Many of us may think about clown fish as commonly found reef fish but the fact is that many clownfish species might becoming endangered in some areas such as of the coast of Australia at least if we should believe Dr Billy Sinclair, University of Cumbria.. A big culprit is the aquarium trade. Just five years ago there were still plenty of clownfish out there but than come the very popular movie finding Nemo from pixar. The movie which was a success in theatres and have sold over 40 million DVDs created an instant demand for clown fish species looking like Nemo. (like the Percula clownfish) Even though a lot of clownfish is being bred in captivity each year the captive bred stock couldn’t satisfy the demand and therefore over-harvesting of wild specimens became a reality. Many (most) marine biologists agree with the effect the movie has created.

A problem is that people who buy them don’t know how to manage a marine aquarium and just set one up like they would a goldfish bowl. This often leads to death of the fish as the owners don’t know how to care for them or a saltwater tank.

Clownfish sales have gone up eight-fold since the movie was released and not only biologist like Dr Billy Sinclair see a decline in the wild populations. Divers also reports how much rarer it has become to see clownfish. It has also become much rarer for clownfish to be caught accidentally by commercial fishermen

The study done by Dr Billy Sinclair shows that shoals that used to number dozens of clownfish now only contain a few specimens. This makes it harder for the species to breed. In some area they are more or less gone completely. Hopefully however populations can recover quickly if the pressure from the collection of clownfish from the pet trade can be reduced. The pet trade is however not the only culprit in the population declines. Coral bleaching and die off (caused by rising temperatures) is also believed to play a role.