mantis vs tomato clownfish

Jared Cooper

New member
The event:
I purchased a tomato clownfish recently. I introduced him right away, with the lights on. He got picked on a little too much so I decided to put him in my refugium where my mantis lives. My mantis is pretty small, 3", so I thought he would leave the tomato clown who was about his size alone. Well, I was wrong.
The outcome:
I decided to watch the fish for a while to make sure nothing happend, even though I figured if something did I couldn't do anything anyway. Well the mantis attacked the clown.
The outcome:
A draw. The tomato got away and I got in there quick to get him out.

I turned off the lights in my main tank and put it in and everyone left him alone, now he is happy and fat.
By the way I know this sounds cruel but I really didn't think the mantis would attack the fish. I put a goldfish in before of a smaller size and the mantis left the fish alone.
Years ago I wrote an article for Scientific American on stomatopods. They commissioned an artist from the east coast to draw a sequence of a spearer catching a fish. Since we were on opposite sides of the continent, I sent him a preserved stomatopod and we talked on the phone with me giving detailed instructions on how to pose each frame. We never discussed what fish the mantis should be catching. When the article came out, I was embarrassed to see that he had used a clown fish as the prey. I insisted that this squillid didn't eat clowns, but it was too late.

A couple of years ago, I was working on Lizard Island. A researcher was looking at how juvenile clownfish find a host anemone. He was releasing the fish and then following them as they searched. He came back very perplexed because his fish kept disappearing right before his eyes. I went out with him the next day to see if I could identify the cause. Sure enough, small squillids hunting from their concealed burrows were snagging his fish as they passed overhead. It was a relief to find out that the Scientific American drawing that had been bugging me more 20 years was correct after all.