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 whitish snout, a white bar on each side of the head (but not connected on top of the head) and a whitish tail and tail base.

McCulloch's Anemonefish is endemic to the waters of  Lord Howe Island and Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs off eastern Australia in the Tasman Sea. The species lives in association with the host anemone Entacmaea quadricolor.

A pair of McCulloch's Anemonefish spawning in an aquarium

Cite this page as:
Rebecca D. Bray & Dianne J. Bray, Amphiprion mccullochi in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 May 2022,

McCulloch's Anemonefish, Amphiprion mccullochi Whitley 1929

More Info


Endemic to subtropical waters of Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, and Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea off eastern Australia. At Lord Howe Island, most individuals (~75%) occur within the lagoon.


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


Max size 12 cm TL.


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) and a pale tail.


Anemone fishes have small home ranges and live small "family" groups. 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 Amphiprion melanopus, which has a reddish chest, belly and dorsal fin, with a yellowish to slightly red tail. The white bars are also connected over the top of the head in A. melanopus.


The species is named for Allan R. McCulloch, a former Curator of Fishes at the Australian Museum, Sydney.

Species Citation

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


Rebecca D. Bray & Dianne J. Bray

McCulloch's Anemonefish, Amphiprion mccullochi Whitley 1929


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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., Cross, N.J. & Allen, C.J. 2006. Pomacentridae. pp. 1439-1471 in Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3, 2178 pp.

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.

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

Francis, M. 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

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 JPA, Neilson J & Gilligan JJ 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. doi:10.1186/s12862-014-0245-5 Open access

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.

van der Meer, MH, Gardner, MG, Hobbs, J-PA, Jones, GP & 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. Abstract

van der Meer MH, Hobbs J-PA, Jones GP, 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. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049660 Open Access

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

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

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37372023

Behaviour:Lives with anemones

Biology:Capable of changing sex

Depth:2-45 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:12 cm TL


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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map