This clownfiish habitat is located in the water quality lab at CMA. The clownfish serve as a reminder for pet owners to be responsible and research the proper care and needs of all pets brought into their home. Pets should never be released into the wild and may cause a great strain on our delicate ecosystem.
Clownfish Rescue Call
On the morning of July 15, 2018, Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s Rescue Hotline received a report of a clownfish swimming in the beach shallows at Fred Howard Park in Pinellas County, Florida. Clownfish are not indigenous to the Tampa Bay region and lack a primary food resource to survive. Also, clownfish could succumb to cold water temperatures found in the area. Because of these two factors, it was determined that the fish was not releasable and would go into quarantine at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Once cleared from quarantine by the veterinary staff at CMA, the rescued clownfish was able to join another clownfish that was donated to CMA once the collector could no longer care for it.
Threats From Invasive Species
There are plenty of examples of invasive species now in Florida that are presumed to originate from pets released into the wild. Lionfish, a popular aquarium fish, have spread in coastal water throughout the Gulf of Mexico and up the eastern seaboard. They are destructive to native reef ecosystems. They are voracious predators of native juvenile reef fish and they have few predators to keep their population in check. Releasing non-native animals into the wild is bad for the animal, the native ecosystem, and is illegal.