The Cinnamon Clownfish makes a “spicy” addition to the saltwater aquarium!

The adult Cinnamon Clownfish Amphiprion melanopus looks as if it is bathed in spice. Most will be red or dull reddish brown with black on the body, pelvic and anal fins. The dorsal and pectoral fins are reddish orange and the tailfin is yellow. They will have either a blue or white head bar. Juveniles are a burnt orange color overall with three bars, but two of them will fade as they mature.

Depending on the locations where they originate from there are some variations in adult coloration. These individuals range from reddish orange overall with no black on the body to simply having a black spot. Some may also have red pelvic and anal fins, and the bar on the head may be missing. These color forms are more rare in the hobby, yet with all this variability this species has been dubbed with a number of common names. These include Dusky Anemonefish, Red and Black Anemonefish, Blackback Anemonefish, Black Anemonefish, Fire clownfish, and simply Melanopus Anemonefish.

The Cinnamon Clownfish belongs to a group of anemonefish known as the “Tomato Complex”. Its close relative the Tomato ClownfishAmphiprion frenatus is a popular member of this group. In contrast to it, the Cinnnamon Clownfish are not as brilliantly colored, nor are they as big. Female Tomato Clowns can reach up to 5 1/2″ (14 cm) in length while a Cinnamon female will only grow to about 4.7″, and males are .4 to .8″ (1-2 cm) smaller. These anemonefish are also about an inch smaller than most of the Clarkii Complex clownfish. But like the Clarkii anemonefish, they are also are known to wander further away from their host anemone.

In the wild, their preferred anemone host is the colonial type of Bubble Tip AnemoneEntacmaea quadricolor. These are an anemone that splits fairly often and then they hang out together. Large male/female pairs are found in the center of the colonies with smaller juveniles hiding from the dominant pair on the outer edges. They are known to even chase Clark’s Clownfish out of their anemone temporarily. Not because the Cinnamon Clownfish wants the anemone, but just because they are in the neighborhood. In the aquarium they are very aggressive if kept with an anemone, and will even “bite the hand that feeds them!”

These clowns are easy to care for and make a great fish for beginners and experts alike. There are no real complicated habitat set ups that are needed. Provide them with a tank that is at least 30 gallons for one, and 40 gallons or more will be needed for a pair or if you are going to want to add other fish to the tank. They are also great in the reef aquarium. With or without an anemone, they will need live rock, properly sized power heads, a skimmer is suggested on a larger tank. and regular water changes. Provide an area in the tank where the water is calm so they can feed easily.

These are some of those bullet-proof clownfish. They have been known to survive tank crashes and easily respond to medication for various illnesses. Do not house them with very passive companions in smaller tanks. They will harass peaceful gobies and other similar fish. In a larger tank, add the Cinnamon Clownfish first and then you can house them with aggressive fish like Triggers and large Angelfish. They should not be housed with dottybacks, but line wrasses are okay in large tanks. Although aggressive, they don’t tend to bother with other fish unless the tankmates get too close to their anemone. They can be kept singly or as a male/female pair, but it is not a good idea to put other clownfish in with them since they will be attacked.

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

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.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Pomacentridae
  • Genus: Amphiprion
  • Species: melanopus
Cinnamon Clownfish – Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gal (114 L)
  • Size of fish – inches: 4.7 inches (11.99 cm)
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8&deg C)
  • Range ph: 7.8-8.4
  • Diet Type: Omnivore
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Cinnamon Clownfish Amphiprion melanopus were first described by Bleeker in 1852. They are found in the Pacific Ocean, in Indonesia from Bali then eastward to the southern part of the Philippines, New Guinea, Queensland Australia, New Britain, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa Islands, Society Islands, Caroline Islands, Marianas, Kiribati and the Marshal Islands. They have not yet been evaluated by IUCN Red List for endangered species.

Other common names this species is known by include Dusky Anemonefish, Red and Black Anemonefish, Melanopus Anemonefish, Blackback Anemonefish, Black Anemonefish, as well as Fire Clownfish. These names are descriptive of the various color variations or level of black they have in their bodies.

The Cinnamon Clownfish belongs to a group of six described anemonefish known as the “Tomato Complex”. Besides the Cinnamon Clown, four other longstanding members of this complex are the Tomato ClownfishAmphiprion frenatus, Red Saddleback or Fire Clownfish Amphiprion ephippium, McCulloch’s or Whitesnout Clownfish Amphiprion mccullochi, and the Australian or Ruby Clownfish Amphiprion rubrocinctus. There is also a newly identified species originating from Fiji. They were once regarded as an aberrant red color form of the Cinnamon Clown A. melanopus but are now have the recently validated scientific name of Amphiprion barberi, with the common names of Fiji Barberi Clownfish, Barberi Clownfish and Fiji Clownfish.

All mature members of this complex have a single stripe behind the eye area, with the exception of the Red Saddleback or Fire Clownfish Amphiprion ephippium, which has no striping. All members, especially the females, are large with an oval, deep-bodied shaped and a strong build. These fish are the most aggressive of the clownfish complexes.

The Cinnamon Clownfish prefer lagoons and outer reefs and are found at depths between 3.3 to 59 feet (1-18 m). They feed mainly on planktonic copepods and algae, but will also consume barnacle appendages, tunicate larvae, sea spiders, crustaceans, worms and their own fish eggs if they are infected.

The Bubble Tip AnemonesEntacmaea quadricolor Is their preferred anemone host, , especially the colonial strain that is always splitting. Less often it can be found associated with a Magnificent or Ritteri AnemoneHeteractis magnifica and the Sebae AnemoneHeteractis crispa. In the wild, large male/female pairs are found in the center of the colonies. Sub adults and juveniles live solitary lives and on rare occasions share a very large anemone with an adult, although occuping the outer edges, mostly out of sight.

  • Scientific Name: Amphiprion melanopus
  • Social Grouping: Varies – Large adults are seen as a male/female pair, but they are solitary as juveniles and sub adults.
  • IUCN Red List: NE – Not Evaluated or not listed


The Cinnamon Clownfish has a deep oval body and a sturdy build. It is similar in shape to the Clarkii complex, but will only grow to 4.7†(12 cm) inches, which is about an inch shorter than most of them. Females are .4†to .8†larger than males. They are estimated to have a lifespan of about 17 years.

The coloring of most adults will be red or dull reddish brown with black on the body, pelvic, and anal fins. The amount of black on the body can be variable. They may have a light a coating at the very top of their body or the black can extend from behind the white band, diagonally toward the anal fin area. Some color varieties do not have a black saddle on their body at all. These specimens are found in Fiji, Tonga, Society Islands and the Coral Sea.

Cinnamon Clownfish, Amphiprion melanopus
Cinnamon Clownfish Amphiprion melanopus

There is a single wide band behind the eye area that reaches from the top of the head to the chin. It can be either blue or white. The dorsal and pectoral fins are reddish orange and the tailfin is yellow.

Some varieties may have red pelvic and anal fins, and on some the bar on the head may be missing, but these color forms are more rare in the hobby.

Young juveniles have 3 stripes but the 2 on the body will fade as they mature, leaving just one on the head. Females at times will have a lighter coloring in their face, which is similar to juveniles.

The Cinnamon Clownfish is most similar to two of its close relatives in the Tomato Complex:

  • Tomato Clownfish A. frenatus: The only distinctive coloration difference between the two species is that there is no black on the Tomato. Yet Cinnamon Clownfish from Fiji also have no black so distribution becomes a identifying factor. You can also look at their eyes, the Cinnamon has darker eyes and the Tomato Clownfish seems to have more of a visible “pupil†most of the time.
  • Red Saddleback or Fire Clownfish A. ephippium: This fish has black only at the back 1/3 of the body and does not have a white stripe by the head.

The Cinnamon Clownfish is known to hybridize with the Tomato Clownfish A. frenatus and the Fire Clownfish A. ephippium causing color morphs that can be confusing! A fish labeled as a Tomato Clownfish may have a little black on their upper back or mid body, which is characteristic of older or large female Tomoato Clowns, but can be mistaken for a Cinnamon Clownfish.

  • Size of fish – inches: 4.7 inches (11.99 cm)
  • Lifespan: 17 years – These are hardy, long lived anemonefish that can have a lifespan of 17 years or more.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

These clownfish are very hardy and easy to care for. Beginner aquarists will find success with the Cinnamon Clownfish as a first attempt in the saltwater hobby. However even though they are quite “bullet proof”, poor water quality will still cause illness and disease. Doing normal water changes, feeding them a variety of foods and having proper tank mates will keep your anemonefish living a good long life.

These clownfish associate with an anemone in the wild, but they are perfectly content without one in the aquarium These clowns are just as happy finding find refuge in the rockwork. To attempt an anemone though, it is best to wait until your tank is at least 6 months old before adding this clownfish to gain experience with testing and adding calcium, magnesium and other supplements. If keeping within an anemone, providing the proper sized tank for the specific anemone you are keeping opens up your choices of tank mates, including fish like Triggers.

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

Foods and Feeding

The Cinnamon Clownfish are omnivores. In the wild, they feed on filamentous algae and planktonic copepods along with some barnacle appendages, tunicate larvae, sea spiders, crustaceans, worms, and heir own fish eggs if they are infected. Provide variety in their diet that includes meaty foods such as frozen mysis and brine shrimp, finely chopped fish and shrimp flesh, and any frozen/thawed prepared foods.

They will eat some algae in the tank, but not to a great extent. So they should also be fed flake foods and pellets with Spirulina added, especially if there is not enough algae in the tank for them to feed on. As a treat you can feed them live feeder shrimp you have feed nutritious foods to first.

Feed adults twice a day and juveniles 3 to 4 times a day, whatever they will consume in about 3 minutes, even in a reef setting. This is especially important to keep your copepods population from becoming diminished. Provide an area in the tank where the water is not too strong, so they can feed easily.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore – Use products with Spirulina added if there is not enough algae in the tank.
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet / Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet – Not necessary but may be beneficial to condition them for spawning. You can feed them very small feeder shrimp that are gut loaded with nutritious food.
  • Vegetable Food: Half of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Half of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day – Feed adults twice a day and juveniles 3 to 4 times a day.

Aquarium Care

These clownfish are hardy and fairly easy to keep. They do well when provided good water conditions and a well maintained tank. 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. A minimum tank size of 30 gallons is needed for one of these larger and more active clownfish. If keeping a pair, provide a slightly larger tank, 40 gallons or more, especially if you want to add other fish. This fish is bold and will swim to the surface to eat once accustomed to its home.

They need open space for free swimming, but also need nooks and crannies to retreat into. They will appreciate a host anemone, but it isn’t essential. Often they will use a coral or other invertebrate, or even a rock structure, as a substitute. Cinnamon Clownfish are not really picky if there is no anemone present. They have been observed with Large Polyped Stony Corals (LPS), soft corals, mushroom corals and at times temporarily hiding within Acropora corals. They will even hang out with a power heads if there are no corals. A saltwater aquarium well decorated with rocks/ corals will provide it with many places for retreat.

Water movement is not a significant factor, but it needs at least one area with slow circulation in the tank to feed. This species lives in tropical areas, so maintaining aquarium water temperatures between 72° to 82° F (22 – 27° C) works 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.

The clownfish has no special lighting requirements though if kept with an anemone there will need to be strong lighting. Also if attempting to keep it with an anemone, a tank that is at least 50 gallons or larger will be needed, depending on the requirements of the particular anemone. Anemones also need good water quality and the tank should be well established, meaning 6 months to a year old. They will swim on all levels, but if there is a host present, they will spend the majority of their time in it or close to it, and they will become very aggressive towards tankmates.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gal (114 L) – A minimum of 30 gallons is needed for a single specimen, with 40 gallons or more suggested for a pair. If keeping it with an anemone a larger tank of 55 gallons or more will be needed.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Sometimes – As a juvenile a nano tank is acceptable, but 30 gallons is needed as an adult.
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Amount – 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: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 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 82° F (26° – 28°C).
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG
  • Range ph: 7.8-8.4
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Any – Provide areas in the tank with calmer waters for feeding.
  • Water Region: All – If they have a hosting anemone or coral they tend to stay in the same vicinity, but will also stray from the anemone to chase other fish.

Social Behaviors

As with any clownfish, Cinnamon Clowns are at home in a reef setting, but also do well in a fish only set up. These clownfish are considered semi-aggressive, and are especially scrappy in smaller tanks. From a “clownfish aggression†scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being most aggressive, they are about an 8, which climbs to a 9 when there is an anemone present. Using gloves when putting your hands into their tank to move a rock is recommended since they will draw blood even at a 3 inch size!â€

Cinnamon Clownfish are second in aggression only to the Maroon Clownfish and should never be housed with any other clownfish. They will attack other passive fish as well as smaller anemonefishes. They are best kept singly or as a proven male/female pair. Although they tolerant of same species juvenile clownfish, the adults will pursue and attack any adult clownfish beyond the male/female pair. Also avoid keeping it with damsels unless the tank is very large.

You can house it with most other fish except those who are large enough to swallow it. Dottybacks are an exception and should never be in the same tank with them. If keeping it with large angelfish, triggers, perches or other territorial fish, add this clownfish first. The only invertebrate threats are some occasional copepods if they are not well fed, and sometimes smaller shrimp.

  • Compatibility with other Clownfish:
    There are about 29 species of clownfish known for their “singing†which consists of chirps and pops made with their teeth and amplified with their jaws! They use various combinations when they are being attacked or are attacking. 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.
  • Compatible host anemones:
    The relationship between a clownfish and their host sea anemone is known as symbiosis, where they provide benefits to one another. The immunity of the clownfish to the sting of an anemone’s tentacles allows them to dwell in this host, preventing larger fish who would otherwise eat the clownfish from getting at them. The bright coloration of the clownfish may also alert tell the predator that they will be stung if they get too close. The clownfish will, in turn protect its host from fish that eat anemones. In fact, a study was done in the wild, where they removed clownfish from the anemones, and these anemones were quickly attacked by various fish. The clownfish will also clean off debris, snack on the remnants of any meal the anemone has captured and provide the anemone “nutrition” in the form of waste that the clownfish produce.

    In the wild, the Cinnamon Clownfish is most often seen hosted by the Bubble Tip Anemones Entacmaea quadricolor. It is also occasionally seen associated with a Sebae Anemone Heteractis crispa, and on rare occasions, a Magnificent or Ritteri Anemone Heteractis magnifica. Though sea anemones are a striking addition to any reef aquarium, they are more challenging to keep. When kept with an anemone, the Cinnamon Clownfish will not venture far from their host, but these clown are known to be aggressive and will swim out to chase away other fish. In the aquarium they will also use certain Large Polyped Stony Corals (LPS) and large mushroom corals as a substitute host, but they pose no threat to corals.

Be cautious adding Condy Anemones Condylactis gigantea. These are very mobile, predatory anemones, and are not a “clown hosting anemoneâ€. 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!â€.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive – They are about an 8 on a clownfish aggression scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most aggressive, but will increase to 9 when an anemone is present.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: No – Keep singly or in a male/female pair only.
    • Peaceful fish (gobies, dartfish, assessors, fairy wrasses): Monitor – May harass smaller peaceful fish. Add these fish before adding the Cinnamon Clownfish and in a tank that is at least 55 gallons with plenty of places for them to hide.
    • Semi-Aggressive (anthias, clownfish, dwarf angels): Monitor – Do not house with other clownfish.
    • Monitor – Dottybacks should be housed alone due to their aggression. Damselfish are okay with clownfish 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 Cinnamon Clownfish before adding these fish.
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (lionfish, groupers, soapfish): Threat – Do not keep with fish large enough to swallow the clownfish whole.
    • Threat – These fish are too peaceful to be kept with Cinnamon Clownfish.
    • Anemones: Safe – Prefers the Bubble Tip Anemone, but may also associate with the Magnificent and Sebae Anemones. Be cautious adding Condylactis anemones. These are are very mobile, predatory anemones rather than being “clown hosting anemoneâ€. Caution with Carpet Anemones for similar reasons.
    • Mushroom Anemones – Corallimorphs: Safe – Large mushrooms such as Elephant Ear Mushrooms (Amplexidiscus fenestrafer) can trap and eat young very small clownfish. Other small species are safe.
    • LPS corals: Safe – At times will use certain corals as hosts if anemones are not present. Make sure the coral stays open and feeds.

    • 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 – Cinnamon Clowns may eat small shrimp like Snapping Shrimp that are found with Shrimp Gobies or small decorative shrimp like Sexy Shrimp.
    • Starfish: Safe
    • Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Safe
    • Clams, Scallops, Oysters: Safe
    • Copepods, Amphipods, Mini Brittle Stars: Safe – May eat a larger number of Copepods and Amphipods if not feed several times a day.

Sex: Sexual differences

Females are .4†to .8†(1-2 cm) larger than males, and can have a pale to white face.

Breeding / Reproduction

Cinnamon Clownfish have been bred in captivity and are one of the easiest clowns to breed. Though the hatch rate is low they are one of the easier species of clownfish to raise through the larval stage. They could be likened to the “rabbits†of the saltwater community.

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. However these clowns have their own particular twist. The Cinnamon Clownfish are known to wander further away from their host anemone than other clowns. Males in the wild are known to displace smaller males and take over the female before a subadult has a chance to change sex.

Clownfish displays performed during courting, depending on the pair, include leaning away from each other so their ventral surfaces are close and leaning towards each other with their dorsal surfaces close. All the while shaking their heads and/or one or both may engage in head standing. Clownfish do not spawn their entire lives, and will stop spawning several years before their live expectancy is over.

The Cinnamon Clownfish will spawn when the water temperature is 79° F or higher. Several days prior to spawning, the male starts to bite at the substrate in increasing frequency and intensity to attract the female. During this time the female belly swells with eggs and may join him in the substrate biting, but not necessarily.

Once the pair has decided on a spawning site, they will meticulously clean the surface for proper egg adhesion. The area is generally close to the anemone, which provides the protection of its tentacles. Just before spawning, if the eggs are near the tentacles, the clownfish pair will pick at the anemone to cause it to retract, exposing the full spawning site. The female presses her belly against the surface then quivers and drags herself slowly along the surface, leaving a trail of red eggs and will continue this in a circular pattern until she has laid all of her eggs. The male will then come up behind her and fertilize the eggs.

Spawning occurs two or three hours after the sun sets for the day and will last about 1 1/2 hours with the clutch of eggs numbering on average between 172 to 339 eggs, with an average of 249 depending on the size of the female. The bright red eggs are fanned and mouthed to keep them free of fungal infections, debris, and to keep them well oxygenated as they develop. The red eggs are fanned and mouthed to keep them free of fungal infections, debris, and to keep them well oxygenated as they develop. The hatch rate is low for the Cinnamon Clownfish, but the survival rate of larvae is high.

Within 7-8 days, depending on water temperature, the eggs will hatch 1 to 1.5 hours after sunset. By the 8th day after hatching, they metamorphosis into post-larval fish. Then they start to look like very small versions of their parents. although they have a two mid-body stripes that disappear as they age. They are actually one of the easiest if not easiest clowns to breed in captivity as far as survival rate of the larvae go.

Within 8 to 10 days, depending on water temperature, the eggs will hatch 1 to 1.5 hours after sunset. By the 8th day after hatching, they metamorphosis into post-larval fish. Then they start to look like very small versions of their parents. See general clownfish breeding techniques on the Breeding Marine Fish page.

  • Ease of Breeding: Moderate

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 Cinnamon Clownfish are moderate in price and readily available from pet stores, breeders, and online.


Featured Image Credit: Bram Gerinckx, Unsplash