Monday, August 2, 2010

All About Clownfish

I realize when I posted about our Canary Wrasse and Scooter Blenny, I forgot to give any information about our clownfish: Bonnie & Clyde.

Clownfish, or anemone fish, are related to damsels. They are hardy, friendly and active, perfect for a community reef. They are immune to the toxic stings of anemone and have co-evolved to live in the anemone's protection within its tentacles. They are omnivorous, and eat both meat and algae. Clownfish are "protandrous hermaphrodites", meaning that they are all born as males but have the ability to turn into a female. Clownfish pair up as juveniles, one becomes bigger and more aggressive, and this one turns into the bossy female! The smaller guy remains the male in the mated pair. Do I hear wedding bells? My two are still too small to figure out which one is "Bonnie" and which one is "Clyde" but Greg and I take bets daily.

The other cool thing about clownfish is that they are easily bred in captivity (which always makes me feel better that I'm not taking them away from the ocean). Bonnie & Clyde were bred locally, which is also nice because they are used to taking food from humans and didn't have to go through the stress of being shipped from Indonesia to get to San Diego!

My guys are voracious and eat anything! I've been feeding them mysis but I've seen them eat copepods and algae as well. They have learned I am their "Feeder" and swim up to me wherever I am. They're pretty adoreable. They always hang out together. I've noticed after lights-out, they snuggle at the bottom near the substrate to go to sleep.

We don't have an anemone (we're too novice to be able to adequately care for them) but clownfish can survive happily without one. In addition, some clownfish will claim another soft coral as home instead (like frogspawn). Since a lot of soft coral is beginner-friendly, we're hoping Bonnie & Clyde take to one in the future. Hope they approve of our redecorating!

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