Amphiprion melanopus

Within the Pomacentridae family or also known as the family of damselfishes & clownfishes we find 4 subfamilies grouped together, encompassing a total of 29 different genera and 387 species at present. One of them is Amphiprion melanopus, a species of clownfish that inhabits coral reefs located in tropical climates, in surface waters no deeper than 18 meters. This species is distributed in the western and southern waters of the Pacific Ocean, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Marshall Islands, Guam and New Guinea, and from Vanuatu and New Caledonia to eastern Indonesia. Etymologically the specific epithet 'melanopus' comes from the Greek, and would translate as black foot, in reference to the color of the pelvic fins.

Amphiprion melanopus can grow up to 12 cm in total length. Its body is dark red to orange in color, with mahogany colored flanks. Both juveniles and adults have a bluish-white stripe on the head just behind the eyes. The dorsal and caudal fins are lighter in color than the rest of the body, and are often tan in color. The pelvic and anal fins are usually black.

Amphiprion melanopus establishes a mutualistic association with specimens of anemones (mostly Entacmaea quadricolor, occasionally Heteractis crispa, and rarely Hetaractis magnifica), in which coexist in the same anemone, an adult pair and several juveniles.

Like most clownfish, Amphiprion melanopus is omnivorous, feeding on zooplankton and small benthic invertebrates and occasionally algae.

The reproduction of this clownfish, as with most other species of the genus Amphiprion, has some features that may be curious to say the least. It is a protandric hermaphrodite species, that is to say all specimens are initially males, and in the absence of the female in a colony, the most dominant male undergoes a transformation process to become the dominant female of the colony. These colonies that are formed between the different specimens that coexist in the anemone are stable colonies, meaning that the couple formed between the male and dominant females is monogamous. During the breeding season, the male will perform a ritual of attraction towards the female, in which he completely unfolds his fins. This behavior will be intertwined with swimming movements up and down to attract her attention, as well as cleaning a rocky area adjacent to the anemone. In each of the clutches, a little less than a thousand eggs are laid, which the male will delicately care for by renewing the water with delicate movements of his fins. After about a week, they will hatch. The life expectancy of the species is between 6 and 10 years.

Amphiprion melanopus is similar to Amphiprion frenatus, although in this case it has a thinner white stripe on the head than Amphiprion melanopus, and the pelvic and anal fins are not black.


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