The Clownfish Care Guide: Is This Fish for Your Aquarium?

Clownfish got famous after the movie ‘Finding Nemo‘ came out. Soon after that, people started calling these fishes by the name Nemo itself. But people admire these fishes not just because of this movie also because of their beautiful appearance.

Clownfishes are marine species but have a simple diet to follow as compared to other saltwater fishes. They also have their way of communicating with their mates. Each fish have unique behavior, and together they will bring a different charm to your aquarium.

In this article, we will throw some more light on their movement, behavior, patterns, diet, etc. So keep reading till the end to set up a Clownfish aquarium. Before jumping to details, let’s take a brief look at the table below –

Category Rating
Family Pomacentridae
Temperament Peaceful
Care Level Easy
Diet Omnivorous
Size Up to 4 inches
Lifespan 6 years
Color Form Orange, Black, White
Reef Compatible (Safe) Yes

Clownfish Overview

Clownfish care guide

Clownfish is a perfect beginner fish if you are looking to start a marine aquarium set up. Keeping clownfish will add colors and a new personality to your aquarium from their beautifully patterned body and colors.

Clownfish has around thirty different species, but two species (Orange Clownfish) get the most appreciation from the aquarists. The care needs of these fishes are similar. So, we will focus only on these two varieties.

One of the popular species is Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris, or False Percula Clownfish) whereas, the other famous species is Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion percula).

The family Pomacentridae contains all thirty Clownfish species along with Damselfish.

How Long Do Clownfish Live?

Clownfish lifespan in the aquarium is about 3 to 5 years. While in the ocean a Clownfish can live up to 10 years, but some species may live for more years.

How Much Does A Clownfish Cost?

You can buy Clownfish from any marine aquatic stores or online stores by spending around $15 per fish.

These fishes follow an appealing group structure, which often appeals to aquarists and other experts. These fishes are all born without gender, and when they mature, the dominant fish convert into a female. These females then form a pair with a breeding male.

Clownfish Typical Behavior

Clownfishes are peaceful creatures that prefer living in pairs or a group. They tend to get aggressive when they see other Clownfish species in the same aquarium. So, you can keep only one Clownfish species at a time.

Anemone is the natural habitat of these fishes where they find food and shelter. So, these fishes will fix a spot near the Sea Anemone (if you have them in your aquarium). But if you don’t, these fishes will dwell on the uppermost water levels and mark a small spot with a low current as territory.

Their ability to live close to the Anemone appeals the most to the aquarists and other experts. These fishes produce mucus, which prevents Anemone from stinging them. These fishes also have some immunity that provides them resistance from toxins.

Clownfishes are not great swimmers and often need a place with a weak current to get protection from their predators and feed. So, Anemone is the perfect place for them to live.

Clownfish Appearance

Clownfishes have a long body with several spines on the dorsal fins. The dorsal fin also has a dip, making them look like they have two fins instead of one.

The Orange Clownfish has two species, True Percula, and False Percula, which looks quite similar. But one way of differentiating between the two is counting the number of spines on their dorsal fins.

The True Percula has ten spines, whereas the False Percula has eleven spines on its dorsal fin. You can easily keep these fishes in a small or large aquarium as they can only grow up to 4 inches. Some species may not reach even this length.

These fishes have an orange body with three white stripes, which enhances their look even more. One of these stripes is behind their gills, while another one at the bottom of the caudal fin. The remaining strip is at the center of their body.

The protruding central stripe gives them a triangular appearance pointing towards their head. These stripes also have black edging, giving them an enchanting look as they move.

The False Percula has a brighter coloration because of thin or no black edging on its white stripes. These bright colors get a more enhanced look if you keep them in the aquarium with a dark background.

The Clownfishes have round caudal fins that don’t allow them to swim swiftly in the strong current of oceans or the ones created by the strong filter. The True Percula fishes also have a bright orange coloration, but their black variants are also available in the aquarium trade.

Other color variants such as Platinum, a completely white Clownfishes, are also available. These fishes are the outcome of breeding some rare color morphs.

Clownfish Tank Requirements and Natural Habitat

Clownfish tank aquarium

Clownfishes are the dwellers of coral reefs found in the warm parts of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They also live in the shallow lagoons near Australia or Southeast Asia.

As mentioned earlier, Clownfishes live close to Anemone, which is present only below 40 feet of Ocean’s depth. They cannot survive in shallow water bodies where the temperature is more, and salinity is low.

They also stick to the Anemone as they are weak swimmers, and Anemone provides them with shelter and food. The reefs provide some nutrients to the water to keep them clean.

These clownfish aquarium conditions are not easy to replicate but are also not impossible. So, you can give them a try and follow the table given below –

Water Conditions Parameters
Minimum Tank Size 20 Gallons
Tank SetUp Marine – Coral or Rocks
Temperature 74 to 79°F
pH 7.8 and 8.4
Water Gravity 1.021 and 1.026

Anemones provide an excellent environment for the Clownfish to thrive, but they are not easy to keep and needs more maintenance than a Clownfish. So, if you plan to keep the pair, you need to prepare the aquarium according to Anemone and not Clownfish.

To keep Anemone, you will need at least 50 gallons of an aquarium, which is way more than the size of a Clownfish’s aquarium. The Clownfish doesn’t care much about the lighting. But the requirement of lighting may differ from species to species of Anemone.

Can Clownfish Survive without Anemone?

If you intend to keep your Clownfish without Anemone, your fish will still thrive in a small aquarium. But you have to ensure that the water conditions are similar to their natural environment.

You will also need a high-quality filter and a heater to maintain the water’s quality and temperature. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the water and ensure that it is constant.

Keep the pH in control and within the range for their better health. They will pair up with other species effortlessly in an aquarium with a suitable pH and water gravity.

You can reduce the sudden fluctuation in water quality by keeping a large water volume in the aquarium or sump. You can use rocks, artificial reefs, and live rocks to create a layout in the aquarium.

These will provide both appreciation and protection to your fish from the heavy water current. Your Clownfish will need both a hiding place and an open swimming space in the aquarium. So, keep it in mind while creating a layout for the Clownfish tank.

Clownfish don’t necessarily need substrate at the tank’s bottom. You can skip adding sediment, which will make the cleaning process easy for you. But if you are keeping other fishes with them, you might have to add a substrate for them.

An aquarium with at least 20 gallons of capacity is necessary to keep your Clownfish happy and healthy. It will also give your fish enough space to hide and explore.

But if you want to keep your Clownfish with Anemone, you will need a larger-sized aquarium. Add 10 gallons to your aquarium with the addition of each fish.

What to Feed Clownfish?

It is essential to know what do clownfish eat in an aquarium, wild, and ocean.

Clownfish are omnivores, which makes it easy to feed them. They will fondly feed on small crustaceans, copepods, algae, fish eggs, anemone tentacles, and larvae in their natural environment.

It is easy to keep a variety in their diet in your home aquarium. In meat-based food, you can feed them with Brine shrimp and Mysis shrimps. You can also add finely chopped table shrimp and frozen fish to their diet.

Live foods are the perfect food-type for wild-caught species. It is also suitable for encouraging breeding in them. You can also feed them spirulina-based flakes and pellets, especially if the algae level is low in your aquarium.

These foods will provide the herb-side of their diet. The juvenile Clownfish will feed best near their hiding or safe zone. It is the area where they spend most of their time and are likely to stay there until they grow up.

The adult Clownfish will also feed on certain places. These areas will have a minimum water flow to allow them to eat and catch food easily. Your juvenile Clownfish will need feeding three or four times a day.

The feeding will reduce to only twice a day as your fish grow up. Feed only the amount that your fish can finish in three minutes and remove any leftover food. It will keep water quality from degrading.

Clownfish Tank Mates

Clownfish tank mates

In their natural habitat, Clownfishes live with other fish species in the reef. So, they are quite adaptable, and you can keep them in both small and large community aquariums.

In their natural habitat, the Clownfishes live with Anemones in a symbiotic relationship. You can try establishing the same in your aquarium but adding Anemone in the aquarium doesn’t guarantee if they will form a pair or not.

But if they did, you will get to see an attractive interaction between the two species. You should also know that these fishes can survive without forming a pair with Anemone as well.

Anemones also come in a variety, and not all of them are suitable for your Clownfish. Some of these Anemone variants are Magnificent Anemone, Bubble Tip Anemone, and Leathery Sea Anemone.

You can also pair your Clownfish with other small fish species such as Wrasses, Butterflyfish, Damselfish, and Dartfish. You can also add the fishes that don’t dwell on topmost water levels, such as Blennies and Gobies, which are bottom dwellers.

Shrimps such as Harlequin Shrimps and Peppermint Shrimp will also make suitable mates for your Clownfish. They are peaceful and will also help in reducing the waste of the aquarium.

The bigger fishes like Angelfish and Tangs may cause your Clownfish problems as they are not good swimmers. So, make sure to monitor their movement if you are adding them to the same aquarium.

Avoid keeping any aggressive fish such as Lionfish, Groupers, Eels, and Triggerfish. These fishes may prey on your Clownfish. Also, avoid keeping your fish with other Clownfish species. They may also show aggression towards each other.

Should You Keep Clownfish Together?

We will advise you to keep Clownfish either in pairs or in the same species group.

Clownfish Care and Common Diseases

How to care for Clownfish

No matter how resistant your fish is, there is still a chance of them getting sick. You have to do regular aquarium cleaning and water testing to know more about your fish and aquarium’s health.

How to Take Care of  Clownfish?

Make sure to keep the water parameters constant. You can do this by doing regular check-ups of water conditions. If you detect anything, it will be possible to get everything back to normal as soon as possible.

You should also perform a 15% water change every week. But if your aquarium is small, you should do it more frequently. Remove any excess food after the feeding process is complete. It will prevent algal growth and sickness from nitrate/nitrite.

Use a good quality cleaner to remove the algal growth visible to you. Clownfishes can heal from any minor setbacks but are still prone to major diseases like Ich or Dropsy.

If you see your fish behaving abnormally, detect discoloration on their body, or change in their appetite, consult a vet for the early diagnosis of the disease and fast recovery.

Clownfishes are the most rewarding pet to keep, and they will reduce your stress level.

Breeding Clownfish

You can breed Percula Clownfish in your home aquarium. But before learning more about the breeding process, let’s discuss their biology in detail.

Can Clownfish Change Gender?

A juvenile Clownfish doesn’t have any gender, and they are born without it. The social cues or hormonal changes determine whether they will grow up to be male or female. The dominant Clownfish always convert into females and form pairs with a small male.

The other Clownfish of the same group will become male but won’t form a breeding pair with the female.

Clownfish Breeding Conditions

The temperature should be slightly warmer, around 83°F, to encourage the pair to begin courting. After five days, they will start the spawning process. The courtship rituals will include pressing dorsal fins together and standing on their heads.

They will also start cleaning the rock parts near Anemone, where they will place their eggs. The Clownfishes can produce between 50 to 500 eggs per month. The eggs take around eight days to hatch.

After that, they will swim to the surface for a fortnight until they find a home among the Anemone. The breeding process is not very difficult to follow, but you have to keep patience as it may take a few failed attempts to be successful at last.

Are Clown fish Good for Beginners? (Summing-up)

Clownfish are one of the beautiful and effortless to care saltwater fishes. These qualities make them a good starter fish for a saltwater setup. You can even add them to the already established community aquarium.

Aquarists around the world admire them for exhibiting different behaviors and having a unique personality. These fishes are hardy, but you have to be careful with few things to keep them healthy and thriving.

Clownfishes are a great addition to any already or newly established aquarium. Do you have them in your aquarium? Do you keep them in the same species group or with a variety of fishes? Let us know through your comments.