True VS False Percula Clownfishes - How Can You Tell Which is Which?

  • 01 of 04

    True VS False Percula Clownfishes - How Can You Tell Which is Which?

    True & False Percula Clownfish
    True & False Percula Clownfish. Jacqui Blagojevic

    We have heard some saltwater aquarists say that the difference between the True and False Percula Clown or Anemonefish is simply that the false species is tank-raised in captivity and has never seen the ocean. Hmmmm. So if this is the only reason these clownfish differ, and hypothetically you placed a "tank-raised" Percula into the ocean, does it miraculously become a True Percula Clownfish? What do you think? We are pretty much convinced that this is not the case. If it was true, can...MORE you imagine the psychological damage you could do to a False Percula Clownfish if kept putting it in the ocean and then taking it out? It wouldn't know what the heck it was. True?? False?? True?? False??

    You won't be able to tell the difference between the True and False Peculas by their "Preferred Anemone" choices. They both are reported to prefer the Heteractis magnifica, Stichodactyla gigantea, and  S. mertensii Anemones.

    To help with the identification of these two species, here are distinguishing differences that set them apart from one another, which is more than just being tank-raised or not.

    In this photo, there are both True and False Perculas. Can you tell which is which?

    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    Percula Clownfish, Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula)

    Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion percula)
    Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion percula). Rob Borycki

    Some people say that you can tell a True Percula Clownfish is a True Percula Clownfish because of its scientific name: Amphiprion percula. That might work except that just calling it a True Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion percula) doesn't make it one. Scientists use identifying physical traits to identify and differentiate species from one another.

    The True Percula is typically orange in color with three white bars, with the middle bar having a forward-projecting bulge. It has 10 (rarely 9) dorsal...MORE spines while the False Percula has 11 (rarely 10) dorsal spines.

    The True Percula usually has jet black margins of varied widths around its white bars. Quite often, these margins are quite thick and distinguishable. 

    In the wild, the distribution of the True Percula Clownfish species is Northern Queensland and Melanesia (New Guinea, New Britain, New Ireland, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu).

     

    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    False Percula, Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)

    False Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)
    False Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris). David Wade

    The False Percula, Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) is typically orange in color with three white bars, with the middle bar having a forward-projecting bulge as opposed to the True Percula Clownfish on which the middle bar is almost flat. The True Percula has 11 (and rarely 10) dorsal spines as opposed to the True Percula which has 10 (rarely 9) dorsal spines.

    If you compared the True Percula and the False Percula, side by side, you would find that the  spinous (anterior) part of the...MORE dorsal fin is taller on the False Percula than is the spinous part of the dorsal of the True Percula.

    The False Percula may have no black margins present at all, but most often has thin, never thick black margins around its white bars.

    The distribution of this species in nature is the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Andaman Sea), Indo-Malayan Archipelago, Philippines, northwestern Australia; coast of Southeast Asia northwards to the Ryukyu Islands.

    Did you know that Clownfish are classified as Damselfish?

    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    Black & White Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris V.)

    Black & White Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris V.)
    Black & White Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris V.). Debbie & Stan Hauter

    The Black & White Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris V.) is a variation of the False Percula Clownfish and, in the wild, is only found in the water off Darwin, Australia which is in the area which you would expect to find the "normal" False Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris).

    When the Black & White Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris V.) is first born, it has the coloration of the Flase Percula Clownfish, but as it grows, the orange/red colors turn to a dark black. It really is...MORE a beautiful fish and it retains the mannerisms of the False Percula Clownfish including the bouncing, loping swimming pattern.

    Both the Black & White variation and the False Percula differ from other Clownfish (including the True Percula) in that they seldom travel more than a few inches from their "home" unless they are forced to move. You can put a mated pair of these fish in a 500 gallon tank and, once they have determined where their "home" is, they will never leave the immediate area, staying in about a 20 gallon area.