clownfish : more information about clownfish
Clownfish or anemonefish are fishes from the subfamily Amphiprioninae in the family Pomacentridae. Thirty species are recognized, one in the genus Premnas, while the remaining are in the genus Amphiprion. In the wild they all form symbiotic mutualisms with sea anemones. Depending on species, clownfish are overall yellow, orange,or a reddish or blackish color, and many show white bars or patches. The largest can reach a length of 18 centimetres, while the smallest barely can reach 10 centimetres.
Clownfish are native to warmer waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans, including the Great Barrier Reef and the Red Sea. While most species have restricted distributions, others are widespread. Clownfish live at the bottom of shallow seas in sheltered reefs or in shallow lagoons. There are no clownfish in the Atlantic.
Clown Fish Habitat:
Clownfish are 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. Provide good filtration to maintain water quality and a stable environment. Salinity levels should provide a specific gravity range between 1.020 to 1.026, with water temperatures between 75 – 82° F (24 – 28° C). The clown fish have no special lighting requirements, though if kept in a reef environment the other inhabitants will need very strong light. Include rock structures and other decor for hiding along with plenty of open space for swimming.
In a reef environment you can provide a host anemene. But you must have a healthy system to keep up with the nutrient requirement of the corals and invertebrate inhabitants. Reef aquariums will do best with the addition of some specialized equipment to provide good water movement, strong lighting, and excellent filtration. A protein skimmer is a great thing to have, as well as lots of live rock and live sand. Beneficial bacteria will populate the sand and rock and help keep the water clean. 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. Doing 15% water changes twice a month will go a long ways towards keeping your aquarium healthy and happy.
Clownfish Eat :
There is very little concern in knowing what to feed a clown fish. Clownfish 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 other finely chopped meaty foods.
Feed your clown fish 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 clown fish grab the chunks, and then deposit them into the anemone.
Social Behaviors: There are many different kinds of clown fish, and each type has a different personality. Maroon Clownfish are notorious for their aggression toward tank mates, with Tomato and Cinnonmon Clownfish being moderately aggressive. Percula clown fish also tend to be somewhat aggressive. Most of the other clowns tending to be more moderate. The Ocellaris clown is notably mild-mannered and the Skunk clowns, which tend towards shyness and can actually be dominated by aggressive tank mates.
Whether clown fish live with a host anemone or have a substitute host, they can become very territorial. They will vigorously protect the host against intruders. Luckily, their aggression is usually limited to the immediate area around the host, so they’re not a threat to other fish or invertebrates.
Clown Fish and Sea Anemone: Clown fish range in size, from the smallest Percula Clown at about 2.5″ (6 cm) to the Maroon Clownfish reaching up to about 6.3″ (16 cm) in length. Depending on species they can live five years or more with proper care. In nature, clown fish live in symbiosis with certain anemones. This is where they live together and each provides a benefit to the other.
In the aquarium you may or may not provide an anemone for your clown fish. They will readily adapt either way and frequently use a coral, other invertebrate, or a rock structure as a substitute if there is no anemone available. Clownfish help their host by vigorously chasing off any intruders, cleaning it, and even feeding it. In return the host anemone will protect the clown fish with its stinging tentacles. Tentacles that only clown fish are immune to.
Anemones need lots of light (2 to 5 watts per gallon) preferably with some blue spectrum provided by actinic light bulbs or higher temperature metal halide lighting. In nature many clown fish will live with the same anemone. Only one clown will be dominant, it will be a female and the rest will be male. Usually in the aquarium though, there will be only one pair per anemone.
Host anemones are listed in the description of each clownfish. These are the anemones the fish are found with in nature, but many clownfish will readily adopt other types of anemones in the aquarium. For information on which anemones to purchase, please read the section on Anemones.
Breeding Clown fish: Mated clownfish pairs will reproduce in captivity. These fish are 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.
A stable aquarium is the key to succesfully breeding and rearing clownfish. Baby clown fish 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.