Black Clownfish ‘Amphiprion Ocellaris’

black clownfish

Last updated on August 13th, 2022 at 01:10 pm

The black clownfish, also known as the false percula clownfish or melanurus clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) is a species of marine fish in the family Pomacentridae. They are found near reefs and they like to bury themselves under rocks for protection.

Black clownfish have been reported as a threat to hard coral reefs because they feed on zooplankton and polychaete worms, which form part of the reef’s food chain. They also protect their home by burying themselves under rocks or living in crevices among corals. When threatened, black clownfish will often release their grip from the coral and try to swim away.

The black clownfish is one of three species in the genus Amphiprion (the other two being the Percula Clownfish, Amphiprion percula, and the Ocellaris Clownfish, A. ocellaris) that can be found across a wide area from the east coast of Africa, across the Indian Ocean to Australia. They prefer water temperatures between 23-27 degrees Celsius (73-81 degrees Fahrenheit).

Black clownfish have a black body with an orange stripe that stretches horizontally along its length from head to tail. The dorsal fin is also usually tipped in white and the caudal fin is also orange.

The black clownfish, if threatened, will release its grip on the coral and swim away to escape from predators such as wrasses or triggerfish.

Origin and Distribution

black clownfish

The black clownfish originates in the Pacific Ocean, specifically from Japan to New Caledonia. The fish is also found in Australia and Indonesia. All black clownfish are born male but can change sex depending on social roles within a group.

In some areas, these fishes live in colonies that have multiple males or females living together.

For most black clownfish, the males are dominant and females act as helpers. The eggs of this fish species are fertilized by sperm from a male once in their lifetime. These fishes contribute to population control because when they become old enough to change sex they will go into one side of the group or another depending on if there is an opening.

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The black clownfish is a deep-sea fish that can be found all the way down to 300 meters below the surface of the water! They have no natural predators because they are so well camouflaged with their surroundings and this helps protect them from other animals in the ocean as long as it doesn’t move too much.

Species profile

black clownfish

The black clownfish, known as Amphiprion percula or Premnas biaculeatus in the scientific community, is a species of marine fish found primarily on reefs and rocks.

Their habitat ranges from East Africa to Fiji. The first part of its name comes from its characteristic coloration which resembles that of a circus clown’s clothing.

The black clownfish is an omnivore and feeds on a wide variety of foods including zooplankton, fish eggs, algae, other invertebrates, and coral polyps known as octocorals. Black clownfish are not found in Japan where they have been completely replaced by the white-striped pomfret, a larger species.

The black clownfish is typically found in social groups of between 5 and 30 individuals which can be broken up into sub-groups. They are territorial animals who will attack other fish that have wandered too close to their territory or entered the area while looking for food as well as intruders from neighboring territories.

Color and appearance

The black clownfish is a dark, midnight blue color with white accents.

Its front half of its body has a varying pattern and the back half is covered in small dots before it fades to an almost pure-white fin that ripples at the side. Its head contains some purple specks near their eyes which are also visible on the rest of their body.

The black clownfish can grow up to 12 inches in length and live as long as 14 years.


The black clownfish is found in the Indo-Pacific region. They live on coral reefs and rocky areas at depths of up to 300 meters (98 ft). The fish are not fussy about what they eat, which means that they often feed on octopus, urchins, sea cucumbers and other types of invertebrates as well as small fish.

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The black clownfish is a popular species among aquarists, especially because the juveniles are more brightly colored than adults and can live in captivity for up to 20 years. They are also easy to care for since they don’t require any special conditions or extra feeding.


The black clownfish grows to about two inches. They are considered a small fish, but it is still larger than most other fishes in the home aquarium. The female will grow slightly smaller than the male because they have eggs that go through osmosis into their body and can’t be expelled like males during the breeding season.

Life cycle

The black clownfish is a reef-dwelling fish that has an average lifespan of up to ten years. They grow to about five inches in length and are one of the few species with males carrying eggs instead of fertilizing them externally like most other marine life.

The females spend their entire lives guarding the nests as they lay between twenty and fifty eggs. The males, meanwhile, find a different mate for each breeding cycle and brood the fertilized eggs in their mouths before spitting them out into the nest.

Are they peaceful or aggressive?

The black clownfish is a very peaceful and non-aggressive fish, but they are still territorial. They build their nests far away from other reefs in order to avoid any conflicts with neighboring territories.

General care information

black clownfish

What they eat

Black clownfish are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and plants. Their diet consists of crustaceans (such as shrimp), algae, plankton, worms, and sometimes small invertebrates such as snails or urchins.

They hunt these prey in the shallow waters during the day with their powerful jaws which come equipped with a row of small but sharp teeth.

They are also known to eat the eggs and larvae of other fish species, including those from sharks, rays, damselfishes or even members of their own genus (i.e., they have been observed eating Amphipion percula).

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Tanks mates

Black clownfish are very territorial and will defend their territory from other members of the same species. However, they can peacefully coexist with a few different fish types that share a similar habitat at night such as damselfish or some gobies.

Tankmates for Amphiprion ocellaris include Cardinalfishes (also called Hawaiian dascyllus), Chromis, and Regal Tangs.

Water condition

The black clownfish is an herbivore and lives in saltwater. The water temperature for these fish should be between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH level of around 8 to 9.

In the wild, these fish can be found living in deep water and at depths of up to 305 feet. In captivity, black clownfish are often kept in an aquarium with a salt level that is similar to their natural habitat. They have been known to live for as long as ten years.


Clownfish are known to engage in a process called broadcasting, where they release their eggs and sperm into the water for external fertilization. This is done after courtship rituals with other clownfish of either sex; however, it can also happen through contact between two individuals that do not show interest in each other sexually.

Clownfish have been known to release eggs and sperm into the water in response to stress, such as that caused by a predator.

This process is not always successful; in fact, it only results in breeding between one-third of clownfish pairs that attempt broadcasting. There are two main reasons for this: firstly, mating takes place during low tide when there isn’t enough water to successfully broadcast eggs and sperm.

Secondly, the female fish will sometimes consume the male’s fertilized eggs if they are released with their first batch of egg-bearing sperm.

If successful mating occurs, it is only possible for one clutch (a group of offspring) to be produced per year because clownfish lay eggs that are fertilized in batches.

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This species has a relatively short life span in comparison to other fish that can live for up to thirty years.

The average lifespan of the black clownfish is four to five years.

Parasites and diseases

Much like other fish, the black clownfish are susceptible to parasites and diseases that can be harmful. They also have a low resistance to chemicals in the water of lower quality which makes it difficult for them to survive even in an aquarium with healthy water conditions.


The black clownfish are prey for larger fishes and invertebrates. Predation can be an issue if the fish are not kept in a fenced-off aquarium with only one or two entrances. The most common predators of this species are other marine animals such as sharks, octopuses, eels, and large groupers.

Does it make good pets?

The black clownfish is not a suitable pet. They are difficult to keep in captivity and require specialized care which makes them unsuitable for hobbyists.

This species has also been known to be aggressive towards smaller fish, making life even more difficult in an aquarium setting where they cannot escape predation by bigger creatures.

Signs of a healthy black clownfish

  • Is active and doesn’t linger near the top of the water.
  • Has a clean mouth, gills, and eyes that are clear (not cloudy).
  • Dives to the bottom or middle of an aquarium for its food instead of hovering near the surface.
  • Moves freely in all directions without any signs of stress or fear.
  • Does not have any signs of parasites such as white spots, red patches, or sores and bumps.
  • Has a spiny dorsal fin that is erect (not curved over) with an alert posture when in the presence of another fish; this shows they are confident and happy to explore their surroundings instead of feeling threatened.
  • Sits at the bottom or middle of an aquarium instead of hovering near the surface, so their whole body is covered with water.
  • Is alert and active when in a spacious environment (not lethargic).