Keeping Marine Fish: How to care for Clownfish

Keeping Marine Fish: How to care for Clownfish

Clownfish have always been a popular choice for marine fish keepers, however their popularity really soared after the release of Disney’s ‘Finding Nemo’. It is therefore important, that marine hobbyists understand how to properly care for these amazing saltwater fish. Fortunately, Clownfish are easy to keep, compared to many other marine fish species, so they are an ideal choice for beginners.

 Family Pomacentridae
Care Level Easy 
Aquarium Swimming Zone Middle
Adult Size 4 inches
Temperament Peaceful - Coral & Invertebrate Safe
Minimum Tank Size 50L
Diet Omnivore
Breeding Egg Layers
Life Expectancy 6 - 10 years
Salinity 1.021 - 1.026 SG
pH Level 8.0 - 8.4
Temperature 26°C


What Do Clownfish Look Like?

Clownfish have long bodies and a dip in their dorsal fin that makes it appear as if they have two fins rather than one. Their fins edges are rounded which makes them weaker swimmers and as a result, they can be overpowered in aquariums with strong currents. When keeping clownfish, there should be sheltered areas in the aquarium with reduced flow.

Clownfish grow to a maximum size of around 4 inches. Their petite size makes them ideal fish for smaller, beginner aquariums and nano aquariums; however, they will also do well in larger community tanks where the flow is acceptable.  

There are around thirty different varieties of Clownfish varying in pattern and colour.  The most common examples in the aquarium hobby are the Percula Clownfish and Ocellaris Clownfish. These typically have Orange bodies with Black and White stripes. The rarer and more unusual varieties of Clownfish are often referred to as ‘designer Clownfish’ and are generally more expensive than the common Clownfish.

Which Fish Can I Keep Clownfish With?

Clownfish are very adaptable and can live in a range of community aquariums. Clownfish are best kept in pairs or groups of the same species to allow them to exhibit natural behaviours as they would in the wild.  They are often kept alongside other smaller fish such as Damselfish, Wrasse, Grammas, Blennies, Gobies, Fire Fish, and Cardinals. It is not recommended to keep Clownfish with larger predatory marine fish such as Groupers, Lionfish and Eels as they will most likely eat them.

Many species of invertebrate also make fantastic tank mates for Clownfish. This can be in the form of Urchins, Shrimps, Snails and Crabs which are commonly found in marine aquariums, forming the ‘clean-up crew’. It’s very common to keep Clownfish with Anemones however pairing is not always guaranteed, and Anemones require a much higher level of care then Clownfish. Where pairing is achieved, it is an incredible, mutually beneficial interaction to observe. It is also useful when breeding Clownfish, as the anemone will help to protect the fish eggs. Some suitable Anemones are:

  • Magnificent Anemone
  • Leathery Sea Anemone
  • Bubble Tip Anemone.

If you do choose to keep anemones, then suitable lighting must be provided for it to thrive in the aquarium. We recommend the Marine Spectrum LED light, by Fluval. This light is available in a variety of sizes and is adaptable to fit most aquariums.  

How to Breed Clownfish?

In order to breed Clownfish, you will first need a breeding pair. All clownfish are born genderless and will become male or female as they mature. This is dictated by hormone changes and social interaction. As a rule of thumb, the largest Clownfish of a pair will become female, while the smaller of the two will become/remain a male.

To initiate breeding behaviours, the aquarium temperatures should be raised to 28 degrees Celsius, and the fish should begin spawning within a week.

Clownfish are egg-layers and will produce anywhere between 50-500 eggs during one spawning session. It usually takes approximately 8 days for the eggs to hatch where they can be placed into a ‘growing-on tank’ or hatchery until they are older.

It can take many attempts and lots of patience before spawning is successful. The parent fish should be rested for at least a month between spawning sessions, so that they do not succumb to exhaustion.

What Do Clown Fish Eat?

Clownfish are extremely easy feeders! They are omnivores and will generally eat any food source they find. This can be in the form of copepods, small crustaceans, algae, fish eggs, and larvae! This varied diet can be replicated by feeding a good quality staple pellet or flake food, while supplementing with frozen or live food. Mysis shrimp or Brine shrimp is best for general feeding, but they can also have bloodworm, krill, and other foods as a treat.

Clownfish should be fed a small amount of food up to twice a day, to prevent excess food and waste build up.

How to Care For Clownfish?

While Clownfish are generally very hardy, they can still become unwell or perish, if their environment is not suitable. It is vital do regular water checks, ensuring water parameters are stable and correct.

The testing kits by Salifert, are great for testing a broad range of water quality parameters. The salinity levels should also be regularly monitored using either a hydrometer or refractometer, aiming for a specific gravity of 1.023 – 1.028.

Clownfish should be kept in an aquarium no smaller than 50L. In instances with larger groups of Clownfish, an additional 10L should be added to the overall aquarium volume per clownfish. Clownfish like most marine fish can be extremely territorial and may bully other Clownfish when kept in a small, confined aquarium.

Crushed coral sand is a great substrate for aquariums containing Clownfish. The sand should be placed in the aquarium after the rock, to prevent the rocks moving or falling. Different varieties of corals, rock forms and ornaments can be used to decorate the aquarium. By using coral rocks and other decorations in the aquarium this creates areas for the fish to hide should they need too. This provides the fish with a more natural environment which will reduce stress and create happier fish all round.

Clownfish at Complete Koi and Aquatics

Complete Koi and Aquatics are stockists of many beautiful Clownfish. We generally have a great variety to chose from and sell them in male and female pairs. They are a fantastic marine fish for all levels of aquarium hobbyist. If you have any further questions on how to care for your Clownfish, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We offer fish health checks and water testing services to aid your success. 

Give us a callor pop over to see us today.


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