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Clownfish

Clownfish Care Sheet

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.

Clownfish

This care sheet covers a variety of captive-bred clownfish, including:  

  • Ocellaris clownfish
  • Percula clownfish
  • Tomato clownfish
  • Clarkii clownfish
  • Maroon clownfish
  • Skunk clownfish
  • Spotcinctus clownfish
  • Cinnamon clownfish
  • Saddleback clownfish

Overview

Scientific names: Amphiprion ocellaris, Amphiprion percula, Amphiprion frenatus, Amphiprion clarkii, Premnas biaculeatus, Amphiprion sandaracinos, Amphiprion bicintus, Amphiprion melanopus, Amphiprion polymnus.

Captive-bred clownfish are one of the most recognizable marine species. This active and colorful marine fish comes in varying colors and patterns. Clownfish are well known for their symbiotic relationship with anemones. Clownfish are a close relative of damselfish. Recommended for beginning marine aquarists.

Typical appearance and behavior

  • Some may be very territorial toward same species
  • Some species, such as maroon clowns, must be kept singly unless they are a mated pair
  • Like to hide in or near a cave, coral or crevice, darting out to defend territory or capture food
  • Tend to remain in the middle and lower levels of the aquarium
  • Mated pairs are known to breed in the home aquarium
  • May find sanctuary within the tentacles of an anemone
  • Petco only carries tank-raised clownfish

Characteristics

Care Difficulty Easy
Average Life Span Up to 20 years with proper care, depending on species
Average Adult Size 6 inches long, depending on species
Diet Omnivore
Minimum Habitat Size 29+ gallons, depending on species
Water Temperature 74-80°F
Specific gravity 1.020-1.025

Habitat

A minimum of 29 gallons is recommended for an adult clownfish.

Building your habitat

  • Water health - Provide proper filtration to ensure optimal water quality to help maintain health. Low to moderate water circulation, based on species, should be provided to mimic water currents found in the clownfish’s natural habitat. Stable water quality (pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite) and water temperature are critical to the health of aquatic life. If you are unsure of your water quality, bring a sample to Petco for free testing. The addition of a protein skimmer can aid with maintaining great water quality and high dissolved oxygen levels. An aquatic heater should be used to stabilize water temperature, ensuring it does not fluctuate more than +/-2 degrees in a 24-hour period. The specific gravity should remain stable. Do not allow specific gravity to fluctuate more than +/-0.001 in a 24-hour period
  • Décor - Provide rock and décor for hiding places and plenty of room for movement

 

Feeding

What to feed your clownfish

A well-balanced clownfish diet consists of:

Things to remember when feeding your clownfish:

  • Feed small amounts two to three times daily, no more than your fish will eat in 1 to 2 minutes
  • Thaw frozen food before feeding

Clownfish care

  • Water care - Maintaining great water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration is important to help keep your clownfish healthy
    • Daily: Check filter, water temperature and other equipment
    • Weekly: Test water quality at least once a week
    • Weekly to monthly: Change 10 to 25 percent of the total volume of water every two to four weeks, or as needed; change filter media monthly
  • Avoid overcrowded conditions as this is a major cause of stress and disease. Maintain good water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration

Where to buy a clownfish

Various clownfish are available for purchase at Petco online and in store; availability varies by location. If visiting your local Petco Pet Care Center, please call ahead to check availability. 

Supplies

Tank mates

Compatible with:

Clownfish may benefit from the addition of a companion anemone

Health

Signs of a healthy clownfish

  • Clear eyes
  • Healthy appetite
  • Active swimming
  • Fins completely intact and undamaged
  • Bright, even coloring
  • Free of parasites or disease

Red flags (If you notice any of these signs, contact your local aquatic specialist or veterinarian.)

  • Loss of color or appetite
  • Spots or fungus on body or mouth
  • Listlessness
  • Labored breathing
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Weight loss
  • Erratic swimming
  • Frayed fins

Common health issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health IssueFin rot Symptoms or CausesFrayed or disintegrating fins; the base of the fins usually reddens. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueMarine Ich Symptoms or CausesCysts on fins, gills and skin; labored breathing, excess skin mucus or pale skin. Suggested ActionQuarantine fish immediately and use a commercial parasite remedy. Complete a water change; freshwater dips can help dislodge the parasites; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueBacterial infections Symptoms or CausesCloudy eyes, open sores and/or reddening of the skin. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; use a commercial antibacterial remedy as directed; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueViral infection (lymphocystis) Symptoms or CausesWhite nodule growths on fins or body Suggested ActionImprove water quality; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.

FAQs

  • What do clownfish eat? Clownfish are omnivores and should be offered a variety of flakes, pellets, freeze-dried and frozen diets.
  • Where do clownfish live? In nature, clownfish are found in the Pacific Ocean, Red Sea, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Indian Ocean and Coral Sea.
  • How long do clownfish live? Clownfish can live up to 20 years with proper care.
  • How big are clownfish? Depending on their species, some adult clownfish can grow up to 6 inches.
  • What do you feed clownfish? Clownfish are omnivores and should be offered a variety of flakes, pellets, freeze-dried and frozen diets.
  • How do clownfish reproduce? Clownfish are egg layers, laying eggs on a flat surface or near the base of their host anemone.
  • Can clownfish live in freshwater? Clownfish are a marine species and cannot live in freshwater.
  • How many eggs do clownfish lay? Clownfish can lay hundreds to thousands of eggs, depending on their species.
  • Where can I buy clownfish? Clownfish can be purchased at most Petco Pet Care Centers and on petco.com
  • Can clownfish change gender? Clownfish are hermaphrodites, and males can change to female.

Additional care sheets

Notes and resources

Ask a Pet Care Center associate about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases such as atypical mycobacterium and salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for aquatic life and should consider not having aquatic life as a pet.

Go to cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about aquatic life and disease.

The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.