Western Clown Anemonefish, Amphiprion ocellaris Cuvier 1830

Other Names: Clownfish, False Clown Anemonefish

A Western Clown Anemonefish, Amphiprion ocellaris, at Dompu, Bima, Nusa Tenggara Barat, Indonesia. Source: Mark Rosenstein / iNaturalist. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

An orange to brownish anemonefish with  three distinctive white bars on the body. Differs from the very similar Amphiprion percula in having a taller dorsal fin and usually 11 dorsal-fin spines vs 10 spines in A. percula. The Western Clown Anemonefish also usually lacks the black margin around the white bars that is present in A. percula.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Amphiprion ocellaris in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1275

Western Clown Anemonefish, Amphiprion ocellaris Cuvier 1830

More Info


Cape Leveque and offshore reefs of Western Australia, Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea, to Melville Bay, Northern Territory. Elsewhere  the species is widespread in the East-Indo-west-Pacific.

Inhabits inshore and offshore reefs and lagoons, living in association with the sea anemones Heteractis magnifica, Stichodactyla gigantea and S. mertensii.


Dorsal fin X-XI, 13-17 (usually 11 spines); Anal fin II, 11-13; Pectoral fin 16-18; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 34-48; Gill rakers 15-17 (total first arch).


A protandrous hermaphrodite that lives in a small group comprising a breeding pair and several non-breeders. The female is the largest individuals, and her male partner is the second largest fish. If the female disappears, her male partner changes sex to become the breeding female, while the largest non-breeder becomes the breeding male.


In the 2003 animated film Finding Nemo, the main character is a Western Clown Anemonefish, Amphiprion ocellaris.

Similar Species

Differs from the very similar Amphiprion percula in having a taller dorsal fin and usually 11 dorsal-fin spines vs 10 spines in A. percula. A ocellaris also usually lacks the black margin around the white bars that is present in A. percula.


The specific name is from the Latin ocellaris (= having an ocellus or eye-like spot), supposedly in reference to a large white ocellus on the tail. The name is misnomer as the species does not have an ocellus on the tail. G√ľnther (1862) reported that the 'ocellus' seen by Cuvier was presumably an artifact of preservation as it was only visible on one side of the fin.

Species Citation

Amphiprion ocellaris Cuvier, 1830, Hist. Nat. Poiss. 5:  399. Type locality: Sumatra.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Western Clown Anemonefish, Amphiprion ocellaris Cuvier 1830


Allen, G.R. 1972. Anemonefishes, their Classification and Biology. Neptune CityNew Jersey : T.F.H. Publications 288 pp., 140 figs.

Allen, G.R. 1991. Damselfishes of the World. Melle, Germany : Mergus Verlag 271 pp.

Allen, G.R. 1993. Reef Fishes of New Guinea. A Field Guide for Divers, Anglers and Naturalists. Christensen Research Institute. No. 8. Pp. 132. 

Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

Allsop, D.J. & West, S.A.. 2003. Constant relative age and size at sex change for sequentially hermaphroditic fish. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 16(2003): 921-929.

Arvedlund, M. & Nielsen, L.E. 1996. Do the anemonefish Amphiprion ocellaris (Pisces: Pomacentridae) imprint themselves to their host sea anemone Heteractis magnifica (Anthozoa: Actinidae)? Ethology 102: 197-211.

Castelnau, F.L. de 1873. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. 5. Notes on fishes from north Australia. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 2: 83-97 (described as Amphiprion bicolor)

Colleye O., Vandewalle P., Lanterbecq D., Lecchini D., Parmentier E. 2011. Interspecific variation of calls in clownfishes: degree of similarity in closely related species. BMC Evolutionary Biology 11: 365.

Cuvier, G.L. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1830. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 5 499 pp. pls 100-140.

Fautin, D.G. & Allen, G.R. 1992. Field guide to anemone fishes and their host sea anemones. Perth : Western Australian Museum 160 pp.

Juhl, T. 1992. Commercial breeding of anemonefishes. Seascope 9: 1-4.

Kuiter, R.H. 1992. Tropical Reef-Fishes of the Western Pacific, Indonesia and Adjacent Waters. Jakarta : PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama 314 pp. pls.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. 433 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. & Debelius, H. 1994. South-east Asia Tropical Fish Guide. IKAN-Unterwasserarchiv. 321 pp.

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp.

Miyagawa, K. 1989. Experimental analysis of the symbiosis between anemonefishes and sea anemones. Ethology 80: 19-46.

Parmentier, E., Colleye, O. & Mann D. 2009. Hearing ability in three clownfish species. Journal of Experimental Biology 212: 2023-2026.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R & R.C. Steene. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. 507 pp.

Taylor, W.R. 1964. Fishes of Arnhem Land. Records of the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land 4: 44-307 figs 1-68 (misidentified as Amphiprion percula)

Whitley, G.P. 1927. The fishes of Michaelmas Cay, North Queensland. Records of the Australian Museum 16(1): 1-32 fig. 1 pl. 1 (specimens from Darwin misidentified as Amphiprion percula)

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 (as Actinicola bicolor)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37372025

Behaviour:Lives with sea anemones


Depth:1-15 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:9.5 cm TL

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