Clownfish species identification guide

Clownfish -or anemonefish- include 30 species divided into two genera: Amphiprion and Premnas. They are part of the Pomacentridae family (damselfish), but we prefer to present them here on a dedicated page. You can find here the page with the other species of damselfish.

A unique relationship with sea anemones

Clownfish -or anemonefish- are certainly the most popular of reef fish. They belong to the damselfish family and are known for their ability to live among the tentacles of sea anemones.

Clownfish color varies from orange, red, pink, and even yellow or black, with white bars or stripes on their bodies, depending on the species. Colorful, they are wonderfully photogenic.

A snorkeler observing a clownfish in the Red Sea
In many snorkeling locations, clownfish can be seen in very shallow waters. Here, a pair of Red Sea anemonefish found less than 3ft deep at Ras Um Sid reef flat, Egypt.

Watching a clownfish swimming up and down and “playing” in its sea anemone is one of the most captivating sights of coral reef life.

Where are the different anemonefish species found?

The most famous clownfish in popular culture is the ocellaris clownfish, the main character from the 2003 animated film Finding Nemo, but the clownfish family comprises nearly 30 other different species.

Clownfish are found in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the western Pacific Ocean. They are totally absent in the Caribbean and Atlantic regions, as well as in the eastern Pacific Ocean (including the Hawaiian Islands).

Ocellaris clownfish
The very popular ocellaris clownfish is commonly seen on Southeast Asia reefs, like here in El Nido, Philippines.

Clark’s anemonefish is the most widely distributed clownfish, present from eastern Africa to the Western Pacific, while the ocellaris clownfish is spread from the west coast of Thailand to eastern Australia and the Solomon Islands.

Some other species have very restricted distribution areas, such as the Oman anemonefish, only found on the Arabian Sea coast of Oman, and the Mauritian anemonefish, endemic to Mauritius and Réunion.

Only one species, the Red Sea clownfish, inhabits the Red Sea.

Indo-Pacific anemonefish

Red Sea anemonefish

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