The Clownfish, scientifically known as Amphiprioninae, is a saltwater fish with a great personality. This fish is also known as Nemo, Ocellaris clownfish, Common Clownfish, or False percula clownfish. This fish became so popular among the aquarist community because of Finding Nemo’s movie. There are 30 species of Clownfish that made their homes in coral reefs in Australia and South Asia. Since this fish is saltwater, you need to keep them in saline water. In every gallon of water, you can use approximately half a cup of aquarium salt.

Ritiks, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This fish loves swimming around the aquarium, and that is what most beginner aquarists are curious to see. They are easy to keep and take care of, and their diet is simple compared to the rest of the saltwater fish. They have beautiful patterns and interesting movements, such as waddling as they swim. This fish also has interesting communication styles and playful moments. Despite the fact that they are easy to take care of, you need some information about caring more so to beginners. This article seeks to give you all the tips about Clown fish’s care. You will learn about all the requirements and all you need to do at what time.


Scientific NameAmphiprioninae
Family NamePomacentridae
ColorOrange and White, Black and white, Red and White
Temperament Semi-aggressive
Size1.5 to 4 inches
Lifespan5 to 6 years
Tank Size20 gallons
Freshwater or saltwaterSaltwater
Care LevelEasy
Compatibility Community


The Clownfish are good community fish that get along with many other species. They live in small tanks and can also comfortably live in large community tanks, and this shows how adaptable they are. They are mainly paired with Anemones, but the pairing is not guaranteed, and they are capable of surviving in captivity without this close relationship. However, if it can be achieved, it is a great interaction to witness and show off. Some of the suitable Anemones include:

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

    This fish should be kept with small species such as
    – Damselfish,
    – Butterflyfish,
    – Dartfish,
    – Wrasses.

    The bottom dwellers such as Gobies and blennies prefer staying at different sections of the tank and it is for this reason they make ideal tank companions. The shrimps are also good companions to the Clownfish as a result of their helpful nature of breaking down water food.

The Clownfish are poor swimmers, and therefore, you should keep a close eye on the saltwater Angelfish so as to ensure they do not cause stress to this species. They are also compatible with most invertebrates. You should also be careful not to mix different species of Clownfish together since they are very territorial and will fight other groups for dominance.

You should avoid aggressive fish and fast swimmers such as lionfish, Dotty backs, tigerfish, among others.


The Clownfish are usually spotted in pairs while they are n the wild. They are monogamous in nature, and this implies that the female selects one of the males, and they breed for the rest of their lives. It is not mandatory to keep them in pairs in the aquarium, but it is advisable to not keep them alone in the tank since they are social fish, meaning they will not be happy living alone. In groups, they will be happy and more active and will show themselves more often. You can keep them in pairs or in groups of 4 to 6. The group will comprise a female, a breeding male, and several other non-breeding males.


Nick Hobgood, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Clownfish have long bodies and a dip in their dorsal fins that make it appear as if they have two fins and not one. The false percula has 11 spines on their dorsal fins compared to the true perciula, which has ten spines. The average size of this species is between 1.5 to 4 inches in length. This makes them an excellent choice for aquarists with small tanks. This species has three white stripes behind the gills, one in the center of the body and the other one in the bottom of the caudal fin. The central stripe protrudes to create a more triangular shape pointing towards the head.

Their fins and stripes often have a black outline which brings some real flare to them and makes their movement more enchanting. The False percular will have thinner or no black outlines, and this makes them bright in contrast to darker aquariums. This species has a rounded caudal fin, and this explains why they are regarded as poor swimmers. This makes it easier for them to be overpowered by strong currents. True perceulars are mostly orange in color, but you can also find natural black varieties. Some rare color morphs have also been bred in an effort to create varieties such as platinum.


The Clownfish usually have over 30 different species, but there are only six of them that you are likely to find in most aquariums. They include;

  • Perideraion: Skunks Clownfish have a solid orange or red body with a single white band that extends up to their dorsal side. They are the biggest among all the varieties.
  • A.Percula:  This is also known as True Clownfish. In terms of coloration, they are orange and white with black lines bordering the white bands.
  • A.Ocellaris:  They are also known as False Percula or Clown Anemonefish. They closely resemble the true Clownfish, but they do not have any black lines in between the white bands.
  • Frenatus: This variety is usually deep orange or red with a single white band close to the eye.
  • P. Biaculeatus:  This is one of the species that does not belong to the genus Amphiprion. The maroon clownfish is a deep red color with a thin white band and spots.
  • A.polymnus: A saddleback variety has a deep red base color with rounded bands that resembles a horse saddle.


The average lifespan of a Clownfish is between 5 to 6 years, but this does not mean they cannot outlive this limit. If the fish is healthy and has been provided with all the necessary living conditions such as diet, water, and the tank, they can live beyond the age of 6 years. Therefore if you want to have a long-lasting relationship with your favorite fish pet, ensure that you provide quality and optimal conditions throughout.


 The Clownfish originates from the Indo-pacific Ocean. They are mainly found in the eastern parts of the Indian Ocean near Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia. This species is available in large quantities in northern Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands. This fish can also be found in the West Pacific Ocean or in North West Australia towards Singapore.

This fish prefers living in shallow lagoons and coral reefs. They do not like living in shallow water with higher temperature, and extreme deep means higher salinity.


Generally, the Clownfish are peaceful fish and will only turn aggressive in the presence of another species of Clownfish. This means that each tank can only have one Clownfish at a time. They prefer dwelling on the upper side of the aquarium, and they will choose a small portion that has weak currents. This is because they are poor swimmers. That place will be near the Anemone if they are introduced to the tank since that is where they will find food. This species has a well-studied good relationship with certain species of Anemone. They are able to live together as a result of the ability to resist toxins and the mucus production that ensure the Anemones cannot sting them.


The environment in which the fish is living is critical to the general wellbeing of a fish. We have discussed earlier that the process of taking care of the Clownfish is simple, but for a beginner, it may be a bit difficult. It is therefore important to get information about the necessary tank conditions, and they should be a mimic of their natural habitat.


The minimum tank size of a Clownfish is 20 gallons. The fish also needs to have ample space to swim. However, if you are housing multiple fish in the same tank, you need to provide a tank of at least 50 gallons. You should be careful not to overcrowd the fish in the tank and cause stress to the fish. Each time you add new fish to the tank, you should add the size of the tank.


You are free to use any substrate at the bottom of the tank, but the Sand is the ideal choice since it mimics its natural habitat, which is the ocean. Some of the experts suggest that a tank with no substrate would still be okay. However, if you have a community fish, you have to have a substrate for the sake of tankmates that may be requiring it. Therefore you need to consider the kind of tank mates that you will have before choosing whether to have substrate or not.


It is important to add some decorations in the tank so as to have an exact environment that mimics the natural environment. You can use rocks, reefs, live rocks, fake reefs, and they will be very pleasing to the fish. They will also bring about an aesthetic delight for the viewers. Do not forget to provide some hiding places for these fish so that they can retreat there whenever they feel threatened. However, you should not over decorate and forget to leave enough free space for the Clownfish to swim. 


If you have a fish-only tank, you do not need a lot of light for your fish. However, if you are keeping anemones, you require some strong light, such as halides, for the growth of this species. If you only have the Clownfish as you put in the aquarium, you can use any decent LED light. What it means is that there is no specific lighting that you should provide.


You will need an excellent filter along with a protein skimmer for the Clownfish. You also need a stable environment, and the water must meet all the required standards, and that is what a good filtration system must enable. Ensure the filtration does not produce strong currents since the Clownfish are poor swimmers.


The tank needs to be cleaned on a regular basis so as to ensure there is a clean and conducive environment for the fish. Cleaning should be done using a piece of cloth and Luke warm water. You should not use any soap-based or chemical product to clean the tank.


The Clownfish are very sensitive to the water, and therefore as an aquarist, you need to be very careful about the conditions of water that you put in the tank. You also need as a beginner to have the information about the conditions tank water must meet before the fish can b put in the tank.


The Clown fish’s ideal water temperature should range between 74 to 79 degrees. This can be monitored using a thermometer, and whenever the temperature drops below the range, you can always raise it using a heater.


The ideal Ph. levels of the tank water should be between 7.8 to 8.4 with a gravity of 1.023 to 1. 025 SG. These parameters should be checked on weekly basis.


The Clownfish, just like any other fish, deserve to live in clean water. Therefore it is important to perform some cleaning to remove any excess food particles or fish wastes in order to reduce the amount of ammonia and nitrites. You can also choose to use the algae scrapers to remove all the algae but do not use any chemicals.


There are different guidelines on how water should be changed for both the reef tank and fish only.


If you have a small tank of 40 gallons, you need to change the water more regularly. You need to change 15 percent of water two times a week, and this should be consistent else your fish will be affected. For smaller tanks, replace water by 5 percent every week, but for a bigger tank of approximately 90 gallons, you can change 20 to 30 percent every month.   If you have a larger tank of 100 gallons and above, you can change water 20 to 30 percent after every six weeks. You also need to keep monitoring the condition of the filter and change them from time to time.


If you have a small tank of 40 gallons, you need to change water by 5 percent on a weekly basis. If you have a mid-size tank of approximately 90 gallons, you need to change about 15 percent of water twice a week. However, if you have a 100 gallons tank and above, you need to change 10 percent of water twice a week without fail.


Generally, the Clownfish are easy to take care of. However, they need close monitoring since they sometimes get stressed and sick. Taking care of them involves regular monitoring of water conditions by testing and cleaning the tank. You need to ensure the water parameters are always constant, and this must be checked regularly since the earlier changes are detected, the better.

You should ensure that all the excess food is removed from the tank, and this prevents the growth of algae in the tank. Ensure that you keep detecting any abnormal behaviors in your Clownfish.


Clownfish are Omnivores in nature, and they are not picky. This means that they will feed on anything that is served to them. However, you should note that not everything that is nutritious and therefore you need to have a quality diet for your fish so as to be sure of a healthy life. They love eating live prey. In the wild, they mainly feed on larvae, Zooplankton, and other small prey. In most cases, they will scavenge for worms and small crustaceans in anemone tentacles.

The Clownfish also loves feeding on algae since a little bit of greenery is important to them. In captivity, always ensure that there is an adequate supply of meat and greens. Among the best sources of protein for this species include the brine shrimp and larval. If the bristle worms appear in your corals, then this fish will gobble them up. You can serve frozen krill, small feeder fish, and shrimp. However, this frozen food should be chopped into smaller pieces so as to fit in the mouth of a Clownfish. In addition to the algae that naturally grows on the rocks and corals, you can also provide algae, packed flakes and pellet food.

If you want to treat them occasionally, you can try cooking and blanching a little bit of spinach. During the feeding, ensure that you do so near their chosen area in the tank where they spend most of their time. It is not necessary to have a feeding schedule, but you need to ensure that they are able to eat for around 3 minutes each time you feed them. Below are some of the best food varieties that you can feed your Clownfish;

  • Fish flakes and pellets
  • Copepods
  • Krill (frozen and chopped)
  • Feeder fish (frozen and chopped)
  • Crab and shrimp larvae
  • Bloodworms
  • Bristle worms
  • Mysis shrimp
  • Spinach (treat)
  • Ghost shrimp (frozen and chopped)
  • Larval and adult brine shrimp
  • Spirulina (supplement)
  • Isopods


Distinguishing between a male and female Clownfish is easy, and one of the features is the fact that the one is bigger than the other. Also, this species is generally peaceful, and therefore, any two individuals can and will very likely form a pair. When they are put together, they may spar apart in order to establish a pecking order, but after that, harmony should take over, and your pair should bond.

You can keep more than one false percula on the tank, but you need to know that only one pair will establish at a time, with the biggest individual being the female, her chosen breeding male, and the rest as immature males. However, you should understand that this is not for all Clownfish species. For instance, the pairing of maroon Clownfish requires more care, planning, and a unique approach. The breeding mainly happens on its own during its own time as long as you have provided a safe, caring, and clean environment as the aquarist.

If you want to trigger the breeding process, you need to ensure that you feed the Clownfish a few more times a day with a calorie and a nutritionally rich diet. Live foods are more likely to spark spawning than prepared food.

As your Clownfish become more familiar with each other, the breeding process is often initiated by the display of some pre-spawning behaviors such as underwater dancing, nipping, darting, shaking, chasing, biting, and twitching. The male Clownfish will also start preparing for breeding by cleaning the spawning site and biting and removing algae and detritus from the rock surface or near the nest.

During the spawning, the female deposits eggs on the nest that was prepared by the male, and then he proceeds to fertilize them, swimming over the eggs after each pass. Until the eggs hatch, the male will guard and take care of them by fanning and cleaning them by use of their mouth. During the egg tending period, the female does not mainly play a major role other than being aggressive to other fish in the tank. She focuses on defending the larger territory and forgets about the small duty of protecting the eggs; after a period of about eight days, the eggs hatch.

Once the eggs have hatched, the larva can survive on their egg sacs overnight, but the best thing to do is to move them to a new tank in two to three days.  The water in the tanks should be turned dark green shade with liquid algae and have some light. There should be a constant supply of food, including the introduction of dry food for the next ten days. The supply of dry food should be stopped once the larvae start eating a good supply of dry food. After the first ten days, the larvae will undergo metamorphosis into a Clownfish as long as they are healthy enough to do so.

You should remember that breeding the Clownfish is going to produce a lot of baby Clownfish, and therefore you must have a plan of what you are going to do with them. If you keep, then you need to get extra tanks, or you can also sell them.


The captive-bred Clownfish are usually very hardy, and they are able to resist most of the diseases since they are well taken care of. However, they are not immune to all the diseases. They are prone to diseases just like any other fish, and some of the issues are fungal, bacterial, parasitic, or other diseases and injuries. Being saltwater fish, they can easily get sick if the water in the tank is not well maintained with all the required parameters. Just like humans, when the fish are stressed, they easily become sick.

These diseases can be introduced into the tank during the adding of a new fish in the tank. That is why it is advisable to first quarantine a new fish before letting them join the others in the community tank. Also, ensure that any decoration is properly cleaned before getting into the tank. The best protection is ensuring everything that gets into the tank is properly cleaned and ensuring you are feeding your Clownfish quality food and clean water.


Are the Clownfish Freshwater fish?

No, they are saltwater fish that originates from the Indo-pacific Ocean. They prefer living in shallow lagoons and coral reefs.

Are Clownfish Lone fish?

This species can comfortably live alone, but it is advisable to keep them in pairs or groups since they become more happy and active.


The Clownfish is one of the easy saltwater fish. They are easy to take care of and are peaceful. This makes them an ideal choice for a beginner. You can also consider adding them to your already established tank. They have interesting personalities and have beautiful colors. This all will be very appealing to watch as the owner and even to the visitors. As a beginner, you should now be able to comfortably take care of your Clownfish following the extensive guide that you have received from this article. We hope the guide has been helpful, and you will consider adding the Clownfish into your tank, whether as a beginner or experienced aquarist.

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