I am born male, but can change my gender to female;

I live with another sea creature whose highly toxic tentacles protect me from predators; and

I had a starring role in a movie …

I am a clownfish, or anemone fish, or, to be scientifically correct, an Amphiprioninae.

Here are some fabulous facts about everyone’s favourite, the clownfish.

  • Clownfish are all born males.
  • They are social fish and live in groups that are led by one dominant female.
  • The second largest fish is the dominant male while all the other fish in the group are smaller males.
  • The dominant male ensures the others stay small by taking the best food opportunities for himself. 
  • The dominant male of a group will turn female when the female of that group dies. The largest of the smaller males will then become the dominant male of the group. 
  • Once the change is made from male to female, they can’t go back to being male. 
  • Clownfish communicate by making popping and clicking noises.
  • The female clownfish can lay sometimes thousands of eggs. After the eggs are laid, the male will fertilise them.
  • Any damaged or infertile eggs are typically eaten by the male.

Other sea life that are known to change their gender include wrasses, a type of fish, and moray eels. Unlike clownfish, wrasses switch from female to male with the largest female switching to male and taking over a group of females.

Clownfish form a symbiotic relationship with the sea anemone they live in. 

The clownfish eat various small invertebrates and algae that could harm the anemone. Their faeces also serves to help fertilise the anemone.  The sea anemone offers a great deal of protection for the clownfish from predators. The clownfish also gets food in the way of scraps from the anemone’s food. The clownfish return the favour by using their bright colouring to lure fish into the anemone, which are then killed by the anemone’s poison and eaten, with the scraps going to the clownfish.