The Black Bicinctus of Fort Arabesque

By Joe Rowlett 5 years ago3 Comments

Black Anemone fish, Fort Arabesque, Makadi Bay

Uploaded by GDMEFC1 on 2013-09-29.

There’s only one species of anemonefish recorded from the Red Sea, so, in theory, there should be no great difficulty identifying the fish seen in this video. Is it from the Red Sea? Is it swimming in an anemone? Well then, we’ve got ourselves an Amphiprion bicinctus. But it would seem that not all are created quite the same, as this individual has an unusually dark body and just a single stripe, giving it a rather frenatus-like appearance.


Aberrant A. bicinctus. Credit: GDMEFC1

Aberrant A. bicinctus. Credit: GDMEFC1

It’s clearly still A. bicinctus, but not like we are used to. The prototypical Red Sea Anemonefish is a cheery yellow-orange, with a brown back and two thick white stripes. Instead, what we have here is a fish that is virtually black throughout, with only the fins retaining the bright yellow hues we would expect of this species. The middle stripe has almost completely disappeared and the anterior stripe is highly reduced and disconnected above the head. The caudal fin is also quite unique, with yellow margins and a sooty interior. Incredibly, this same fish has been filmed in the same anemone by two different recreational divers.

Домашний риф отеля Fort Arabesque, Макади, Египет

Uploaded by Елена Мих on 2013-06-04.

There are some other interesting aberrations of this fish. The next video, from Marsa Alam, Egypt, shows a specimen that is completely lacking the middle stripes, but without the heavy melanism of the previous example.

Egypt-Red sea Clown Fish (Amphiprion bicinctus) – Ägypten – Anemonenfische

“Nemo” – Die Verwandten aus dem Rooten Meer. (Amphiprion bicinctus und Unterarten). Aufnahmen Oktober 2010 / Ägypten in der Nähe von Marsa Alam.

The clear caudal fin has also been documented elsewhere. The following two videos show one from Dahab, on the Sinai Peninsula and another from an unknown location.

Red Sea Clown Fish and Threespot Dascyllus looking at mirror

Amphiprion bicinctus (together with Dascyllus trimaculatus) near their anemone, attacking themselves in a mirror. Video taken for behavioral studies at 7m in Banner Fish Bay, Dahab, Egypt.

Red Sea Clownfish (Amphiprion bicinctus)

Diving in the Red Sea with me 😀

And sometimes specimens have an unusually thickened dark margin to the pelvic fins…

Red Sea clownfish / anemonefish (Amphiprion bicinctus)

Red Sea clownfish / anemonefish (Amphiprion bicinctus) from 13-11-2014

It doesn’t seem like there’s any evolutionary significance to these variations , as the normal phenotype occurs alongside the aberrations. The next few videos show specimens from Makadi Bay, where the black bicinctus was found.


Reef Fort Arabesque – Snorkeling Fort Arabesque in Makadi Bay, Egypt -HD

Fast immer sehr gute Sichtbedingungen, unzählige kleinere Riffe, ideal für Anfänger, viele Anemonen, kaum Wind. Please watch my other videos if u like: Sharm el Naga over and underwater Cleopatra Luxury Hotel: Lionfish & Co.

Fort Arabesque – Diving on the House Reef

Diving on the House Reef of the Fort Arabesque, Makadi Bay, Hurghada, Egypt. A fantastic little House Reef, full of coral and aquatic life. The highlight for us was the Octopus at the end of our holiday, unfortunately we didn’t have the GoPro with us on that day.

Snorkeling at Makadi Bay – Egypt

September 2011. Snorkeling right outside Grand Makadi Hotel 20 km south of Hurghada in Egypt. In the video there is a lot of fishes e.g anemone fish, a octopus, a snake eel, and rays. Wont bore you with all the names though. 🙂 Filmed with a Kodak EasyShare.

Tauchurlaub Makadi Bay 2013

Tauchurlaub Makadi Bay Mai 2013, Tauchbasis Extradivers, Hotel Iberhotel Makadi Beach

Tauchen,Makadi Bay 2014

Der komplette Film ist ausschließlich mit einer GoPro Hero 3 Black erstellt worden! Erster Einsatz der GoPro Hero 3 Black mit klappbaren Rotfilter beim Tauchen im Roten Meer. Die Höhepunkte der Hausrif -und Bootstauchgänge waren die Blaupunktrochen, der Stachelrochen, die friedfertigen Moränen, ein großer Napoleon Fisch, eine schlafende Meeresschildkröte und der Handzahme Oktopus.

Fort Arabesque 2015

Fort Arabesque 2015

And here are some from several locations in Saudi Arabia.

Anemone Fish In Saudi Arabia سمك شقائق النعمان في السعودية

Uploaded by Wissam Aisha on 2013-09-08.

Cute and angry Nemo (Clownfish) in Red Sea

Two angry clownfishes in the Red sea, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I still need to work more on the colors and white balance of this video.

Clownfish in red anemone

Farasan Banks, Saudi Arabia. April 2009 Equipment: Sanyo VPC-HD1000 in Epoque housing EHS-1000HD.

Clown Fish (Nemo)

Clown Fish in the red sea, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Clownfish Kingdom

It is a scuba diving video taken while diving in Al-Nakheel Beach in North of Obhur, North of Jeddah, KSA. It’s more or less like a documentary about the clownfish and anemones there.

Clownfish at 25 Km S Sharma.wmv

These are clownfish we saw while diving in Sharma, Saudi Arabia. Clownfish are not affected by sea anemone, which is poisonous to most fish. They use the anemone as protection, it is their home and they seem to dance around in it when you get near them. Nemo was a clownfish.

And here are are some from Djibouti, at the far south of the Red Sea. These seem essentialy the same as elsewhere, though I’ve yet to see any with the dark body and thin stripes found in the north.

Clown fish poisson in Djibouti Nov 06

Clown fish in Djibouti Nov 06

Djibouti Clownfish 2007

Gooooorgeous diving, and no other divers to be seen!

Djibouti Diving in Gulf of Tadjoura December 2012

This video is edited for fun by 2 passioned PADI lovers. to rate it on the PADI video contest. We hope that more and more the coast will be turned into a wildlife sanctuary. The Whale Sharks needs to be protected, as well as the turtles and every other species whose life depends on the reef wellbeing.

Djibouti diving in the Seven Brothers mpeg2video

Res Sea Diving. Diving in seven brothers in Djibouti. One of the best dive sites in the world. Lots of happy faces of members of the French Navy based in Djibouti.

And, just for funsies, here are some more videos from Sudan and other Egyptian locations.

Finding the Two-banded Anemonefish, NOT Nemo, in the Eilat Red Sea

“Nemo,” with 3 white stripes, is a Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris); but there are 29 currently known Amphiprion species, and, in the Red Sea, you’ll instead encounter the Two-banded anemonefish (Amphiprion bicinctus), which, like other anemonefish, lives symbiotically, protecting the toxic anemone that gives it a safe home in exchange.

Anemonefish compilation- Scuba Diving in Dahab with Gopro Hero4

Amazing tiny creatures. Love them bright colours and always defending their anemones. Just slowly swim towards them with camera and they always approach/confront you – giving you fantastic footage :). Dahab various dive sites.

Nemo (clownfish) in anemone, in Dahab, Sinai, Egypt

Shot by Hamad Al Jaber, while diving in Dahab, The Canyon on the 28th May 2010

Red Sea Clownfish – Amphiprion bicinctus – Deep South 2014

Uploaded by – LilMac on 2016-02-26.

Lots of clownfish – St. Johns Area – Dangerous Reef

Veel clownvisjes op 7 meter, dus mooie kleurtjes. Gefilmd op 30 april 2011

Clown Fish (Anemone Fish)

Clown Fish (Anemone Fish) @ Sha’ab Rumi Sud, Red Sea, Sudan




 Joe Rowlett

  (470 articles)

Joe is classically trained in the zoological arts and sciences, with a particular focus on the esoterica of invertebrate taxonomy and evolution. He’s written for several aquarium publications and for many years lorded over the marinelife at Chicago’s venerable Old Town Aquarium. He currently studies prairie insect ecology at the Field Museum of Natural History and fish phylogenetics at the University of Chicago.


  • Joe Szczebak says:

    Saw many atypical “bicinctus” in the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, off the shore of Jordan in 2010. Brown/black bodies, white caudal fins, brown/black pelvic fins, narrowed and discontinuous first bar, missing second bars, etc. Like the article mentions, most of these variants were found alongside “traditional” bicinctus. However, most of the atypicals were seen in H. crispa, not E. quadricolor. Further, most were seen in shallower portions of the reef, within several meters of the surface. Some of the fish just looked plain old! Personally I think many of the atypical features strike a cord with A. chagosensis… just saying 🙂

    • Joe Fish says:

      Nice photos. It seems this variation only occurs in the northern portions of the Red Sea. I’ve also noticed the tails are a bit less lunate compared to those from Djibouti. I imagine these two populations have experienced some amount of isolation from one another, or at least more interbreeding with omanensis in the south.

      A. chagosensis is quite a different fish in its shape, and the juvenile patterning is quite distinct, lacking the pennant-like flag on the dorsal fin. If you’re talking about the bicinctus-like fish from Chagos, it is quite similar, but the caudal fin shape is more typical of a clarkii, rounded, not lunate.

    • Joe Szczebak says:

      Really cool stuff. So glad to see the article.

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