Sunday, June 22, 2014

Clownfish’s Strange Ability to Transform

Since Disney released their hit movie “Finding Nemo”, almost every kid in the TV-watching world knows that a Clownfish is. Anemone Clownfish (Amphiprionocellaris), also called common clownfish are the stripy orange fishes that we commonly see living in coral reefs found in the tropical waters surrounding Australia and Asia.

What makes these fishes special is that they develop a interdependentrelationship with different kinds of sea anemones like Stichodactylamertensii, Stichodactyla gigantean,and Heteractismagnifica. Clownfishes stay in these anemones for shelter. The fishes also protect these anemones from harm. Clownfishes are covered in a special mucus that keeps them immune from the sting other fishes would feel when they come too close to an anemones.
Another strange thing about these fishes is that they all started off as male specimens. All the 28 anemonefishand clownfish species listed under the genus Amphiprion are protandrous hermaphrodites. All of them develop as males, complete with male reproductive organs, then change into females later on in their lives. Females are very aggressive and dominate, controlling males and preventing the development of other female specimens in the group. This explains why inbreeding pairs of Clowfishes, females are bigger.

Adult male and female Clownfishes live together along with their non-reproductivefishlets in a single anemone. However, when the female partner dies, the male would change to female. The larger of the juvenile fishes turn into male, and then he would dominate all the other juveniles. This whole system of sex changes is known as sequential hermaphroditism.

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