News / Species Spotlight / Akindynos Clownfish (Amphirion akindynos) (04/10/18)

Akindynos Clownfish (Amphirion akindynos)

Species Spolight - Akindynos Clownfish (Amphirion akindynos)
The Akindynos Clownfish tends to get overlooked by aquarists, but it is nonetheless an attractive and interesting species with a bit of mystery to it. This fish was originally described from specimens collected at One Tree Island, part of a nearshore reef system in southern Queensland known as the Capricorn Reefs. These are typically treated as being part of the southernmost portion of the Great Barrier Reef, but they are actually somewhat removed from the true barrier reef.

This little bit of geographic minutia is worth mention, as Amphiprion akindynos shows some confusing variation across its range. The type specimen form which this species was described has a thin white stripe on its head that fails to connect at the top. This form is present at the Capricorn Reefs alongside another variant where the stripes are a bit thicker and do connect. But if we travel further north along Queensland, all of the specimens will be found to have much broader stripes, while those to the south in New South Wales all have the thin disconnected stripes.

So it seems that there are two different fishes present here, which happen to overlap (and likely interbreed) at the Capricorn Reefs. Since the type specimen is representative of the southerly form, those to the north are likely an undescribed species. There is also another population found well to the east in New Caledonia and parts of Vanuatu which probably represents another distinct species. And in the middle, at Lord Howe Island, we find the closely related McCullochs Clownfish (A. mccullochi), which differs only in being darker and having the middle stripe absent.

Specimens in the aquarium trade identified as A. akindynos are more often than not originating from around Cairns, Australia, making these questionably identifiable as this species. An alternative explanation is that this northern population is actually Australias representative of the Amphiprion clarkii complex. The Clarki Clownfish is a highly variable species that occurs all across the Indo-Australian Archipelago, with the only exception being the Great Barrier Reef.

Wild specimens of the true A. akindynos are most often seen in the Bubbletip Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor), as this tends to be the most common species in the region, but in Queensland, this fish is seen in a wide range of hosts.