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Antennarius striatus



The Antennarius striatus or Tahitian warthog clownfish occurs naturally in the eastern Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa from Senegal to south-west Africa, including the coastal areas of St Helena. In the western Atlantic Ocean, the species is found from New Jersey (USA), Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Gulf of Mexico and throughout the Caribbean to southern Brazil. The fish can also be found in the Indo-Pacific, including the Red Sea and the East African coast to the Community and Hawaii, north to Japan and south to Australia and New Zealand.

Antennarius striatus is an odd-looking fish that is a skilled master of disguise. Within a few weeks, the Tahitian warthog clownfish can completely change its colouration to suit its surroundings. The anterior edge of the fish's dorsal fin is topped with worm-like baits that can regenerate if lost. The fish sits motionless on the ground and jerks the 'rod and bait' to attract prey and then swallows it quickly. Well, it is capable of swallowing prey almost twice its own size.

Antennarius striatus

The clownfish striped is a favourite subject of underwater photographers. This species is nice to find in the wild, but it will take great care to see the fish due to its camouflage. The striped clownfish inhabits rocky, sandy areas and near coral reefs. Along the eastern coast of southern Africa, it is found in shallow estuaries. The fish are found in water depths of 10-220 m, but are most abundant in water depths of 40 m.

The Antennarius striatus has a body with a high back and no scales. Instead of scales, its body is covered with knobby split spines. Males have more extended skin appendages on the body than females. The mouth is upturned palatal teeth. These fish do not have the typical dorsal fins, instead they have three fins, the most anterior of which is called the illicium, or 'rod', with an esca, or 'bait', on top. This species has 2 to 7 worm-like appendages that form an aesca, which can be recovered if lost. In front of the upper lip extends a bone supporting the ellitium. The gill holes are small and round, located just behind the pectoral fins. The colouration of the Tahitian warthog clownfish is extremely varied, including light yellow, orange, greenish grey or brown with or without black stripes or elongated spots, which are sometimes completely black. Visible lines diverge from the eyes. The maximum recorded length of the striped clownfish is 25.0 cm, but in the main the size of the fish usually does not exceed 10 cm. Although Antennarius striatus preys on other fish of their family and morays, they can fall prey to predatory fish themselves.

Antennarius striatus

In nature, the clownfish striatus feeds on crustaceans and various groundfish such as flatfish, gobies shrimp and, in particular, the wingback, which is an invasive species with the range of this clownfish. The feeding behaviour of this group of fish is quite unique. When the clownfish detects its prey, it follows its movements with its eyes. As its prey approaches, the clownfish begins to move its illicium in such a way that it mimics the movements of the organism it resembles, which in this case is a worm. The clownfish slowly prepares for a surprise attack on its prey by chasing it or simply fixing its mouth in anticipation. The prey is actually caught through a sudden opening of the jaws, which increases the size of the mouth by nearly 12 times, sucking the prey in along with the water in just six milliseconds. This water flows out through the gills while the prey is swallowed and the oesophagus is closed with specially adapted muscle to hold the prey. The clownfish can also expand its stomach to swallow prey twice its own size!

Reproduction

Antennarius striatus do not breed under aquarium conditions.

A unique feature of the striped clownfish family is that the hatched eggs are encapsulated in a ribbon-like floating mass of slime called an "egg raft". This construction can serve as a means of transporting large quantities of eggs over long geographical distances. Just before spawning, the male and female move along the bottom, with the female in front and the male behind. The male's muzzle is usually in direct contact with her anal opening. The belly of a pregnant female almost doubles in size during the spawning period. The pair jumps out onto the surface of the water, where the female will hatch a batch of eggs and the male will immediately fertilise her. Clownfish may spawn several times over the next few weeks.

Antennarius striatus

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