McCulloch's Anemonefish, Amphiprion mccullochi Whitley 1929

Other Names: McCulloch's Clownfish, Whitesnout Anemonefish

McCulloch's Anemonefish, Amphiprion mccullochi, at Lord Howe Island. Source: Andrew J. Green / Reef life Survey. License: CC by Attribution


A dark brown anemonefish with a pale snout, a white bar on each side of the head (but not connected on top of the head in adults) and a whitish tail and tail base. Juveniles have three pale bands on the body.

A pair of McCulloch's Anemonefish spawning in an aquarium

Cite this page as:
Bray, R.D. & Bray, D.J 2022, Amphiprion mccullochi in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 May 2024,

McCulloch's Anemonefish, Amphiprion mccullochi Whitley 1929

More Info


Endemic to the Lord Howe Province in the Tasman Sea off eastern Australia. 

Lives in a commensal relationship with the Bubbletip Anemone, Entacmaea quadricolor. At Lord Howe Island, most individuals (~75%) occur within the lagoon.


Dorsal fin IX, 15-17; Anal fin II, 13-14.


Max size 12 cm TL.


A dark brown anemonefish with a pale greyish snout, a broad white bar on each side of the head (but not connected on top of the head) and a pale tail. 

Small juveniles have two white bands on the body - one encircling the head, and the other just before the origin of the anal fin that extends as a white margin on the soft-rayed part of the dorsal fin. They also have a yellow snout, a broad yellow margin on the pectoral fins, a yellow caudal peduncle (tail base) with a white upper margin that extends along the upper part of the tail.


Anemone fishes have small home ranges and live small "family" groups in a commensal relationship with anemones. The dominant male and female form a strong pair bond. During the breeding season, the male selects a nesting site close to his anemone host. He clears the site of any algae and debris, often aided by the female, and she lays her eggs onto this surface.


This popular aquarium fish is aquacultured under permit.

Similar Species

Similar to the Blackback Anemonefish, Amphiprion melanopus, which has a reddish chest, belly and dorsal fin, with a yellowish to slightly reddish tail. The white bars are often connected over the top of the head in adult A. melanopus.


The species is named for Allan Riverstone McCulloch, a former Curator of Fishes at the Australian Museum, Sydney, who collected the type specimen at Lord Howe Island: "It was collected at Lord Howe Island by my late senior colleague, Allan Riverstone McCulloch, to whose memory I dedicate the species."

Species Citation

Amphiprion mccullochi Whitley 1929, Mem. Qld Mus. 9(3): 213. Type locality: Lord Howe Island


Bray, R.D. & Bray, D.J 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

McCulloch's Anemonefish, Amphiprion mccullochi Whitley 1929


Allen, G.R. 1975. Damselfishes of the South Seas. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune City, New Jersey. 240 pp.

Allen, G.R. 1991. Damselfishes of the world. Mergus Publishers, Melle, Germany. 271 pp.

Allen, G.R. 2001. Family Pomacentridae. pp. in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A. Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. (1976) Annotated checklist of fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30: 365–454.

Choat, J.H., van Herwerden, L., Robbins, W.D., Hobbs, J.P. & Ayling, A.M. 2006. A report on the ecological surveys undertaken at Middleton and Elizabeth Reefs, February 2006. Report by James Cook University to the Department of the Environment and Heritage. 65 pp.

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.

Coleman, N. 2002. Lord Howe Island Marine Park. Brisbane, Australia : Neville Coleman’s Underwater Geographic. 96 pp. 

Fautin, D.G. & Allen, G.R. 1992. Field guide to anemonefishes and their host sea anemones. Western Australian Museum, Francis Street, Perth. 160 pp.

Francis, M.P. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

Francis, M.P. 2019. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean, Version: 2019.1,

Gill, A.C. & Reader, S.E. 1992. Fishes. pp. 90-93 in Hutchings, P. (ed.). Reef Biology. A Survey of Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, South Pacific. Canberra : Australian National Parks Vol. 3, Kowari 230 pp.

Hobbs, J.-P. A., Choat, J.H., Robbins, W.D., van Herwerden, L., Feary, D.A., & Ayling A.M. 2008. Unique fish assemblages at world’s southernmost oceanic coral reefs, Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, Tasman Sea, Australia. Coral Reefs 27: 15

Hobbs, J.P.A., Neilson, J. & Gilligan, J.J. 2009. Distribution, abundance, habitat association and extinction risk of marine fishes endemic to the Lord Howe Island region, report to Lord Howe Island Marine Park, report prepared by James Cook University for the NSW MPA.

Litsios, G. & Salamin, N. 2014. Hybridisation and diversification in the adaptive radiation of clownfishes. BMC Evolutionary Biology 14: 245.

Ogilby, J.D. 1889. The reptiles and fishes of Lord Howe Island. Memoirs of the Australian Museum 2(3): 51-74 pls 2-3 (as Amphiprion melanopus)

Oxley, W.G., Ayling, A.M., Cheal, A.J. & Osborne, K. 2004. Marine surveys undertaken in the Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve, December 2003. Townsville : Australian Institute of Marine Sciences 64 pp.

Richardson, D. 1998. Descriptions of the colour patterns of juvenile anemonefishes (Pomacentridae: Amphiprion) from New South Wales and the Lord Howe-Norfolk Island region. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 120: 81-86. See ref at BHL

van der Meer, M.H., Gardner, M.G., Hobbs, J.-P.A., Jones, G.P. & van Herwerden, L. 2012. Identification of seventeen microsatellite markers for conservation genetic studies of the endemic anemonefish, Amphiprion mccullochi. Conservation Genetics Resources 4(2): 247-250.

van der Meer, M.H., Hobbs, J.-P.A., Jones, G.P. & van Herwerden, L. 2012. Genetic connectivity among and self-replenishment within island populations of a restricted range subtropical reef fish. PLOS ONE 7(11): e49660.

van der Meer, M.H., Jones, G.P., Hobbs, J-P.A. & van Herwerden, L. 2012. Historic hybridization and introgression between two iconic Australian anemonefish and contemporary patterns of population connectivity. Ecology and Evolution 2(7): 1592–1604. 10.1002/ece3.251

Waite, E.R. 1904. Additions to the fish-fauna of Lord Howe Island. No. 4. Records of the Australian Museum 5(3): 135-186 fig. 32 pls 17-24 (as Amphiprion melanopus

Whitley, G.P. 1929. Some fishes of the order Amphiprioniformes. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 9(3): 207-246 figs 1-4 pls 27-28 See ref at BHL

Wong, M.Y.L., Beasley, A.L., Douglass, T., et al. 2017. Some anemonefish lack personality: a comparative assessment of behavioral variation and repeatability in relation to environmental and social factors. Coral Reefs 36: 1307–1316.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37372023

Behaviour:Lives with anemones


Depth:2-45 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:12 cm TL


Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map