Thanks to Finding Nemo, the clownfish is one of the most well-known fish in the world. Because of this, clownfish are wanted by both children and aquarists alike. They aren’t difficult to keep, but it’s necessary to understand their requirements if they’re to thrive in your aquarium.
Setting Up Your Clownfish Tank
As you’ll see, the clownfish tank setup is not difficult; however, there are a few important points that you’ll need to consider when keeping this species.
What Is the Best Tank Size for Clownfish?
To determine the tank size you’ll need for your clownfish, you first need to decide if you’ll provide your clownfish with a sea anemone. In the wild, clownfish often take refuge in the anemone’s tentacles but you don’t need to have an anemone for your clownfish at home. Your clownfish will do fine without one.
If you decide to keep an anemone with your clownfish, you’ll need an aquarium that’s at least 50 gallons. This tank size isn’t for your clownfish but for the anemone. If you only go with the clownfish, it’ll do well in a 10-gallon tank. If you want to breed clownfish, give the pair a 20-gallon aquarium.
In their natural environment, clownfish are found among anemones and corals. Rather than sand, their habitat is covered with large rocks and coral, which anemones use to anchor themselves. Live rock and live sand make good substrates for anemones. If you plan to keep your clownfish without anemones or coral, you won’t have to worry about what kind of substrate you use. You can even go without it.
The pH level of the water needs to be between 8.0 and 8.5. Fortunately, this pH range is suitable for many other saltwater fish species.
- Specific gravity refers to the amount of salt in the water. Clownfish need a specific gravity of 1.021-1.026.
- As with many saltwater species, the level of ammonia and nitrates in the water needs to be kept low at .2 parts per million (ppm).
Filtration and Water Flow
Surprisingly, clownfish aren’t great swimmers, so the aquarium should provide a slow water flow to avoid overpowering them. For this reason, you’ll want to avoid power filters that create a strong current in the tank. I recommend using an under-gravel filter if you are keeping the clownfish in a small aquarium.
If you plan to put the clownfish in a large reef tank, which requires a strong filter, modifications will be needed. Equip that tank with large rocks or fake reef inserts that can help block the water flow. Create a layout that provides both open spaces for swimming and hiding places.
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Lighting & Temperature
Clownfish don’t have specific lighting requirements, but if you intend to keep anemones with your clownfish, you’ll need to adjust the lighting according to the anemone species. Clownfish should be kept at a water temperature between 74-79 degrees Fahrenheit.
Clownfish are omnivorous, meaning that they eat plant and animal matter. You can meet their dietary needs by feeding them the following:
- Brine shrimp
- Mysis shrimp
- Frozen fish or shrimp that has been defrosted and finely chopped
- Algae from your tank
- Quality flakes or pellet diets that contain spirulina
- Quality flakes or pellets for omnivores
Adult clownfish should be fed twice a day, while juveniles should be fed three or four times a day. Only offer what your fish can consume in three minutes when giving food.
When clownfish are young, they’ll often stay within a small area that provides refuge. When feeding young fish, present the food so that it’s close to them. Regardless of age, avoid placing the food with a strong water flow.
🐠 If you have neon tetras in your aquarium as well, here’s a full rundown of what neon tetras eat.
How Can I Prevent and Treat Common Clownfish Diseases?
The diseases most commonly inflicted on clownfish are those that other tropical fish get. These diseases can be parasitic, viral, bacterial, or fungal in nature.
Ich: This parasite presents tiny white spots on the fish’s body and fins. There are medications to eliminate this parasite that can be found in tropical fish stores.
Marine Velvet: This parasite looks very similar to ich, so it isn’t easy to distinguish between them. The treatment for this disease requires a cooper solution.
Although they aren’t common, there are numerous bacterial infections that fish can get. Similar to parasites, bacterial infection symptoms are often similar, which makes treatment difficult at times.
Symptoms of bacterial infections include:
- Degenerated or frayed fins
- Open sores
- Abdominal swelling
- Enlargement or cloudiness of the eyes
- Growths on the body that look like cotton
Treatment of bacterial infection includes quarantining the fish and using an antibiotic to treat the water.
As with bacterial infections, fungal infections aren’t that common. When they do occur, it’s normally because the fish is already weakened.
Symptoms of a fungal infection include white cotton-like growths on the fish’s body or fins. There’s a medication that you can get from a tropical fish store.
Lymphocystis is the most frequently seen virus in saltwater fish. It’ll present itself as a white growth on the fish’s body that looks like cauliflower. There are no treatments for viral infections.
If your fish has a viral infection, quarantine it and maintain its normal care. With luck, it may recover on its own.
The Importance of Disease Prevention
Prevention is always better than seeking a cure. The reasons for this are:
- Most fish who become infected with a disease can’t recover.
- By the time a disease is detected, it’s often too late for the fish to be saved.
- Not all species respond well to the same medication.
- Most medications will harm invertebrates and beneficial bacteria.
- If you’re new to keeping fish, it takes a while to develop enough experience to determine if a fish’s behavior is normal or abnormal.
- Many diseases have similar symptoms, and you cannot treat a disease until it’s identified.
Methods for Prevention
The main cause for fish becoming sick is their immune system being compromised. A fish’s immune system is compromised by ongoing stress. You can do the following to help avoid stress in your clownfish.
- Don’t expose your fish to aggressive tank mates. Feeling threatened or becoming injured by aggressive tank mates leads to stress.
- Make sure water conditions are at the correct level for your fish.
- Make sure your tank size is appropriate for your fish. Though you can keep two clownfish in a 20-gallon aquarium, this is discouraged unless you breed them. Clownfish tend to be aggressive toward their other species of clownfish.
- Ensure you quarantine any new fish before introducing them to the tank. Also, quarantine any fish that you suspect to be ill.
Tank Maintenance and Prevention
The most important thing you can do to prevent disease is to maintain the aquarium’s water quality. Regularly check the water conditions (specific gravity, pH, and nitrates) and do a 15% water change weekly.
Compatible Tankmates for Clownfish
Clownfish get along with many species of reef fish and marine invertebrates. The fish you don’t want to keep them with are larger predatory fish, such as groupers, and clownfish of other species. To avoid fighting, only keep clownfish of the same species together.
Good tank mates for clownfish include:
Clownfish aren’t difficult to breed, but you need a compatible pair as they’re monogenous. Female clownfish grow larger than males. Use this fact to create a breeding tank that contains between 4 and 6 fish that belong to the same clownfish species.
The courtship in clownfish involves the male charging the female and nipping her fins. The male will also display himself to her. If you witness this, remove the other fish from the breeding tank.
Line the bottom of the tank with rocks, which the male will use to create a nest for the eggs. Raise the water temperature to 83 degrees Fahrenheit and give the pair an extra meal daily that’s rich in protein.
Clownfish will lay eggs, which may number in the hundreds, around 5 days after courtship. The parents will guard them until they hatch, which will occur 6 days later. At that time, you can remove the male from the breeding tank.
Caring for the Fry
The hatchlings fish (known as larvae) will be ready to take food 10-12 days later. Feed the fry powdered fish flakes and brine shrimp. When they start eating, they can be returned to the main tank.
How to Acclimate Clownfish to Your Tank
When acclimating clownfish to their new home is important to avoid stress. The water conditions in the bag that your fish came in will likely be different than those in your tank.
To avoid stressing your fish, do the following:
1. Set up a smaller aquarium and get the water conditions to match your main tank. Placing water from the main tank into the smaller aquarium can help speed up the process. Doing this will help your clownfish get acclimated.
2. Let the bag containing your fish float in the smaller tank for 2 hours.
3. After 2 hours, add half a cup of water from the main aquarium to the bag. If half of a cup seems too much, use a smaller amount. When adding the half cup of water, don’t pour it in all at once. Rather, add it gradually over 2 hours.
4. After 2 hours, you can introduce your clownfish to the main tank.
Caring For Your Clownfish
Clownfish are easy to care for, but they have some unique needs. Their swimming abilities, relationship with anemones, and compatibility with other fish need to be considered. Leave a comment below and please share this article with your fishkeeping friends.