The Allard’s Clownfish is a good, hardy fish, but is a bit hard to find and can be a little pricey!

The Allard’s Clownfish Amphiprion allardi is a bold striking specimen that will grow to about 5.5″ (14 cm) in length. This beauty originates off the coast of eastern Africa from Kenya south to Durban, South Africa. It is one of the 11 members of the Clarkii Complex and shares traits in common with the others of this group, but its unique coloring sets it apart. The body is dark brown to black with two vertical bluish white bars, a pale whitish tail fin, and the other fins are orange.

This Clownfish, also commonly known as the Twobar Anemonefish, is similar in overall appearance to the popular Clarkii ClownfishAmphiprion clarkii. But the Allard’s lack the distinct white break between the body color and the tail fin that can be seen on the Clark’s Clown. Another distinction is seen in the bars. The Allard’s mid-body bar is much narrower than that of the Clarkii. Another close looker, almost an identical twin, is the Orange-fin Anemonefish (Bluestriped Clownfish) Amphiprion chrysopterus. It is found widespread in the Western Pacific Ocean from Taiwan to Polynesia, but not anywhere near the Allard’s coastal home of eastern Africa. These two can be distinguished by taking a close look at their vertical bars. On the Allard’s this striping is broad at the top and getting narrow towards the bottom, while on the Orange-fin Clownfish the bars are widest at the level of the eye and at the bottom they point forward.

Allard’s Anemonefish are fairly easy to keep and great for beginner aquarists, but they are not as readily available as some of the other members of the Clarkii group. They have been bred in captivity and the fry successfully reared, and with diligence they can be found. Yet in price they are moderately expensive to very costly, depending on the specimen’s size.

This fish will do well in a either a coral-rich tank or in a fish only tank. In the wild they are associated with anemones and these hosts are also generally available. The anemones associate with are the Bubble Tip Anemone Entacmaea quadricolor, the Beaded Sea Anemone Heteractis aurora, and Merten’s Carpet Anemone Stichodactyla mertensi. They have a great swimming ability, more so than many other clownfish, and in nature will swim rather far from their anemone on occasion. So in the aquarium they will readily adapt without an anemone, and may even adopt a rock structure or other invertebrate such as large polyped stony corals (LPS) or soft corals, as a substitute host.

They are larger than many clownfish so a single fish will need at least a 30 gallon tank and a pair will need 45 to 55 gallons. If keeping it with an anemone a larger tank will be needed, depending on the anemones requirements. Provide some open space for free swimming along with plenty of live rock with places to hide. This is especially important if not keeping it with an anemone.

The Allard’s Clownfish is a semi-aggressive fish and may pick on passive tank mates added after them. Otherwise they are community fish and get along with pretty much any fish that will not swallow them whole. If you want to house them with triggerfish, large angelfish, or other territorial larger fish, then add the Allard’s before them, but after any peaceful fish.

Do not keep them in a group, but only as a single specimen or as a pair. Buying two young fish will eventually result in a male and female pair. All clownfish are undifferentiated when born but they are sex switchers. With certain social cues they change into juvenile males, and then when the opportunity arises a dominant fish will become female. With this species the change from male to female happens very quickly, in only about 2 months! Once they are an adult pair these clownfish will become very aggressive toward any other clownfish. In very large systems a pair may even decide to oust another pair of other Allard’s Clownfish and take their anemone. An adult pair will also defend their host anemone or coral fiercely if laying eggs.

For more Information on keeping saltwater fish see:
Marine Aquarium Basics: Guide to a Healthy Saltwater Aquarium

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Pomacentridae
  • Genus: Amphiprion
  • Species: allardi
Allard’s Clownfish – Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gal (114 L)
  • Size of fish – inches: 5.5 inches (13.97 cm)
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Temperature: 74.0 to 82.0° F (23.3 to 27.8&deg C)
  • Range ph: 7.8-8.4
  • Diet Type: Omnivore
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Allard’s Clownfish Amphiprion allardi was first described by Klausewitz in 1970. They are found in the Western Indian Ocean, off the east coast of Africa between Kenya and Durban, South Africa and east to Mauritius. Other common names they are known by are Allard’s Anemonefish and Twobar Anemonefish. The name Allard’s refers to the species name, and Twobar obviously refers to the typical number of white bands on their body. These fish are not listed on the IUCN Red List and they have been bred in captivity.

They are one of 11 clownfish in the Clarkii complex, which are typically less reliant on their host anemone for protection. This is demonstrated in nature by their being found over 6 feet away from their host anemone. The Clarkii complex have some of the best swimmers within the clownfish family.

There are several species of clownfish that are quite similar in appearance to the Allard’s, these include:

  • The Clarkii Clownfish Amphiprion clarkii can have almost the same dark body coloration, but the Allard’s mid-body bar is much narrower than that of the Clarkii.
  • An almost identical species is the Orange-fin Anemonefish or Bluestriped Clownfish, Amphiprion chrysopterus. However there is a wide geographic separation between these two, sufficient to prevent confusion, and there are also some subtle pattern differences. Just like the Allard’s Clownfish, the adult Orange-fin Anemonefish has a little bluing in the stripes and can have a white tail. The one thing that stands out, is that the Allard’s first stripe at the head is much wider at the top of the head and narrower at the bottom. The width at the top of the head seems more like a bonnet, starting closer to the eye area and reaching almost to the front of the dorsal fin.
  • Twoband Anemonefish Amphiprion bicinctus is another close looker, that also has two bands. Like the Allard’s it also has a wider band on the forehead, but it does not have a white tail fin or white on the caudal peduncle (base of the tail fin).

The Allard’s Anemonefish inhabit outer reef slopes, reef faces and lagoons and are usually found at depths between 3.3 – 98 feet (1 – 30 m). They enjoy the protection of the areas near caves where there are soft and stony corals. The adults are found in pairs, while the juveniles may occur in anemones alongside the adults or will be found singly in their own host. These clownfish feed on benthic algae and plants, along with planktonic invertebrates and zooplankton.

  • Scientific Name: Amphiprion allardi
  • Social Grouping: Pairs – Adults are usually found in pairs, juveniles are solitary or in an anemone near the adults.
  • IUCN Red List: NE – Not Evaluated or not listed


This is a deep bodied clownfish from the Clarkii Complex. The Allard’s Clownfish typically have a stout, rounded body and a blunt-ended tail fin that allows for quick swimming. They can reach up to 5.5 inches (14 cm) in length. Similar to the Clark’s Clown and others in the Clarkii complex, they should live at least 14 to 20 years. A 2012 study conducted under the Alabama Marine Biology Program suggests the potential lifespan for anemonefish could actually be very long, up to 30 years.

As an adult it can range in color from yellow to nearly black with a yellow nose, yellow fins, except for the white tailfin and never showing any black coloring in either the pelvic or anal fins. The base of the tailfin and the tailfin is white and typically is never yellow. The Allard’s two slightly bluish (as adults) vertical white bars on the body are also unique. The first stripe is wide at the top, being closer to the eye area and extending to the front of the dorsal fin and narrows and stops at the gill area. The second band is narrower than the first band, and is the same width from top to bottom. Juveniles do not have the bluish cast to the stripes, and have brown or yellow tail fins capped in white.

  • Size of fish – inches: 5.5 inches (13.97 cm)
  • Lifespan: 14 years – Like other Clarkii Complex fish, they should live from 14 to 20 years.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Allard’s Clownfish is generally easy to keep and can be recommended for beginners. No special care is needed to feed this fish as it will take a variety of foods. It does need some crevices to retreat into, and also lots of open space to swim freely. Like many other clownfish, with proper technique It can be bred and the fry raised in captivity.

Amphiprion members are very hardy. They are quite resistant to most infectious diseases and seldom suffer from infections. They can be safely treated with medicine or copper drugs if infected.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Foods and Feeding

The Allard’s Clownfish are omnivores. In the wild the Amphiprion members eat plankton, and will also pick at the dead tentacles of their host anemone. In the aquarium this fish will readily accept a wide variety of foods; including live foods, frozen and flake foods, algae, meaty foods, shrimps, and may feed on tablets. Finely chopped meaty foods (like brine shrimp) can be fed regularly.

Feed 3 to 4 times a day as juveniles and twice a day as adults, whatever they will consume in about 3 minutes. Provide an area in the tank where the water is not too strong, so they can feed easily. It does not generally harm live corals or small inverts, but large adults may attack ornamental shrimps.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore – Include products with Spirulina added if there is not plenty of algae growing in the tank.
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet / Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet – Live foods can be fed as a treat periodically or when conditioning them to breed.
  • Vegetable Food: Half of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Half of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day – Feed twice a day as adults and 3 to 4 times as juveniles.

Aquarium Care

These clownfish are hardy and fairly easy to keep. They do well when provided good water conditions and a well maintained tank, but smaller tank sizes do result in water quality degrading quicker. Although they are tolerant of less than perfect water quality, prolonged poor water quality will result in illness and disease with any saltwater fish. Regular water changes done bi-weekly will also help replace the trace elements that the fish and corals use up. Guidelines for water changes with different types and sizes of aquariums are:

  • Fish only tanks:
    • Nano/Small tanks up to 40 gallons, perform 15% water changes bi-weekly.
    • Medium sized up to 90 gallons, perform 20% to 30% monthly depending on bioload.
    • Large Tanks 100 gallons and over, once water is aged and stable can be changed 20% to 30% every 6 weeks depending on bioload.
  • Reef tanks:
    • Nano/Small tanks up to 40 gallons, perform 5% water changes weekly.
    • Medium sized up to 90 gallons, perform 15% bi-weekly.
    • Large Tanks 100 gallons and over, once water is aged and stable can be changed 10% bi-weekly to 20% monthly, depending on bioload.

For more information on maintaining a saltwater aquarium see: Saltwater Aquarium Basics: Maintenance. A reef tank will require specialized filtration and lighting equipment. Learn more about reef keeping see: Mini Reef Aquarium Basics.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly – Do bi-weekly water changes of 15% every 2 weeks or 30% a month. If there are corals in the tank then 5% weekly to 15% every 2 weeks, depending on the tank size.

Aquarium Setup

Clownfish can be kept in either a saltwater aquarium or a mini reef. The Allard’s Clownfish is a larger and more active clownfish, so a minimum tank size of 30 (114 L) gallons is needed. That will work fine for a single specimen but about 45 to 55 gallons will be needed to keep a pair. This is a bold fish that will swim to the surface to eat once it becomes accustomed to its home. It needs rocks that provide lots of nooks and crannies for it to retreat into, but it will also need plenty of open space for free swimming. Although it will appreciate a host anemone, it isn’t essential as they will readily adapt to a salt water tank without one. Often they will use a coral or other invertebrate, or even a rock structure, as a substitute.

If housing this clownfish with an anemone, tank size and needs should be based on that particular anemone. While other fish avoid the anemones stinging tentacles least they become its food, your clown fish will spend most of its time nestled down in it. The clown has no special lighting requirements but an anemone will need to have adequate lighting and the tank should be well established, meaning 6 months to a year old. Water movement is not a significant factor but it needs a slow circulation in some areas of the tank to feed. They will spend the majority of their time with a host but will also swim in all parts of the aquarium.

This species lives in tropical areas and their natural habitat is generally about 80° F (26.7° C). In an aquarium, water temperatures between 74° – 79° F (23 – 26° C) work best. Extremes above 90° F (32° C) or below 64° F (18° C) would be beyond their tolerance. Optimum spawning occurs at temperatures between 79°F to 83°F (26°C to 28°C). They can tolerate a pH range from 7.8 to 8.4.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gal (114 L) – A minimum of 30 gallons is needed for a single specimen and 45 to 55 gallons for a pair. If keeping it with an anemone a larger tank of 55 gallons or more will be needed, depending on the anemones requirements.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Plus Hiding Places – Rock structures with hiding places are important when there is no anemone present.
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Any – It has no special lighting requirements though if kept with a host, the anemone will need strong lighting.
  • Temperature: 74.0 to 82.0° F (23.3 to 27.8&deg C)
  • Breeding Temperature: 79.0° F – The optimal temperature for good quality eggs and larvae occurs with temperatures of 79° F to 83° F (26° – 28°C).
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG
  • Range ph: 7.8-8.4
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Any – Water movement is not a significant factor, but it needs at least a slow circulation in the tank to feed. Provide areas of the tank with calmer waters for feeding.
  • Water Region: All – When kept with an anemone or coral host, they tend to stay in the same vicinity but will also swim in all parts of the aquarium at times.

Social Behaviors

The Allard’s Clownfish are one of the more aggressive clowns, especially as they get older. As with any clownfish, they are at home in a reef setting, but also do well in a fish only set up. Though they get along with most tank mates, peaceful fish may be picked on. Your best bet is to add the Allard’s Clownfish to the tank after peaceful tank mates have gotten established. However when housing them with other territorial fish like any large angelfish, triggers, or perches, add this clownfish first. Do not house them with fish large enough to swallow them nor with dottybacks, since these types of fish are too aggressive to be kept with clownfish. Once an adult pair has bonded, any other clown fish pairs will be attacked. Do not house with any other clownfish from any other group. Some docile damselfish could also be harassed by this clown.

  • Compatibility with other Clownfish:
    Due to their aggression towards other clownfish species, the Allard’s Clownfish shouldn’t be housed with other types of clownfish. While being attacked or in attacking mode, clownfish produced from 2 to 17 clicks in a row. They will at times produce “chirps” (aimed at larger fish) and “pops” (aimed at smaller fish) that are audible to divers or even aquarists. They are actually silent when mating. Pops are heard in sets of two or one, right before a chirp noise, so they may be carrying on two different conversations! Saying, “Get out of here Angelfish!” and “hey you subordinate, get in line!”

    They use their teeth to produce the sound and the jaws are the built in amplifier, so it stands to reason that the noises may very from clownfish species to species, sort of like a dialect or accent. There are a total of 29 clownfish that produce audible sounds, with some louder than others. Within the loudest three are the Clark’s Clownfish, Tomato Clownfish, and Pink Skunk Clownfish.

    The behaviors between the same species of clownfish are very interesting and easy to identify. Constant dominating displays by a female prevents a male from changing sex. An aggressive clownfish will displays “agonistic behavior” while the subordinate clown will display “appeaser behavior.” The aggressive fish has specific actions in which the subordinate clownfish reacts to:
    • If the aggressive fish, typically the female, is chasing and chirping, the subordinate clownfish, which can be a male or sub adult, will rapidly quiver their body as they drift upward and they will produce clicking sounds.
    • Jaw popping by the aggressive clownfish results in the subordinate clownfish shaking their body or head.
    • Ventral leaning by the aggressive clownfish results in the subordinate clownfish quivering.
    • An aggressive clownfish displaying a dorsal leaning results in the subordinate clownfish performing ventral leaning.
  • Compatibility in a mini reef:
    In a reef setting, clownfish fit in perfectly, especially with a host anemone. Clownfish will typically not bother any corals, with the exception of picking algae off the base of a coral that they have adopted as a host. A host anemone will provide a rich naturalistic environment for your clown. While other fish avoid the anemones stinging tentacles least they become its food, your clown fish will spend most of its time nestled down in it. Though sea anemones are a striking addition to any reef aquarium, they are more challenging to keep. If you decide to keep an anemone you must make sure its special needs are met.

    Even without an anemone, the Allard’s Clownfish will still thrive. These clownfish have been known to adopt alternate hosts.It may choose soft corals or large polyped stony corals (LPS) of the Euphillia family as surrogate hosts. Hairy mushroom corals are also a favorite surrogate host. With any non anemone host. Hairy mushroom corals (corallimorphs) are also a favorite surrogate host. With any non anemone host, make sure the Clark’s Clownfish is not irritating any of these corals to the point where they are not opening or they will eventually starving to death.

    Be cautious with the Elephant Ear Mushroom or Giant Cup Mushroom Amplexidiscus fenestrafer. It has been known to trap and eat juvenile clownfish and should be monitored. Large adults may not be at risk. As far as inverts are concerned, most are not going to be threatened by a Clark’s Clownfish, unless it is a non-cleaning shrimp such as a Pistol Shrimp, Marbled Shrimp, Sexy Shrimp, etc. These types of shrimp are sometimes purposely knocked or dragged into the host anemone by the Clark’s Clownfish!

    As far as invertebrates are concerned, most are not going to be threatened by an Allard’s Clownfish, unless it is a non-cleaning shrimp such as a Pistol Shrimp, Marbled Shrimp, Sexy Shrimp, etc. These types of shrimp are sometimes purposely knocked or dragged into the host anemone.
  • Compatible host anemones:
    The relationship a clown fish and a sea anemone have is known as symbiosis, where they provide benefits to one another. Clownfish stay with certain anemones in the wild, protecting them from anemone eating fish. In return the anemone protects the clownfish from predators, keeping them away with their stinging tentacles. Clownfish become immune to the sting of the anemone’s tentacles. Feeding is another benefit, the clownfish gets to snack on the remnants of any meal the anemone has captured. The clownfish will also perform housekeeping duties by removing pieces of detritus picked up from the substrate. It is also thought that the anemone is nourished by the waste of the clownfish.

    The Allard’s Clownfish will associate with several anemones, and this provides a rich naturalistic environment for your clown fish. If keeping them with an anemone, your choice of tank mates opens up a little more to include larger semi-aggressive fish, due to the protection afforded the clownfish by its host anemone. While other fish avoid the anemones stinging tentacles least they become its food, your clown fish will spend most of its time nestled down in it.

    Though sea anemones are a striking addition to any reef aquarium, they are more challenging to keep. If you decide to keep an anemone you must make sure its special needs are met. Provide the appropriate sized tanks for the particular species of anemone you choose. If an anemone is not present, the Allard’s Clownfish will still thrive and may choose soft corals or large polyped stony corals (LPS) of the Euphillia family as surrogate hosts. Hairy mushrooms are also a favorite surrogate host. With any non anemone host, make sure the Allard’s Clownfish is not irritating any of these corals to the point them of not opening and eventually starving to death.

    Host Anemones the Allard’s Clownfish is associated with in the wild:

Be cautious adding Condy Anemones Condylactis gigantea. These are very mobile, predatory anemones, and are not a “clown hosting anemone”. Their sting is much stronger than clown hosting anemones, and there is a risk to the clownfish who is foolish enough to engage it may eventually be eaten. Many who have had clowns hosted by Condylactis have said, “one day the clownfish was gone, and I kept the anemone well fed!”.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive – On a clownfish scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being aggressive, they are about an 8, or a 9 – 10 if they have an anemone.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Yes – Can be kept as a male/female pair, possibly with a few juveniles.
    • Peaceful fish (gobies, dartfish, assessors, fairy wrasses): Monitor – The Allard’s may be aggressive toward these peaceful fish if added after the Clownfish. Do not attempt in small 30 gallon tank.
    • Semi-Aggressive (anthias, clownfish, dwarf angels): Safe
    • Monitor – Dottybacks should be housed alone due to their aggression. Damselfish are okay only if the tank is very large, over 100 gallons and there are plenty of places for the damsels or clowns to hide.
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (tangs, large angels, large wrasses): Safe – Add the clownfish first, and once acclimated, you can then add these other fish.
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (lionfish, groupers, soapfish): Threat – Do not house with fish large enough to swallow your clownfish whole.
    • Monitor – Seahorses should only be housed in their own environment. Pipefish and mandarins may be fine in a very large, mature tank with live rock that has plenty of copepods. Anemones and similar corals pose a threat to the mandarin, so take that into consideration when planning your tank set up.
    • Anemones: Safe – Do not house with Condylactis Anemones as these are not clown hosting anemones and may eventually kill and eat your clownfish.
    • Mushroom Anemones – Corallimorphs: Monitor – Large mushrooms such as Elephant Ear Mushrooms (Amplexidiscus fenestrafer) can trap and eat juvenile clownfish.
    • LPS corals: Safe – Make sure coral is not staying closed from a clownfish irritating it when attempting to associate with it as its host.
    • SPS corals: Safe
    • Gorgonians, Sea Fans: Safe
    • Leather Corals: Safe
    • Soft Corals (xenias, tree corals): Safe
    • Star Polyps, Organ Pipe Coral: Safe
    • Zoanthids – Button Polyps, Sea Mats: Safe
    • Sponges, Tunicates: Safe
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Monitor – Clarkii complex clowns have been known to knock ornamental shrimp such as pistol shrimp into their host anemone at feeding time!
    • Starfish: Safe
    • Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Safe
    • Clams, Scallops, Oysters: Safe
    • Copepods, Amphipods, Mini Brittle Stars: Monitor – If not fed regularly clownfish will turn to copepods for supplemental nutrition, which can deplete their numbers. In very large systems, with an established copepod population, this is rarely an issue.

Sex: Sexual differences

The females are larger than the males.

Breeding / Reproduction

The Allard’s Clownfish has been bred in captivity and the fry successfully reared. All clownfish are undifferentiated when born but they are sex switchers. With certain social cues they change into juvenile males, and then when the opportunity arises a dominant fish will become female. With this species this happens very quickly. It can reportedly happen within 63 days, which helps in keeping the population up incase a female is killing or moves on.

Allard's Clownfish pair, Amphiprion allardi
Purchased as Allard’s Clownfish Pair
But the wide mid-body band indicates they
may be a different species
Photo © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough

They start courtship, similar to the Clark’s Clownfish, 3 to 5 days before spawning. The male bites at the substrate in increasing frequency and intensity to attract the female. She then initiates courtship by nudging the side of the male, or by first engaging in biting at the substrate to encourage his behavior.

Clownfish have several different types of displays when courting, such as leaning away from each other so their ventral surfaces are close, or leaning towards each other with their dorsal surfaces close while shaking their heads. Head standing is also another position where one or both fish will engage. The male and female will soon start to meticulously clean an egg laying site as the spawning event nears. This will be done on a rock or coral close to the anemone, which cleans the area of detritus and algae and provides a clean spot for the spawn.

Once the area is prepared, the pair will then nip at the anemone’s tentacles that are close to the spawning site to cause it to retract, thus exposing the area for the final stage. At this point, the female will then press her belly on the spawning site and begin to quiver as she drags her abdomen, leaving a trail of eggs behind her. She will continue in a circular motion until she deposits all her eggs, after which the male swims behind her and fertilizes them.

Spawning lasts up for 2 1/2 hours. A clutch of Allard’s Clownfish eggs are orange in color. The eggs are fanned and mouthed to keep them oxygenated and free of debris and fungal infections. Males do more of the cleaning and guarding in the wild. Intensive fanning of the eggs occurs the day of hatching. The eggs will hatch in 6 to 13 days depending on water temperature. Hatching occurs at night about 1 to 1 1/2 hours after sunset and all the eggs will have hatched with in two hours. The larvae then swim into the water column and enter into the planktonic phase, which lasts from 8 to 16 days.

After the young Clownfish has left its larval stage and is now free swimming, their first priority is to find an anemone for protection. It has been noted by scientists the possibility of two forms of recognition of an anemone that a young Clownfish uses. The first way they are attracted to a specific species of anemone, is the olfactory or scent that the anemone emits, guiding the young fish to the safety of their tentacles. The second way is visual, or recognition of the anemone. Either way, these cues would have been imprinted on the clownfish while developing inside their eggs, by recognition of their parents swimming within the tentacles and the “odor” that the anemone would give off within the mucus of the oral disc and tentacles.

For more about breeding clownfish, see Breeding Clown fish: Part One, Breeding Clown fish: Part Two, and Breeding Clown fish: Part Three.

  • Ease of Breeding: Difficult

Fish Diseases

Typically clownfish are extremely hardy, so disease is not usually a problem in a well maintained aquarium. However when they do get sick some diseases are quite deadly. Clownfish are susceptible to the same types of illnesses as other marine fish including bacterial, fungal, parasitic or other diseases, and injury. All saltwater fish will get sick if good water quality is not maintained, the temperature fluctuates too much, or the fish is stressed due to inappropriate tank mates. A stressed fish is more likely to acquire disease.

Clownfish are particularly prone to Brooklynellosis or Clownfish Disease Brooklynella hostilis (Brook), Marine Ich Cryptocaryon irritans, also called White Spot Disease or Crypt, Marine Velvet or Velvet Disease Oodinium ocellatum (Syns: Amyloodinium ocellatum, Branchiophilus maris), and Uronema disease Uronema marinum.  All of these are parasites.

The most easily cured of these is Crypt (salt water Ich), but they are all treatable if caught in a timely manner. Marine Velvet is a parasitic skin flagellate and one of the most common maladies experienced in the marine aquarium. It is a fast moving that primarily it infects the gills. Brook kills within 30 hours but the Uronema disease is one of the quickest killers, as in overnight. Uronema is often contracted when the aquarist lowers their salinity to treat another type of illness, but don’t lower it far enough. This parasite thrives in mid-level brackish water salinity, which is a specific gravity of around 1.013 to 1.020.

Be sure to treat for any illness at a normal salinity with a specific gravity of about 1.023, or at a low salinity of about 1.009. Quick Cure and other 37% Formalin products will work perfectly well in both salinity ranges, but the lower 1.009 will help with the oxygen level. The amount of oxygen in the water increase as the salinity level is reduced. “I personally noticed when battling Brook or Crypt using the proper hypo-salinity of 1.009, no higher, my clowns almost seemed to breath easier and be less stressed”… Carrie McBirney.

Anything you add to your tank that has not been properly cleaned or quarantined, including live rock, corals and fish can introduce diseases. The best prevention is to take care to properly clean or quarantine anything you want to add to the tank. A few other ways to proactively prevent disease are to provide quality foods, clean good quality water, and proper tank mates. For information about saltwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.


The Allard’s Clownfish, or Twobar Anemonefishfish, is not as readily available in pet stores or online as other members of the Clarkii complex. However with diligence they can be found, and the price will be moderate to very expensive, depending on the specimen’s size.