Common Name : Barrier Reef Anemonefish

Scientific Name : Amphiprion akindynos

This species grows to 12cm in length. The Barrier Reef Anemonefish is brown with two black-edged white bars. The first bar crosses the head. The second bar crosses the body at the middle of the dorsal fin. The tail is white. Anemonefish, also called Clownfish, are well known for their habit of living with large, tropical sea anemones. The species name akindynos comes from the Greek word meaning safe or without danger. This refers to the condition the fish enjoys while tucked among the tentacles of its host.


Anemonefish feed on small drifting animals called zooplankton and algae. They may also feed on scraps of fish captured by their host anemone.


Unlike other fishes, anemonefish can maintain immunity to toxic stinging cells in the anemone's tentacles by constantly stroking their bodies over tentacle surfaces. Some research suggests that the fish secrete mucus that helps protect them from the anemone's sting. Mucus from the anemone builds up on the fish's skin until it becomes 'anemone-like' and the anemone itself does not distinguish between the fish and its own tentacles or recognises the fish as potential food. The anemonefish benefits from the partnership, gaining a protected place to live within the anemone's stinging tentacles.

The anemones also benefit from their partnership with the anemonefish. Anemonefish defend their host anemones from predatory fishes that are immune to the stinging cells. Some researchers also report that anemonefish may 'feed' their anemones by dropping bits of food on the anemone surface. Anemonefish spend their entire adult lives with a single host.

Most anemones are found in shallow waters, but one kind of tube anemone has adapted to live near sea vents, 1.5 miles below the surface. They attach themselves to the seafloor, and capture food with their tentacles.


These fish live in warm tropical waters, usually at depths of 1-12 m, on sheltered inshore and offshore coral reefs and most importantly, where one or more of 10 favoured host anemone species are found.

Special Features or Habits

Anemonefish can change from male into female. They start off male, but if the female dies the dominant male will change into a female. A non-dominant male will then become the dominant male.

Location or Region Found

Western Pacific: eastern Australia (Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea, northern New South Wales), New Caledonia, and Loyalty Islands.