Animal-World > Marine - Saltwater Fish > Clownfish > Breeding Clown Fish Part One

Breeding Clown fish
Part One

Breeding Clarkii ClownfishClarkii Clown Fish or Banded Clownfish with a Saddle AnemonePhotos © Animal-World Banded Clownfish
Clarkii Clownfish

With a Saddle Anemone

Clownfish are probably the easiest salt water fish to breed and successfully rear to adulthood. The same principles should apply to most clown fish and damsel fish who do not scatter their eggs. Author Hennie Landman shares his method for breeding the Banded Clownfish, also known as the Clarkii Clownfish.

Article By: Hennie Landman
Edited By: Elizabeth M. Lukan

(Reprinted by Permission of Elizabeth M. Lukan, Editor of Fish n' Chips, 4/28/02)


Clarks Clownfish
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Clark's Clownfish or Banded Clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii) laying eggs

A very happy Clark's Clownfish couple is spawning under a rock near their anemone. The anemone is to the left and the eggs are the reddish orange dots. After the male fertilizes the eggs, they fan the new arrivals. Clark's or Banded Clownfish are readily available, love Bubble Tip Anemones, and are durable fish for the beginner aquarist.

Ocellaris Clownfish Breeding
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Male and female Ocellaris Clowfish spawning

Female clownfish (larger fish) is laying orange eggs on the class while the male systematically fertilizes them. It has been stated that clownfish may eat their own eggs if they feel threatened by someone watching them. As you can see, there isn't an anemone present, and these fish will breed in tanks as small as 10 gallons.

True Percula Clownfish, breeding pair
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Breeding Three-band Clownfish (Amphiprion tricinctus) pair with eggs and they are fanning the eggs.

Awesome mated pair of True Percula Clownfish fanning their newly laid and fertilized eggs! Most of the time in open aquariums such as these, the eggs are picked off within a day or so. If wanting to breed your clownfish and develop babies, a 10 gallon tank and a flower pot is all you need! Of course, rotifers and other special foods, as well as multiple water changes daily will ensure success!

Maroon Clownfish "lightning" variety
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Maroon Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus) in the new "lightning" color morph is here in HD!

The Maroon Clownfish is spectacular in it natural form, and it now comes in a very cool "lightning" color morph. The Lightning variety first spawned in the spring of 2012. Matt Pedersen, who bred two clowns from Fishermans Island owns this very cool clownfish. He has been offered $7,000.00 for it, and some of the babies have sold for $2,500.00!

Cinnamon Clownfish
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Cinnamon Clownfish (Amphiprion melanopus) pair, male and female up close.

The beautiful details of male and female are seen up close on these mature Cinnamon Clownfish. As with most clownfish, aggression is lessened when there is no anemone present. These two seem content to just hang out at the bottom of the tank. You can see the larger fish, or female, periodically nudge the male as if to "keep him in line"! The Cinnamon Clownfish have a similar temperament as Tomato Clownfish, possibly more aggressive, depending on tank mates.

Pink Skunk Clownfish
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Spawning Pink Skunk Clownfish (Amphiprion perideraion), having a go at parenthood!

Two mature Pink Skunk Clownfish are having a go at parenthood! While clownfish generally will spawn in captivity, it takes specialized efforts to bring them to a viable selling age. The eggs will disappear in a few days, and if ever any did hatch, sadly power heads will provide a quick end to their larval stage. Pink Skunk Clownfish are probably one of the most mellow of the clowns and can be kept in the same tank as a Percula Clownfish as long as there is at least 2 feet between host anemones.

Saddleback Clownfish
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Pair of Saddleback Clownfish (Amphiprion polymnus) in their classic colors

See the classic colors of a Saddle Back Clownifish. The brownish orange color, wide white head band and a "saddle" or incomplete second band. Some will develop a third band at the base of the tailfin or will develop a little bit of white at the top of the tailfin. There are many variations in color, including a black version which is very popular.

Saddleback Clownfish, spawning
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Pair of Black Saddleback Clownfish (Amphiprion polymnus) spawing in the aquarium.

This is an excellent example of a pair of Black Saddleback Clownfish, Amphiprion polymnus in captivity. These have a little white on the back top of their tailfins. They are spawning in a reef tank, which is very common for clownfish to do in captivity. Keeping these marine fish in supply through captive breeding is a great way to furnish strong, durable stock to the saltwater hobbyist.

Sebae ClownFish
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This Sebae ClownFish (Amphiprion sebae) found a Hammer Coral for a host, sometimes clownfish have other ideas than anemones.

These Sebae Clownfish decided that they wanted to have a Hammer Coral as a host! This is not uncommon for several species of clownfish to do. The only danger to the coral occurs if the fish irritates it to the point where it will not stay open. Most large polyped stony corals (LPS) will allow themselves to be surrogate hosts to clowns without a home, which usually happens if there is no anemone available.

Sexing Clown Fish:

Banded Clown Fish:
Clarkii Clown Fish or Banded Clownfish with a Saddle Anemone
Photos © Animal-World
Clarkii Clownfish
With a Saddle Anemone

Actually, that's the easiest part - just take any two fish, and give them enough time. Clownfish are all born as males, believe it or not. Then, the largest (and most dominant) of any group undergoes a sex change, and becomes the female. The second largest fish usually becomes the breeding male, and all the other fish remain "sexless" drones. Should the breeding female die or be removed, the breeding male will change to a female, and the next fish in the pecking order will become the breeding male.

So, given enough time any two fish could become a pair, if they're agreeable. It does help to start off with young fish, though. Also, do try to buy your fish from different sources, if possible, to minimize inbreeding.

Clown Fish Breeding Tanks:

Clowns will spawn in a community tank if they feel secure, and if the water parameters, temperature etc. is to their liking. Try not to have the tank densely stocked, though. If you could keep the breeding pair in a tank of their own it would be even better. They don't need a very large tank, ~200 liters (55 US gal.) is quite sufficient. My tank's water temperature was between 79°F - 82°F (26°C - 28°C), and the nitrates was undetectable. Lighting is not critical, but day and night cycles should be regular.

Spawning Clown Fish:

Some live rock, or other hard, rocky substance with a vertical face is needed for the spawning site. My fish spawned on a rock which was very close to their anemone. All subsequent spawnings were on the very same rock. I would recommend that you leave their chosen rock undisturbed after their initial spawning.

Clowns cleaning spawn site
Photos © Hennie Landman Clown fish cleaning a possible
spawning site on the glass.

When the fish are ready to spawn (within a few days), they will start to clean their chosen rock by vigorously biting it. They also become very aggressive, and will attack other inhabitants. The actual spawning takes place in the afternoon, or early evening, and can last for an hour, or even more. The female swims very slowly over the cleaned area, depositing the eggs. The male then follows close behind, and fertilizes the eggs.

Once the spawning is complete (within 1-2 hours), the male assumes responsibility for attending them, while the female acts as protector of the eggs and "supervises" her male. He will continuously fan the eggs with his fins, and even bite at them - not to eat them, but to remove detritus, or perhaps a dead or rotten egg. The eggs should be left in their care, and not removed, unless they are known to be egg-eaters from prior experience.

Continued... "Breeding Clown Fish, Part Two"

Author: Article By: Hennie Landman
Edited By: Elizabeth M. Lukan

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