Coffs has own clownfish breeding colony

THE grand opening of the National Marine Science Centre (NMSC) Aquarium today will give Coffs Coast residents the option to stay dry and get a taste of the underwater world of the Solitary Islands Marine Park.

The NMSC's new aquarium will give visitors a first-hand look at our under- water friends.

One of the fish species being cultured at the aquarium is the blue lip anemonefish (Amphiprion latezonatus).

This particular type of clownfish is very special as it is only found in this area of the world.

The centre has been able to breed these fish and now has several hundred babies on display.

The fish have been cultured using special aquaculture techniques which allow the centre to raise them through their tiny larval stage.

Clownfish have a unique life cycle. They are completely dependant on sea anemones in order to survive. They are not very fast swimmers, nor do they have much physical defence against predators, so in order to survive their defence method is the way they behave. They have a special relationship that protects them.

Clownfish have evolved the ability to become 'immune' from the sting of anemones by excreting a mucous (slime) on their skin. Anemones provide them with protection, shelter and a safe place to lay their eggs.

However, the anemone also benefits from the relationship.

The clownfish are very aggressive to other fish their own size who like to feed on the anemones, they chase them away and keep the area free of pests that would otherwise bother the anemones.

They also feed the anemones by bringing large pieces of food for them to eat by placing it amongst the tentacles.

You can see these wonderful creatures at the centre at Charlesworth Bay every weekend, from 10am to 4pm.

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