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Clownfish - Anemonefish

Clownfish Species Guides : 


Courtesy to Animal


The "clowns" of the sea are named for their colors and their adorable 'waddle-like' swimming motion!

Clownfish are some of the most popular fish in the saltwater aquarium hobby. They are very beautiful, quickly catching the eye, and fun to watch. Even before Nemo became a household name they were extremely popular. Many marine enthusiasts enter the hobby simply because of their attraction to these colorful beauties.


To scientists these fish are commonly known as Anemonefish though in the aquarium hobby they are more popularly called Clownfish. Their colorful appearance and comical swimming style is truly clown-like. However true to their Anemonefish name, you will often see them nestled in an anemone. All other fish will avoid anemones due to their stinging tentacles while Clownfish can have an immunity to these stings. In the wild they actually live in a symbiotic relationships with certain anemones and benefit from each others company for food and protection.


Fortunately it is not necessary to have an anemone to keep a Clownfish in captivity. They will readily adapt without one and will frequently find a substitute host in a coral or rock structure, or another invertebrate. If you do decide to keep an anemone choose one that your clownfish is known to like. You will also need to make sure the anemone's special needs are met


The list of saltwater clownfish below includes many aquarium species. Each fish guide has in-depth clownfish information with their places of origin, habitats, behaviors and the anemones they associate with. They also include the fish care needed for successfully keeping Clownfish in saltwater aquariums. Pictures are also provided with each guide to help with fish identification.

- Facts About Clownfish :


Clownfish along with the Damselfish are members of the Pomacentridae family. The majority of the fish in this family are the Damsels which are generally quite hardy aquarium inhabitants. Unfortunately many can become territorial (aggressive) when they get older with only a few exceptions such as the Green Chromis, the Blue Reef Chromis, and the Skunk Clownfish.


The Pomacentridae family is further divided into subfamilies, and this is where the Clowns and Damsels are separated. Clownfish are placed in the subfamily Amphiprioninae or Anemonefishes. It consists of 30 recognized species with one specimen placed in the genus Premnas, and all the others placed in the genus Amphiprion.


These fish range from about 2.5" (6 cm) in length for the smallest, which is the Percula Clown, up to about 6.3" (16 cm) for the large Maroon Clownfish. Depending on the species they can live five years or more with proper care. Depending on species they can live five years or more with proper care.



Clownfish Types : 


There are currently 30 described Clownfish species and a number of them are available in the hobby. The easiest way to understand individual types and learn about its peculiarities is to group them into like kinds, so these fish have been grouped into "complexes". There are basically six recognized clownfish complexes:


Percula Complex:
The two most common Clownfish seen in the aquarium hobby are the two from the Percula Complex. These species have also been bred in captivity with a number of color morphs being developed.

  • Percula Clownfish Amphiprion perculaTrue Percula Clownfish is another common name it is known by.This is a well known favorite classic in orange contrasted with white markings.A unique variety of this species has been developed that has an elongated horizontal white band in the center of its body. This variety is known as the Picasso Clownfish or Picasso Percula Clownfish.

  • Ocellaris Clownfish Amphiprion ocellarisCommon Clownfish and False Percula Clownfish are other common names it is known by.The Ocellaris is very similar in appearance to the Percula Clown and is often mistaken for it as they both have the classic orangish coloring and contrasting white markings.There are some interesting varieties including a true 'clown' looking fish, the Snowflake Ocellaris Clownfishthat has a large splotched white patterning across its body. Another is a solid orange Clownfish, lacking the familiar white stripes, that is called the False Naked Percula.

Amphiprion allardi

Allard's Clownfish

Amphiprion melanopus

Cinnamon Clownfish

Amphiprion clarkii

Clarkii Clownfish

Amphiprion percula

True Percula Clownfish

Amphiprion frenatus

Tomato Clownfish

Amphiprion tricinctus

Three-band Clownfish

Amphiprion sebae

Sebae Clownfish

Amphiprion polymnus

Saddleback Clownfish

Amphiprion perideraion

Pink Skunk Clownfish

Amphiprion omanensis

Oman Anemonefish

Maroon Clownfish

Premnas biaculeatus

Amphiprion ocellaris

Common or False Percula Clownfish

Maroon Complex : 
Some clownfish with prominent band patterns include those from the Maroon Complex. There are just two fish in this complex available to hobbyists and they are perhaps some of the most gorgeous. These are the Maroon Clownfish Premnas biaculeatus and a striking variety called the Gold Striped Maroon Clownfish.

  • Maroon Clownfish Premnas biaculeatusThis species is one of the most gorgeous clownfish, though it is quite territorial.

  • Gold Striped Maroon ClownfishThis is a striking variety of the Maroon Clownfish. The 'White-striped' Maroon or the 'Yellow-striped' Maroon are also used to identify it and are based on the color of its stripes.

Clarkii Complex : 
The Clarkii Complex is another group with prominent band patterns which contains 11 species. These are handsome, hardy clownfish favored by aquarists for their ease of care.

  • Clark's Clownfish Amphiprion clarkiiClark's Anemonefish, Clarki Clownfish, and Banded Clownfish are a few of the other common names it is known by.This is one of the most popular, hardy, and readily available members of the Clarkii Complex.

  • Allard's Clownfish Amphiprion allardiAllard's Anemonefish is another common name it is known by.This is another favorite that is occasionally available.

  • Twobar Anemonefish Amphiprion bicinctusTwo-Band Anemonefish and Red Sea Clownfish are other common names it is known by.This is another from the Clarkii Complex that is occasionally available.

  • Oman Anemonefish Amphiprion omanensisThis is a a handsome fish from the Clarkii Complex, but a rare find in the hobby.

  • Three-band Clownfish Amphiprion tricinctusA handsome fish from the Clarkii Complex is one of the larger anemonefish, reaching up to 5.1" in length, It is also known to vary in color from golden yellow to black. It is sometimes available, but not as common as some of the other Clarkii members.

Saddleback Complex : 
Some of the most distinguished looking Clownfish are members of the Saddleback Complex, which of course includes the Saddleback Anemonefish Amphiprion polymnus. It also includes the Wide Band AnemonefishAmphiprion latezonatus also known as the Lord Howe Clownfish, along with the popular Sebae ClownfishAmphiprion sebae. People often ask for the Sebae Clownfish for inclusion in a reef aquarium. This is because of its name, in people's minds it is associated with the Sebae Anemone.

  • Sebae Clownfish Amphiprion sebaeThis is one of the best known clownfish, and a very popular member of the Saddleback Complex.People often ask for the Sebae Clownfish for inclusion in a reef aquarium. This is because of its name, in people's minds it is associated with the Sebae Anemone.

  • Saddleback Anemonefish Amphiprion polymnusOf couse this handsome fish is in the Saddleback Complex.

  • Wide Band Anemonefish Amphiprion latezonatusLord Howe Clownfish is another common name it is known by.

Tomato Complex : 
The Tomato Complex includes some of the most regular aquarium species, but these species are without as much patterning as others. These two Clownfish have just one white band located behind the eye.

  • Tomato Clownfish Amphiprion frenatusThis is one of the two most often seen clownfish.

  • Cinnamon Clown Amphiprion melanopuThis is the other most often seen clownfish from this complex.Black Clownfish or Red and Black CLownfish are other common names it is known by.

Skunk Complex : 
Clownfish from the Skunk Complex are a bit more unique looking. The Skunk Clowns are easily identified as they have a white 'skunk' type stripe running along the entire length of their back.
The Pink Skunk Clownfish Amphiprion perideraion is another easily obtainable clown, and occasionally theOrange Skunk Clown Amphiprion sandarcinos can be had. The Skunk Clowns are easily identified.

  • Pink Skunk Clownfish Amphiprion perideraionThis variety is another easily obtainable clown,

  • Orange Skunk Clown Amphiprion sandarcinosThis variety is not quite as easily obtainable, but can be found.

Clownfish and Sea Anemones : 


In nature Clownfish live in symbiosis with certain anemones, where each member provides a benefit to the other. The clowns help their host by vigorously chasing off any intruders, cleaning it, and even feeding it. In return the host anemone will protect the Clownfish with its stinging tentacles; tentacles that only Clownfish are immune to! In nature many clowns will live with the same anemone but only one will be dominant. The dominant fish will be a female and all the rest will be males.


In the aquarium you may or may not provide an anemone for your Clownfish. They will readily adapt and may even use a coral, other invertebrate, or a rock structure as a substitute if there is no anemone available. If you do choose to include an anemone, it will need lots of light. A system that offers 2 to 5 watts per gallon and preferably with some blue spectrum provided by actinic light bulbs or higher temperature metal halide lighting is best.


There are certain anemones that each type of Clownfish is found with in nature, and the particular host anemones are listed with each clownfish in its guide. However many clowns will readily adopt other types of Anemones in the aquarium. Although there are over 1100 types of sea anemones, only these 10 species are known to host Clownfish:


  • Adhesive Sea Anemone Cryptodendrum adhaesivum

  • Bubble Tip Anemone Entacmaea quadricolor

  • Beaded Sea Anemone Heteractis aurora

  • Sebae Anemone Heteractis crispa

  • Magnificent Sea Anemone, Ritteri Anemone Heteractis magnifica

  • Delicate Sea Anemone Heteractis malu

  • Long Tentacle Anemone Macrodactyla doreensis

  • Giant Carpet Anemone Stichodactyla gigantea

  • Saddle Anemone Stichodactyla haddoni

  • Merten’s Carpet Anemone Stichodactyla mertensi

Beginner Clownfish Species : 


Many Clownfish are very hardy and make great fish for a beginning aquarist. However there are a few that are somewhat more delicate, and some species that need to be kept singly. Unless you have a very large tank it’s best to keep only one clownfish, or one mated pair per tank, as they can be very aggressive towards other clownfish species. These fish vary not only in their personalities but also in their level of care.


Clownfish species that are most suitable for beginners are hardy and easy to obtain. These include the peaceful Skunk Clownfish and the mild-mannered Ocellaris Clownfish. The Tomato and Cinnamon Clowns, along with the Clark's Anemonefish, are also very hardy and readily available but they are a bit more territorial. The Maroons are very aggressive and have no tolerance for other clowns, not even their own kind, but they too are hardy and commonly available.


Species that are not ideal for beginners include the Percula Clownfish. Although these are the smallest species of Clownfish they are a bit more costly and require more attention to water quality than the hardier varieties. There are a few other varieties that stress easily and acclimate slowly to the aquarium, so are not suggested for a new aquarist. These include the Sebae Clownfish, the Saddleback Anemonefish, and the Wide-Band Anemonefish.


Clownfish Habitat : 


These fish are generally very hardy and will do well in most saltwater aquariums. A minimum 20-gallon aquarium is suggested for the small to medium species, the larger species will do better with a minimum of 30 gallons. Include rock structures and other decor for hiding along with plenty of open space for swimming.


Clownfish in an aquarium have no special lighting requirements but if kept in a reef environment many of the other inhabitants will need very strong light. You can provide a host anemone but you must have a healthy system to keep up with the nutrient requirement of this animal.


Reef aquariums require lots of live rock and live sand. Beneficial bacteria will populate the sand and rock and help keep the water clean. This type of tank needs the addition of some specialized equipment to provide good water movement and strong lighting. Reef tanks also require excellent filtration and a protein skimmer is beneficial as well.  Regular water changes are very important because they replace important trace elements that the fish and corals use up, like calcium, magnesium, strontium and iodine. For more information on keeping a reef tank, see the Mini Reef Aquarium Guide.

Clownfish Care : 


Taking care of clownfish in a saltwater aquarium is moderately easy. You will need to maintain their habitat, feed the appropriate foods, and make sure they are housed with ther right tankmates. Once they are well established, a pair will often begin to spawn, making them an even more exciting marine fish to keep.


  • Maintaining the AquariumThe aquarium needs to have good filtration to maintain water quality and a stable environment. Salinity levels should provide a specific gravity of 1.020 to 1.026 and water temperatures between 75 - 82° F (24 - 28° C). Doing 15% water changes twice a month will go a long ways towards keeping your aquarium stable and healthy.

  • Feeding ClownfishClownfish are opportunistic eaters. In captivity they will eat almost everything that it is offered. They will readily consume all types of meaty and vegetable foods. Ideally you should provide them with a good variety of live, frozen, and flake foods. These can include such foods as mysis and brine shrimp, spirulina flakes, bloodworms, krill, and finely chopped meaty foods.Feed your Clownfish at least once a day. A rule of thumb when feeding once a day is to feed them what they will eat in about five minutes. It is okay to feed the fish more than once a day, with two or three feedings, but then only feed them only what they will consume in about three minutes. If you feed large pieces of meaty food, you can watch the Clownfish grab the chunks, and then deposit them into the anemone.

  • Social Behaviors of ClownfishWhether Clownfish live with a host anemone or have a substitute host, they can become very territorial. They will vigorously protect their host against intruders. Luckily, their aggression is usually limited to the immediate area around the host, so they’re not usually a threat to other fish or invertebrates throughout an aquarium.In personality, each of the many different kinds of Clownfish has its own temperament. Of those most commonly available, the Maroon Clownfish are notorious for their aggression toward tank mates, while Tomato Clownfish and Cinnamon Clowns are only moderately aggressive. The Percula Clownfish also tend to be somewhat aggressive but most of the other species tend to be more moderate. The Ocellaris clown is notably mild-mannered. The Skunk clowns tend towards shyness and can actually be dominated by aggressive tank mates.

  • Breeding ClownfishClownfish are sexually dimorphic with the females of most species being larger than the males. A pair will need good water quality and stable conditions for several months to a year before they will spawn. Once they have started spawning they will continue to lay eggs at regular intervals.Mated pairs will reproduce in captivity and many species have been successfully propagated. A stable aquarium is the key to successfully breeding and rearing clownfish. Baby Clownfish will need to be raised in a separate aquarium, as corals and other fish will consume the new fry within just a few hours. See Breeding Marine Fish for information on reproductive habits and how to breed clownfish.

clownfish breeding : 


Some of the easier marine fish to breed in home aquariums, clownfishes make a good first breeding project.


Courtesy to : 


A number of anemonefishes regularly spawn in the home aquarium. In fact, most anemonefish species in the aquarium hobby are now being bred in captivity, and captive-raised anemonefish are readily available to hobbyists. With the availability of larval foods and the products needed to keep these foods alive, it is now easier than ever for the hobbyist to raise anemonefishes. Although it is rarely profitable to do this on a small scale, it can be fun, educational and can lead to a sense of accomplishment when you succeed in raising some fish to saleable size.


When my clownfish suddenly laid eggs, I searched all over the internet for information on how to raise the clownfish fry. I searched many of the saltwater fish forums and found some information from other people. After a couple failed batches, I found a method that works. Most saltwater fish can be difficult to breed, although clownfish are fairly easy once you have a good stock of rotifers. Follow the steps here to raise your clownfish eggs to full grown saltwater fish. You might even be able to get some cash or store credit from your local fish store.


Culturing Plankton

Raising Rotifers

Step 1 – A Breeding Pair of Clownfish

Step 2 – Preparations for Clownfish Fry

Step 3 – Hatch Night

Step 4 – Fry Feeding & Care

Clownfish Metamorphosis

Recommended Stores

Step 1 : Culturing Plankton


As mentioned in other posts, only rotifer diet or nannochloropsis should be used to feed your rotifers.  Nannochloropsis is filled with vitamins and nutrients that the rotifers will eat and in turn the clownfish fry will eat.  Rotifer diet can get very expensive especially if you have several rotifer cultures going and are using lots of rotifer diet.  I deceided to try to culture my own phytoplankton and hopefully save some money.  Now I have a constant supply of plankton and I am not spending money to keep my rotifer green water going.

Things you will need to Culture Plankton:

Either Gatorade style bottles or 2 liter soda bottles (get the ones with the flat round bottom if you can)


Air splitter to allow you to use one aerator in several cultures

Air line hose

Florescent light fixture – standard output similar to one you would use in your house, not one you would put over your aquarium.  I used two 13″ lights used for mounting under a cabinet.  They have a standard plug on the end and don’t require any wiring.

Plankton Algae disk- Available at Florida Aqua Farms Nanochloropsus green non motile 4 to 6 size

1 bottle of Micro Algae Grow available at Florida Aqua Farms

5 gallon bucket

When growing plankton it is very important that you keep the culture as sterile as possible.  You do not want to get any rotifers into your culture because even just one can multiply into millions and your plankton will disappear very quickly.  If possible place your plankton above your rotifers on a shelf and not the opposite.  If your plankton drips into your rotifers it isn’t a big deal, however if your rotifers drip into your plankton, it will be eaten very quickly.  I have also put the two in separate rooms.  Just be careful with the buckets and materials that you are using that they are not infecting the cultures.


As mentioned above, you will need a disk of nanochloropsus.  The disks are like a petri dish with the green plankton on top of it.  When it arrives add enough mixed saltwater at 1.019 to the top of the disk to cover all of the green on the disk.  Every 30 minutes swirl the disk in a circle like you would a glass of wine to loosen the plankton.  You should do this for about 2 hours with one of your lights 5″ from the top of the disk.  Keep swirling and let the plankton come back to life.  All of the green material should be loosened.  After two hours has passed, pour the solution into a clean 2 liter soda bottle (or Gatorade bottle) with saltwater at 1.019.  This should give the water a light green tint.   You also will need to add 20 drops of Micro Algae Grow.

Step 4   2 – Preparations For Clownfish Fry  : 





Next you will need to modify your bottle top to allow the air line tubing to pass through it.  Drill a hole in the top of the bottle cap in the center of the cap.  The hole should not be tight on the line and should let a small amount of air come back out of the bottle.  If the hole is too small the plankton will spray through the top.  Run the hose through the top and place an air stone on the end of the hose.

The air stone weighs the end of the tube down so that it sits on the bottom of the bottle.  I usually set my aerator to high and allow as much air as possible stir and aerate the plankton.  Make sure the cap is screwed on the bottle well to prevent other things from getting in.  You also should remove any labels on the bottle to allow the most light to get in.


I place both the plankton bottle and the lights inside of a 5 gallon bucket and just place the top on the bucket.  Make sure the bottle is close to the light but not touching or close enough that they start to heat up the plankton.  Keep the lights on for at least 16 hours per day.  I keep my lights on all the time.  Watch your plankton over the next couple days it should start out very light (lime) green and turn to a very dark almost black green.  After the plankton stops getting more green over 2 consecutive days, the plankton is done.  You can now use this to start another culture.  Simply mix a bottle with salt water and Micro Algae grow and pour around 2 ounces of the recently finished plankton into the bottle.  You can do this multiple times and have multiple cultures going at once.  I usually have two cultures going at all times.  When one is done I mix up some saltwater and Algae grow and 2 ounces of the previous batch.

Now you can have an endless supply of plankton to feed to your rotifers.  This plankton mix is not as concentrated as rotifer diet so it will take more of the plankton to get the rotifer water to the proper green color.  Usually one 2 liter sized bottle will last me around 1 week feeding two rotifer cultures.    Always make sure you have enough food for your rotifers or they will crash or produce cysts and go dormant.

The finished and filled plankton bottles will last at least a month in the refrigerator.  You should gently shake each bottle in the fridge each day to make sure the cells are not crushing one another.  If you have looked into the costs of breeding clownfish you know that the rotifer food such as rotifer diet is very expensive.  Starting a plankton culture is a great way to save money.  I got my continuous setup going for about the cost of one bottle of rotifer diet.

Step 2 : Raising Rotifers


Raising Rotifers to Feed to Clownfish Fry


Keeping rotifers can be a difficult task because they are almost microscopic and eat special food.  Clownfish fry will only eat live rotifers so don’t even bother with dried or frozen rotifers.  This also goes for flakes and powdered food.  Rotifers are one of the best foods to use for breeding clownfish because they reproduce quickly, and provide excellent nutrition for the newborn fish.  The rotifers are only as nutritious as the food that you feed them.  Make sure to get a good food for the rotifers, such as Rotifer Diet or Nannochloropsis.

Rotifer Culture Supplies

  • 5 gallon bucket

  • Air Pump

  • Airline Tubing

  • Rotifer culture

  • Rotifer food such as Rotifer Diet

  • Rotifer sieve or coffee filter

You will need a live rotifer culture.  I usually get my rotifers from Reed-Mariculture.  They have the best quality rotifers and always arrive alive.  When you receive your culture, check the salinity of the water in the bag.  Usually it is around 0.017.  Fill the bucket with the same salinity water and add the contents of the bag to the water.  Add rotifer diet to the water until the water is the desired color.  It should be a light green color.  Make sure the water is well aerated.  An air stone and an air pump should be used and set on the lowest setting.  You just want to aerate the water and not boil it.  Check the water color often to make sure that it is the proper color.  When you first get the rotifers, they will eat a lot of the algae in the water.  You should check the water every day to make sure that it 

has enough algae.  For the first 3 days, you should not harvest any of the rotifers.  This will allow the population to return to normal.  After 3 days you will need to harvest the rotifers every day.  You should harvest the rotifers whether you have clownfish to feed or not.  Use a rotifer sieve available on ebay or a coffee filter.  Pour the rotifer water through the filter until about 1/3 of the water has passed through the filter.  Next you will need to wash the rotifers off of the filter.  Soak the filter or sieve in the clownfish fry tank water or wash the rotifers off of the filter into the tank.

Clownfish fry will not eat much for the first 12-24 hours after hatching.  They will still be using the nutrients from their yolk sacks.  After about 24 hours they will be looking for food.  You will be able to see them eating the rotifers.  The clownfish will be swimming around the tank and come to something and stop, bend their tail and then dart forward.  This is how they hunt for food.   Every week you will need to change the water in the rotifer tank.  I usually take out about 2 gallons of water out of the bucket.  I start a siphon and run the water through the coffee filter or sieve.  Anything in the filter is put back in the bucket and the water is replaced with fresh saltwater.   Good luck with your rotifers.

Step 3 :   1 – A Breeding Pair of Clownfish :


n order to breed clownfish, you will need a mated pair.  The easiest way to do this is to purchase a mated pair. Often times fish stores can order a mated pair or many online shops carry them as well.  The second way you can be sure you have a mated pair is buy two clownfish when they are young.  When clownfish are young, they are always males.  Once they have determined the dominant fish, it will change sexes into a female.  After some time, you will be be able to tell which is the female because it will always be larger.  This comes after much fighting between the two fish.


Often times the female will nip at the males tail and the male will look like he is having a seizure.  He will roll on his side and start twitching rapidly.  This is his way of saying I give up to the dominant female.  My fish took 6-8 months before the sex change was obvious.  Any species of clownfish will work.  I breed true perculas in my 150 gallon tank.  Once they start breeding they will lay eggs every 12-18 days usually on a piece of live rock.

A tank of at least 30 gallons is needed to keep clownfish happy.  Clownfish are not as sensitive as some other marine fish but keeping the water clean does make them more likely to spawn.  Be sure to make weekly water changes of at least 10% of the total water volume.  A good protein skimmer can make water changes less frequent.  Always check the reviews on the protein skimmer you are thinking about purchasing atProtein Skimmer Reviews.  The other tank mates (if any) must be peaceful.  Beware of putting different species of clownfish together.  They often will fight and stress each other out.  Stressed fish will not lay eggs.  Having an anemone helps to make the clownfish feel comfortable to lay eggs.  However, an anemone is not required.  A good amount of live rock with plenty of hiding places will make the fish feel more comfortable.  The lighting for the tank should be on a timer.  A timer will get the fish in the routine of sunlight and darkness.   Try to feed the fish at the same time everyday with a good mix of different kinds of frozen and flake food.  If the fish are not getting the proper vitamins and nutrients, whatever eggs they do lay will most likely be of poor quality.


Once the fish have become acclimated and are on a regular schedule they will begin to act differently around spawning time.  You will notice that the female suddenly gets thicker in the middle of her body.  This could be an indication of a pregnant clownfish.  You also might notice that the fish are constantly cleaning off a rock with their mouths and fins.  This is to get the site clean for the eggs.  When the day to lay eggs does come, you will notice a small tube sticking out of both the male and the female.  On perculas it is in the center of their middle white stripe.  This tube is where the eggs and sperm will come out of.  First the female will swim back and forth on the clean part of the rock depositing eggs.  When the male gets his turn he also will swim over the eggs to deposit sperm to fertilize the eggs.  For close to an hour the fish will swim back and forth over the rock depositing eggs and sperm and constantly airating them with their mouths.  If you missed the laying of the eggs, they will be stuck to the rock the fish have prepared and appear as an orangish color.  The male cares for the eggs and will constantly swim back to the eggs and wave his fins on them to keep them aerated.  You might also see him blowing on them or picking off the eggs that are dead.  The clownfish will be very territorial about the eggs.  Any fish that comes too close, regardless of size will be chased away or nipped at.  This also goes for hands in the tank.


Happy, healthy, and comfortable fish will be more likely to lay eggs.  Be patient with your clownfish and one day when you are least expecting it, your fish will begin to spawn.  It can be a rewarding experience if the proper steps are followed.

Hopefully your clownfish have laid eggs and are constantly taking care of them. They will fan the eggs with their tail and pick at them with their mouths. The first day they are laid they will appear orange. After a couple days they will appear grey and finally grey with silver eyes. When the silver eyes appear, the eggs will hatch the following night. Before the eggs hatch there will be some preparation to take care of.


1- Hatchling tank- You must raise the baby clownfish in a separate aquarium. This will make sure that they are able to get the proper food without competition from other tank mates. A 10 gallon aquarium will work fine. I use a


24 gallon nano tank I no longer use. Lighting is a must. The clownfish fry will constantly be searching for food and their vision is not the greatest when they are born. Make sure that the lighting isn’t too bright, a single power compact fluorescent works fine. You will not be able to use any filtration in the tank. A filter would injure the delicate babies. The only circulation will come from an air stone. A small sized air pump and air stone will help to keep the water oxygenated and moving.


2- Live Rotifers- The newly born babies will only eat live food. Don’t even try to feed the babies flake or crushed foods as they will not eat it, and it will only foul the water. Live rotifers can be purchased from Reed-Mariculture.   I have tried several other stores, but Reed is the best.  You also will need food for the rotifers which Reed also sells. The best food for rotifers is Nannochlopsis or Rotifer Diet.  Keeping a rotifer culture alive can be more difficult than raising the clownfish fry. In a 5 gallon bucket prepare 3-4 gallons of saltwater with the same specific gravity of the water in the rotifer bag (usually around 1.017). After the water has been mixed you can add the entire bag of rotifers from Reed. Continue to add Rotifer Diet to the water until the water turns a green color. The water should be about this color (see picture below).You should add rotifer diet drop by drop until you achieve the correct color. Never let the water fade from this color. You will have to check the color of the water daily to make sure that enough food is in the bucket. The rotifers will also need an air pump and air stone for circulation. Make sure to set the air flow as low as possible. Just a slight bubble is more than enough air. You should have your rotifers at least a week before the clownfish hatch to get the numbers up to the proper amount. Do not take any rotifers in the first 3-4 days that you have them. This will allow them to reproduce up to a high count. After a couple days harvest some of the rotifers. This can be done by pouring some of the green water through a coffee filter. You should harvest 1/3 of the rotifers each day to keep it multiplying. Once enough green water has passed through the filter, you should add the rotifers to your hatchling tank.  Dip the coffee filter in the water and wash the rotifers off of it.  You can also purchase a rotifer sieve on the internet like this one.

Don’t rush these steps just because your clownfish have eggs that are ready to hatch.  If they laid eggs once, they will most likely lay eggs again in the next couple weeks.  So if you aren’t successful you can always just try again at the next hatching.

Step 5 : Hatch Night


Clownfish eggs will hatch about 7-10 days after they are laid, depending on the water temperature. Each day you should check the eggs.


When the eggs get a silver color, they will hatch that night. You will notice that each egg has a silver, reflective eye. This means that when the lights go out they will hatch. You must remove the clownfish fry from the tank and put them into the fry tank. To do this, turn off every filter and pump in the tank. There must be no current or flow in the tank. Once the lights have gone off, wait about 30 minutes and shine a bright flashlight into the water. A mag light works great. Do not shine the light directly at the eggs, this will delay the hatching process. The clownfish will be attracted to the light and swim towards it. Start a siphon with airline tubing and begin siphoning the clownfish fry into a bucket. This is usually easier with a helper.


One person will hold the light, and another should hold the siphon hose. When most of the fry are caught you can easily pour the fry into the breeding tank.


There also is a variation on this technique.  The night of when the eggs are supposed to hatch you can remove the live rock that the eggs were laid on and put it into the breeding tank.  Take care not to expose the eggs to air.  If possible fill a bag with aquarium water and place it into the tank.  Put the rock with the eggs on it into the bag and lift out the rock and bag.  Place the bag underwater in the breeding tank and remove the rock.  This method is ok but doesn’t work if the clownfish laid their eggs on a large piece of live rock that is at the bottom of your tank.  


If this is the case you can place a piece of tile or a broken terracotta pot in the location that your clownfish usually lay eggs.  They will lay eggs on the tile or pot and it can easily be removed the night of the hatching.


Once the eggs are in the breeding tank, make sure they are well aearated.  Place an air stone or airline tube close to the eggs so that they are moving slightly from the current.  This will ensure the eggs are getting enough air to hatch properly.  The eggs will hatch directly into the breeding tank and you won’t have to move them.  I have not had great sucess with the removing the rock method.  I think it is because the breeding tank and my main aquarium did not have the same water parameters.  Always make sure that the two tanks have the same salinity and temperature before moving the eggs.



Step 5  – Fry Feeding & Care : 


Keeping all of your clownfish fry alive can be very difficult.  Some commercial hatcheries are able to maintain almost 90% or better of the hatched fry.  In the home aquarium 90% is hard to achieve.  Your fry tank should constantly be full of rotifers for the clownfish fry to eat.  In the days leading up to the hatch you should harvest some of your rotifers and place them in the fry tank.  I usually put a small amount of rotifer diet in the tank to make sure they also have something to eat.  You do not want to turn the water as green as your rotifer bucket, but some food will keep them alive until the fry are in the tank.  You might notice some symptoms of your clownfish dying.  A struggling clownfish will have trouble swimming.  Sometimes you will see them just spinning in the water column.  Other times, they will often sink towards the bottom and then suddenly start swimming again.  If you see this happening, your clownfish are starving to death.  Add rotifers as soon as possible.  I have never been able to get a clownfish back that has started to swim in this manner.  Once they start “dive bombing” towards the bottom and having trouble swimming, they usually will die in 24 hours or so.  You will be able to see your fry eating the rotifers by noticing them swimming, then stopping, curving their tail and then darting forward.  This is a good sign that the clownfish are eating the food you have provided.  Continue to feed the fry rotifers for about a week.  Around day 5 I usually get some live brine shrimp ready.  Frozen brine shrimp will not work and will only will foul the tank.


Live brine shrimp are very nutritious when they have recently hatched.  The longer since the eggs have hatched, the less nutritious and beneficial to the clownfish they are.  Brine shrimp hatch with a yolk sack that is great for clownfish babies.  Try to feed live brine shrimp that are only a couple days old.  Brine shrimp can be hatched in a two liter bottle.  I use a brine shrimp hatchery like the one sold 




at Drs. Foster and Smith.It is basically a stand that you can screw a 2 liter into and has a hole and attachment for an aerator.  


I usually buy the smallest aerator I can and hook it to the hatchery.  San Francisco Bay Brand brine shrimp eggs are the ones I use.  These packets (three of them come with the hatchery) contain both salt and the eggs for the 2 liter.  Cut off the bottom of a two liter as in the picture and attach it to the hatchery.  Connect the aerator and hose and fill the two liter to 3 inches under the cut.  Turn on the aerator and pour the entire contents of the San Francisco Bay Brand brine shrimp eggs.  In about 24-48 hours the brine shrimp will hatch.

When feeding brine shrimp to your clownfish, you only want to feed the live shrimp and not the egg casings.  When brine shrimp hatch they leave behind a brown egg shell.  The shells always float and the shrimp are usually at the bottom.  I use a turkey baster to separate the two.  I suck up some of the water from the hatchery in the baster and turn it upright (with the nozzle towards the tank and the bulb towards the lights.  If you hold the baster in this position for a minute or two the live brine shrimp will be at the bottom of the baster and the eggs will be floating on the top towards the bulb.  Squirt about half the contents of the baster into the tank and dump the remaining water and egg shells back into the hatchery.  I usually feed my fry live brine shrimp 2-3 times per day this way.  Once your clownfish have started eating brine shrimp (about day 5-7) I still feed them rotifers once a day.  This ensures that they are still getting as many vitamins as possible.  For the first 2 days you will be feeding with brine shrimp and rotifers. 


Once the clownfish fry are eating brine shrimp, you will notice that their bellies appear orange.  This is a good sign and means they are getting more than enough food.  Only keep your brine shrimp for about 3-4 days.  After this you will need to hatch more the same way you did earlier, just make sure to time it so that your clownfish do not go without food for more that 12 hours.  I usually save some of the old brine shrimp to feed while the new brine shrimp is hatching.  This ensures I always have live food available.


Once you get your clownfish to the brine shrimp stage things get a lot easier.  The fish are not as delicate and brine shrimp are easy to hatch and keep.  So why even bother with rotifers?  I have tried it and so have many others.  New born clownfish fry will not survive if you only feed them brine shrimp.  New born clownfish fry must have the vitamins that rotifers provide.  Once about a week has passed you can start them on a brine shrimp rotifer combo for a couple days.  Then you will be feeding with only brine shrimp.  Over the next couple weeks, your clownfish will start to look more like clownfish and will become more active.  Continue to make water changes in your fry tank to remove any nutrients in the water.  Be sure to vacuum the bottom of the tank of any dead clownfish.  Congratulations on making it this far.  Things only get easier from here out.

Clownfish Metamorphosis : 


Clownfish metamorphosis is the next obstacle you must overcome in your goal to breed clownfish.  Metamorphosis occurs when the clownfish go through changes from a larvae to a juvenile.  This is when clownfish will begin to show some color on their bodies, and start to look like real saltwater fish.  Metamorphosis occurs at different times for diferent species of clownfish.  Most clownfish will begin metamorphosis by day 14. 



Metamorphosis can be a good thing and a bad thing.  It is wonderful to see your fish start to grow into real clownfish, but at the same time, it can be a time of loss.  Many times the clownfish fry will not survive the metamorphosis stage.  Everything you have done up to this point will show in the metamorphosis stage.  If the fry’s diet has not been rich enough or if the aquarium water is fowled it can cause losses at this stage.  Some clownfish species are more likely to die during metamorphosis than others. 


Clarkii clownfish have been rumored to be the worst when it comes to losses during transition. 


In order for your clownfish to survive the transition, you must have clean water and a nutritious diet.   By this point you should be feeding your clownfish mostly live brine shrimp.  Make sure they are fresh and have recently hatched.  As mentioned before, brine shrimp lose their nutritional value the longer they are since they have hatched.  If some of your clownfish have not made the switch to brine shrimp yet, it is still ok to feed rotifers.  At this stage it is ok to add vitamins and trace elements to the water.  This will help the clownfish to survive the transition.  I always use Coral Vital. It is filled with all sorts of vitamins and trace elements found in the ocean including iodide which has been proven to aid in metamorphosis.


As metamorphosis begins you will notice colors to develop and usually a headband or stipe towards the front of the clownfish. 


Over the next couple days stripes will become more prevalent.  One major change you will notice is how your fish swim.  After metamorphosis, your clownfish will start to swim like real clownfish.  Up to this point, your clownfish frantically vibrated their tail and side fins to get around.  After transition, your clownfish will start to wag their tail in wide motions to swim.  This is similar to how adult clownfish swim.  Now that the fish are better swimmers, you will notice that they tend to hang out more towards the bottom of the tank in schools.  Sometimes after this transition, they will even start to make friends (and enemies) with each other. 


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