Do Barracudas Eat Clownfish? Or Are They Innocent? (2023)

Do barracudas eat clownfish? If you’re googling this question, I’m sure you recently watched the movie, Finding Nemo. And let me tell you, that movie got a couple of vital things wrong.

It didn’t just give barracudas a bad name but also pretty much altered clownfish’s biology and reproduction process to suit Disney’s storyline.

In this blog, I’ll tell you everything the movie got wrong about clownfish, barracudas, and blue tangs (Dory).

So, let’s begin!

Do Barracudas Eat Clownfish?

In real life, barracudas seldom eat clownfish. First, barracudas live in open or deep waters (325 ft) instead of coral reefs like clownfish. Therefore, the chances of confrontation, to begin with, are really slim. Second, barracudas prefer hunting bigger prey like herrings, tunas, mullets, groupers, grunts, killifishes, anchovies, jacks, and herrings.

So no, they normally don’t eat clownfish or clownfish eggs. That being said, we cannot rule out the possibility 100% if the opportunity arises.

Before we discuss what else the movie Finding Nemo got wrong, let’s have a closer look at the widely misunderstood fish, the barracudas.

Who Are Barracudas? Where Are They From?

Barracudas, also commonly called cudas, are big, predatory, ray-finned fish notorious for their fearsome looks and even more dreadful temperament.

They are saltwater fish belonging to the Sphyraena genus, the one and only genus in the Sphyraenidae family. They were first described only over 200 years ago, in 1815 by Samuel Rafinesque.

Barracudas are found in subtropical and tropical oceans across the globe – ranging from the Atlantic Ocean’s eastern border to the tropical areas of the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. They’re also often spotted in the Red Sea and the Caribbean Sea.

What Do Barracudas Eat? How Do They Hunt?

Needless to say, barracudas are ferocious. They’re also cunning, opportunistic eaters. Do you know they rely on surprise attacks and short bursts of speed to attack their prey? When in assault mode, these fish can move at a speed of up to 27 mph (43km/h).

Barracudas eat both big and small fish. They snack regularly on an array of prey, including fish like mullets, killifish, herrings, small tunas, snappers, groupers, jacks, grunts, and anchovies.

Their favorite target is to attack a school of fish, charging headfirst and biting at them with jaws.

When consuming bigger fish, they tear chunks out of their prey. And when gulping small ones, they simply bite them in halves or swallow them whole.

These fish compete fiercely with needlefish, mackerels, and even dolphins for prey. They are usually found swimming near the surface or seagrasses searching for schools of plankton-feeding fish.

They’re super tricky for prey to detect, thanks to their elongated, silver bodies.


Barracudas heavily rely on their eyesight to detect their next meal. As a result, they are quick to identify anyone or anything that has an unusual color, movement, or reflection.

When they finally find prey, their anal and dorsal fins, as well as the long tails, allow them to move with swift bursts of speed to attack before the poor victim even figures out what’s going on.

Recommended Readings!

Do Clownfish Mate For Life?How Finding Nemo Should Have Ended?

How Fast Do Clownfish Grow? Answers For Every Species!

Black And White Clownfish Care Guide | Diet, Habitat, Breeding, Accessories

Do Barracudas Eat Fish Eggs?

Well, barracudas grow about 3 feet long and weigh more than 100 pounds. So, I highly doubt fish eggs are going to satiate their appetite. Cudas are better off hunting tunas and mackerels. Despite what Finding Nemo showed, they seldom devour fish eggs.

Clownfish eggs are barely 3-4mm big. There’s a saying in my native language, when roughly translated to English, goes something like this: A cumin seed in an elephant’s mouth.

You got the idea, right?

Now, let’s quickly skim through what kind of relationship barracudas share with humans before addressing what the movie Finding Nemo got wrong.

Do Barracudas Eat Humans?

There are over 30 species of barracudas. And they can grow up to 5 feet long and weigh over 100 pounds. But they are still not overpowering enough to eat an average-sized human. However, they can attack and lead to grave injuries.

Depending on the severity of the attack, risks of loss of tissue and lacerations are always present.

There are several reports of swimmers being bitten by barracudas, but luckily no loss of life has been reported so far.

In 1996, a barracuda measuring 7 feet long and weighing more than 100 pounds reportedly attacked a human. And in 2010, a barracuda jumped out of the water and struck a kayaker in Florida.

Do Humans Eat Barracudas?

Barracudas are pretty popular among hobbyists as both food and game fish. They’re often made into steaks and filets. Reportedly, their skin stinks. But once you skin them, the flesh tastes great.

Barracudas have a milder taste than anchovies but a stronger fish flavor than white fish like haddock.

(Video) 10 Facts About The CLOWNFISH You Didn't Know

In West Africa, a barracuda is a delicacy smoked to be used in sauces and soups. Apparently, smoking protects the flesh from disintegrating in the broth while lending a smoky flavor.

The meat is white when raw. However, once cooked, it turns into a pinkish-gray color.

Generally, it’s recommended to avoid eating barracudas under 5 feet since they contain a higher concentration of toxin called ciguatera.

And unfortunately, people who suffer from ciguatera poisoning often display signs like limb weakness, gastrointestinal discomfort, and an inability to tell hot from cold.

Is Eating Barracudas Dangerous?

Apart from the possibility of ciguatera poisoning, barracudas also bring along the risks of parasitic infestation. Numerous fishermen have reported finding a plethora of parasitic worms in a barracuda’s belly.

However, as long as you gut and clean the fish thoroughly, it’s perfectly fine to eat them.

Does Barracuda Make Great Game Fish?

Barracudas are heralded among the best deep-dropping baits when fishing for groupers or snappers. Hobbyists and professionals alike use barracuda as bait to fish in open waters for swordfish, tuna, and sharks.

The most common method of using barracuda as bait is cutting it into chunks or strips and using them as cut baits.

What Happened To The Barracuda After Finding Nemo?

The only time we see barracuda in Finding Nemo is when he attacks and eats Coral and her eggs.

The fearsome fish is not seen again throughout the rest of the movie. But interestingly, the same barracuda appeared as an easter egg in another Disney/Pixar film, Toy Story 4. The fish was stuffed and mounted in display at the Second Chances antique store.

That’s karma, I guess. Serves it right after what it did to poor Coral and her eggs.

Now that you know everything there’s to know about the mighty barracudas, I’m finally going to address two things that the film depicted wrongly.

Two Things Finding Nemo Got Wrong

Besides conducting a smear campaign against barracudas, Finding Nemo got two critical things wrong. First, the lives the rest of the clownfish led after Coral’s (Nemo’s mom) demise is portrayed incorrectly. Second, Dory is pictured to be a goofy, fun, and kind-hearted fish. But that’s a far cry from reality.

How Should Finding Nemo Have Ended?

Marlin’s wife Coral gets swallowed by a barracuda as she tries to defend her eggs. Marlin tries to fight the barracuda but gets knocked unconscious back into his anemone.

When he wakes up, he finds his loving wife and all of the eggs gone except one, which goes on to hatch and become little Nemo.

Now, here comes the exciting part. All clownfish are born as males. They are sexual hermaphrodites who can later turn into a female.


A group of clownfish usually consists of 5-6 fish, in which the biggest fish always transitions to become a female. Its testes get dissolved, and ovaries grow prominent as the change happens.

The second-largest fish in the group is the breeding male. He will fertilize the alpha female’s eggs and ensure the continuity of their lineage.

The rest of the group members are sexually immature males positioned far down in the pecking order.

In nature, if the alpha female dies, the breeding male takes on the vacant position. So yes, he changes sex and becomes a female.

Then, the biggest fish among the sexually immature males becomes the breeding male.

The new pair will then mate and produce hundreds and thousands of young offspring.

So, when Coral gets eaten by a barracuda in the film, Marlin should have turned into a female since he is the breeding male.

And since Nemo is the only other clownfish present in the anemone, he should have turned into a ‘breeding male.’

Yes, your suspicion is correct. Marlin, now a female (maybe Marlyn), would have mated with Nemo, the breeding male, after Coral’s demise if the story depicted what really happened.

If you want to read up more on these gender-bending marvels in depth, I’m sure you don’t want to give this article a miss.

Related: Can Clownfish Change Gender?

Why Wouldn’t Dory Make An Awesome Pet?

We all love Dory’s character in the film. In fact, we showered her with so much love that Pixar blessed us with a sequel monikered Finding Dory, where the goofy, lovable sidekick turns into the main character.

However, in reality, Blue Tangs, on whom Dory is based, don’t make great pets.

Your Dory belongs to a group of fish called surgeonfish that are notorious for stinging threats with the sharp spines of the tail. Therefore, they don’t make good additions to just about any saltwater tank.

Plus, they get too big for your standard saltwater tank and demand a humongous amount of space. So naturally, the cost of raising them is significantly high. It’s estimated that it can cost anywhere between $3000 to $10,000 on average to raise a single blue tang fish.

And lastly, blue tangs are incredibly prone to marine ich. 9 out of the 10 times you introduce them to a home aquarium, they will bring the dreaded parasite alongside.

(Video) These Clownfish Switched Genders

If you want to read up on why Blue Tangs don’t make terrific pets and are potentially illegal to own, I’m sure you’re going to love this article.

Related: What Kind Of Fish Is Dory?

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Barracudas Eat Clownfish? Or Are They Innocent? (1)

What Eats Clownfish In Coral Reefs?

In coral reefs, clownfish are eaten primarily by a group of fish called piscivores. This group consists of different fish like groupers, sharks, and eels.

Do Male Clownfish Eat Their Eggs?

Male clownfish only eat eggs that he deems are non-viable. As a matter of fact, male clownfish are designated egg-sitters and are super diligent at their job.

As the movie Finding Nemo showed, males have a strong parental instinct. So they care for the eggs meticulously.

Do Female Clownfish Eat Their Eggs?

Like male clownfish, female clownfish don’t eat their eggs under general circumstances. However, they eat infertile, damaged, or rotten eggs that pose the risks of spreading germs to the rest of the eggs.

During their first few spawnings, female clownfish are also known to consume eggs since they are highly stressed and have only a little idea about what’s really going on.

Do Clownfish Eat Clownfish?

Yes, clownfish eat clownfish, but only if it’s dead. They don’t attack and eat live clownfish. Like most fish, they are highly opportunistic. Therefore, if a dead clownfish is lying around in the vicinity, they don’t hesitate to take a bite or two.

Final Words: Do Barracudas Eat Clownfish?

Finding Nemo did the barracudas dirty. Unlike shown in the film, these 3-feet big monster fish don’t really have an appetite for small fish like clownfish or their even smaller eggs.

When in the attacking mode, barracudas can move swiftly at 27 mph (43 km/h). And it does so to snack on meatier prey like tunas, herrings, mullets, jacks, and groupers.

Recommended Readings!

How Many Gallons Does A Clownfish Need? Answers For All Species!

How Do Clownfish Sleep? Upside Down?

What Is A Misbar Clownfish? 10 Types Of Misbar Clownfish


Do barracudas actually eat clownfish? ›

Clownfish are a potential prey item for barracudas, however they do not typically consume them. This is because barracudas prefer larger, more energetic food, and clownfish are tough targets because they are small and move slowly.

What is the relationship between barracuda and clownfish? ›

However, appearances can be deceptive, and a great barracuda is unlikely to prey on a clownfish. In part, this is because the barracuda is likely to pursue a more substantial meal, but it is also thanks to a symbiotic relationship between the clownfish and its hiding place.

Who eats clownfish? ›

Clownfish are eaten by a group called Piscivores (Sheppard 2009). This group is made up of many organisms that live in the ocean, including groupers, sharks, and barracudas. Great White Sharks and Great Barracudas are two of the predators that prey on clownfish.

Why don't we eat clownfish? ›

Generally, clownfish are not considered edible for various reasons, including being small, expensive, bony, and scaly.

What fish ate Nemo's kids? ›

That's right, we're talking about the opening scene in the movie, where a giant barracuda attacks the home of Nemo's dad, Marlin, and ends up eating Nemo's mom and all of his future brothers and sisters.

What fish ate Nemo's mom? ›

The Barracuda That Ate Nemo's Mom Finally Got What It Deserved In "Toy Story 4" SWEET JUSTICE.

What fish ate Nemo eggs? ›

First appearance. The Barracuda is a minor, but pivotal character in Finding Nemo.

Is A clownfish A Predator or a Prey? ›

The orange-clown anemonefish are prey for a number of fish such as sharks, stingrays, and other larger bony fishes. While the eggs are susceptible to predators, they are attached to a substrate that is protected by the anemone's stinging tentacles.

What kind of fish is Dory? ›

The release of the film 'Finding Nemo' saw a rise in the popularity of 'Dory', the forgetful but lovable Blue Regal Tang.

Did Nemo's mom eat the eggs? ›

One day, Coral revealed that she would love a home with an ocean view, so the devoted Marlin managed to get her a much-prized anemone at the drop-off—with a view of the whole ocean. It is assumed that she and the eggs got eaten by the Barracuda; albeit never exactly confirmed in the movie canon.

Is it safe to eat a clownfish? ›

A clownfish's primary source of protection is the anemone, but the mucus coating affords them some amount of protection while out and about. This same mucus makes the clownfish unsafe for humans to eat.

Why are clownfish immune to poison? ›

Did you know that clownfish live in the poisonous tentacles of sea anemones? They are one of the only ocean creatures immune to this venom, and are protected by a thick layer of slimy mucus on their skin.

Can you eat goldfish? ›

Goldfish are as edible as any other freshwater fish. If you choose to eat it, know these facts first: That gross flake and/or pellet stuff is what your fish has been eating exclusively. Pop a pellet or two, that's what your fish will most likely taste like.

Can Nemo be eaten? ›

Nemo and his father are clownfish, a type of deep sea fish that live in certain types of anemones. While clownfish are “technically” edible, it is not recommended. Anemones are poisonous.

Is it OK to touch clownfish? ›

#8 Unlike other fish, thanks to a protective layer of mucus, clownfish are not affected by their host anemone's deadly sting. Touching the clownfish might remove this protective, leaving it vulnerable to stings so remember, look but please don't touch!

Is Nemo's dad a female? ›

All clownfish ( Nemo and Marlin are clownfish) are born male and the dominant male of a group turns into a female when the female of that group dies.

Is Dory A Boy or a girl? ›

Dory, a gender-neutral name with a positively glowing demeanor, comes from the Greek Dorothy, meaning “gift of God,” and Dorris, meaning “gift” and “gift from the sea.” A true testament to your love, baby Dory will always be reminded how they are a cherished godsend.

Who is Nemo's girlfriend? ›

Darla Sherman is a main character in Finding Nemo.

Do clownfish change genders? ›

The three banded anemone fish, also known as the clownfish, is capable of a sex change. The fish all start their lives as males, but as they grow older and bigger, they eventually become female.

Is Nemo's mother still alive? ›

Children. Coral is a minor character in Disney/Pixar's 2003 animated film, Finding Nemo. She was the mate of Marlin and mother of Nemo and approximately 400 unborn Clownfish. Unfortunately, Coral and her entire family were attacked by a barracuda in which all of them except Marlin and Nemo perished.

Is Marlin a female? ›

Marlin is a ♀ girl's name and a ♂ boy's name. Marlin thus belongs to the gender-neutral unisex names.

Do clownfish have 400 eggs? ›

Tomato Clownfish pairs will typically spawn about every 10-14 days and the eggs hatch 7-8 days later. The average nest size is about 400 eggs. The larval period is short, about 9 days, and the juveniles exhibit a mid-body stripe that will disappear as they age.

Does Nemo fish exist? ›

What they may not know is that the heroes of Finding Nemo are actually called false anemonefish. True anemonefish, Amphiprion percula, are nearly identical, but have subtle differences in shape and live in different habitats.

Is Nemo a salmon? ›

Key points. Nemo and his father Marlin are both clownfish. Clownfish fathers take the primary role in nursing eggs which involves keeping them clean and making sure they get the oxygen they need.

Why are clownfish orange? ›

Why are clownfish so brightly colored? Like their coral reef habitats, clownfish are brightly colored. In nature, orange is considered a warning coloration, so marine biologists believe that their color warns potential predators about the clownfish's deadly companion, the anemome.

What are baby clownfish called? ›

The fry hatch approximately 4 days later. The difficult part with rearing clownfish fry is removing the fry from the exhibit so that they can be reared in peace. The parents take no part in the rearing of the young. They will protect their eggs but once the eggs hatch, the babies are on their own.

Do clownfish eat dead fish? ›

They will eat the leftover fish from the anemone and also the dead tentacles. They also eat different types of algae, small crustaceans and plankton.

What is a dolly fish? ›

Though similar to, and often confused with, trout, Dolly Varden are actually a char (Salvelinus sp). To tell a char from a trout, look at their spots—char have light spots (white or yellow to red) on a dark body, while trout have dark spots (brown to black) on a light body.

What is the fastest fish in the world? ›

Not all experts agree, but at top speeds of nearly 70 mph, the sailfish is widely considered the fastest fish in the ocean.

Is A blue tang Edible? ›

The flesh of the blue tang is poisonous.

What was Nemo's dad? ›

Albert Brooks as Marlin, a cynical clownfish and Nemo's overprotective father. Ellen DeGeneres as Dory, a regal blue tang with short-term memory loss. Alexander Gould as Nemo, Marlin's only surviving son, who is excited about life and exploring the ocean, but gets captured and domesticated as a pet.

Why is Nemo's fin small? ›

The protagonist, Nemo, displays a small, or "deformed," fin that is a congenital result of a fatal attack on his mother and sibling eggs—a corporeal characteristic that the story surrounds, yet does not drown in.

Is it true that clownfish eat their own eggs? ›

Do clownfish eat their own eggs? As mentioned, the male clownfish will tend to the eggs until they hatch. He will scope out any that are not viable or damaged, and yes, he will eat those. Sometimes all of the eggs will be eaten, especially during the parents' first few attempts.

Do clownfish bites hurt? ›

These bites are often painful and may even give way to some blood, but there is no reason to fear as the bites are never too deep. They have very strong jaws, but their jaws are not strong enough to cause serious bites.

Can clownfish eat raw shrimp? ›

Clownfish are omnivores that eat plankton, algae, and shrimp.

What fish is immune to poison? ›

The pufferfish itself has immunity to the poison due to a mutation in the protein sequence of the sodium channel pump on the cell membranes.

Can a clownfish survive a jellyfish sting? ›

While clownfish are unharmed by the stinging cells of an anemone, they are not immune to jellyfish stings.

Why don t clownfish get stung by jellyfish? ›

It is believed that the clownfish is protected due to a mucus coat on the outside of its skin. Studies have suggested that the clownfish's protection can be innate, acquired, or both, depending upon the species.

Can a fish survive in milk? ›

The differences in acidity and dissolved oxygen, not to mention all of the fat, proteins, carbohydrates, and other minerals in the milk that might clog the creature's gills, would quickly spell trouble. The animal would likely die within minutes, if not sooner.

How old is the oldest goldfish? ›

The average lifetime of a goldfish is ten to fifteen years. The longest-lived goldfish on record lived to age 43. The oldest living goldfish was Tish, won by a UK family at a funfair.

Can you eat guppies? ›

Can you eat guppies? Technically a guppy is edible. However, they are very small fish which does mean that you won't gut them or clean their insides before eating them.

Can I eat Dory? ›

Despite the theories leading to these claims, there is currently no evidence or official statement from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discouraging its consumption.

Is Dory the fish edible? ›

John Dory is a versatile fish - it can be pan-fried, grilled, baked whole, steamed, poached or roasted. As with all fish, it's important not to overcook John Dory. Also, it's often wise to keep the skin on to protect the delicate flesh during cooking. The only real difficulty cooking John Dory lies in the filleting.

Do we eat Dory fish? ›

John Dory is a delicious fish with delicate white flesh and a firm, flaky texture. A saltwater fish, it has a mild, slightly sweet flavor, and can be served sautéed, baked, steamed, poached, or even coated in breadcrumbs and fried.

Do clownfish have teeth? ›

Clownfish Communicate By Rapping--Their Teeth

High-speed video reveals that clownfish's unique communication relies on shuffling mouth bones and smacking teeth together, with the jaws radiating the sound.

Is it OK to touch my fish? ›

Touching your pet fish is usually a bad idea. It's advised to avoid touching or grabbing fish with bare hands in an aquarium unless in emergency situations. From sanitary concerns to fish safety, there are many reasons to avoid touching them altogether.

What do clownfish love in? ›

In their natural environment ocellaris clownfish will host in Magnificent Sea Anemone (Heteractis magnifica), Giant Carpet Sea Anemone (Stichodactyla gigantean) and Merten's Carpet Sea Anemone (Stichodactyla mertensii). Clownfish do not require host anemones to survive or thrive.

Does barracuda eat Nemo? ›

Although Nemo survived the barracuda's attack, his egg got a slight damage from it, a small crack which is why Nemo's right fin is so small.

What fish do barracudas eat? ›

Great barracudas feed on an array of prey including fishes such as jacks, grunts, groupers, snappers, small tunas, mullets, killifishes, herrings, and anchovies. Barracudas have a large gape and very sharp teeth, enabling them to feed on large fishes by chopping them in half.

Would Nemo's dad have become female? ›

To ensure the survival of the clownfish group, Marlin (Nemo's father) would have become Marlene, and mated with a younger male from the adolescent population already living on the anemone, researchers said.

Is Nemo's dad a girl? ›

The film makers portray him as a boy but the question should really be “Is Marlin a boy or a girl.” The truth is - some fish like clown fish change genders physically if there leader or mate dies - in which Coral his wife did. So technically Marlin should be a girl dad.

Are barracuda ok to eat? ›

Barracuda is safe to eat if prepared correctly. Barracudas have good nutrition and provide attractive and protein-rich meat. However, meat from large barracudas can contain harmful bacteria and viruses. These pathogens can cause ciguatera poison, a harmful infection from eating certain fish.

Is A barracuda stronger than a shark? ›

A shark would win a fight against a barracuda.

The apex predator has everything going, including size, speed, attack power, and defenses. The barracuda could potentially get the drop on the shark, but it's very unlikely due to the latter's superior senses.

Can you swim with barracudas? ›

Barracudas can be dangerous to humans under certain circumstances. While barracudas are not typically aggressive towards humans, they have been known to attack people who are swimming or diving in waters where they are present.

Which fish eats its own egg? ›

In an extreme feat of parenting, some female cichlid fish carry their eggs and babies in their mouths for about two weeks. In this way, the young fish and fish-to-be are protected from predators in the outside world.


1. Finding Nemo - Begining Scene | Coral's Death
(Huginn Hjartarson)
2. HATCHING THE CLOWNFISH DAY 5 *it’s getting massive*
(Jake Sweet)
3. Barracuda vortex and lots of little Nemos!
(Earth Touch)
4. Fish Consider Humans to be Demons Who Torture and Kill Them
(Spoiler Lab)
5. The Foundation of Marine Aquaristics by Martin Moe | MACNA 2014
(BRStv - Saltwater Aquariums & Reef Tanks)
6. Super smell to incredible eyesight - Barneys Barrier Reef 12/20 - Go Wild
(Go Wild)


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