Clownfish Care Guide, Aquarium Mates and More – 2021


They caught everyone’s attention with the 2003 hit Disney film called Finding Nemo, which won millions of hearts. That’s is why beginners love to have them swimming around in their home aquariums. Clownfish have playful movements, outstanding personalities, and a good diet – all of which make them popular among people.

More good news is that clownfish are easy to provide for, reasonably low-maintenance, and follow a simple diet.

In this guide, we’ll give an in-depth care guide to teach you all about clownfish.


Category Rating
Level of Care Generally easy
Temperament Mostly peaceful
Appearance Black, white, and orange
Life Expectancy Live for over 6 years
Size 3 to 4 inches
Diet Omnivorous
Family Pomacentridae
Tank Size Minimum tank of 20 gallons
Tank Environment Marine tank with coral or rocks
Tank Mates Get along well with most species


clownfish care


Overview of the Clownfish



They originate from the Indo-Pacific Ocean. They can be found in large numbers near Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines marine waters. You can also spot them swimming around from North-West Australia towards Singapore, or more specifically, in the West Pacific Ocean.


They prefer to live in shallow lagoons and coral reefs. However, extremely deep or too shallow water is not ideal for their higher salinity levels.


There are over 30 species of Clownfish, but the most popular varieties are the Orange Clownfish – for obvious reasons. The second most popular Clownfish species are the Ocellaris Clownfish (also known as the False Percula Clownfish) and the Percula Clownfish. All Clownfish species belong to the Pomacentridae family, which includes Damselfish.


The average Clownfish lifespan is about six years. However, it is not unknown for certain species to live for much longer.


Clownfish Appearance


They have a dip in their dorsal fin that makes it appear as if they have two fins instead of just one. Their long bodies have over ten spines and reach an average length of about 4 inches, but most are usually smaller. It makes them perfectly suited to most small or beginner marine aquariums.


They typically carry three white stripes, one below the caudal fin, one near the body’s center, and one behind the gills. The central stripe seems to protrude out to create a triangular shape pointing towards the head.


Their fins and stripes have a black outline, making it easy to spot their movements, often described by aquarists as mesmerizing to watch. False Percula Clownfish have thin or no black designs, making them appear much brighter when placed in dark marine tanks.


They possess a round caudal fin, which restricts their swimming abilities. A strong current powered by massive filters can easily blow them over. Meanwhile, True Perculas, the ones that we’re most familiar with, is commonly orange. You can also find black (often rare) varieties in the wild.

Specialist breeders have created rare colors in captivity, such as platinum (almost total white).


Males and females are mostly the same in appearance, especially when they are still juveniles. An attractive trait of Clownfish is the ability to change from male to female by altering their hormones; this allows them to form a pair during the breeding season conveniently.


Clownfish Temperament


They are very peaceful throughout the year but will become hostile towards other Clownfish species. To prevent bullying and in-fighting, you should only place one Clownfish species in a marine tank. They tend to occupy higher aquarium levels, where they will claim a small area with small weaker currents flowing.


They may leave this spot to live near Anemones if you introduce them in the tank. It is where they find a natural source of food.


Their relationship with Anemone has been the source of much speculation and scientific research. Because Clownfish are hardy and resistant to the toxins produced by Anemones, they can live together. It is suitable for the fish because it doesn’t swim very well and often needs a place to hide from predators and bullies.


They will add an element of fun to your aquarium. These fish are rather smart. For instance, if you were to feed them on a consistent schedule, they will quickly anticipate feeding times and swim to the tank’s top in search of food. And because they’re not good at swimming longer distances, their wobbly swimming pattern can be humorous to watch – hence the name ‘Clownfish.’


They are intelligent and curious all the time. Because these fish are no longer under the constant threat from predators, Clownfish can quickly eat, explore, and breed without worrying about the world – creating interesting behavioral patterns that teach us more about life in Coral Reefs.


clownfish tank mates


Clownfish Tank Mates



They are a small and slow-moving species. They are not good at defending themselves and will get harassed by larger, carnivorous aggressive species like Groupers, Eels, and Lionfish. As a general rule, do not place tank mates larger than Clownfish and exhibit territorial aggression.


Other than that, you have many choices to choose some great tank mates for Clownfish, depending on the aquarium’s setup.


Suitable anemones are Magnificent Anemone and Leathery Sea Anemone.


Suitable fish are small creatures like the Butterflyfish, Dartfish, Wrasses, and Damselfish. You can also keep bottom dwellers like Gobies and Blennies since they usually stay out of your fish’s path.


The larger Clown will be aggressive to the smaller Clownfish at first, but they will get along when the smaller one becomes submissive to the larger female and become a male. They will pair up and even become mates. More on that later.


Other additions include Harlequin Shrimps and Peppermint Shrimps. They’re not only peaceful, but they also contribute to a cleaner tank by regularly breaking down leftover food.


They hate other Clownfish belonging to a different species and will fight them. However, if you want to keep multiple Clownfish species, the best recourse is to introduce a smaller Clownfish, which may be a juvenile or male, to a somewhat more established, large Clownfish.


Here are some excellent tank mate choices:


Chromis Damselfish 

They are a species of Damselfish. Most Damselfish is a little territorial towards one another, but the Chromis Damselfish is an exception to the norm.


They are peaceful and are small, which explains why they never appear hostile to Clownfish. Their ease of care and low maintenance requirements makes the Chromis Damselfish perfect tank mates for Clownfish.


  1. Yellow Tangs


They are somewhat peaceful, but some have been known to be slightly aggressive and territorial. Fish usually save their temper tantrums for other Tanks and mostly ignore Clownfish. They enjoy a strictly vegetarian diet but will happily eat a protein-rich food.


  1. Basslets


These Atlantic marine fish are ideal tank mates for Clownfish, sporting an attractive yellow and purple bicolor pattern that makes them the jewel of any saltwater aquarium. They are generally very peaceful but can be territorial. So make sure to provide them with a cave and a large tank.


clownfish care


How to Take Care of Clownfish?



They are hardy with robust immune systems. However, they can get sick and need regular care and monitoring. It includes regular tank cleaning and water testing. The water’s parameters should stay consistent and not change abruptly. You should always check the water conditions to prevent diseases.


It is recommended to change at least 15% of the water weekly, even in smaller tanks.


Remove waste food to prevent the growth of algae and regulate those nitrate/nitrite levels. Use a suitable cleaner to remove visible growth spurts of algae.


For the most part, Clownfish can recover from most minor setbacks, but they are very susceptible to severe outbreaks like dropsy or ick.


Are Clownfish Easy to Care?


Absolutely. You have to follow the basic guidelines and watch out for abnormal behaviors, discolorations, and small appetite changes. Your Clownfish will care for you back by being one of the most rewarding sea creatures to keep and could reduce your stress levels.


Clownfish Tank Requirements


Anemones have stricter care requirements than Clownfish, so if you want to pair the two (highly recommended), you should design the tank around Anemones first. Anemones need around 50 gallons of space and cannot be kept in smaller tanks that Clownfish can occupy.


It is essential to mimic the water conditions found in the wild, including temperature, filtration levels, water hardness, and pH value.


The tank’s pH level should be precisely between 7.9 to 8.2 to keep them healthy. At this level, you can pair Clownfish with other species as well. Should maintain the water at a temperature of about 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which can be raised to trigger the breeding season.


One of the most well-known Clownfish facts is that they need a specific gravity between 1.021 and 1.025. It is recommended to keep a large volume of water in a sump or in the tank to reduce abrupt water quality fluctuations.


Other water parameters should lie within the generally acceptable marine aquarium levels with 0 ammonia and less than 0.2 ppm of nitrates and nitrites.


Things to Add in Tank


Create a decent layout of the tank, which provides practical protection to the Clownfish from the water flow. You can do it by adding live rocks, fake reef inserts, and other hiding places. The best layouts are ones that promote open swimming environments. You can keep Clownfish in a tank free of sediments for ease of cleaning, but their tank mates may need substrate.


You should install a high-quality filter along with a protein skimmer. It will create a stable environment and regulate the water’s level of quality.


Prepare to install intense lighting in the tank if you decide to keep anemones. However, fish-only aquariums do not require low lights (and should be avoided).


Clownfish Food


They are omnivorous creatures and will happily accept a wide variety of foods. In general, they will get quality pellets or flake food made for omnivores and carnivores. It is recommended to provide them with a varied diet by mixing in live foods with frozen foods to keep your Clownfish healthy and happy for years.


It is recommended to feed them once per day, but you may provide them on alternate days depending on the tank’s size and other tank mates.


It is a great way to minimize maintenance issues that pop up due to food pollution. The downside is that juvenile Clownfish will grow at a slower rate. If you plan on breeding your Clownfish, prepare to up the feeding frequency three times per day with varied nutrition.


As a general rule, you should only feed your Clownfish as much as they can eat in about 2 to 3 minutes. You want to make sure the food doesn’t float for too long or gets stuck in rocks and other tank areas.


It will contribute to poor-quality levels and promote the growth of algae. It is a good idea to have snails, starfish, and crabs to clean up after the Clownfish by eating the extra food.


clownfish breeding guideline


Breeding Guidelines for Clownfish



To encourage breeding, raise the tank’s temperature to about 83 degrees Fahrenheit. It will initiate courtship within five days before mating. Their pair will show off various rituals such as rubbing their dorsal fins together and cleaning part of the rock near an Anemone to place their eggs.


The first step, of course, is to choose clownfish to breed. The most obvious option is to buy a pair of breeding clownfish, buy a team that’s bonded but not producing, or putting a smaller male Clownfish with an older, larger female Clownfish.


Once the pair has bonded, it’s only a matter of setting up the right conditions to get them to breed.


It is recommended to feed them a lot, up to 3 times a day. Try different foods and look for quality frozen and live foods, including live earthworms and bloodworms. Brine and shrimp food are also good at initiating spawning behavior among Clownfish. One item that you should try is mosquito larvae; your Clownfish will love them.


Together, the breeding pair will produce anywhere from 100 to 450 Clownfish eggs every month, which will hatch a week or so and swim to the surface two weeks later. While they are not impossible to breed, it does take quite a bit of patience and a bunch of failed attempts to get it right.


clownfish diseases and dangers





Dangers and Diseases to Watch Out For



While They are generally very hardy and resistant to diseases, one significant infestation to watch out for is Brooklynella. It commonly infests marine fish such as Clownfish and is often referred to as “the Clownfish disease.”


The parasite attacks your Clownfish’s gills, at which point the fish will start scraping up against objects. Rapid respiration will develop, and the fish will often gasp for air because their gills become clogged with mucous. The Clownfish will also produce a hefty slime that will cover its entire body, beginning at the head and spreading outward.


Brooklynella multiplies very rapidly and can quickly kill the fish in just a few days. Sometimes, it can kill the Clownfish in only a few hours. For this reason, it is essential to accurately diagnose and treat the fish exposed to this life-threatening disease.


Remedies for Brooklynella include adding copper, malachite green, and formaldehyde. Formalin could prove very effective at treating your fish; however, it is a powerful chemical that must be used carefully.


Start by mixing a standard formalin solution with saltwater in a separate tank. Give the affected Clownfish a quick dip in the solution, followed by continued exposure to formalin at lower concentrations in an independent quarantine tank. The longer you expose your Clownfish to formalin, the more influential the treatment.


And as always, prevention is undoubtedly better than cure, and the best way to prevent Brooklynella is by properly maintaining the marine tank. Should quarantine All new marine fish, plants, rocks, and other items for about four weeks before introducing them into the tank.


If you suspect that your Clownfish is sick, call your vet right away for the best recommendations for your pet.


Where to Buy Clownfish


Clownfish for sale usually carry a price tag of around $15 and are available from most pet stores specializing in saltwater species. You can also buy Clownfish species from online stores and specialist breeders.


Final Thoughts: Are Clownfish Worth Keeping in Your Saltwater Tank?


Saltwater fish are generally not comfortable because you have to replicate a lot of environmental settings found in their natural habitat. But Clownfish are among the few marine fish that are easy to care for and beginner-friendly.


At the same time, they’re also one of the most interesting. Clownfish are your gateway to saltwater fish keeping. The experience will prove invaluable.


Click here to know the 30 most popular Fish for your aquarium.


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