Spine-cheek Clownfish, Amphiprion biaculeatus (Bloch 1790)

Other Names: Maroon Clownfish, Spine-cheek Anemonefish, Spine-cheeked Anemone-fish, Tomato Clownfish

A Spine-cheek Clownfish, Amphiprion biaculeatus, near Dili, Timor Leste. Source: Nick Hobgood / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC BY Attribution-ShareAlike

A bright red to brownish anemonefish with three narrow white to greyish bars on the head and body, and a large spine on the gill cover. The males are often more brilliantly coloured than the larger females.
This species was previously known as Premnas biaculeatus.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Amphiprion biaculeatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Jun 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/378

Spine-cheek Clownfish, Amphiprion biaculeatus (Bloch 1790)

More Info


Offshore reefs of north Western Australia, and the Torres Strait to east of Slade Point, Queensland. Elsewhere, the species occurs in the tropical east-Indo-west Pacific.
Inhabits lagoon and seaward reefs, living in close association with the anemone Entacmaea quadricolor.


Dorsal fin X, 17-18; Anal fin II, 13-15.


The female is 2–3 times the size of her male partner.


Feeds mostly on zooplankton and benthic algae. 


Spine-cheek Clownfish are protandrous hermaphrodites, starting life as males and changing sex into females. They live in a small group with a dominant female and several males of varying sizes. If the females dies or disappears, the second largest individual changes sex from male to female. The size difference amongst the males is maintained to avoid smaller and subordiante males threatening the highest ranking male.
Oviparous - form distinct pairs during breeding, and females lay demersal adherent eggs that are guarded and aerated by the male.


The specific name biaculeatus is from the Latin bi (= two) and aculeatus (= thorn, spike), in reference to the opercular spines of this species.

Species Citation

Chaetodon biaculeatus Bloch, 1790, Naturg. ausländ. Fische. 4: 11, Pl. 219 (fig. 2). Type locality: East Indies.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Spine-cheek Clownfish, Amphiprion biaculeatus (Bloch 1790)


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

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

Allen, G.R. 1991. Damselfishes of the World. Melle, Germany : Mergus Verlag 271 pp. (as Premnas biaculeatus)

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

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. (as Premnas biaculeatus)

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

Bloch, M.E. 1790. Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische. Berlin : J. Morino Vol. 4 128 pp. pls 217-252.

Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp. (as Premnas biaculeatus)

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Biodiversity of shallow reef fish assemblages in Western Australia using a rapid censusing technique. Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 247-270. (as Premnas biaculeatus)

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp. (as Premnas biaculeatus)

Marshall, T.C. 1964. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coastal Waters of Queensland. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 566 pp. 136 pls. (as Premnas biaculeatus)

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. (as Premnas biaculeatus)

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs. (as Premnas biaculeatus)

Tang, K.L., Stiassny, M.L.J.,  Mayden, R.L. & DeSalle, R. 2021. Systematics of Damselfishes. Ichthyology & Herpetology 109(1): 258-318. https://doi.org/10.1643/i2020105

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37372129

Behaviour:Lives with sea anemones

Depth:1-18 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:16 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map