Genus Amphiprion


Highly specialized damselfishes that live in association with a number of tropical sea anemones in the Indo-Pacific.

This fascinating partnership was initially thought to be solely for protection: the anemonefishes chase away butterfly fishes that would like to feed on sea anemone tentacles, and in return, the fishes seek refuge among the stinging tentacles of their anemone host.

However, recent studies have shown that anemonefish waste products provide their anemone hosts with essential nutrients. And, although the clownfish nestle deeply among anemone tentacles for rest and protection at night, they remain active by moving around and fanning their fins. This behaviour acts to aerate their anemone hosts at night when oxygen levels are lower because photosynthesis has ceased.

The genus comprises 30 species (Eschmeyer 2012), with 12 known from Australian waters. The genus is broadly distributed in the Indo–Pacific distribution, however, more than one-quarter of the species are either endemic to isolated islands, or have peripheral populations at these remote locations (Fautin & Allen 1997).

The generic name Amphiprion is from the Greek “amphi” (= on two sides, around) and “priön” (= “saw”) in reference to the deeply serrated sub- and pre-opercula bones (part of the gill cover) of Amphiprion species. 

Beautiful video of anemonefishes filmed in the Andaman Sea

Video of 11 anemonefish species filmed in Australia, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Indonesia.

Author: Bray, D.J. 2021

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Amphiprion in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,


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