Fish Chompers: Do Clownfish Have Teeth?

do clownfish have teeth

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Clownfish are some of the most beautiful fish that are found in our oceans. They inhabit reefs in warm tropical waters and can be found in the Red Sea, as well as the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Many experienced fishkeepers decide to keep these fish in their home aquariums as they are eye-catching and have some fascinating features.

In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at the clownfish’s mouth and more specifically answer do clownfish have teeth?

In a nutshell, yes, clownfish do have teeth. They also have very strong jaws and can be very aggressive both in the wild and in-home aquarium tanks.

Do Clownfish Really Have Teeth?

In the wild, clownfish live next to anemones which offer them protection from larger predators such as Great White Sharks or Barracudas.

They are known for their aggression and for defending their anemone with their lives if required, as the pair have a symbiotic relationship that benefits one another.

These fish are protective by nature and are known to defend themselves with fierce aggression. But what are they protecting?

  • Territory
  • Themselves
  • Other Clownfish
  • Food
  • Their eggs

These seemingly harmless fish are much more aggressive than many of us think, and despite their friendly and delightful persona in the Pixar movie Finding Nemo, there is a lot more than meets the eye with this colorful fish.

Clownfish have teeth that are located in their throats instead of their jaws and are known as pharyngeal teeth.

Some species of clownfish do have teeth-like projections in their mouths that they use for defending themselves and their territory.

Check out this amazing photo of a Clownfish where you can just say make out its teeth if you look closely:

clownfish teeth
Image: Alexander Semenov

Do Clownfish Bite?

Yes, clownfish can and do bite. Those that keep them in home aquariums often report being bitten by clownfish when they are trying to do maintenance in the tank.

The fish will bite their fingers as soon as they enter the tank, and they will become extremely aggressive if the fishkeeper picks up or tries to interfere with their anemone.

Many fishkeepers use protective gloves when dealing with clownfish for this exact reason. Clownfish don’t like anything or anyone being inside their tank, even if you’re there to feed them.

Do Clownfish Bites Hurt?

Depending on where you are bitten, a bite from a clownfish can hurt. If you’re not wearing protective gloves and are bitten in between your fingers this can cause quite a bit of pain.

However, most bites from clownfish don’t really hurt, and it just feels like you’re scraping your finger with sandpaper or taking a small nip.

That said, if you happen to keep large clownfish that manage to get a hold of your fingers and really clamp down with their strong jaws, this will absolutely hurt.

This is why it’s always a good idea to ensure your wearing protective gloves when cleaning or doing any maintenance on a tank that has clownfish living in there.

A bite from a clownfish can certainly give you a small nip that feels like a pinprick, if your not expecting it this can really catch you off guard.

How To Reduce Clownfish Bites

It’s important to keep in mind that as a fishkeeper or someone visiting clownfish in the wild, you’re not there to change their natural instincts.

These fish are and always have been protective and territorial over their anemones, so it’s only natural for them to bite and protect their homes.

If you’re a fishkeeper, then there are a few things you can do to help reduce clownfish bites.

Let Them Live Alone

The first is to let your clownfish live alone in the tank. If they live alone and do not feel intimidated or threatened by other fish, this will help reduce their biting.

They will keep themselves busy by sweeping up the sand and cleaning their swimming space.

Get A Bigger Tank

If allowing your clownfish to live alone is not possible, then it may be a good idea to invest in a larger tank so that the clownfish have more space.

Clownfish aggression is brought on by them feeling competition from other fish and the need to protect and fight for their space and food.

If they have a bigger tank, this will reduce the competition and therefore help reduce their biting and aggression.

Wear Gloves

The easiest and most effective way is to simply invest in some protective gloves so that if the clownfish do bite you, it’s not painful and you don’t feel it.

Protective fishkeeping gloves are very cheap and affordable, and you’ll be glad you’ve purchased them when the time comes to do maintenance on a tank with clownfish in it.

If you’re keeping larger clownfish then this is highly recommended, some clownfish can draw blood from their bites and leave you with a nasty mark, so it’s best to avoid this altogether by investing in gloves.

Final Thoughts

So, do clownfish have teeth? Absolutely. Clownfish have teeth that they use to defend themselves, their territory as well as their eggs.

These fish are known to be feisty and will bite fishkeepers when they try to do maintenance on their home aquarium tanks.

Clownfish teeth are often located in their throats depending on the species, but some clownfish also have teeth-like projections in their jaws that can give you a nasty nip.

The good news is that most clownfish bites do not hurt, and there are some simple precautions you can take to stop the bite from hurting and reduce clownfish biting.

Hopefully, this post has been helpful and you’ve learned a thing or two about clownfish teeth in this post

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and feel free to stick around to learn more about clownfish and all other types of marine life.