FACT SHEET 7
DAMSELFISH AND ANEMONEFISH
• Damselfish and anemonefish (including clownfish) are part of the family Pomacentridae, often known as the Damselfish family.
• These fish tend to be small (around 6-8 cm), roughly oval and are probably the most conspicuous inhabitants of the reef. Almost all damselfishes are vibrantly coloured, especially the charismatic clownfish.
• One group, the anemonefish, have developed a symbiotic relationship with anemones and live safely in their stinging tentacles, thereby guaranteeing themselves a safe home. This group includes clownfish, made famous as Nemo.
• Other groups often live near branching corals where they hide if threatened.
• They feed on either plankton (small floating animals and plants in the water column) or algae. Some species have their own algal farms, which they defend zealously against intruders.
• Larger fish and sharks eat damselfish although they are very good at retracting into the branches of corals if threatened.
• Many damselfish can be seen caring for their eggs laid out on rocks. They hatch after 2 to 14 days.
• In an anemonefish “family”, the one large female dominates the relationship and eat the most food. If she disappears or dies the male will take over her role and turn into a female, and a juvenile will become the new male.
• Humans are fond of damselfish because of their attractive colours and they are often kept in aquariums.
Interesting Fact: Damselfish, interestingly often change sex, either starting as a female and turning into a male or vice versa
• ReefED: http://www.reefed.edu.au/home/explorer/animals/marine_vertebrates/fishes/colourful_coral_associates
• Marine Life Photography at: http://www.coralreefnetwork.com/stender/fishes/damselfishes/damselfi.htm