CHAPTER 2

ANEMONEFISHES

CLASSIFICATION

Anemonefishes are members of the Pomacentridae, one of the largest families in order Perciformes, with approximately 325 species. Members of this family, commonly known as damselfishes, are almost entirely marine (three mainly brackish water species sometimes occur in fresh water), and most species occur in tropical, and to a lesser degree, subtropical latitudes. About 70% of damselfishes, including anemonefishes, are restricted to the vast Indo-West Pacific region.

Amphiprion and Premnas constitute the Amphiprioninae, one of four pomacentrid subfamilies. The only other damselfishes that sometimes dwell with anemones are Dascyllus trimaculatus, and D. albisella, which belong to another subfamily, the Chrominae.

IDENTIFICATION

Colour pattern is the most important feature for identifying an anemonefish in the field. Other useful characters, which include tooth shape, scalation of the head, and body proportions, are mainly of value to laboratory workers identifying preserved specimens. Correct identification of juveniles is often difficult, due to great similarities among many species and to the colour patterns of many differing from those of adults. The easiest juveniles to identify are those that resemble the adult and that mostly have either no bars or a single white bar: A. akallopisos, A. leucokranos, A. nigripes, A. perideraion, and A. sandaracinos. Distinctive shape and colouration make the young of A. latezonatus, A. ocellaris - A. percula (which, however, are difficult to distinguish from one other), A. polymnus, A. sebae, and P. biaculeatus relatively easy to identify. More difficult to separate are the red-finned species, whose adults possess a single bar (A. frenatus, A. melanopus, A. rubrocinctus, and A. ephippium), for juveniles generally have two or three white bars, which they lose sequentially from the tail end as they grow. Perhaps most difficult to distinguish are juveniles of species that possess two or three bars as adults and have variable amounts of yellow or orange on body and fins. Curiously, juveniles of these fishes frequently have one bar to begin with, developing the other(s) as they grow. For many such species, it may be necessary to observe a transitional series of progressively larger fish in order to link the smallest young with adults. Fortunately, in field situations this is often possible, as "family" groups of a single species composed of individuals of increasing size usually occur with larger anemones.

Individual species accounts provide information on important colour pattern features, including an underwater photograph, means of distinguishing similar species, anemone host(s), and details of distribution. Several "species pairs" share nearly identical patterns: for example, Amphiprion allardi - A. chrysopterus, A. chrysogaster - A. tricinctus, and A. akindynos - A. chagosensis. Fortunately, the members of each pair have widely separated geographic ranges. Thus, knowledge of the distribution of a species may be very useful in identifying it correctly. Dascyllus trimaculatus, juveniles of which are often encountered with anemones, is also included among the species accounts.

COLOUR VARIATION

The colour of anemonefish of one species sometimes varies. Geographic variation is most common among widely distributed species. For example, A. clarkii, which has the broadest distribution of any anemonefish, is exceedingly variable over its range. Another type of variation is melanism (black pigmentation), which is somehow induced by the host anemone. This topic is discussed in more detail in Chapter 5.

Other categories of variation are related to sex (see Chapter 4), are due to hybridisation, or are purely random. Hybrid crosses between closely related species have been produced in aquarium conditions, and at least one probable cross, involving A. chrysopterus and A. leucokranos, has been observed by us in Papua New Guinea. The most common sort of random variation involves irregularities in the shape of the white bars displayed by most species, particularly the head bar. In some cases, one or more bars may be absent or greatly abbreviated.

AMPHIPRION AKALLOPISOS BLEEKER, 1853

Skunk Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion akallopisos, from specimens collected on Sumatra (an island of Indonesia)

Colour features and size: Pink to nearly orange; without crossbars, but with a relatively narrow white stripe from top of the head to beginning of the dorsal fin, and continuing along base of the fin its entire length. Maximum length 100-110 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion sandaracinos is very similar, but brighter orange in colour, and its more vivid white stripe is broader; teeth of A. sandaracinos are conical rather than incisiform as in A. akallopisos.

Host anemone species: Heteractis magnifica; Stichodactyla mertensii.

Distribution: Widespread in Indian Ocean, including Madagascar, Comoro Islands, Seychelles, Andaman Islands, west coast of Thailand, and western and southern coasts of Sumatra and Java. It also occurs in the Java Sea.

AMPHIPRION AKINDYNOS ALLEN, 1972

Barrier Reef Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion akindynos from specimens collected at the Capricorn Group, Great Barrier Reef

Colour features and size: Light to dark brown with two white bars and whitish caudal fin; head bar of adult usually constricted or discontinuous on top of head; transition between dark colour of the body and pale tail not abrupt (as in A. clarkii), at least in adults; many juveniles and subadults have pronounced white saddle or wedge-shaped mark on upper part of tail base. Maximum length 120-130 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion clarkii generally has broader white bars and a very abrupt transition between the dark colour of the body and pale tail. The head bar of A. chrysopterus is broader and never constricted or discontinuous across its top; large adults are darker, have more orange colour, and their bars tend to be bluish.

Host anemone species: Entacmaea quadricolor; Heteractis aurora; H. crispa; H. magnifica; Stichodactyla haddoni., S. mertensii

Distribution: Great Barrier Reef of Australia and adjacent Coral Sea to New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands.

AMPHIPRION ALLARDI KLAUSEWITZ, 1970

Allard's Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion allardi, from specimens collected at Mombasa, Kenya

Colour features and size: Dark brown to black with two white or bluish-white bars; caudal fin pale, all other fins orange. Maximum length about 140 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion chrysopterus, from the western Pacific Ocean is nearly identical in colour, but the wide geographic separation between these species is sufficient to prevent confusion. Of species with ranges nearer that of A. allardi, A. latifasciatus of Madagascar and the Comoro Islands is similar, but has a wider mid-lateral bar and its yellow caudal fin is forked.

Host anemone species: Entacmaea quadricolor; Heteractis aurora; Stichodactyla mertensii.

Distribution: East Africa between Kenya and Durban.

AMPHIPRION BICINCTUS RÜPPELL, 1828

Two-band Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion bicinctus, from specimens collected at Massaua, Red Sea

Colour features and size: Bright orange to dark brown with two white or bluish-white bars, the first considerably expanded (rarely narrow) across top of the head. Maximum length about 140 mm.

Similar species: Many species have a similar pattern of two white bars, but A. bicinctus differs from nearly all of them by having a yellowish caudal fin (it is whitish in other species); and the expansion of the first bar over the top of the head differs from the narrower bar typical of most other species (although the bar is occasionally narrow in A. bicinctus). Amphiprion latifasciatus from Madagascar and the Comoro Islands is similar in pattern and also has a yellow tail, but the mid-body bar is much wider and the tail is forked (it is truncate or only slightly emarginate in A. bicinctus). Amphiprion chagosensis from the Chagos Archipelago and A. allardi from eastern Africa have a white tail.

Host anemone species: Entacmaea quadricolor; Heteractis aurora; H. crispa; H. magnifica; Stichodactyla gigantea.

Distribution: Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Chagos Archipelago.

AMPHIPRION CHAGOSENSIS ALLEN, 1972

Chagos Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion chagosensis, from specimens collected at Diego Garcia Atoll, Chagos Archipelago

Colour features and size: Light to dark brown with two dark-edged white bars; dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins of adults dusky brown; caudal fin whitish. Maximum length about 100 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion akindynos from the Great Barrier Reef - Coral Sea region is similar in appearance, but has paler dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins (at least in adults), and the first white bar is usually constricted or interrupted on top of the head. In addition, A. chagosensis differs from similar two-barred species in the extent of predorsal scalation: the top of its head is scaled to a point nearly even with the front of the eyes, whereas in A. akindynos, A. allardi, and A. bicinctus, scales extend only to the rear of the eyes or, at most, are even with the middle of the eyes.

Host anemone species: not known

Distribution: Chagos Archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

AMPHIPRION CHRYSOGASTER CUVIER, 1830

Mauritian Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion chrysogaster, from specimens collected at Mauritius (southwestern Indian Ocean)

Colour features and size: Very dark brown (nearly black) with three white bars; breast and snout orange; anal fin either orange-yellow or blackish; caudal fin dark brown or blackish. Maximum length about 140 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion fuscocaudatus from the Seychelles has a similar colour pattern but its tail has dark streaks rather than being solid dark colour and it has 11 dorsal spines (there are 10 in A. chrysogaster). Amphiprion tricinctus, from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, is also similar, but generally has a narrower bar across the tail base (fewer than three scales wide -- it is more than three scales wide in A. chrysogaster).

Host anemone species: Heteractis aurora; H. magnifica, Macrodactyla doreensis; Stichodactyla haddoni; S. mertensii.

Melanistic variation: Specimens associated with Stichodactyla mertensii are generally blackish except for the three white bars.

Distribution: Mauritius (western Indian Ocean) and probably Reunion.

AMPHIPRION CHRYSOPTERUS CUVIER, 1830

Orange-fin Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion chrysopterus, from specimens of undetermined origin

Colour features and size: Brown to nearly black with two white or bluish-white bars and a whitish caudal fin; over most of the western Pacific all other fins are yellow-orange, but fish from Melanesia have black pelvic and anal fins. Maximum length about 150 mm.

Similar species: Three species with overlapping distributions may be confused with A. chrysopterus. Adults of A. akindynos from the Great Barrier Reef - Coral Sea region tend to be lighter brown with pelvic and anal fins that are never black; Amphiprion clarkii has a wider mid-lateral bar and almost always has a third bar across the tail base; A. tricinctus has a bar across the tail base except when solid black, in which case it has only two bars.

Host anemone species: Entacmaea quadricolor, Heteractis aurora; H. crispa; H. magnifica; Stichodactyla haddoni; S. mertensii.

Melanistic variation: Fish living with Stichodactyla mertensii generally have a blackish ground colour, whereas males and juveniles that occupy Heteractis crispa are brown. Only orange or brown juveniles are found with H. aurora.

Distribution: Widespread in the western Pacific including New Guinea, Coral Sea, New Britain, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Caroline Islands, Mariana Islands, Gilbert Islands, Samoa, Society Islands, and Tuamotu Islands.

AMPHIPRION CLARKII (BENNETT, 1830)

Clark's Anemonefish

Original description: As Anthias clarkii, from specimens collected at Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)

Colour features and size: Usually black with variable amount of orange on head, ventral parts, and fins; three white bars -- on head, body, base of caudal fin; transition between darker body and bar across caudal fin base usually abrupt; caudal fin usually white or white with yellow edges (males), but sometimes yellow; juveniles from all areas and adults from Vanuatu and New Caledonia may be mostly or entirely orange-yellow with only two anterior white bars. Maximum length about 140 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion latifasciatus (Madagascar and Comoro Islands) lacks a white bar on the caudal fin base and its tail is forked. Amphiprion allardi (East Africa), A. akindynos (Great Barrier Reef - Coral Sea), and A. chagosensis have a narrower mid-body bar and lack the sharp demarcation between white on the caudal fin base and dark of the body. Amphiprion chrysogaster (Mauritius), A. fuscocaudatus (Seychelles), and A. tricinctus (Marshall Islands) have three white bars, but the caudal fin is dark.

Host anemone species: Cryptodendrum adhaesivum; Entacmaea quadricolor; Heteractis aurora; H. crispa; H. magnifica, H. malu; Macrodactyla doreensis; Stichodactyla gigantea; S. haddoni; S. mertensii.

Melanistic variation: Fish that live with Stichodactyla mertensii are frequently black except for pale snout, white bars, and yellow or white tail.

Distribution: Amphiprion clarkii is the most widely distributed anemonefish, ranging from the islands of Micronesia and Melanesia in the western Pacific to the Persian Gulf, and from Australia to Japan.

AMPHIPRION EPHIPPIUM (BLOCH, 1790)

Red Saddleback Anemonefish

Original description: As Lutjanus ephippium, from specimens collected at Tranquebar (about 250 km south of Madras, India; probably an erroneous locality as it is outside the known range)

Colour features and size: Body and fins reddish-orange, lacking white bars (except small juveniles); black spot or saddle on sides usually varies in size with size of individual, being small in subadults and covering much of the posterior body in mature fish. Maximum length about 120 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion frenatus (South China Sea to Japan),A. melanopus (western Pacific), and A. rubrocinctus (northwestern Australia) are somewhat similar, but all possess a single white head bar as adults (juveniles may have 2-3 bars); in addition, scales on top of the head in these species do not extend as far forward (to about the middle part of the eyes) as in A. ephippium (to a level even with the front of the eyes).

Host anemone species: Entacmaea quadricolor; Heteractis crispa.

Distribution: Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra, and Java.

AMPHIPRION FRENATUS BREVOORT, 1856

Tomato Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion frenatus, from specimens collected at Japan

Colour features and size: Adults with a single white head bar; females mainly blackish on sides with red snout, breast, belly, and fins; males considerably smaller than females and lacking blackish colouration -- being instead red overall; juveniles with two or three white bars. Maximum length about 140 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion rubrocinctus (northwestern Australia) is very similar in colouration, but its white bar lacks the distinctive black outline of A. frenatus; the bar in females is poorly developed, has an irregular outline, and is sometimes discontinuous on top of the head; the smaller male generally has blackish sides. Small juveniles of A. frenatus and A. rubrocinctus are very difficult to separate; because they do not have overlapping distributions, geography is the best means of distinguishing them. Amphiprion melanopus (western Pacific) is also similar, but generally has a broader white head bar and specimens from most areas (except eastern Melanesia) have black pelvic and anal fins.

Host anemone: Entacmaea quadricolor

Melanistic variation: Only that related to sex as described above.

Distribution: South China Sea and immediately adjacent areas, northwards to Japan.

AMPHIPRION FUSCOCAUDATUS ALLEN, 1972

Seychelles Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion fuscocaudatus, from specimens collected at the Seychelles Islands (northwestern Indian Ocean)

Colour features and size: Dark brown to blackish with three white bars; snout, breast, belly, and pelvic and anal fins yellow-orange; dorsal and caudal fins dusky brown to blackish. Maximum length about 140 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion chrysogaster (Mauritius) is very similar in having three white bars and a dark caudal fin. However, the caudal fin of A. chrysogaster is uniformly dark except for a narrow white margin, whereas in A. fuscocaudatus, it has a dark central area at its base, with dark longitudinal streaks separated by lighter areas radiating from it.

Host anemone species: Stichodactyla mertensii

Distribution: Seychelles Islands and Aldabra in the western Indian Ocean.

AMPHIPRION LATEZONATUS WAITE, 1900

Wide-band Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion latezonatus, from specimens collected at Lord Howe Island (southwestern Pacific Ocean)

Colour features and size: Dark brown with three white bars; mid-body bar extremely wide and shaped like flat-topped pyramid; caudal fin dark brown with broad, pale posterior margin. Maximum length about 140 mm.

Similar species: One of the most distinctive anemonefishes, Amphiprion latezonatus is unlikely to be confused with any other. Its mid-body bar is more than twice the width of this bar in most other species.

Host anemone species: Heteractis crispa

Distribution: Lord Howe Island off eastern Australia and rocky mainland reefs near the Queensland - New South Wales border.

AMPHIPRION LATIFASCIATUS ALLEN, 1972

Madagascar Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion latifasciatus, from specimens collected at Madagascar

Colour features and size: Blackish with two white bars; snout, belly, and all fins, including tail, yellow; caudal fin slightly forked. Maximum length about 130 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion bicinctus (Red Sea), A. allardi (East Africa), A. chrysopterus (western Pacific), and A. clarkii (Indo-West Pacific) have a similar colour pattern. The mid-body bar of A. latifasciatus is generally wider than in these species, and its caudal fin is forked rather than truncate to slightly emarginate. It further differs from A. chrysopterus and A. allardi (and most individuals of A. clarkii) in having a yellow rather than a white tail, and from most A. clarkii in lacking a white bar at the base of the caudal fin. Amphiprion omanensis (Arabian Sea) also has a forked caudal fin, but the midbody bar is much narrower (1 1/2 to 4 scales wide) and the pelvic and anal fins are black.

Host anemone species: Stichodactyla mertensii

Distribution: Madagascar and the Comoro Islands in the western Indian Ocean.

AMPHIPRION LEUCOKRANOS ALLEN, 1973

White-Bonnet Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion leucokranos, from specimens collected at Madang, Papua New Guinea

Colour features and size: Orange to light brown with a large teardrop shaped white area on top of head and a single white bar on each side of head that may or may not be connected to the white area above it. Maximum length about 90 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion sandaracinos is a similar colour, but lacks the white head bar and mark on top of the head, having, instead, a white mid-dorsal stripe extending from the snout along the spine to the base of the tail.

Host anemone species: Heteractis crispa; H. magnifica., Stichodactyla mertensii

Distribution: Northern Papua New Guinea, including Manus Island and New Britain, and the Solomon Islands.

AMPHIPRION MCCULLOCHI WHITLEY, 1929

McCulloch's Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion mccullochi, from specimens collected at Lord Howe Island (southwestern Pacific Ocean)

Colour features and size: Dark brown with whitish snout and caudal fin; white bar on each side of head usually not connected with each other on top of head in adults. Maximum length about 12 cm.

Similar species: Amphiprion melanopus (western Pacific) is similar, but has reddish coloured breast, belly, and dorsal fin, and the caudal fin is yellowish to slightly red. In addition, the white bars are interconnected over the top of the head.

Host anemone species: Entacmaea quadricolor

Distribution: Lord Howe Island off New South Wales, Australia, and nearby Norfolk Island.

AMPHIPRION MELANOPUS BLEEKER, 1852

Red and Black Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion melanopus, from specimens collected at Ambon (Molucca Islands, Indonesia)

Colour features and size: Adults usually black on sides with reddish snout, belly, dorsal fin, and tail (sometimes pale yellow); pelvic and anal fins usually black; a single relatively broad white bar on head. Some individuals from the Coral Sea lack head bar; fish from the Fiji Islands and southeastern Polynesia entirely red except for white head bar; those from the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia have reduced black patch on the side. Maximum length about 120 mm.

Similar species: In the normal adult colouration, the black pelvic and anal fins easily distinguish A. melanopus from the other single-barred, red-finned species, A. frenatus (South China Sea to Japan) and A. rubrocinctus (northwestern Australia). However, Fijian and southeastern Polynesian specimens are readily confused with the red males of A. frenatus. The best means of separation is the pronounced black border on the margins (particularly the rear one) of the white head bar in A. frenatus, which is lacking in A. melanopus.

Host anemone species: Usually Entacmaea quadricolor; occasionally Heteractis crispa; rarely H. magnifica

Melanistic variation: None except variation between "normal" dark colour phase and red "Fijian" phase noted above.

Distribution: Indonesia (Bali westward), Melanesia, Micronesia, southeastern Polynesia, and Great Barrier Reef - Coral Sea.

AMPHIPRION NIGRIPES REGAN, 1908

Maldives Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion nigripes, from specimens collected at the Maldive Islands

Colour features and size: Pale orange brown with narrow white head bar; belly, pelvic fins, and anal fin black. Maximum length about 110 mm.

Similar species: No other species in the Indian Ocean except A. perideraion (eastern Indian and western Pacific Oceans) has only one white bar; A. nigripes is easily separated from it and all other anemonefishes by the combination of the single white bar and black belly, pelvic fins, and anal fins.

Host anemone species: Heteractis magnifica

Distribution: Maldive Islands and Sri Lanka in the central Indian Ocean.

AMPHIPRION OCELLARIS CUVIER, 1830

False Clown Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion ocellaris, from specimens collected at Sumatra (an island of Indonesia)

Colour features and size: Normally bright orange with three white bars, the middle one with forward-projecting bulge; bars have narrow black margins. Maximum length about 90 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion percula (northern Queensland and Melanesia) is nearly identical, but has 10 (rarely 9) dorsal spines compared to 11 (rarely 10) in A. ocellaris; the spinous (anterior) part of the dorsal fin in A. ocellaris is taller (its height fits about 2.1-2.9 in the head length compared to 3.1-3.3 in A. percula). Distributions of these two species do not overlap.

Host anemone species: Heteractis magnifica; Stichodactyla gigantea; S. mertensii.

Melanistic variation: A variety that is entirely black except for the white bars occurs in the vicinity of Darwin, Australia. Whether this melanism is correlated with a particular species of anemone is uncertain.

Distribution: Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Andaman Sea), Indo-Malayan Archipelago, Philippines, northwestern Australia; coast of Southeast Asia northwards to the Ryukyu Islands.

AMPHIPRION OMANENSIS ALLEN AND MEE, 1991

Oman Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion omanensis from specimens collected at Oman (described in Allen, 1991)

Colour features and size: Body medium to dark brown, head lighter (very pale tannish on snout and chin); two white bars, the head bar usually constricted on forehead, midbody bar narrow, about 1 1/2-4 scales wide; dorsal fin brown to tan; caudal fin tan to whitish, pelvic and anal fins black, pectoral fins yellowish.

Similar species: The combination of a strongly forked caudal fin and black pelvic and anal fins is distinctive. The only other species with a forked caudal fin is A. latifasciatus from Madagascar and the Comoro Islands. However, it has a much wider midbody bar, usually about 10 scales wide.

Host anemone species: Entacmaea quadricolor, Heteractis crispa

Distribution: Oman, Arabian Peninsula

AMPHIPRION PERCULA (LACEPEDE, 1802)

Clown Anemonefish

Original description: As Lutjanus percula, from specimens collected at New Britain (now part of Papua New Guinea)

Colour features and size: Bright orange with three white bars, the middle with forward-projecting bulge; bars often bordered with black that varies in width. Maximum length about 80 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion ocellaris is nearly identical, but has 11 (rarely 10) dorsal spines compared to 10 (rarely 9) in A. percula; the spinous (anterior) part of the dorsal fin of A. ocellaris is taller (its height fits about 2.1-2.9 in the head length compared to 3.1-3.3 in A. percula); A. ocellaris never has a thick black margin around the white bars. These two species do not have overlapping distributions.

Host anemone species: Heteractis crispa; H. magnifica; Stichodactyla gigantea.

Melanistic variation: Limited melanism is evident in fish that live with anemones of the genus Stichodactyla: the margin around the white bars is deep black, and, in some specimens, considerably expanded.

Distribution: Northern Queensland and Melanesia (New Guinea, New Britain, New Ireland, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu).

AMPHIPRION PERIDERAION BLEEKER, 1855

Pink Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion perideraion, from specimens collected at Groot Oby (Obi Island, Molucca Islands, Indonesia)

Colour features and size: Pink to pinkish orange; fins pale; narrow white head bar and white stripe on top of head beginning between the eyes and extending along base of dorsal fin; adult males have narrow orange margin on soft dorsal fin and upper and lower edges of tail. Maximum length about 10 cm.

Similar species: Amphiprion nigripes (Maldives and Sri Lanka) is more reddish and has a black belly and black pelvic and anal fins; A. leucokranos (Melanesia) has a wider head bar and the much broader white stripe (usually teardrop shape) on top of the head does not extend the full length of the dorsal fin base; A. akallopisos (Indian Ocean) and A. sandaracinos (eastern Indian - western Pacific Oceans) lack the white head bar.

Host anemone species: Heteractis crispa; usually H. magnifica; Macrodactyla doreensis; Stichodactyla gigantea.

Distribution: Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean, Indo-Australian Archipelago northwards to the Ryukyu Islands, Fiji and Micronesia.

AMPHIPRION POLYMNUS (LINNAEUS, 1758)

Saddleback Anemonefish

Original description: As Perca polymnus, from specimens collected in the Indies (i.e. East Indies, now Indonesia)

Colour features and size: Dark brown with broad white bar just behind eye; on middle of back an abbreviated white saddle or on middle of the side a partial to complete white bar that slants slightly backwards, extending onto middle and rear parts of dorsal fin; caudal fin mainly dark brown with broad whitish margins, the dark part tapering in width posteriorly; breast and belly either yellow orange or dark brown. Maximum length about 120 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion sebae (Indian Ocean) has a yellow tail.

Host anemone species: Heteractis crispa; Stichodactyla haddoni

Melanistic variation: Fish associated with Heteractis crispa are usually entirely dark except for the white bars and caudal fin margin and tannish snout.

Distribution: Indo-Malayan Archipelago northwards to the Ryukyu Islands; also reported from the Northern Territory, Australia.

AMPHIPRION RUBROCINCTUS RICHARDSON, 1842

Australian Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion rubrocinctus, from specimens collected at Depuch Island, Western Australia

Colour features and size: Dark brown or blackish on sides with single pale (white to pink) bar on head; head bar often poorly developed in adults and lacking pronounced black margin; snout, breast, belly, and fins red. Maximum length about 120 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion frenatus (South China Sea to Japan) is similar in colour, but males of that species are entirely bright red except for the head bar, and females have a more vivid white head bar with a narrow black margin (lacking in A. rubrocinctus). The distributions of these species do not overlap.

Host anemone species: Usually Entacmaea quadricolor; Stichodactyla gigantea.

Distribution: Northwestern Australia.

AMPHIPRION SANDARACINOS ALLEN, 1972

Orange Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion sandaracinos, from specimens collected in the Philippines

Colour features and size: Bright orange with white mid-dorsal stripe between middle of snout and upper base of tail; no white bars on head and body. Maximum length about 13 cm.

Similar species: Amphiprion akallopisos (Indian Ocean) tends to be more pink than orange, and its mid-dorsal stripe usually does not reach the upper lip as in A. sandaracinos. Teeth of the two species differ in shape (flat-topped in A. akallopisos and conical in A. sandaracinos). Amphiprion leucokranos (Melanesia) has a similar orange colouration, but possesses a head bar and teardrop shaped mark on top of the head.

Host anemone species: Heteractis crispa, Stichodactyla mertensii.

Distribution: Christmas Island and Western Australia in the eastern Indian Ocean, Indonesia, Melanesia, Philippines, and northwards to the Ryukyu Islands.

AMPHIPRION SEBAE BLEEKER, 1853

Sebae Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion sebae, from specimens collected at Java (an island of Indonesia)

Colour features and size: Dark brown to blackish with two white bars, the mid-body bar slanting slightly backwards and extending onto rear part of dorsal fin; snout, breast, and belly often yellow orange; tail yellow or orange. Maximum length about 140 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion polymnus (Indo-Australian Archipelago to Japan) is similar, but has a distinctive dark, wedge-shaped mark covering most of the tail.

Host anemone species: Stichodactyla haddoni.

Melanistic variation: Some individuals are entirely dark brown to blackish on the body (except for white bars), lacking yellow-orange colour on the snout, breast, and belly. It is not known if the variation is associated with a particular anemone host.

Distribution: Northern Indian Ocean including Java, Sumatra, Andaman Islands, India, Sri Lanka, Maldive Islands, and southern Arabian Peninsula.

AMPHIPRION THIELLEI BURGESS, 1981

Thielle's Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion thiellei, from specimens of unknown origin (via a pet shop)

Colour features and size: Reddish-orange with single, relatively narrow white head bar; also small white saddle on top edge of tail base. Maximum length 65 mm.

Similar species: Amphiprion perideraion (eastern Indian - western Pacific oceans) is pink or pinkish-orange without the reddish hue, and has a white stripe along the base of the dorsal fin and down the middle of the forehead. Amphiprion nigripes (Maldives and Sri Lanka) has a black belly, pelvic fins, and anal fin.

Host anemone species: unknown

Distribution: The species was described from two specimens obtained from a pet dealer; their origin is uncertain, although they are believed to have been collected in the Philippines. The species appears to be distinctive in colouration and morphology (especially a low gill-raker count), but until more specimens are studied, its status as a valid species is provisional: it might represent a rare variant of another species or a hybrid. No other specimens have been seen since the two original fish were obtained.

AMPHIPRION TRICINCTUS SCHULTZ AND WELANDER, 1953

Three-Band Anemonefish

Original description: As Amphiprion tricinctus, from specimens collected at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands

Colour features and size: Black or dark brown with two or three white bars; snout, breast, belly, pelvic fins, and anal fin frequently yellow-orange; tail dark brown or black. Maximum length about 13 cm.

Similar species: Amphiprion chrysogaster (Mauritius) and A. fuscocaudatus (Seychelles) both have a combination of three white bars and a dark tail, but there are broad gaps among the distributions of the three species. Amphiprion fuscocaudatus differs in having dark streaks radiating from the basal black area on the tail (the tail of A. tricinctus is uniformly dark ); A. chrysogaster has a wider white bar across the tail base (more than three scales wide compared to fewer than three in A. tricinctus). Both A. chrysogaster and A. fuscocaudatus tend to be more yellow on the breast, belly, and pelvic and anal fins, in contrast to the orange colour of A. tricinctus. The two Indian Ocean species do not possess a melanistic variety (see below).

Host anemone species: Entacmaea quadricolor; Heteractis aurora; H. crispa; Stichodactyla mertensii.

Melanistic variation: Fish associated with Stichodactyla mertensii are entirely black or dark brown with either two or three white bars.

Distribution: Marshall Islands in the central-western Pacific Ocean.

PREMNAS BIACULEATUS (BLOCH, 1790)

Spine-cheek Anemonefish

Original description: As Chaetodon biaculeatus, from specimens collected in the East Indies (now Indonesia)

Colour features and size: Bright red to brownish-red with three relatively narrow white or grey bars; all fins same colour as body; cheek usually with pair of long spines. Maximum length about 160 mm. Males much smaller (usually less than 60-70 mm) and brighter red than females, with brilliant white stripes; female bars generally grey, but can be "switched" rapidly to white if fish is provoked. Fish from Sumatra possess yellow bars.

Similar species: None: the cheek spines, uniformly bright red body and fin colour, and narrow white bars separate this from all other anemonefishes.

Host anemone species: Entacmaea quadricolor (usually solitary form)

Distribution: Indo-Malayan Archipelago to northern Queensland.

DASCYLLUS TRIMACULATUS RÜPPELL, 1829

Three-Spot Dascyllus

Original description: As Dascyllus trimaculatus, from specimens collected in the Red Sea

Colour features and size: Black to light greyish (nuptial male), including fins; often with a small white spot on upper side that is larger, and therefore much more distinct, in young fish, which also have white spot on forehead. Maximum length 14 cm.

Similar species: Dascyllus albisella (Hawaiian Islands and Johnston Island) and D. strasburgi (Marquesas Islands) are similar in appearance. Both are endemic to relatively small areas in which Dascyllus trimaculatus does not occur. The young of D. albisella (and possibly D. strasburgi) sometimes associate with the anemone Heteractis malu.

Host anemone species: Entacmaea quadricolor; Heteractis aurora; H. crispa; H. magnifica; Macrodactyla doreensis; Stichodactyla gigantea; S. haddoni; S. mertensii.

Distribution: Widespread in the tropical Indo-West Pacific from East Africa to French Polynesia, and Australia northwards to Japan.