Clownfish in anemone

False clownfish in anemone. Image taken at the California Academy of Sciences.

I’m a big fan of the movie Finding Nemo, so the first fish on my blog is Nemo, AKA the false clownfish.  In the picture above, Nemo is carefully tending to his home anemone. In general, false clownfish live in groups with one dominant female, which is the largest fish, a dominant male (the second largest) and then a few male underlings. Just like in the movie, they seldom stray far from the protective arms of the anemone, which is also where they lay their eggs. They will care for their eggs by fanning and guarding them. There’s a lot more to the relationship between Nemo and the anemone, but I will discuss that in depth in a later post.

So the movie certainly got some things right about the life of an anemonefish. However, it did miss one important part of their life history. (Yes, I know it’s a cartoon. What’s your point?) Anyway, in the movie, you might recall that Nemo has a dad but he doesn’t have a mom. But in real life, this would never happen because Nemo, like all false clownfish, is a sex-changing fish. So in real life, if Nemo’s mom died, then Nemo’s dad would turn into Nemo’s mom.  Maybe they’ll make a part 2 and Marlin will be Marla! Yeah, okay, probably not, but my inner nerd loves the thought of scientifically accurate cartoons.

BTW, one thing that’s seriously hurting Nemo’s home in the coral reef right now is that a lot of people like to have brightly colored tropical fish for their home aquariums, and divers don’t always use environmentally friendly ways of getting these fish.  They use dynamite and poisons, for example, to stun the fish to collect them. So, if you’re considering a Nemo for your home aquarium, you can help by asking if your Nemo was raised in captivity and avoiding Nemos that came from the wild.