Clownfish: Complete Species Overview - (2024)

Clownfish is one of the most popular saltwater fish species. Clownfish are easy to keep and feed than other saltwater varieties, making them ideal for beginners and seasoned aquarists. However, if you mostly keep freshwater species, you have to learn the care needs and water parameters for this breed.

If you want to add clownfish to your fish tank, here’s a detailed guide on how to care for this fish breed.

Contents show


Scientific Name: Amphiprioninae

Common Names: Nemo, clownfish, Anemonefish

Life Expectancy: 5 to 6 years

Adult Size: 1 – 5 inches


Primary dietOmnivore
Beginner friendlyModerate
Tank preferenceTop dwellers
Water temperature74-79F
Water pHA pH of 7.8 – 8.4
Tank sizemin. 20 gallons
BreedingEgg layers

Fun Fact

Clownfish became popular thanks to the famous animated film “Finding Nemo” released in 2003. Because of this, this species is renowned in popular culture, hence the name Nemo.


Clownfish are distributed in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. There are more than 30 clownfish fish species; however, the most common ones are Ocellaris (A. ocellaris) and Percula Clownfish (A. percula). All thirty species belong to the Pomacentridae family.

As a popular reef fish, they form a colorful community with other species. If you have experience caring for saltwater fish, you won’t have a problem with clownfish.


Clownfish: Complete Species Overview - (1)

Although clownfish are well known for their orange and white colors, other variations are white, black, or red. These fish breeds have long bodies, and the structure of their dorsal fins appears like two instead of one. They have three white stripes, at the center of the body, behind the gills, and at the bottom of the caudal fin.

Their fins and stripes have a black outline, making them appear more stunning. This also makes their movement in the fish tank more enchanting to watch. Clownfish are great swimmers because of their rounded caudal fin.

Here are the common species of clownfish that you’ll find in an aquarium.

  • A. percula: This is the true clownfish with orange, white and black lines across its body.
  • A frenatus: This variety is deep orange or red with a single white band next to the eye.
  • A. ocellaris: Also known as the False Percula because they look alike. The only difference is that it does not have black lines between the white bands.
  • A. polymnus: This clownfish breed has a deep red base color with bands that appear similar to a horse’s saddle.
  • A. perideraion: also known as Skunk clownfish, has a red or orange body and is slightly bigger than other clownfish varieties.

Average Size

Clownfish grow between 1 to 5 inches, depending on the variety. Because of their size, they are ideal for beginner tanks and small aquariums.


Generally, clownfish are peaceful varieties. However, they will turn aggressive when they are stocked together with other clownfish species. Therefore, if you have community tanks, you can only have one clownfish at a time.

Clownfish have a fascinating symbiotic relationship with certain species of Anemone. Although they live in the higher levels of the tank, they move to lower parts of the tank once the plant is introduced. They produce mucus that makes them resistant to the Anemone sting.


Clownfish: Complete Species Overview - (2)

In their natural habitat, clownfish live among other types of reef fish. When you stock them in an aquarium, they can comfortably live in small groups or large community tanks.

Some suitable Anemones to pair with clownfish are Bubble Tip Anemones, Magnificent Anemones, and Leathery Sea Anemones.

Apart from the Anemone, you can pair them up with small fish like Butterflyfish, dartfish, damselfish, and wrasses. In addition, they live comfortably with bottom dwellers like Gobies and Blennies. You can also add other peaceful aquatic animals, like shrimps, to help break down waste food.

If you stock clownfish species with other bigger saltwater fish species like Tangs and Angelfish, you need to monitor them to ensure they are not causing stress. Furthermore, avoid keeping them together with aggressive species like Lionfish, Groupers, and Triggerfish because they will prey on them.

Tank Size and Conditions

In the wild, clownfish live in the warm parts of the Indian and Pacific ocean. You’ll find them in the coral reefs or shallow lagoons in Southeast Asia and Australia. Because they are symbiotic with anemones, they are not present in shallow waters. They stick to anemones because they are weak swimmers.

When you bring them to a tank, you can add Anemones and get a bigger tank, approximately 40 gallon to 55 gallons. However, if the fish is not being kept with the plant, you can use a smaller tank of about 20 gallons. This fish prefers water temperatures between 74-79F, so you can add a heater to maintain the temperatures.

An ideal tank has a lot of open swimming areas and hiding places. Ensure the tank has the proper filtration system to maintain the water flow.


One of the reasons that clownfish are ideal for beginners is because they are easy to feed. Since they are omnivores, you can feed them a wide range of food products. In the wild, this species feeds on crustaceans, algae, fish eggs, larvae, and anemone tentacles.

Once you bring them to the aquarium, you can replicate the same by feeding them high-protein foods like brine, frozen fish, and table shrimp. You can also add pellets, flakes, and vegetables for a balanced diet. Adult clownfish eat twice a day, while juveniles can feed about 3 to 4 times daily.


Clownfish: Complete Species Overview - (3)

Before breeding them, you need to know that clownfish are born without a sex. They become male or female through hormone changes and social cues. The smaller one becomes female, while the larger one is female.

When you get the breeding pair, the female produces about 50 to 500 eggs monthly. They can be hard to breed; therefore, you need to be patient.


Clownfish are an ideal aquarium species if you want to stock saltwater varieties. They are generally peaceful and easy to care for. You just need to ensure that you provide the right water parameters to keep them healthy.

Featured Image Credit: Nicole, Pixabay

Clownfish: Complete Species Overview - (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Velia Krajcik

Last Updated:

Views: 6453

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Velia Krajcik

Birthday: 1996-07-27

Address: 520 Balistreri Mount, South Armand, OR 60528

Phone: +466880739437

Job: Future Retail Associate

Hobby: Polo, Scouting, Worldbuilding, Cosplaying, Photography, Rowing, Nordic skating

Introduction: My name is Velia Krajcik, I am a handsome, clean, lucky, gleaming, magnificent, proud, glorious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.