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Common Clownfish


Common Clownfish, Amphiprion ocellaris

The Clownfish originates in the shallow coastal waters of the Indo-Pacific region, including the Western Pacific Ocean, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Clowns are hardy fish, making them excellent for beginners or a good choice for the more experienced as an addition to a reef tank. Tank bred pairs should be obtained and introduced into an established tank of at least 55 gallons. 

Clownfish are also known as the Clown Fish, the Orange Clown Fish, the Clown Anemonefish, the True Percula Clownfish and the Blackfinned Clownfish. The Clownfish was made famous in the aquarium trade as the popular hero of the Disney film Finding Nemo. They are often confused with the Amphiprion percula (known as the Clown Anemone Fish, the False Percula, the Black Clownfish, the Anemone Demoiselle or the False-Clown Anemonefish).

Clowns are colored a bright orange with three white vertical stripes. The fins are rounded and have black margins. The colors darken to a solid orange with age. Clowns have 10 dorsal spines while the False-Clown has 11. Clowns have a higher dorsal fin at the front and the black margin around the 3 white bars also distinguishes it from the False-Clown. In nature, Clowns and False-Clowns are not found together.

Common Clownfish, Amphiprion ocellaris

Clowns like to hide among the tentacles of sea anemones. The anemone's tentacles kill other fish that touch them, but the Clown fish is immune to its sting. This makes the aneomone a great place for a Clown to hide out. Depending on the area of origin, Clowns will prefer specific types of anemone, such as: Heteractis crispa, Heteractis magnifica, and Stichodactyla gigantea. 

Although Clowns enjoy the shelter of a sea anemone, they will do well in a fish only tank. The fish only tank is recommended for beginners, as anemones are very difficult to keep. Clowns are very territorial with their own kind as they grow older, but they are not aggressive to other species. If introduced to the aquarium at the same time, many varieties of tank raised clowns can be maintained together in the aquarium, however they will tend to become territorial with age with the dominant male and female becoming much larger than the others in size. More than 2 Clowns are therefore not recommended for beginners.

Clowns are aggressive feeders and eat live, frozen, and quality flake foods. Tank raised clowns are omnivores and will eat greens and spirulina in addition to brine shrimp. They will also eat leftovers from other fish killed by anemone, as well as dead anemone tentacles and zooplankton . It is best to feed small amounts several times a day. 

Common Clownfish, Amphiprion ocellaris

Clowns are difficult to breed, but tank bred species are now available for purchase. Tank raised Clowns are usually lighter in color and may have unusual patterns to their stripes. Tank raised clownfish can be bred in the home aquarium.  The young are all males and later some become females in order to make pairs.  The females grow larger than the males, but there is no other distinguishing difference between the sexes.

If a female dies, the largest male will become female and the second largest will be a male.  Clowns deposit hundreds of eggs in the early morning on a flat surface near or under an anemone. The male usually guards the eggs. The eggs hatch in about a week and the parents should not be kept with the fry. The fry should be raised in separate aquarium and can be fed rotifers then baby brine shrimp.

Common Clownfish, Amphiprion ocellaris Common Clownfish, Amphiprion ocellaris

Scientific Name: Amphiprion ocellaris
Family: Pomacentridae
Care: Easy
Temperature: 24 - 27 C; 75 - 80 F
pH: 8.0 - 8.4
dH: 8 - 12
Specific Gravity: 1.020 - 1.026
Size: 8 cm; 3 inches
Breeding: Difficult, Egg Layer
Life Span: 5 years
Crustacean Safe: Yes
Coral Safe: Yes


Damselfish, another single clownfish.  Clowns are not compatible with the following fish, because they tend to be eaten by these species: Eels, Scorpionfish, Lionfish, Hawfish, Snappers, Groupers and Synodontidae Lizardfish.