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Difference between Percula and Ocellaris Clowns

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Difference Between Ocellaris and Percula Clownfish

One of the most common questions from new clownfish owners (and even experienced reef keepers) is, “What is the difference between an Ocellaris Clownfish and a Percula Clownfish?” After all, one of the Ocellaris’ most common names is False Percula Clownfish. The differences are minute. However, the two fish are distinct species, although closely related.

It’s surprisingly common that people will believe that a True Percula Clownfish is a wild caught fish and a False Percula Clownfish is a tank raised fish. While this may make sense given the names, it is not at all true. Both Ocellaris and Percula clownfish may be found in the ocean or tank raised.

How Ocellaris and Percula Clownfish are Different

There are a number of differences between the two species. Let’s take a look at a few:

Ocellaris Clownfish Features

Percula Clownfish Features

  • Dorsal fin spines: The True Percula Clown (Amphiprion percula) typically has 10 dorsal spines. These are the spines in the fin on the very top of the fish. The False Percula (Amphiprion ocellaris) has 11 dorsal fin spines. On rare occasions the A. percula will have 9 dorsal spines and the A. ocellaris will have 10. However, in general, the True Percula will have 10 and the False Percula 11. Also, the back part of the dorsal fin is generally taller on the False Percula (Ocellaris) than it is on the True Percula.
  • Black outlines: False Perculas often have much less black outlining their white strips. Sometimes it may look as though there is no black at all, but there is almost always at least a thin black outline adjacent to the white stripes. The True Percula, on the other hand, usually has thicker black stripes outlining the white stripes on their body. This is generally true of standard clownfish, although colorations and patterns can vary greatly from one fish to another. Therefore, this is not a true test one way or the other. It is a good piece of evidence though, when taking into account the other differences.
  • Eye color: Another way to tell the difference between the two species is often the color of the eye. On the True Percula, the eye shows more orange color to it surrounding the pupil. Conversely, the Ocellaris clownfish has more black surrounding the pupil.

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