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A closer look at clownfish eggs

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A closer look at clownfish eggs

Cover image credit: Rickard Zerpe [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Everybody loves Nemo, but do you know how clownfish actually start their lives? Let's take a closer look into these much-loved fish.

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On the night of a full moon, adult clownfish leave the safety of their home anemone to find a nearby clearing, where the female will lay her eggs. The male clownfish will fertilize these eggs, and will ten stand guard, while the female returns to the anemone.

Depending on the species, there can be hundreds to thousands of eggs for the male to guard. These tiny eggs, like the ones pictured here, take about a week to hatch, and the larval clownfish will usually emerge a few hours after dusk.

Like most fish species, the tiny larval clownfish do not stay with their parents, and are instead carried away by water movements to different parts of the reef, or to different areas entirely. As they grow, these little clownfish will join up with existing clownfish groups, or will claim new home anemones for themselves, and the cycle will continue!

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