Anemonefish became everyone’s favorite when the animated film Finding Nemo hit the cinemas. These cute yellow or brownish bodied fish species live in anemones at the bottom of the sea or in sheltered coral reefs in warm waters in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. There are about 30 anemonefish species worldwide, the largest are approx. 18 cm long, while the smallest reach only 10 cm. If you want to see clownfish while snorkeling, here we feature the best places where you will certainly find them!
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5 best places to see clownfish while snorkeling
From Koh Tao through Phuket and the small islands in the Andaman Sea such as Koh Ngai or Koh Kradan, all places have a big anemonefish population so keep your eyes open when going for a snorkel session.
Thailand is definitely one of the best places to see clownfish while snorkeling since 6 species live in the country’s waters, the Pink, Red Saddleback, Clark’s, Clown, Tomato and False Clown Anemonefish. The first 4 are commonly seen in most snorkel and dive places, while the last two are not that common, but still not that difficult to find.
The Clown Anemonefish is the ‘real clownfish’. They are bright orange with three wide white bands that have black borders. The Clown Anemonefish are easy to mix with the False Clown Anemonefish. The main differences between them that the False Clownfish are bigger and their black lines that separate the white bands from the yellow body are thinner. Interesting fact is that Nemo in the Pixar movie is a False Clown Anemonefish.
The Pink Clownfish has a lighter peach colored body, a dorsal ridge along the back and a vertical white stripe behind the eyes.
Clark’s Anemonefish are the largest clownfish species. They have a black body and orange face with two vertical white bands, moreover there is an additional white line at the tail fin.
Red Saddlebacks are one of the most interesting anemonefish that you can spot while snorkeling in Thailand. If you see mature species, you may not even know that it is a clownfish because only the juveniles have white bars. Adults have a red-orange body with black spots on the sides that are similar to the saddle of horses.
Another unique species is the Tomato clownfish which are almost red with a thick white, black bordered stripe over the head, however these species are rare to see.
The Red Sea is one of the best locations in terms of marine life and snorkeling in Egypt is second to none. No matter you choose the characteristic Hurghada, the modern tourist city Sharm el Sheikh, the hidden gem Dahab or the laid-back Marsa Alam in the south of the country as your holiday destination, pristine reefs with plenty of marine species to see is guaranteed.
The Red Sea clownfish (Amphiprion bicinctus) is commonly called the two-banded anemonefish. The fish’s orange to dark brown body has two white bands, with a wider head band. Males grow to 10 centimeters, while females are slightly larger, they can be 14 centimeters long.
A snorkeling vacation to the Maldives is something that we all dream of. This wonderful trail of islands offers not only amazing landscape, incredibly white sandy beaches and lush greenery, but also a rich marine life for underwater explorers to observe. From the biggest animals like whale sharks and manta rays to macro creatures such as nudibranch, a wide variety of marine species can be found here. Besides various colorful tropical fish, of course you can see clownfish while snorkeling!
The Maldive anemonefish (Amphiprion nigripes) is a relatively small species. Females grow up to 11 cm, while the males are a bit smaller (approx. 8 cm). Their oval body has a bright yellowish-orange color with one white stripe behind the eye. They are also called the black finned anemonefish, because their pelvic and fins are blackish. The Maldive clownfish usually live in small groups on outer reef slopes, therefore can be easily found when snorkeling.
The most popular Indonesian destinations all feature excellent snorkel places where you will certainly find anemonefish, but Lombok with its laid-back vibe is on the top of our list.
To see clownfish while snorkeling, our favorite spots are Gili Layar and Gili Rengit. These small islands have excellent shallow coral reefs with safe, calm waters offering perfect conditions to discover the sea. The most commonly seen anemonefish species are the Clown and Clark’s anemonefish which we mentioned above, and there is a really special one too.You can often see Black saddleback clownfish (
Polymnus), which is called panda clownfish too thanks to its black-white pattern.
This beautiful French Archipelago off the east coast of Africa are rightfully on travelers’ bucketlist. With its picturesque islands, the Seychelles offer endless opportunities for visitors to explore on land and under the sea. Perfect beaches, lively coral reefs and rich marine life make this destination for a paradise for snorkelers and divers.
If you love observing colorful fish, you will certainly enjoy swimming with butterfly, angel fish and napoleon wrasses, not mentioning the Seychelles anemonefish (Amphiprion fuscocaudatus). This species is dark brown-black with a yellow breast, belly, snout, pelvic and underside fins. They can be found in lagoon and on shallow reefs in their sea anemone.