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Seaweek 2010: Oceans of Life - ours to explore; ours to restore


• 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

Further links:

• ReefED:

• Marine Life Photography at:




Damselfish from GBRMPA Image Collection

Anemonefish from GBRMPA Image Collection

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