The Basics Of Aquarium Keeping: Clownfish

Last Updated on January 18, 2021 by cmoarz

Anemones, Tentacle, Sea Anemones, Creature, Underwater

We are all familiar with clownfish, most likely because of the popularity of Pixar’s movie “Finding Nemo.” It is probably for that reason that beginner fish keepers like to have them in their aquarium.

The good news is that even for beginners, clownfish are among the easiest fish to have in a saltwater aquarium. What you might not know is that there are almost 30 species to choose from when it comes to clownfish. So, it is not just your classic orange, white, and black-striped fish we are talking about here: that allows for a lot of color in your aquarium.

Of course, freshwater fish, knowingly simpler to maintain than any other saltwater fish, but when it comes to the latter, clownfish are amongst the easiest to maintain. On top of that, they add personality and color to the environment, which is never too much.

But despite being easy to take care of, it is still relevant to get an idea of what their needs are. Don’t forget that owning an aquarium comes with the responsibility of taking care of living creatures, which you should respect. To help you in the process, here’s an essential guide to the care of clownfish.

Tank Requirements

Clownfish, by nature, tend not to swim for long distances. Instead, they move with up and down movements, rarely horizontally. That translates into their capacity to live comfortably in medium-size tanks. Still, purchasing slightly bigger aquariums is always a good idea, since they are easier to care and to set water parameters for. Usually, with a couple of clownfish, you should go for a tank that is at least 30 gallons (113 liters).

Clownfish live at waters that are between 74 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit (we’re talking approximately about 22.8 Celsius to 27 ). You should choose a premium aquarium salt mix and get a high-quality salinity meter. The water’s gravity should be between 1.021 and 1.026, while the ideal pH should be within the range of 8.0 to 8.4.

Acrylic tanks, even if more expensive, are recommended, as they allow you to see the colors better. Also, consider using LED lighting to bring out the beauty of your aquarium. Keep in mind that as long as you are not getting anemones or corals, any lighting is enough. Just ensure it’s not too bright.

Allow for moderate water flow in your tank, to provide a bit of current for your fish, without overwhelming them.

Even if some recommend getting a protein skimmer, it is not completely necessary to have it: commit to change the water regularly, and you’re good to go.

Decorating Your Tank

Don’t forget to add plenty of hiding places for the fish to play around and feel safe. If you are a beginner, you won’t have to fill your tank with all kinds of structures: as long as it provides some hiding spots, it should be fine. If you can, choose rocks as the primary decorative element, as it is part of the clownfish’s natural habitat. When you get more advance with your aquarium hobby, you might want to consider getting an Anemone, but despite what you might think, they are not necessary for the life of clownfish. Anyways, you’ll find more about anemones in a later section of this guide.

What Do Clownfish Eat and How Much Should You Feed Them?

When we said that clownfish were easy to take care of, we meant it. These fish are not only simple to satisfy in terms of tank requirements and water specifications, but they are also not picky with food and will eat most foods made either in flake or pellet format. Despite this, clownfish would still need some variation in their diet to ensure they are getting all the necessary nutrients.

You can add some variety by getting some Brine and Mysis shrimp, which you can find in most pet shops. Consider also adding some spinach to their diet from time to time.

In terms of quantity, do not feed your clownfish more than once per day.

As a rule of thumb, when giving them food, you should provide them with just enough so that after two minutes, no food floating in the water. If you can see food on the bottom or in the water, you must cut down on the dose. Overfeeding your clownfish can kill them, as it can change the water parameters, making it dangerous for your fish. For this reason, consider skipping a day from feeding when you think they had too much.

Choosing Clownfish Tank Mates

Before placing different species in the same tank, you must investigate compatibility. If you are new to aquariums, it might be a good idea to keep your clownfish alone for a few months before adding anything else. When you feel ready to expand your aquarium’s population, here are some species that can co-live with clownfish and that you should consider:

  • Damselfish
  • Tangs
  • Angelfish
  • Puffers
  • Boxfish
  • Wrasses
  • Blennies
  • Gobies

Of course, there can be more species that are compatible, but make sure you do some research before. Clownfish tend to be territorial amongst each other, but rarely in aquariums. They are peaceful and prefer to swim in the spots of the aquariums with weaker currents. They adapt well to community-style aquariums and won’t harm other fish. However, keep in mind that because of their small size, it might be dangerous to keep them together with larger tank-mates.

Do I Need To Get Anemones?

As mentioned, clownfish do not need anemones for their survival. And because anemones are so delicate to take care of, it is best not to get them if you are a beginner. All different species of anemones have special requirements, so make sure you investigate the species of anemone you could host in your aquarium if you feel ready to care for it. If you are planning to pair anemones and clownfish, make sure you take the anemones’ needs into account as a priority. The plant has specific light requirements and needs at least a 50-gallon tank, all factors to which the clownfish can adapt.

The Bottom Line

So, by now, you should have a better idea about taking care of your clownfish! Make sure you follow our guidelines to maintain a healthy aquarium.


Owner of and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!