Amphiprion ephippium

Common Name: Fire Anemonefish

Scientific Name: Amphiprion ephippium (Bloch, 1790)

Distribution: Andaman Sea, south to the Java Sea (Karimunjawa)

Type Locality: Tranquebar [Tharangambadi], India

Identification: Stripe lacking (in adults). Body and fins bright orange throughout. A variably sized black marking along the back, rarely extending into the caudal peduncle. Older specimens become more dusky across the back, losing the sharply delineated black marking of younger specimens.

Similar: Stripeless specimens of A. cf melanopus “Australia” are similar, but have dark ventral fins. Stripeless A. rubrocintus are red in color, having far more black along the head.. A. cf melanopus “Vanuatu” has similarly bright colors to the body, but has a prominent stripe and darker pelvic fins.

Notes: The type locality listed by Bloch is from Southeastern India, a region it has not since been documented form, suggesting this was in error. Most sources list this species as known only from the Andaman Sea, but it has recently been reported as quite common at Karimunjawa, in the Java Sea, where it is seen most frequently at depth near 5 meters.

Anecdotally, this species seems to occur in smaller groups than its relatives, rarely being found in the vast colonies that tend to occur in Pacific populations. This may merely be an artifact of its limited photographic documentation.

Arguably, this is the most attractive member of the melanopus group, earning its common name as the Fire Anemonefish. The scientific name ephippium comes from the Latin for “saddle”.  For this reason, this fish is often saddled with the confusing common name “Saddle Anemonefish” or “Red Saddled Anemonefish” or some variation of these. Since the distantly related polymnus group is more widely referred to as the “Saddleback Anemonefishes”, it seems prudent to use an altogether different common name for A. ephippium, the Fire Anemonefish. However, it should be noted that this name is occasionally misapplied to A. melanopus and others in this group.