Clownfish are such interesting fish. Most people think of clownfish as the cute little fish from that popular animated movie, but others know them as incredible pet fish.
They’re very commonly sold in pet stores, and they make great beginner fish for those that are just getting into saltwater aquariums. If you find clownfish to be very intriguing, then you might be interested to learn a bit more about them.
For example, you might want to learn about how these relatively little fish are able to protect themselves. The waters of the ocean are quite dangerous and these fish have to be able to protect themselves in certain ways, right?
Continue reading to learn about how clownfish protect themselves from predators and other threats. This might help you to gain an even greater appreciation for these incredible fish.
Clownfish Are Mildly Poisonous
Interestingly, clownfish have managed to adapt to their environment by becoming mildly poisonous. This is a bit of a defense mechanism that helps them to protect themselves from various predators.
Predator fish that attempt to eat the clownfish might get sick or die. This helps to prevent many clownfish from getting eaten by predators.
It’s also something that clownfish are able to use offensively. Clownfish can use the poison to kill some types of fish so that they can eat them.
Don’t worry about the mildly poisonous nature of these fish. It doesn’t mean that you need to worry about keeping them in your fish tank.
If you’re keeping other fish with them, then they won’t be fish that won’t get along with the clownfish. You can easily pick compatible tank mates for the clownfish and there won’t be any issues.
Clownfish Have Become Immune to the Poison of Anemones
Another cool thing to know is that clownfish are the only types of fish that are immune to the poison stings of anemones.
Clownfish are covered in a thick mucus that renders them impervious to the poison stings. It has allowed clownfish to form a great friendship with anemones.
This special ability is truly intriguing the more that you think about it. These fish specifically evolved to have a special mucus that allowed them to form a bond with anemones.
If it wasn’t for that mucus, then the anemones and clownfish wouldn’t have the same relationship that they’re known for today.
Where Does Clownfish Protective Mucus Come From?
The thick mucus layer of the clownfish is simply a natural thing that it developed. Clownfish are born with a naturally thick mucus layer.
As the clownfish continue to grow, this mucus layer is going to become up to four times thicker than the mucus layers that you might find on other fish. It truly is a rather impressive mucus layer that gives the clownfish significant protection.
This mucus layer is thick enough that it renders the clownfish immune to the stings of the anemone. It’s the mucus layer that makes it possible for the clownfish to host anemones.
You can chalk up the mucus of the clownfish to evolution. It’s a biological feature that has allowed the clownfish to thrive in unique ways.
Clownfish Have a Symbiotic Relationship with Anemones
Of course, the clownfish have formed a symbiotic relationship with anemones. This means that they protect themselves by hosting the anemones.
The clownfish live in and around the anemones that they’re hosting. They wind up protecting the anemone from certain threats, and the anemone does the same for them.
Clownfish will be very protective of the anemone overall. Fast, small fish that can get past the sting of the anemone will wind up being chased off aggressively by the clownfish.
Predator fish that would attempt to eat the clownfish will wind up getting killed by the sting of the anemone. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that is actually quite beautiful.
The clownfish and the anemone help each other in so many ways. They even help to keep each other fed.
So the anemone provides significant protection for the clownfish. Clownfish will feel a lot safer when they have an anemone around.
When clownfish don’t have an anemone present, they will often try to find hiding spots where they can live. They might hide among the coral reef or certain types of rocks or shells.
Clownfish Can Camouflage Themselves
Did you know that clownfish are also capable of camouflaging themselves? They have adapted to be able to change their color to match that of an anemone.
It’s a way for these fish to render themselves effectively invisible to many predators. Clownfish will often use this camouflage ability during the night so that they can rest while staying safe from predators that want to eat them.
Of course, clownfish aren’t the only fish in the ocean that are capable of using camouflaging techniques like this. That doesn’t make it any less impressive, though.
Observing clownfish doing this in the wild is really something else. People have seen them doing this out in nature by placing cameras in the ocean.
Clownfish might do such things in a fish tank setting, but it’s not something they need to worry about. If you keep clownfish in a community tank, then surely you’re keeping them away from predator fish that could harm them.
Always look up the compatibility of different fish before putting them in a community fish tank. Remember that some marine fish such as lionfish will prey on clownfish, and you’ll need to avoid putting your clownfish in the same tank as these predators.
Do Clownfish Need an Anemone in a Fish Tank?
You’re going to get differing opinions about whether or not clownfish need an anemone to be present in a fish tank setting. Many would tell you that it isn’t necessary while some would say that it is.
Strictly looking at whether clownfish can live without an anemone, the answer is yes. You can keep a pair of clownfish together in a fish tank and they will do just fine without an anemone present.
However, the fish might feel less stressed and more protective if you provide them with an anemone. It’s likely a good idea to introduce the anemone at the right time since doing so too late might cause the clownfish to ignore the anemone.
This might not always be the case, but if the clownfish find a spot in the fish tank that they’re comfortable with, then they might not choose to relocate. If you want to see the clownfish host the anemone in the fish tank, then introduce the anemone at the recommended time.
It should also be noted that specific types of clownfish will likely prefer certain types of anemones. You might need to research which anemones are the most compatible with the clownfish that you happen to own.
Thankfully, this information will be readily available so it won’t be hard to figure out. You can then make a decision once you have all of the facts.
Know that you need to prepare the tank for the anemone ahead of time. Many anemones won’t do well in new tanks that aren’t established.
Therefore, you might want to prepare the tank for several months before you plan to place the anemone in the tank. If you follow recommendations, then this shouldn’t be a hard process to figure out.
Knowing a little more about how clownfish protect themselves should allow you to appreciate them more. Clownfish are actually able to protect themselves in the wild using a number of different adaptations that they have developed.
These fish are capable of using poison as a defense mechanism. Some fish that try to eat them will get sick or die due to the mild poison.
The poison helps them to kill certain things so that they can get food, too. It’s nothing to worry about if you’re keeping clownfish in a fish tank, but it’s an interesting piece of information to know.
Clownfish also use their thick mucus layers to protect themselves from the stings of anemones. This allows them to form bonds with the anemones and they can host them.
The symbiotic relationships that these fish have formed with anemones can truly be considered to be special. They work together to survive, and it truly is a mutually beneficial relationship.
Anemones will protect clownfish by stinging predators that attempt to attack or eat them. Clownfish will in turn protect the anemone from fast fish that attempt to nip at it.
The clownfish lay eggs in the anemone and generally live in or near the anemone. They will most likely never stray far from the anemone.
You don’t necessarily need an anemone in the fish tank with the clownfish, though. They can live without one, but many say that they will be happier and less stressed if you keep an anemone with them.
Take all of this information to heart. Tell your friends what you learned about clownfish and anemones so that they can appreciate just how neat these fish are as well.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.