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WEBBY WANDA'S Clown Fish Science Facts

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Have you watched the movie Finding Nemo? Nemo and his Dad are Anemonefish or Clown Fish, because they live in harmony with the sea Anemone.

The colorful clown anemonefish, also called a clown fish, is bright orange with three white stripes—

This four-inch-long (10-centimeter-long) fish shares an amazing partnership with another sea creature: the anemone (pronounced: uh-NEM-uh-NEE). The partnership benefits both participants, and the close relationship led to the fish being named an anemonefish.

Anemones have tentacles that sting, but the clown fish isn't bothered by them. In fact, it lives among the tentacles. How can this fish do that and survive? Because it has a layer of mucus on its skin that makes it immune to the anemone's stings.

Living among the tentacles of the anemone, the clown anemonefish gains protection from predators—which don't dare get near the stinging protector. The anemonefish also gets to eat leftovers from the anemone's meals.

The anemone benefits from having the fish around, too. The useful fish nibbles away parasites that bug the anemone. And sometimes the anemonefish brings food into the tentacles which the anemone can also eat. There are a few predators that harm anemones, and the little anemonefish chases them away.

Generally several anemonefish make one host anemone their home. Within that group, there is one breeding female, and she is the largest fish. The second largest fish is the breeding male. These are the two fish that mate.

When the female is ready to lay her eggs, she swims to the nest the male prepared.

The male usually picks a spot on a rock directly underneath the protective tentacles of "his" anemone. The male fish carefully cleans off the area of rock he's chosen as a nest site, using his mouth to get rid of debris and algae. The female may help, but the male is the main prepare of the nest. He's also the parent that takes care of the eggs.

The female anemonefish passes over the nest site several times. Each time she swims over it she releases eggs—in the end they number from 100 to more than 1,000. The male follows her closely and fertilizes the eggs. It can take more than two hours for this whole process to be completed.

Once the eggs are laid and fertilized, the male protects them from predators, fans them with his fins to keep them supplied with oxygen, and removes any debris from the nest site. That debris includes any eggs that die, which the male eats. This prevents those eggs from decaying, which could contaminate the rest of the eggs.

The scientific name of the clown anemonefish is Amphibian percula.

The clown anemonefish lives to be six to ten years old. In captivity, they may live up to 18 years.

There are 28 species of anemonefish. They live mostly in shallow waters in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and the western Pacific Ocean.

When clown fish hatch, they are all male. Under certain conditions, a male will change into a female. If it becomes female, it cannot change back.

An anemonefish only changes into a female to become the dominant female in a group. For instance, if a dominant female leaves or dies, the largest male in the group will change to become the

After the movie Finding Nemo became a hit, the demand for clown fish by people wanting them as pets tripled.

Predators of the clown anemonefish include sharks and stingrays.

In addition to dining on anemone leftovers, the anemonefish eats algae and plankton, tiny plants and animals that float in the sea.

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The whole time the eggs are incubating, they're also protected by the host anemone.

About a week after the eggs are deposited they hatch. The youngsters are called larvae—they don't yet look like the fish they'll become.

The tiny larvae head toward the surface of the ocean, where they spend about a week floating and feeding on plankton—tiny plants and animals.

Within about 12 days, the baby anemonefish, which now look like miniatures of their parents, sink to the sea floor and begin the search for their own host anemone.

Text by Catherine D. Hughes

Reference from:http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/



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