Clarkii Clown Fish, or Banded Clownfish, are some of the easiest salt water fish to breed and rear. Provide proper tank conditions and the fish egg hatching is generally quite predictable. But raising clown fish fry successfully to adulthood, will take some care, as outlined here by author Hennie Landman.
(Reprinted by Permission of Elizabeth M. Lukan, Editor of Fish n’ Chips, 5/31/02)
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:
According to the experts, the eggs take from 6 to 15 days to hatch, depending on the temperature. My eggs hatched as regular as clockwork on the evening of the seventh day. During the last day, the eggs change from a reddish brown to a silvery colour. This is a positive indication that the eggs are due to hatch that evening.
All the power heads and external filters should be stopped the evening of the hatching. Just before the last light goes out, one should also stop the sump return pump. After lights out, one should check on the tank every 15 minutes or so, using a red filter in front of a torch (Editor’s Note: aka flashlight). About 1-2 hours after total darkness, the eggs hatch, all within a few minutes of each other. At this stage, one should switch on a dim exterior light, just to make it easier to work in the tank. Then, use a bright torch (without filter), and shine the light into the tank at a place convenient to catching the fry. All the hatched fry will immediately start to swim towards the light, and congregate in great masses just below the water surface. It’s then a simple thing to scoop them up into a shallow bowl (or even a large soup ladle). The fry should then be transferred to the rearing tank, and gently released by immersing the bowl below the water surface. Care should be taken to ensure as little current and turbulence as possible while doing this, as the newly hatched fry are very delicate.
Raising Clown Fish Fry: The first few days
In nature, the fry would swim to a depth of a several meters below the surface. Being confined to a much shallower tank, they still try to swim away from the light, and will end up “standing” on their heads on the bottom of the tank. This stress will cause them to die within the first day or two. The rearing tank should thus be kept in total darkness for the first 24-36 hours. Thereafter, the light intensity should be GRADUALLY increased over a period of four to six days, ending with the full power of one 20-30W NO fluorescent lamp. This can be achieved by covering the tank’s top with a cover glass, on which one places two portions of dark cardboard. After the initial 36 hour’s darkness, one can move the cardboard sections slightly away from each other, thus increasing the “light gap.” During this period, the fry should remain free-swimming in the center of the tank. Any tendency to “head stand” should be enough indication that the light intensity is too high.
Clown Fish Habitat: The Rearing Tank
The rearing tank should ideally be a 7-10 gallon (20-40 liter) tank. The bottom and sides should be painted a dull black, or covered with tight fitting matt black cardboard sheets. (In nature, the light only shines from above, and the fry orientate themselves accordingly. Even the slightest bit of light shining through a side panel will cause the fry to cluster around it, trying to swim through the glass. In doing this, they miss out on food, and invariably die). There should be no substrate, and the heater’s pilot light should also be covered (or painted over), else the fry will cluster around the heater.
There should be no filtration in the tank until the fry are at least 3 weeks old. Water movement in the tank should be accomplished by one or two airlines, discharging air from the bottom. During the first 3-4 days air should be pumped through the lines without using an air stone, as the small bubbles tend to “capture” the fry, and cause them to float on the water’s surface. This is a sure way to kill them.
Just allow VERY GENTLE aeration, like one or two bubbles per second!
Continued… in “Breeding Clown Fish, Part Three“
Featured Image Credit: Sebastian Pena Lambarri, Unsplash