The Banded Clownfish, also known as the Clarkii Clown Fish,are some of the easiest salt water fish to breed and rear. Author Hennie Landman shares some tips on water quality and filtration for fish egg hatching. He also has some tips for raising clown fish fry; feeding the babies and cultivating their baby food.
Article By: Hennie Landman
Edited By: Elizabeth M. Lukan
(Reprinted by Permission of Elizabeth M. Lukan, Editor of Fish n’ Chips, 6/15/02)
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fish Egg Hatching: Water Quality and Filtration
To minimize the growth of bacteria, the rearing tank should be half filled with water from the tank containing the eggs only a few hours before the eggs hatch (the introduction of the fry usually fills the tank completely, with water from the transfer bowl). Of course, the water temperature in both tanks should be identical at the time of transfer.
After 24 hours, one should siphon off about 10% of the water, and replace it with “fresh” water from the main tank. Thereafter, do 10% partial water changes every 12 hours for the first 12 days, and thereafter every 24 hours. During this water change, one should “vacuum” the tank’s bottom to suck up any detritus.
Raising Clown Fish Fry
Feeding the Babies:
During the first 24-36 hours the fry do not eat, but live off their yolk sacs. After this time, they should be fed Rotifers three to four times per day. The initial rotifer density should be quite high. It’s been recommended to have one rotifer every 1.5 times the length of the fry (meaning that the fry would only have to swim 1.5 body lengths before finding food. After 8-10 days one should start to feed newly hatched Brine Shrimp, and feed this for the next two weeks, while slowly introducing pulverized flake food. After that, you only need to find good homes for your babies.
Cultivating the Baby Food:
Your first brood of clownfish will probably catch you unprepared, and the chances are good that all the babies will starve within the first 2-3 days. Fortunately, Clowns are prolific breeders, and you can prepare for a successful second batch by starting to cultivate Rotifers, (and the Green-water food for the Rotifers) as soon as the first spawning becomes imminent.
Although Rotifer starter colonies are available commercially in the USA, this is not the case in the rest of the World. I was fortunate to obtain some from the research aquarium of the department of Sea Fisheries, in Cape Town. You will probably find that all universities and aquatic research institutes breed Rotifers, and will be glad to give you some.
Rotifers eat single celled algae, such as Nannochloropsis, Tetraselmis and Chlorella, and without a sufficient supply, you won’t have any Rotifers, and that means your babies will starve. Fortunately, starter cultures of these algae can also be obtained from the same source as the Rotifers.
Baby Brine Shrimp (Artemia sp.) culturing should start two days after the babies have hatched. This should give you your first baby Artemia after ~48 hours, just in time for the baby Clowns’ gradual weaning to this food type, which should start on the fifth day after hatching.
For more information on feeding baby fish see: Food for Fish Fry
Featured Image Credit: David Clode, Unsplash