Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)

Updated on January 30, 2021 by

Ocellaris Clownfish is a great saltwater species with amazing personalities to spice up your marine tank. They are peaceful species with remarkable features and exquisite displays that are worthy to behold.

They possess beautiful coloration and body patterns coupled with peculiar communication and biology which makes them an interesting addition to your tank.

Quick stats – Clownfish

Category Info
Origin Pacific and Indian Oceans
Max size 4” / 10 cm
Aquarium Min 20 gallon / 80 liters
Water 74-79° F / 23-26° C

KH 8-12, pH 7.8-8.4
Care level Easy
Behaviour Peaceful
Diet Omnivore
Family Pomacentridae
Colors Black, orange, white

Clownfish description

Clownfish are brightly colored saltwater species that have become a household name among fish keepers due to its peculiar personality and advanced communication and biology.

Although these are peaceful species, they will turn aggressive to another Clownfish species in the tank. For this reason it is best advisable to house only one type of Clownfish species in a tank.

There are over thirty species of the Clownfish in the aquatic world belonging to the Pomacentridae family, but the most popular species are the Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris otherwise called the False Percula Clownfish) and the Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion percula) popularly called the Orange Clownfish due to their similar orange body coloration.

However, they both have similar care patterns with very little differences.

They both possess a long body with the dorsal fin having a dip which makes it look like they have two fins. The dorsal fin of the Percula Clownfish is made up of 10 spines while the Ocellaris Clownfish has 11.

They are beautified with three white stripes along their yellow body, with one behind the gill, another situated in the center of the body and the last one at the bottom of the caudal fin.

They both may possess a black outline about their stripes and fins with that of the Ocellaris Clownfish being thinner and sometimes lacking no black outline.

Their swimming ability is greatly impeded by the possession of a rounded caudal fin.

In the wild, they can grow up to 6’’, but in captivity they are usually smaller, growing up to 4’’.

They have an interesting symbiotic relationship with certain species of Anemone. They can easily live together with the Anemone because they produce a mucus which repels the Anemone from stinging them and are also immune to their toxins. Also this provides them with a hiding spot and a good spot to hunt for food.

They often occupy the higher level of the tank that has a weak current, but if an Anemone is introduced to the tank, they will abandon that spot and find a new place near the Anemone.

These species display an astonishing personality wherein they form a group with the female being the dominant member and makes her choice of a male breeding partner.

As a popular species, Clownfish can be easily found in most pet shops and fish stores that deal on saltwater species, and with just a few dollars, your home could display the exuberance of these little angels.

Clownfish in the natural habitat

Clownfish is native to the warm parts of the Pacific and Indian Ocean in coral reefs. They are also found in shallow lagoons near Australia and Southeast Asia.

They are not found in shallow waters with reduced salinity and high temperature.

In the wild they are often attached to the Anemone which by the help of corals and/or rocks protects them from the current.

Clownfish in the ideal aquarium

HomePage Clownfish

Clownfish have an impaired swimming ability, so they don’t require a large tank for swimming. Moreover, they only swim up and down within a small area.

Therefore, setting up the ideal tank for Clownfish will require a slow moving and well filtered minimum of 20 gallon tank with temperature between 23-26˚C (74-79F), alkaline pH level of 7.8-8.4 and a specific gravity between 1.021-1.026 to house a Clownfish.

If more Clownfish should be added, then an extra 10 gallon should be provided for each fish. 

However, the tank should be set up within the generally acceptable level of saltwater requirement which includes a zero ammonia level and nitrates/nitrites level less than 2 ppm). In order to achieve these parameters, besides the good filtration, a common practice is the use of a protein skimmer.

A thermometer should be used daily to ensure that the water temperature is always kept constant and adequate water quality should be maintained frequently or compensated with a larger tank. For a smaller tank, the water should be changed regularly replacing up to 20% of the water at each interval. Inadequate water maintenance would result in toxin build up such as ammonia and nitrates, and also encourage algae growth which is unhealthy for the Clownfish. 

These species have no need for a substrate, so this can be ignored to enable ease cleaning of the tank. The tank can be decorated with rocks and fake reefs. This will provide a good layout for aesthetic pleasure and protection for the Clownfish. Soft and hard corals can also be introduced into the tank.

Although the Clownfish require no special care and tank setup, but if an Anemone should be added then a larger tank of 50 gallon minimum should be provided and greater care should be done to provide a conducive tank for the Anemone first as they are more difficult to keep than the Clownfish.

The suitable Anemone for Clownfish include: Bubble Tip Anemone, Magnificent Anemone and Leathery Sea Anemone.

The Clownfish does not require a specific lighting, but the Anemone do. However, different Anemone have different lighting preferences, so this should be considered when introducing the Anemone into the tank.

As small and peaceful species, they are not compatible with large and aggressive carnivorous species such as the Lionfish and Groupers.

Except for a larger tank, different Clownfish species should be avoided. This is because Clownfish have the tendency of fighting with different Clownfish species and even with the same species when they are in a large number. However, in some cases, the different Clownfish species might bond together and even form mating partners.

Clownfish are compatible with similar small and peaceful species such as Dartfish, Puffers, reef safe Wrassses, Damselfish, and Butterflyfish.

Bottom dwellers such as Gobies and Blennies are also suitable with the Clownfish.

Some aquatic invertebrates such as snails, crabs and starfish can also be introduced to take care of leftover food hanging around or stuck between rocks and other hiding places.

Larger peaceful species such as Tangs and saltwater Angelfish can also be added, but should be closely monitored to make sure that the Clownfish are not intimidated.

Clownfish feeding

In the wild, Clownfish are generally omnivores, feeding on a variety of meaty food and plant matters. In the aquarium they will just eat almost anything offered to them. 

They can be fed with frozen and live meaty food including table shrimp, fish eggs, small crustaceans, anemone tentacles and larvae. Their meal can be supplemented with quality vegetable matters, flaked meals and pellets.

They should be fed once or twice a day with just as much as they can take in 2-3 minutes. Every leftover food should be immediately removed to maintain the water quality.

But should you precisely ask what is the best food for Clownfish?
We can answer that the best food for Clownfish is: Rod’s food original blend, Rod’s food herbivore blend and San Francisco Mysis frozen shrimp.

Clownfish breeding

Breeding Clownfish would require setting up a breeding tank with the aforementioned water parameters. A breeding pair can be introduced; usually a juvenile male and a larger female.

Breeding can be encouraged by feeding them 3-4 times a day with a variety of meaty foods and slightly increasing the water temperature to the higher end of the aforementioned water parameter. 

They will begin courtship and will most likely spawn in 5 days.

During breeding, the breeding pair exhibits some ritual which is quite remarkable to watch. They will stand on their heads and press their dorsal fins together. Then they will both clean a rock surface near the Anemone where the eggs will be laid.

The female will lay between 50-500 eggs a month. The eggs will completely hatch in 8 days after which the fry will freely swim to the upper tank region.

Clownfish Amphiprion ocellaris

To conclude

Clownfish is an exciting fish to host your aquarium tank. They are quite peaceful and easy to care for.

There are over 30 species belonging to the Clownfish, but the most popular being the the Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris otherwise called the False Percula Clownfish) and the Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion percula) popularly called the Orange Clownfish, having similar attributes and care requirement.

They are not active swimmers and as such does not require a large tank. But if a host such as a Coral or Anemone should be housed then a larger tank should be provided. 

They are omnivores and will feed on almost anything offered to them.

They are egg scatterers and will exhibit an exciting breeding display, laying between 50-500 eggs.

The eggs hatch in 8 days producing free swimming fry.

Clownfish

Clownfish FAQs

How long do Clownfish live?

With proper care and the right tank conditions, Clownfish can live up to 10 years.

What is the maximum size of Clownfish?

Clownfish can grow up to 10.6 cm long.

What are suitable tank mates for Clownfish?

They are compatible with similar small and peaceful species such as Dartfish, Puffers, Wrassses, Damselfish, and Butterflyfish, bottom dwellers such as Gobies and Blennies and some aquatic invertebrates such as snails, crabs and starfish. Larger peaceful species such as Tangs and saltwater Angelfish can also be added, but should be closely monitored to make sure that the Clownfish are not intimidated.

What are the food requirements for Clownfish?

In the wild, they are majorly omnivores and are not fussy about what they eat. They can be fed with frozen and live meaty food including table shrimp, fish eggs, small crustaceans, anemone tentacles and larvae. Their meal can be supplemented with high quality flaked meals and pellets along with vegetable matters.
Among the best foods for Clownfish we can mention: Rod’s food original blend, Rod’s food herbivore blend and San Francisco Mysis frozen shrimp.