Amphiprion bicintus

Common Name: Red Sea Anemonefish

Scientific Name: Amphiprion bicinctus Rüppell, 1830

Distribution: Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Socotra

Type Locality: El-Tor, Sinai coast, Egypt, Gulf of Suez, Red Sea, or Massawa, Eritrea, Red Sea

Identification: Two stripes, sometimes reduced in large specimens. Body yellow-orange, with a variable amount of darkening along the back. All fins yellow, except in unusually dark specimens.

Similar: Amphiprion cf chrysopterus “Mariana”, A. cf chrysopterus “Fiji” and A. cf chrysopterus “Polynesia” all have yellow fins and two stripes and can appear virtually identical to dark specimens of A. bicinctus. While they may not be visually distinguishable, these two distantly related groups differ in their meristics. Amphiprion cf clarkii “Vanuatu” is also quite similar but has wider stripes. Amphiprion allardi has a white caudal fin. Smaller specimens of A. latifasciatus might appear similar, but the middle stripe is usually noticeably wider. Amphiprion sebae has wider stripes and a white edge to the soft dorsal fin.

Notes: This is the only species found in the Red Sea. There is considerable variation within this species, though there’s little evidence that this corresponds with any localized endemism within this region. In general, specimens form the north tend to be darker than those in the south, but there are also plenty of exceptions to this. The darkest individuals of this species seem to be restricted to the north, and, at their extreme, can be almost solidly black, with the stripes greatly atrophied or even absent.

The population in the Gulf of Aden and Socotra is known to hybridize with the closely related A. omanensis. These hybrids have an intermediate phenotype, with some combination of a white or pale yellow caudal fin, yellow ventral fins, a variably darkened body and thick stripes.

This is a reasonably common species in the aquarium trade, though most specimens are now captive bred.