Types of Clownfish – A Comprehensive Guide

Clownfish Facts and Overview

 Well, if fish keeping is your hobby and you want to know about the ‘Nemo’ in real life! You are at the right place. This most renowned fish is ‘clownfish’ and we have to be thankful to the movie ‘Finding Nemo’ for the popularity of this marine aquarium fish.

Clownfish is the most well-known salt-water fish and it has more than 30 known species with peculiar-pattern of swimming like dodders. Anemonefish are found in many colors but mostly identified by their vibrant orange color with distinguishable white bands. These are found in shallow waters of the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the western Pacific. 

Origin / Habitat            Indo-Pacific to Oceania (live in warm water and shallow tropical seas)
Clownfish FactsClownfish Physical Characteristics
Main PreyZooplankton, phytoplanktonHabitat Tropical coral reefsColorYellow, red black, white and orange
Group BehaviorSchoolPredatorsLarger fishSkin typeScales
Fun FactHas a symbiotic relationship with a host sea anemoneDietOmnivoreLifespan6-8 years
Biggest ThreatDestruction of coral reef habitatsFavorite FoodAlgaeWeight250 gm
Distinctive FeatureColoring and three wide, white bandsTypeFishLength10cm – 18cm (4in – 7in)                                                                               
Another nameAnemonefishCommon nameClownfish
Generation period6-8 daysNumber of species30
Water typeSaltAverage Clutch Size2000  
Optimum pH level7.9-8.4
GenderThey are born male. But when they mature and start mating, the dominant one turns into a female. (Larger and primary defender of their territory)

Clownfish Care Details

Temperament / BehaviorVery peaceful but avoid mixing, keep only a pairAvoid to add these species in the tankLionfish, Snappers, Groupers, Triggers, Eels or any other predatory fish large enough to eat them.
Aquarium SizeMini. 30 gallonsDiseaseSalt-water disease
Tank RegionAll overSpecific Gravity1.020 – 1.024
Hiding PlacesMustSalinitySalt amount is one half cup of salt per one gallon water
Temperature75°F – 80°F (24°C – 27°C)Water hardnessAdding crushed shells and coral for maintaining magnesium and calcium to make the water hard
Tank Water ConditionSalt-WaterOxygenBubblers and water filters and widen top aquarium
Size20-30 gallonsWater Filtration SystemBiological filters and addition of bacteria
FoodWorms, algae, zooplankton and small crustaceans (Feed once a day)  

Incredible Facts About Clownfish

  • They are also called clown-anemones.
  • The type named as false clownfish is actually the character ‘Nemo’.
  • They could be found in the coral reefs off the coasts of Australia and Southeast Asia as far north as southern Japan.
  • Their distinguishing features are the orange color of their bodies with three white bands with a black outline around their head and body and black borderline around their fins.
  • They are small sized species and can only grow up to 4 inches (110 mm or 11 cm).
  • They have greyish-orange eyes and the orange-colored iris makes the eyes look bigger than they really are.
  • They are hermaphrodites and their unique feature is, they are born as male but later in life they convert into female.
  • They are omnivorous (feed on both plants and meat) in nature. But their food chiefly includes algae, zooplankton, worms and small crustaceans.
  • They live symbiotically with sea-anemones.

 List of All Types of Clownfish

If we talk about the types of clownfish, there are twenty-eight or according to some other studies thirty types of clownfish.

 Taxonomic Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Subkingdom: Bilateria
  • Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
  • Superclass: Osteichthyes
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Subclass: Neopterygii
  • Infraclass: Teleostei
  • Superorder: Acanthopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Suborder: Labroidei
  • Family: Pomacentridae
  • Genus: Amphiprion
  • Species: Amphiprion ocellaris

Types of Clownfish on the basis of variety of species

There are thirty types of clownfish which are divided into six groups called complexes, given below:

  1. Skunk Complex
  2. Tomato Complex
  3. Saddleback Complex
  4. Clarkii Complex
  5. Maroon Complex
  6. Percula Complex

Skunk Complex

The most distinguishing feature of this group is the dorsal skunk/stripe (long white stripe that runs along the entire length of their back). Some other features that separates skunk complex from other five groups are their small size, easy to keep in captivity, their quiet behaviour and most importantly the fact that they were the  first inhabitants to be kept in an aquarium. 

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This group includes five species:

  • 1.  Skunk clownfish (Amphiprion akallopisos Bleeker, 1853)
  • 2.  White-bonnet clownfish (Amphiprion leucokranos Allen, 1973)
  • 3.  Maldive (or blackfoot) clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes Regan, 1908)
  • 4.  Pink skunk clownfish (Amphiprion perideraion Bleeker, 1855)
  • 5.  Orange skunk clownfish (Amphiprion sandaracinos Allen, 1972)

Among these five species three are the common ones (Skunk clownfish, Pink skunk clownfish and Orange skunk clownfish).

Tomato Complex

They are not so popular in the fishkeeping community but are really hardy in nature and can bear bad water quality, poor nutrition and could survive in ammonia spikes; Though we won’t recommend keeping them in such an environment as it may cause them to feel stressed. They are believed to be quite durable, rugged, unafraid, truculent species. Tomato complex fish are the best choice if you are a beginner in fishkeeping and are easy to breed. They are less pretty than other ones and they could be identified by their one stripe behind the eyes.

This group includes five species:

  1. Red saddleback (or fire) clownfish (Amphiprion ephippium Bloch, 1790)
  2. Tomato clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus Brevoort, 1856)
  3. McCulloch’s (or whitesnout) clownfish (Amphiprion mccullochi Whitley, 1929)
  4. Cinnamon (or red and black) clownfish (Amphiprion melanopus Bleeker, 1852)
  5. Australian (or ruby) clownfish (Amphiprion rubrocinctus Richardson, 1842)

Saddleback Complex

The distinctive feature of the members of Saddleback complex is the saddle-like pattern of white stripes across their body, their dark color primarily black or brown base with highlights of yellow or orange color. These are larger in size, slenderer in shape and skittish in nature as compared to other complexes.If we talk about the ease of keeping these group members, it’s relatively difficult and demands utmost care.

Suggested features of aquaria for this group:

  •  A tank of big size approx. 40 gallons or more.
  • Aquascaping means spaces in tanks for hiding because of their skittish nature.
  • A gradually increasing and decreasing light system, to avoid sudden turn on and off.
  •  A hood on the top of the tank to prevent jumping.
  • Place the aquarium in an area with less movement.

This group includes three species:

  • 1.  Wide-band clownfish (Amphiprion latezonatus Waite, 1900)
  • 2.  Saddleback clownfish (Amphiprion polymnus Linnaeus, 1758)
  • 3.  Sebae clownfish (Amphiprion sebae Bleeker, 1853)

Clarkii Complex

Eleven species are included in this group. A number of species are collectively called sebae clownfish but the true-sebae clownfish is the member of the saddleback complex. Clarkii complex group species, we could say, were included in the complex on the basis of similarity in their color. These species are very easy to keep. We could identify them by their color pattern but more accurately by morphometry, scales on the head and shape of their tooth. 

This group includes eleven species:

  1. Barrier Reef clownfish (Amphiprion akindynos Allen, 1972)
  2. Allard’s clownfish (Amphiprion allardi Klausewitz, 1970)
  3. Two-banded clownfish (Amphiprion bicinctus Rüppell,1830)
  4. Chagos clownfish (Amphiprion chagosensis Allen, 1972)
  5. Mauritian clownfish (Amphiprion chrysogaster Cuvier, 1830)
  6. Orange fin clownfish (Amphiprion chrysopterus Cuvier, 1830)
  7. Clark’s clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii Bennett, 1830)
  8. Seychelles clownfish (Amphiprion fusco caudatus Allen, 1972)
  9. Madagascar clownfish (Amphiprion latifasciatus Allen, 1972)
  10.  Three-banded clownfish (Amphiprion tricinctus Shultz & Welander, 1953)
  11. Oman Clownfish (Amphiprion omanensis Allen & Mee, 1991)

Among all, clarkii clownfish is the most common type of species.

Marron Complex

The members of this group are the largest among all. They are belligerent, territorial and grappy for other species. They are notorious for their pugnaciousness. Maroons are similar to percula groups in shape and swimming.

This group includes three species:

  • 1.  Maroon (or spine-cheeked) clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus, Bloch, 1790)
  • 2.  Lightning Maroon Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus, Bloch, 1790)
  • 3.  Gold Stripe Maroon Clownfish (Premnas epigrammata, Fowler, 1904)
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Maroon clownfish is the most common among all other members of this group.

  Percula Complex

It is the most common and popular clownfish that you can easily buy from any pet store. They are mainly orange in color, with white stripes on their body. Percula group members are one of the smallest types. These are calm in nature.

This group includes three species:

  • 1.  Common (or false percula) clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris, Cuvier, 1830)
  • 2.  Orange (or true percula) clownfish (Amphiprion percula, Lacepède, 1802)
  • 3.  Black & White Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris V.) or Darwin Ocellaris Clownfish

 Clownfish Classification on the basis of color pattern and number of strips

If, we classify clownfish on the basis of color pattern and number of strips, they can be divided into five groups:

No Vertical Stripe

  1.  Amphiprion akallopisos/True skunk clownfish
  2. Amphiprion pacificus/Polynesian Skunk Anemonefish
  3. Amphiprion ephippium/Red saddleback (or fire) clownfish
  4. Amphiprion sandaracinos/Orange Skunk clownfish

One Vertical Stripe

  1.  Amphiprion barberi/Barberi Clownfish
  2. Amphiprion frenatus/Tomato clownfish
  3. Amphiprion leucokranos/White-bonnet clownfish             
  4. Amphiprion mccullochi/McCulloch’s (or whitesnout) clownfish
  5. Amphiprion nigripes/Maldive (or blackfoot) clownfish
  6.  Amphiprion omanensis/Oman clownfish
  7.  Amphiprion perideraion/Pink Skunk clownfish
  8. Amphiprion rubrocinctus/Australian (or ruby) clownfish

Two Vertical Stripes

  1. Amphiprion akindynos/Australian clownfish
  2.  Amphiprion allardi/Allard’s clownfish
  3. Amphiprion bicinctus/Two-Banded clownfish
  4.  Amphiprion chagosensis/Chagos clownfish
  5.  Amphiprion chrysopterus/Orange-Finned clownfish
  6. Amphiprion latifasciatus/Madagascar clownfish
  7.  Amphiprion omanensis/ Oman clownfish
  8. Amphiprion sebae/Sebae clownfish

Three Vertical Stripes

  1. Amphiprion  biaculeatus/Maroon (or spine-cheeked) clownfish
  2. Amphiprion chrysogaster/Mauritian clownfish
  3.  Amphiprion latezonatus/Wide-Band clownfish
  4. Amphiprion ocellaris/False Precaula
  5. Amphiprion percula/True Precaula
  6. Amphiprion tricinctus/Three-Banded clownfish

Species with Stripe Polymorphism

  1.  Amphiprion melanopus/Cinnamon clownfish
  2. Amphiprion polymnus/Saddleback clownfish
  3.  Amphiprion clarkii/Clark’s clownfish

Most popular Types of Clownfish Clownfish suitable for home aquarium

There are many types of clownfish but here, we are going to talk about the most popular ones of them. They are attractive and pretty because of their different color patterns and stripes on their bodies. 

  1. Common or False Clownfish
  2. Allard’s Clownfish
  3. Cinnamon Clownfish
  4. Clarkii Clownfish
  5. Maroon Clownfish
  6. Oman Clownfish
  7. Pink Skunk Clownfish
  8. Saddleback Clownfish
  9. Sebae Clownfish
  10. Three-band Clownfish
  11.  Tomato Clownfish
  12. True Percula Clownfish
  13.  Red Sea Clownfish

Common or False Clownfish

False percula is the fish that is fairly resistant in the aquarium, it’s very difficult to ship them from one place to another. They are bright orange in color with black border around the stripes and fins and have ten to eleven spines in the first dorsal-fin. These fish have three vertical bands around their face, body and tail regions. 

Allard’s Clownfish

It’s a member of the Clarkii complex and is so beautiful because of their outstanding color. They are dark-brown (closely black) in color with highlights of neon-orange on the underbody and fins. This member of the clarkii complex has two white stripes that look like it divides the body in three parts. If you keep them with the right care, they may survive for more than twenty years.

Allard’s clownfish is easily confused with Clark clownfish just because of similarity in their appearance. They have white stripes and yellow tails can be a distinguishable feature. These can swim better than other clownfish and are not dependent on sea-anemone. Allard’s can be kept in the aquarium without much difficulty.

Cinnamon Clownfish

The peculiar characteristic of cinnamon clownfish is their burning orange color, also called as fire fish. As they become older, the color of the borders of their body becomes darker while the color of the body remains warm-orange. These fish have thick-white vertical stripes on the back of their face.

They have grumpy, irritable and bad-temperament therefore called fire clownfish. Cinnamons can’t live with other clownfish and even if you don’t keep more than a pair of them, it becomes problematic for you. These are very resilient to keep in the tank so, it is a good addition specially for novices.

4. Clarkii Clownfish

Their common name is yellow-tail clownfish and are stunning and attractive. Clarkii are bright-yellow in color with dark-brown scales and white-stripes. They have two humped-dorsal fins on the top with slightly curved bodies.

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Clarkii clownfish are easily frightened and hectoring in small tanks but wild-environment they could live with pink skunk clownfish. These are very adjustable and resistant in nature hence, are popular among saltwater aquarists.

Maroon Clownfish

Maroon clownfish are the largest clownfish species, are eye-catching because of their burgundy and bright red color and have three uneven-stripes. Relatively decent white stripes, these strips could be yellow depending on the fish. They have a cheek spine so named as spine-cheeked clownfish. They are smart enough to recognize their caregivers.

Although maroons are very easy to keep in captivity, due to their aggressive nature, beginners might experience some difficulty.  

Oman Clownfish

These are pale colored fish, have a pastel orangish brown body and light-orange-colored fins. Oman clownfish have 2 bold-white stripes around their forehead and the body. However, they are very difficult to find in pet stores. Omans have a better swimming ability than other clownfish species. They could live without sea-anemones.

Pink Skunk Clownfish

They are very beautiful because of their coral-pink color. Pink skunk clownfish have soft-pink or slight peach-colored scales. These fish have a very thin dorsal-fin that runs evenly down their spine. Contrastingly, they have a single white-strip, runs vertically along the back of their eyes. This species of skunk group can seldom move, not even at the time of meal.

Pink skunks could pair up with clarkii clownfish and true perculas and live peacefully. These fish are shy in nature so are susceptible to being frightened by other fish. However, they can be a little difficult to handle for beginners. 

Saddleback Clownfish

Saddleback have attractive markings and colors. They could be black to burnt-orange on their bodies. These have bold-white strips, running all along the dorsal-fin. According to their name, saddleback clownfish have bands that form a saddle-like pattern over the bodies. They have a characteristic white-strap just on the back of the head. This member of the saddleback complex could live with other clownfish i.e., true or false perculas and even pink or orange skunks with squabbling.

Sebae Clownfish

Sebae clownfish have dark-colored almost black scales with 2 white-stripes, yellow face and an orangish-fins, and tail. They are extremely shy. Sebae clownfish can pair up with sebae anemone but even with the high level of comfort with an anemone, they will crash out of the tank leading them to death. They are easy to keep.

Three-band Clownfish

According to their name they have three white strips on their body with variable width of the strips. Three-band clownfish are dark-brown in color with orange face and fins. These are active in nature and live with sea-anemones.

Tomato Clownfish

Their name is not because they are a member of the tomato complex, it’s just because of the vibrant red color of them. They have only one white band at the back of the eyes. As tomato clownfish become older they become more regional and are semi-aggressive in nature. These fish are very choosy in the selection of the sea-anemones to live together and only could pair up with bubble-tips.

True Percula Clownfish

True percula are confused with false percula because of little differences. They have very unusual and uneven white stripes and also have black patches on their body. True clownfish are classic-bold-orange in color with 3 white stripes with thick black border runs along their body. If you see them close to you, you can see their light orange color of eyes, yet it makes it difficult to distinguish them from false perculas . These fish have sensitive immune systems, so need proper care in captivity.

Red Sea Clownfish

They are the most peculiar ones than other clownfish. They don’t have the white stripe on the tail. Two-banded Red sea clownfish are smaller in size with bigger eyes and have nearly a diamond-like shape. Red sea clownfish are orange, tan, and yellow in color with black patch behind the fin.

FAQs Related To Types of Clownfish

Can different types of clownfish be kept together?

You can keep only two clownfish together in small tank size but can keep more depending on the tank size.  If you keep more than that you might face difficulty because of their aggressive behavior. In contrast, if you keep a single clownfish it might result in wearied and depressed fish. It is very important to introduce different types of clownfish at a very young age to familiarize them with each other. It will help them stay peaceful as they grow up together. 

Are clownfish good pets?

Yes, clownfish are ideal pets for amateur fishkeepers because of the ease of keeping them. Clownfish are hardy and do not require much care and their colorful bright patterns give a fresh change to your personal life. 

Are clownfish aggressive?

Yes, clownfish is unfortunately an aggressive and territorial pet. Though if kept in a comfortable environment where they don’t have to fight for their survival in coral reef tanks, they can be quite peaceful.

CONCLUSION

As mentioned earlier, there are many types of clownfish with different colors from orange to tan, to yellow and brown to black. There are a variety of vertical white stripe patterns with and without black borders. We also talk about the length, difficulty, temperament, tank size, preferred anemones, lifespan and costs.if you love to keep fish at home, these are the eye-catching additions to your own aquarium but need proper care and environment to survive. Select sensibly according to the requirements and compatibility keep in mind and make your aquarium more beautiful. 

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