Orange Clownfish

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Tell me something cool

Many people know the little Orange Clownfish as the endearing main character in ‘Finding Nemo’. Unfortunately, this new-found stardom has seen this striking fish become a sort after aquarium must have.

Clownfish, named across their acrobatic behaviour, are also known as anemonefish because of the best buddy relationships they form with the sea anemones in which they live. The little fishes feed off undigested food from their hosts whilst ‘waste matter’ from the fishes in turn provide food for the anemone.

They also each act as the others body guard, protecting each other from would-be predators. No-one knows quite why Clownfishes appear immune to the anemone’s stings or why they don’t become food themselves.

All clownfish are born male but develop into females when they mature!

Where do they live?

Orange Clownfish live in warmer waters across the globe, including our World Heritage Great Barrier Reef.

Tell me about their history

There are 30 different species of Clownfish which are found in the Indian, Pacific Ocean and Red Sea.

Orange Clownfishes spend their entire lives in a single anemone in groups that include a breeding male and female, and a number of younger males. All clownfish are born with the enviable capacity to develop male or female reproductive organs as needed. So, if the breeding female in the sea anemone group dies, the once dominant male simply changes sex and takes her place!

Being diminutive in size, clownfish are preyed on by many different predators but thanks to their anemone home with its curtains of stinging tentacles, often escape unharmed. It is a silent enemy they cannot run from, fine sediment and excess nutrients, that pose a far greater threat.

What is putting them on the edge?

Thanks to their moment in the spotlight, a lot more Orange Clownfish are ending up adorning aquariums across the globe – they make up 43% of the global marine ornamental trade - and they don’t do well here. This is putting a strain on their populations at a time when they are already struggling due to their Great Barrier Reef home suffering from consecutive coral bleaching and poor water quality.

Fine sediment from eroding gullies clogs and damages the clownfishes’ delicate gills and smothers their anemone homes. Currently they are low down on the threatened species list but given the threats they face, we are not taking any chances.

What is the vision for them?

We want our kids and grandkids to be able to enjoy finding nemo in his natural home. We are therefore working hard to improve water quality on the Great Barrier Reef to give him a healthier home by restoring coastal wetlands and rebuilding eroding gullies.

How much money is needed?

a) $5,000: We will help identify and stabilise gully erosion hotspots in key locations across the Great Barrier Reef Catchment.

b) $20,000: We will restore one hectare of coastal wetland on land previously modified for farming. This will include improving water flows and restoring native trees, bushes and grasses so that they trap sediment and nutrients before they flow onto the reef.

c) $100,000 +: We will work with as many farmers as we can to stop sediment at its source by repairing eroding gullies, restoring critical wetlands and improving how land is managed.

Who is doing the work?

Greening Australia are tackling this one, working in partnership with local landholders and scientists across the Great Barrier Reef Catchment to improve water quality and restore the health of the reef.

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