Clownfish Care - Amphiprion ocellaris

Updated May 14, 2020
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
Social Media: FishLore on Social Media

The Clownfish is probably the most popular saltwater fish species today and one of the reasons that many people want to get into the saltwater hobby.

The Disney movie Finding Nemo probably has a lot to do with the incredible popularity of this fish. They have a somewhat unique way of swimming. They don't swim like other fish, they waddle and it kind of reminds you of a happy dog when it comes up to greet you. The orange, white and black coloration on the Ocellaris is strikingly beautiful.

The Ocellaris Clown is often confused with the True Percula because the two species look very similar. The Ocellaris has very thin black bands around the white stripes whereas the True Percula has much wider black bands on the white stripes.

Amphiprion ocellaris Amphiprion ocellaris clownfish

They will take almost every type of marine fish food available and can be very easy to keep.

Many believe that you can't keep them without their host anemone. This is not true. You can keep them without their host anemone and many have reported success with breeding them even without having their host anemone present.

Because many breeders are having success breeding them, tank raised clowns are readily available. In fact, you are generally much better off buying a tank raised clownfish than a wild one because the tank raised fish tend to have better survival rates and should acclimate more quickly. Tank raised clowns usually cost slightly more than the wild ones but if they adapt better and live longer, it's worth it.

Clownfish in anemone Amphiprion ocellaris

The host anemones that are found in their natural environment can be difficult to care for in captivity and are not recommended for the saltwater novice. Very high output aquarium lighting such as metal halides is often required.

Amphiprion ocellaris pair in anemone Amphiprion ocellaris

Side view of Amphiprion ocellaris inside anemone

Clownfish Care Details

Scientific Name : Amphiprion ocellaris

Other Common Names : Anemone Fish, Orange Anemone Fish, Nemo

Care Level : Easy, very hardy and good for saltwater beginners, especially the tank raised clowns which should acclimate easier than their wild caught counterparts. Also, keeping them with anemones is not necessary. Only keep anemones if you have the proper aquarium lighting.

Size : 3 - 4 inches (10 cm)

pH : 8 - 8.4

Temperature : 75°F - 80°F (24°C - 27°C)

Specific Gravity : 1.020 - 1.024

Lifespan : 3 - 6 years generally, but see comment below from Dudley who has a pair of percula clowns that has been alive for 27 years!

Origin / Habitat : Indo-Pacific to Oceania. The ocellaris clownfish is not listed on the IUCN redlist. Found in warm and shallow tropical seas.

Temperament / Behavior : Usually they are a very peaceful marine fish. Avoid mixing the various clown species though. If you have a mix of different clown species in your tank, they will fight. If you have a host anemone in the aquarium with them, they will defend it. It usually works out best if you have only one or a pair of clowns in your tank.

Breeding : They have been bred in captivity and it is usually better to buy a tank raised fish because they will adapt better in the home aquarium. Males can turn into females (one time transformation) as the need arises.

Aquarium Size : 30 gallon minimum

Tank Mates : Avoid keeping them in an aquarium with Lionfish, Snappers, Groupers, Triggers, Eels or any other predatory fish large enough to eat them. Keep only one clown species in your aquarium. Do not mix the various clown species.

Disease : Saltwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment

Diet / Foods : an Omnivore - provide a varied diet with live food, frozen food and they will also accept flake food.

Tank Region : All over

Gender : All are males when they are born. As they mature and start to pair off the dominant one will change into a female. The female is usually larger than the male and will be the primary defender of their territory.

Photo Credit : Photos copyright

Site References :

Forum : Clownfish Forum

Compatible Anemones : Bubble Tip Anemone (Rose Anemone) (Entacmaea quadricolor)
Magnificent Anemone (Ritteri Sea Anemone) (Heteractis magnifica)
Giant Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea)
Saddle Carpet Anemone (Haddon's Sea Anemone) (Stichodactyla haddoni
Clownfish Anemone Chart

Recommended Book : Clownfishes Guide to Captive Care and Breeding

Forum Avatar :

Clownfish Comments

From: Dudley Hartz
Perculas can live much longer than once thought. Mine are the oldest I know of and they are 27 years old and have lived the last 24 years with no anemone. The less animals you keep in the tank, the better their chances of survival.

From: Stefan
They are friendly and have an amazing personality. I would recommend them to anyone new to marine fishkeeping as they are interesting and relatively hardy.

From: Dan
Mine is 17 years old or so. I bought it in 1989. I even had a tomatoe clown that tortured it for 6 years, until the trigger fish killed the tomatoe. How many times do you think my clownfish has curled his body in the current? Amazing and captivating.

From: Carlos
I have had mine for 3 years and it lives in a 10 gallon tank. It has been eating flakes but twice a week I feed it frozen mysis. Good for beginners and an awesome fish. A+

From: Jacob
I have had my ocellaris for about a year now. He is still my favorite fish. Very hardy and entertaining fish. It loves to be hand fed and gets very excited when he sees me with food. Great personality and very peaceful. I would recommend them for anyone that has space for a peaceful smaller sized fish.

From: Angelo
I have a pair of ocellaris. The female is going on 7 years (and it was purchased from Petco) and the male will be 4 in 3 months.

From: V.P.
I'm a beginner to marine aquarium keeping. I have a 15 gallon live rock-only aquarium. I just bought one and a bicolor pseudochromis. I was so relieved to see that they get along very well. They don't bother each other at all. I want to get two or three more small fishes. What kinds get along well with clowns?
Several species should go well with them, but you're already at your limit in a 15 gallon tank. This is very small volume of water to keep stable and adding more fish into this setup will only make it that much more difficult to keep stable and safe for the fish.

From: Rebekah
I have a 55 gallon FOWLR tank with 70 lbs of rock. Currently in the tank are: 1 ocellaris clown, 1 green clown goby, 2 yellow-tailed blue damsels, 2 pajama cardinals, and 1 firefish. The clownfish is the newest addition and it has not eaten since I brought it home about 3-4 days ago. I feed frozen brine shrimp and a dry marine pellet. It will pick at small clumps of algae in the tank but then spit it out. I've read that they will eat just about anything. Is mine just being picky? Any suggestions for the picky eater?
It could be several things contributing to your clown's lack of appetite. Is it getting bullied at all by any of the other fish at feeding time? Especially watch the damsels, they can be quite territorial. These are all fairly small species in your tank, maybe try a flake food. Perhaps the food being presented (pellet) is too big? Although, not going after defrosted brine shrimp is troubling since fish usually go crazy for that. If he doesn't start to eat soon you may need to quarantine this fish and watch for any signs of disease.

More Clownfish Profiles
Pink Skunk Clownfish
Amphiprion perideraion
Pink Skunk Clownfish
They are about 4 inches (10 cm) in size as adults and do well in aquariums 30 gallons or larger.
Tomato Clownfish
Amphiprion frenatus
Tomato Clownfish
Getting to about 5 inches (13 cm) as adults these clowns are really hardy and are good choices for first time clownfish keepers.