The present study describes the embryonic development and early ontogeny of Amphiprion ocellaris from fertilization to post hatching. Anemonefish spontaneously spawned at 27–28°C. The newly laid eggs were orange in colour and elliptical in shape (1.8×0.8 mm). Melanin appeared as a black mass situated at the vegetal pole in mature eggs. This is rarely seen in eggs of other fish species. We documented developmental times at 27–28°C to egg activation (0.5 h), cleavage (4 h), blastula (11.5 h), gastrula (20 h), neurula (24.5 h), somite (28.5 h), turnover (72 h), blood formation (113 h) and internal ear and jaw formation (144 h). Hatching occurred 152 h after fertilization.
On day 4, the eye buds were pigmented and melanophores formed on the ventral surface of the embryo. Internal ear and gill formation were completed on day 5 and coincided with movement of the opercula and pectoral fins. The mouth formed on day 6 and the digestive tract appeared on day 7. By day 10, the yolk was fully absorbed and a substantial amount of food was observed in the gut. Dark and orange pigments were dispersed and aggregated through muscle contractions by day 14, but red pigments did not appear until the fish were three months old. This study contributes to a further understanding of the embryology and the early ontogeny of damselfish and may help
improve the culture of coral reef fish.