How Did the Clownfish Get Its Name?

did-clownfish-its-name Credit: Elias Levy/CC-BY 2.0

The clownfish received its name because of the color bands that come in orange, red, yellow, purple and brown hues interspersed with black and white resembling the face paint that clowns wear. There are 29 species of clownfish, and each species differs slightly in color and in stature.

The most popular clownfish is that of the orange, black and white striped clownfish that was seen in the Pixar film "Finding Nemo." The film helped bring awareness to children about the colorful fish. The clownfish often swims in and out of the tentacles of the anemone and hides from predators there. Other fish are unable to do this because the tentacles of the anemone are poisonous, but the clownfish is not affected by the poison. In fact, young clownfish will swim out to find its own anemone and will most likely die within 24 to 48 hours if they do not find one.

The clownfish is sometimes referred to as "anemonefish" because of their dependence on the anemone. Without the anemone, the clownfish is too vulnerable to predators and they are easily attacked. The clownfish also keep their eggs inside of the anemone's tentacles, and reproduction would be impossible without the anemone's protection. Clownfish prefer to stay as close as possible to the anemone and try to avoid leaving the anemone for more than a few feet.