps left behind and the waste produced…yes it eats clownfish poop!
The main threat to clown fish population comes from humans. If touched, they loose their protective coating and are subject to the stings of the anemone. Over 50% of clownfish for sale come from the wild, after the film Finding Nemo populations decreased by 75%.
Most of the reefs you will encounter diving with us will have a family of Amphiprion bicinctus, which is the species endemic to the Red Sea. Impress your fellow divers with your knowledge of this feisty little critter.