As I was preparing my clownfish aquarium, the question on everyone’s mind was how many clownfish could you put in a tank. We all know about their aggressive temper and hierarchy tendencies. So, I wanted to stick with the ideal number clownfish without causing unnecessary stress.
In this blog, I will go into the details of how many clownfish in a tank. More than that, I’ll explain the various types of clownfish, which ones make the best tankmate. I’ll cover a few of the techniques I have found that help mitigate aggression in aquariums. That way, you may be able to keep peace even among a group of clownfish.
- How To Get Clownfish To Go Into Anemone? (7 Easy Tips).
- What Is The Best Coral For Clownfish To Host?
How Many Clownfish In A Tank?
Regardless of tank size, it is typically recommended that no more than two clownfish be kept together in a tank, due primarily to their naturally aggressive and territorial nature.
If you already have a clownfish in your home aquarium and want to add another to the tank, be sure that they are not only smaller but also of the same species. That way, the larger one will then become female, which will reduce its aggressive tendencies. Clownfish need a tank size no smaller than 20 gallons, so make sure you offer them adequate space.
What Are The Different Types Of Clownfish?
For the most part, the orange one is present in many movies, including “Finding Nemo” by Disney. But don’t let that fool you! There are over 30 different species of this fish and each version has its own color pallet for distinguishing features.
Cinnamon clowns, also known as the ‘fire’ clownfish, are larger species and can grow to 5 inches in length! Cinnamon clowns can grow to 5 inches in length and should be kept only in fish-only tanks because they are semi-aggressive and territorial.
Maroon clowns are the largest types of clownfish and can reach a whopping 7 inches in length! The females of this species are highly aggressive, even with mated pairs, and should be kept in a community with other big, boisterous fish.
Pink Skunk Clownfish
Unusually pale compared to other clownfish, the pink skunk is a docile species that like to live in small groups and share a single large anemone. The pink skunk grows up to four inches long on average and can live for over twenty years when living in captivity.
The saddleback clownfish reaches between 4 and 5 inches in length, making it somewhat larger and more slender than most other clownfish. They are semi-aggressive in nature. They like to stick close to their anemone host and can be kept with smaller. Their docile nature and easy care make them appropriate fish for community aquariums.
They are a good choice for a first-time aquarium owner or anyone looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous common clownfish. Like their close cousin, the cinnamon clownfish, tomato clowns are about 5 inches long, semi-aggressive. They are territorial that means they establish a territory or home and spend most of their time there. They can be intimidating to other smaller fish and should be watched closely as they mature to see if they ‘harass’ other tankmates.
True Percula Clownfish
Often referred to as the ‘orange’ clownfish, It is one of the most sought-after clownfish second only to its look-alike cousin, the Ocellaris or False Percula Clownfish Amphiprion ocellaris. The Percula clown is a bit smaller than the Ocellaris, reaching only around 3” in length. In fact they are one of the smallest of all the clownfish. They tend to be less aggressive and peaceful than their larger clown cousins, which means they can do quite well in a community tank environment.
Which Species Of Clownfish Make The Best Tankmates?
Keeping clownfish in a community tank depends not only on the size of the tank, but also on their individual size and temperament. Contrary to popular belief, not all clownfish species can live in harmony with each other.
Cinnamon clowns, for example, should be kept with bigger species like Tomato or Saddleback clowns. The only time they should be kept with a smaller species, like True Percula clowns, is if you have a very large tank with plenty of hiding places for the perculas to retreat to. The only time they should be kept with a smaller species, like True Percula clowns, is when your tank has plenty of hiding places for the perculas.
Maroon clowns are very big and highly aggressive. As mentioned earlier, if you keep other species in your tank there will always be discord, aggression and death! Ideally, you should only keep 2 Maroons together in a tank– one male and one female, if possible – regardless of tank size.
Saddleback clowns are pretty docile and can be kept with other smaller clownfish like the True Percula, Cinnamon or Tomato clowns, but your tank must be very large and preferably planted.
True percula clowns are the easiest to keep and usually will cohabitate peacefully with their smaller cousins like the Black Percula or False Percula clownfish.
The Pink Skunk clowns are docile in nature and can live peacefully with The True Percula clowns. This species shouldn’t be kept with its more aggressive cousins, such as the Cinnamon or Tomato clownfish. It could likely get on well with the Saddlebacks clowns as well.
How To Control The Aggression Within Your Clownfish Tank
1. Get the right tank
One way of reducing the violence is to get a bigger tank that reduces the probability of your fish fighting over territory. Place plants and decorations in your aquarium so that subordinate males have space to hide. This will allow them to co-exist with more violent clownfish.
When it comes to size, a tank should be at least 25 gallons. This size may allow you to bring anemones into the aquarium, making your fish less aggressive and stressed due to the symbiotic relationship.
2. Consider the type of aggression
First of all, you need to ensure that you are not overreacting. Clownfish tend to be naturally aggressive towards one another – this is how they establish dominance and rank amongst each other, but don’t assume that’s a sign of things going wrong just because the fish are nipping at one another.
You should only worry when some of your clownfish start showing severe injuries such as ripped fins. You should also look for many other signs of stress. For instance, once fish have been wounded through fighting activities, they will start hiding for prolonged periods of time. These won’t eat as much that leads to other serious health problems later on that can seriously endanger the life of your beloved clownfish.
3. Prioritize clownfish bred in captivity
Wild clownfish (hat were captured in the wild and added to the aquarium) are generally more aggressive than clownfish that were bred in captivity. In the wild, they have to fight for their lives. And maybe they are accustomed, so when added to the tank, they’ll keep some of that aggressive temperament.
However, their captive counterparts have been living in a peaceful environment. Therefore, they are less likely to be aggressive towards other fish of the same or different species. So, prioritize captive-bred clownfish when buying fish.
4. Feed your clownfish right
source You should also scatter the food throughout the tank to allow the clownfish to feed without interacting with one another. Also, tanks with young fish need more food. This is because young clownfish consume more nutrients than their adult counterparts.
You should also scatter food throughout the tank instead of gathering in one place so that they disperse to eat, not to compete with each other. Also, if your aquarium has young fish, add more food as the young fish consume more nutrients than the adults.
5. Tank conditions
An unsafe environment can stress clownfish. Stress can lead to aggression and fighting. So you have to maintain a pristine tank. Ensure that the water parameters such as pH, temperature, salinity, hardness, etc… are within the appropriate range.
Also, try to mimic their natural habitat as closely as possible – add corals, lush plants, live rock, sandy bottom, etc.
6. Choose the companions wisely
If you wish to keep multiple clownfish, avoid even numbers. For instance, it is better to keep five clownfish than four. It is much easier for the majority to single out one fish to bully when you have four fish. They will pair up, and the odd one will be easily bullied
Ideally, however, keep only clownfish of the same species and no more than two per tank.
You should also add an anemone to your tank. Clownfish and sea anemones have a symbiotic relationship. The sea anemone will protect the clownfish from enemies, which also the aggressive clownfish.
Some Other Related Questions
Can you have 3 clownfish in a tank?
No, It is not recommended. As said earlier, if you added 3 at the same time, 2 would’ve paired up and the odd clown out would have been bullied to death by the pair.
Will different species of clownfish fight each other?
Different species of clownfish will fight each other if they feel threatened or that their territory is being invaded. Maroon clowns tend to be the most aggressive and will not only kill but also eat smaller species of clownfish!
How many clownfish in a 5 gallon tank?
Clownfish can live in a 5-gallon tank, provided you only keep 1 or 2. They have an innate ability to breed which is why any more than 2 will lead to an overcrowding of the tank in no time.
But it is ideal that, under no circumstances should you keep a clownfish (or any saltwater fish – in my opinion – no matter how tiny) in any tank with less than 5 gallons of water. The fish’s natural environment has plenty of space for them to swim and explore. Surely they will not like a fish tank that is too small.
To conclude, the ideal number of clownfish per tank is 1 or 2. If you already have a clownfish and would like another one, it is recommended that you add a smaller clownfish of the same species.
Hopefully, you’ve found this article to be both interesting and informative. Thanks for reading and good luck with your clownfish saltwater aquarium!
Annette M. Chaney is an experienced marine biologist with over 20 years of experience as an aquarist and fishkeeper. She started her first aquarium at a young age, filling it with frogs and goldfish obtained from the ten-cent pet store.
Annette grew up caring for and breeding African Cichlids, which led to a hobby in high school that doubled as a profitable means. Attending Reed College gave her time to solidify herself as an accomplished aquarium caretaker with an eye for sales. After that, from 2009 – 2013, she studied at Roger Williams University – one of the most prestigious universities for Aquaculture and Aquarium in USA. She is the founder of AquariumCircle since 2010