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Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, SC
Note: Clownfish is one word.
Clownfish are in the same family as damselfish, the family Pomacentridae. To scientists these fish are known as anemonefish, but in the aquarium hobby they are more popularly called Clownfish. The majority of the fish in this family are generally referred to as damsels, or damselfish.
Clownfish live in a “symbiotic” relationship with certain anemones. This means they benefit from living with the sea anemone, and the sea anemone benefits from the presence of the clownfish. They are the only fish that are able to live in sea anemones and not get stung by their tentacles. Clownfish are very active fish and are extremely aggressive. Because they are quite active, the clownfish are thought to be “clowning around”. They defend their territory and the sea anemone that they live in. Clownfish eat the leftovers from fish on the anemone and algae. The leftovers include copepods, isopods and zooplankton.
Clownfish have a few ocean predators, but their greatest threat is humans. People who catch clownfish and keep them as pets in aquariums are making a mistake. There are only ten out of more than one thousand types of anemone that are able to host these fish. Many people put the fish in a tank with the wrong anemone. In captivity, the clownfish can live from 3 to 5 years. In the wild, they live 6 to 10 years.