Spinecheek anemonefish have a monogamous mating system and mated pairs may stay together for several years. The dominant female is the largest and has one partner, which is the next largest male within a cluster of anemones. The growth of other anemonefish in the same anemone patch is stunted by the presence of a dominant male and female, keeping them smaller than the dominant male. When one or the other of the dominant individuals dies, subordinates grow and replace the dead individual. For example, if the dominant male dies, the next largest male will replace him and continue to grow to its maximum size.
Males, before spawning, go through an extensive ritual of courtship that consists of displaying the dorsal, anal and pelvic fins. He also chases and nips his mate.
Mating System: monogamous
Spinecheek anemonefish may spawn throughout the year in tropical areas. In cooler water they may spawn during the warm season.
Breeding interval: Breeding may occur throughout the year, depending on water temperature.
Breeding season: In the tropics spawning occurs year-round; those in temperate and subtropical waters spawn when the temperatures are highest in summer and spring.
Range number of offspring: 100 to 1000.
Range time to hatching: 6 to 7 days.
Range time to independence: 8 to 12 days.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sequential hermaphrodite (Protandrous ); sexual ; fertilization (External ); oviparous
Males care primarily for the eggs. Before spawning, males find and prepare a nest for the eggs. He cleans the area by removing the debris and algae from the area. Usually the female ends up joining in the task. During incubation the male guards and cares for the nest. He chases away any possible predators that may want to feast on the eggs, such as wrasses. Male anemonefish use their pectoral fins to fan the eggs and spend time meticulously removing dead eggs and debris from the nest with their mouths. Females will occasionally assist males but mainly spend their time feeding.
Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Male)
- Fautin, D., D. Allen. 1992. Field Guide to Anemone Fishes and their Host Sea Anemones. Perth, WA 6000 Australia: Western Australian Museum. Accessed April 11, 2006 at http://www.nhm.ku.edu/inverts/ebooks/intro.html.