Clownfish in an anemone

8 fishy facts you didn’t know about Nemo

For the record, clownfish are not comedians. It’s a ‘common misconception’ as Marlin so blatantly explains in Finding Nemo. But, they DO have a super power that no other fish have; they can live within the tentacles of venomous sea anemones without being stung.

Next time you’re snorkelling or diving on the Great Barrier Reef, keep an eye out for anemones and you’ll most likely find its residents; small, orange fish with black and white stripes.

Here’s 8 things you probably didn’t know about the adorable clownfish.

1. Clownfish are one of Queensland’s Great Eight! What’s the Great Eight you ask? Well, they’re Queensland’s answer to Africa’s Big Five. The Great Eight are our most iconic marine creatures and include the clownfish, Maori wrasse, potato cod, sharks, giant clams, turtles, manta rays and whales.

Snorkelling Spot: Fining Clownfish near the Green Island jetty in Tropical North Queensland: Photo by Island Jems.

Snorkelling Spot: Fining Clownfish near the Green Island jetty in Tropical North Queensland: Photo by Island Jems.

2. Female clownfish are the dominant sex of the species and are larger than males. Sometimes, you’ll find more than two clownfish in one anemone. In that case, the largest fish is the female, the second largest is the male and the others are normally non-functional males.

3. If the female clownfish dies, the male will change sex and turn into a female in just a few weeks!

4. Clownfish are super territorial. They will protect their anemone from other fish, especially butterfly fish who love to eat anemone tentacles. And in return, the anemone venom protects the clownfish from their predators. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

Angry Clownfish

5. Clownfish are clean freaks! Before the female will lay her eggs, the male and female will scout the anemone’s base for a protected section and they’ll bite at it until it’s meticulously clean.

6. Once the eggs are fertilised, it’s the male’s job to look after them. He will spend his time gently blowing on the eggs to move them around, ensuring that each egg gets enough oxygen. #DadLife

Starfish and clownfish

7. Once they hatch, baby clownfish will drift with the tide alongside plankton until they find their own anemone to care for.

8. Clownfish can be found all year ‘round. And the best places to see them are in the reefs surrounding Magnetic Island, Lady Musgrave Island, Green Island, the Whitsunday Islands and Heron Island.