Are Clownfish Poisonous?


Before we even start talking about clown fish, Finding Nemo has just swum into your mind, hasn’t he? Just admit it! This cute little fish is close to our hearts– this sad movie of a dead mother called Coral, an overprotective father called Marlin, and our brave little hero, Nemo that got kidnapped by scuba divers and trapped in an aquarium in a dentist’s clinic.

It’s bad enough to be sitting in a dentist’s chair but to be trapped in one of their fish tanks—that really is Hell on Earth!    

But back to real life! Here are our questions for today– is a clownfish poisonous or not? Can you eat a clownfish? Or can you even touch one? Are you ready to find out? Here we go.

What Are Clownfish?

There are up to 30 species of clownfish that each belong to the Amphiprioninae genus. The common clownfish can reach up to 11 centimeters or 4 inches in length and has a brown ring around the pupil.   

Most clownfish have bright orange bodies with three white stripes and black tips on their fins. But these sweet fish don’t always have these classic colors. Some are maroon and yellow.

Did you know that clownfish are able to switch sex? Isn’t that cool? The male sex organs develop first– then these little guys can turn into gals!     

 So, Finding Nemo has got it just a little bit wrong. In real life, Marlin would turn into a mom– Nemo, into a dad– and together they could have thousands of clownfish kids! Disturbing, isn’t it?   

Where Do Clownfish Live?

The natural habitat of Clownfish or Anemone fish is coral reefs on the coast of Southeast Asia, Japan, the tropical Pacific, and the Indian ocean.

They can live a long time in the sea– up to 50 years– but usually don’t. The sea is becoming more acidic and clownfish are wandering further and further away from home and into the mouths of the predators! 

More than 1 million clownfish are caught each year and trapped in aquariums. But at least they are safe there. Children love them because they last a lot longer than hamsters!

Clownfish are not endangered, but the coral reefs that they live around surely are. Up to 30% of the coral has been bleached in the last ten years or so– and Finding Nemo generated incredible demand to find Nemo and cage him! This damaged the reefs even more!

Clownfish live in groups around stinging anemones that protect them. The anemones in turn live off their poop! This is a classic win-win situation–protection in exchange for food!

Are Clownfish Poisonous?

Clownfish might seem to be very friendly– because of their bright alluring colors. But some of us are very afraid of clowns– and for us clownfish are scary!

The truth is that clownfish are not poisonous at all.

Can Clownfish Hurt You?

The worst thing that you can expect from a clown fish is a little nibble. Not like losing an arm, leg, hand, or even your finger.  Just a bit of a pinch.

Man up– it’s nothing too serious or to cry about. It’s not like you stepped in a stonefish in your bare feet!

But clownfish can be aggressive– to each other. These ominous popping sounds show who the boss is. The less dominant ones shake their little heads and make clicking sounds to submit. So which one are you? Alpha male or omega– are you scared of your own shadow? When are you going to man up?

Can You Eat Clownfish?

Why would you want to?

Clownfish are not poisonous, but they are hard to catch, and it would take at least a dozen to make a proper dish. They also taste strange because of the mucus they secrete. Clownfish are slimy– just stick to your vegan burgers!

Like other tropical fish, clownfish are protected from fishing and killing because of their ecological importance in coral reefs and ecosystems.

They are beautiful but not delicious!

Can You Touch Clownfish?

Just don’t. Your skin is drenched in oil and bacteria– and acts like a poison. 

You can hurt him or kill him if you touch him.

So, please don’t!

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