Clownfishes

Ocellaris clownfish nestled in a magnificent sea anemone. Source: Wikipedia

Like most people, the only times I’ve seen clownfishes are in tanks or in Finding Nemo (and also nature films, and pictures, and such, but not in the wild is what I was getting at). Clownfishes are usually orangish, yellowish, blackish, with white stripes or patches. They don’t look like clowns to me. But the interesting thing about clownfishes are that they are sequential hermaphrodites. Sequential hermaphrodites are organisms that are born one sex and depending on their circumstances and their positions in their hierarchy changes to another sex. Hmm. Clownfishes are Protandrous hermaphrodites, which means they are all born male and can become female when needed. Clownfishes live in a certain hierarchy, where the largest fish is the only female in the school. The second largest fish is the breeding male and the rest of the fishes are non-breeding males. If the female clownfish is removed, as in it died or some other unfortunate fate, the breeding male clownfish matures to a female and the next largest clownfish becomes the breeding male. And the cycle continues . . .

(Another interesting fact about clownfishes are that they are one of the few types of fishes that can avoid the poison of the sea anemone. CooL!)

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