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 ocellaris, an extremely popular and well-known species, partly because of its colorful and close relationship with anemones, but also thanks to the Disney movie 'Finding Nemo'. This species of clownfish inhabits the waters of coral reefs and lagoons, down to depths of 15 meters. The geographic distribution of the ocellaris clownfish is wide, covering both the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific.
The body of Amphiprion ocellaris is oval, robust and laterally compressed. It can reach maximum total lengths of up to 11 cm, especially the females which are usually larger than the males. The dorsal fin has 11 spines followed by 13-17 soft rays, while the anal fin is formed by 2 spines and 11-13 soft rays.
The coloration of the body is orange to reddish-brownish, although there is a black chromatic variety that is confined to a region of northern Australia. Both variants have 3 white vertical spots along the body, the perimeters of which are black. The first of these runs just behind the eyes and is complete, that is to say the stripes on both flanks are connected on both the dorsal and ventral sides. The second of the white stripes runs about halfway down the body and the front edge of the stripe widens in the central region of the body towards the head. Finally, the third stripe completely encircles the caudal peduncle. All fins of Amphiprion ocellaris have a black border.
Amphiprion ocellaris establishes a mutualistic association with specimens of anemones (Hetaractis magnifica, Stichodactyla gigantea and Stichodactyla mertensii), in which coexist in the same anemone, an adult pair and several juvenile specimens.
Like most clownfish, Amphiprion ocellaris is omnivorous, feeding on zooplankton and small benthic invertebrates and occasionally algae.
The reproduction of Amphiprion ocellaris, 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 of 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.
Often specimens of Amphiprion ocellaris are confused with the nearby species Amphiprion percula, as they have the same colors and patterns, and whose subtle difference lies in the thickness of the black edges of the white stripes, which are thinner in Amphiprion ocellaris and thicker in Amphiprion percula. Other distinguishing features between these two species are the greater height of the dorsal fin of Amphiprion ocellaris, and that the dorsal fin in Amphiprion ocellaris is formed by the aforementioned 11 spines, while the dorsal fin of Amphiprion percula has only 10 spines.Photos: