You probably know me for my colorful appearance. I can take on different colors, but the best known species of clownfish (of more than 30 species) is orange with white stripes.
I live in a symbiotic relationship with my host anemone. This means that while I get to enjoy the protection and the food scraps my anemone provides, I fend off intruders and help keep it clean by removing parasites and dead limbs. It’s a win-win situation for both me and my anemone!
I’m very picky about my home. It has to be just right for me to want to live there. Only about ten out of over one thousand species of anemone are suitable hosts for me. The mucus layer on my skin gives me immunity to the anemone’s stinging nematocysts. But before I can get settled in to living with an anemone, I first have to become acclimated to its sting by gently touching its tentacles. Lucky for me, other fish do not have the same protective mucus layer I do, so my host anemone is my partner in crime when it comes to scaring away predators!
Did You Know?
All clownfish are born male! I can become a female later, if I want, to become the dominant female in my school.
Recently, ocean acidification has really been hurting me and my home. The increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the ocean dull my senses and cause me to demonstrate risky behavior. As the seawater acidifies, it is harder for me to correctly identify the cues of smell and sound that usually help me find my way around; it becomes more difficult to distinguish friend and foe and to tell where my home is.