Elaine and I have a rule about anenomefish, clownfish, and Nemo fish: don’t take pictures of them on the swim out to the dive site. Instead, take pictures of them towards the end of the dive if you still have air.
The reason is that anemonefish are pretty cool. Ever since the movie, we have a love affair with Nemo. They also have some reasons why you shouldn’t take pictures of them early on in the dive:
They move around a lot. This means you spend more time trying to get in the right position for a shot. Sometimes you’ll spend the entire dive working an anemonefish and not have the air to go deeper for the subjects that you’re there to take pictures of.
They’re very photogenic. Lots of charm. Everybody wants a picture of them, especially if you’re new to underwater photography. It’s like the underwater macro version of ADHD: “Oh look, SQUIRREL!!!”
They’re very common. You see them everywhere. This means that the chances of you seeing one at the beginning of the dive is very high. But that Nemo is keeping you from all of the other rare macro subjects that you’re looking for.
They usually live at shallower depths. Conveniently, you’ll see them frequently at 5 meters deep where you’re doing your safety stop. As long as you have air, extend out that safety stop and get some Nemo pictures.
Two huge huge huge HUGE tips.
Always when you see an anemonefish, check the anemone for other animals. Things like porcelain crabs, transparent shrimp, etc also live in anemones and they make awesome subjects. One dive in Anilao, I watched an anemonefish continually bite a porcelain crab that was in their anemone. Great behavior, great photos.
When you see a large anemonefish, they are the female of the group. Back off a bit and watch them to see if they go someplace and “kiss” a rock nearby. Or even keep gravitating back to a rock a meter or so away. If you check on that rock, you’ll find little fish eggs. Break out the supermacro adapter and get some shots!!
So when do you take pictures of Nemo? Here are some good times:
Dive is more than half over and you don’t have a different subject.
You’re at or near your safety stop, both in depth and distance from the entry point.
You have plenty of card space and camera battery.
You can’t find any other subjects after looking for a long time.