The percula clownfish is probably the most easily recognized of all marine fish, especially after the movie where it starred as “Nemo.” The vision of a percula clownfish nestling in amongst the tentacles of a sea anemone has probably gotten more hobbyists started than any other fish. In fact, the majority of the “percula” clownfish that are seen in the hobby are in reality the false clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris); the main difference between the two species is that the true percula has more black edging to the white bars.
Most of the percula clowns that you see in stores are, in fact, commercially raised fish and very few are taken from the wild anymore. The fish breeds very easily in the home aquarium and if you start out with two fish they will usually end up as a mated pair (because they are hermaphroditic), with the female being the larger fish. They spawn very much like cichlids, defending a territory at the base of a coral or rock, where they deposit their eggs and guard them. The most difficult part of raising the babies is the first foods, which must be very specific.
Reef-safe and hardy, the percula clownfish does not require a host anemone – in fact the aquacultured fish have never even seen one. It may try to nestle into coral polyps, resulting in some irritation of the coral. This fish will eat virtually any food it’s offered, but should be fed meaty foods in addition to some vegetable matter.