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Tomato clownfish

Amphiprion frenatus

Description: The Tomato clownfish is named for its bright red coloration, which can vary in shade from burnt orange to tomato red. It has a white vertical stripe located on its head, just behind the eyes. Juveniles differentiate in color from the adults. They are usually a darker red and have three vertical white stripes.

Size: They reach lengths of about 5.5 inches (14 cm) with females being larger than males.

Behavior: Tomato clownfish have a symbiotic relationship with anemones. The anemone provides protection, shelter and supplies food for the clownfish. In return, the clownfish defends the anemone from predators and parasites and provides nitrogen, which aids the anemone’s tissue growth. They are able to live in the anemone due to the development of a specialized mucus coating that protects them from the anemone’s sting. Tomato clownfish, like many other anemonefish, have a complex social hierarchy within their host anemone. At the top is the breeding female (the largest fish), then a breeding mature male and at the bottom are the juveniles. They are all born as males and if the female leaves or dies, the largest male would then become the female, with the largest juvenile transforming into the mature male.

Diet: Tomato clownfish eat zooplankton, small aquatic crustaceans and algae.

Communication: Males perform courtship rituals by chasing the female and erecting his fins.

Reproduction: The adhesive eggs are deposited on a cleared, flat surface and the male protects them until hatching, approximately 6 -11 days. After hatching, larvae drift in the water looking for an anemone to inhabit. Once they find an anemone and settle, their future development is dependent upon the group of clownfish that are already inhabiting the anemone.

Habitat/range: They inhabit lagoon reefs in the waters of the Western Pacific, from the Ryukyu Islands, Japan, to Malaysia and Indonesia.

Status: Not evaluated for the IUCN Red List.