News / Species Spotlight / Rose Skunk Clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes) (04/18/18)

Rose Skunk Clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes)

Species Spotlight - Rose Skunk Clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes)
Skunks Clownfishes (AKA anemonefishes) are a distinctive lineage in the genus Amphiprion which, with the exception of one species, have taken to specializing in a single species of host anemone, the iconic Magnificent Sea Anemone (Heteractis magnifica). Along with this ecological distinction, the group can also be recognized by its narrowed body profile and the usual presence of a thin white stripe running along the back. However, not every species is so easily defined

The species involved here are largely isolated to distinct parts of the Indo-Pacific. For instance, the West Pacific has A. perideraion, a pinkish fish with a white vertical bar on its head. Just to the west, it gets replaced by the unbarred A. akallopisos in the Eastern Indian Ocean, as well as a nearly identical (but genetically different) fish along the African coastline. And its between these two populations (akallopisos and cf akallopisos) that we find the enigmatic A. nigripes.

Youll see this fish under a variety of common names the Blackfin or Maldive Anemonefish or the Rosy Skunk Clownfish. Its range is limited to the reefs near India, including Sri Lanka, Lakshadweep and the Maldives.

In its ecological niche and morphology details (such as its scaled head and its lower pectoral ray count), we can rest assured that this is one of the skunk clownfishes, but, oddly enough, it lacks the characteristic skunk stripe along its back. In addition, this (along with the similarly unstriped A. chagosensis found just to the south in the remote Chagos Archipelago) is the only member of this lineage with black pelvic and anal fins (alluded to in the scientific name nigripes). Interestingly enough, genetic studies have found possible evidence of past hybridization with the distantly related A. omanensis, a species which occurs just to the west in Oman and which, conveniently enough, has black pelvic and anal fins. Hmm

In an aquarium, skunk clownfishes are most likely to host in their preferred anemone, H. magnifica, though specimens may accept other suitable choices. While most Amphiprion are best kept singly or in pairs, the skunks are surprisingly communal and may oftentimes be kept harmoniously (relatively speaking) in sizable assemblages if added simultaneously as juveniles. Its important to allow them to establish a dominance hierarchy naturally for this to work.