Tip of the Day – 1/24/2014

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Here’s one of those rules to live by that many hobbyists tend to break on a regular basis. Clownfish are hugely popular in the aquarium trade, and they’ve pretty much always been, even before ‘Finding Nemo’. Many aquarists buy these fish in pairs, for some reason they are so heavily marketed as such, but a lot also buy several more. It’s not uncommon for a hobbyist to have 4-6 clownfish in a single aquarium, and we regularly see people mix species. Unfortunately, this never ends well. Clownfish are very friendly when they are young. They do well with every fish in the tank, even other clownfish. But as they get older, their natural instincts to assert dominance usually lead to significant fighting, often leading to a single juvenile turning into a large, dominant female that terrorizes everything else in the tank. This is particularly common among maroon clowns, but also prevalent in the more docile species. Long story short, it is recommended that you keep clownfish singly, or as a pair from the same species. Do not mix clown species, even in large tanks.

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  • eatbreakfast

    This is actually only a partially true tip. Clown fish are actually colonial in the wild, and unlike many schooling fish, such as anthias or fairy wrasses, clown fish sociality is limited to a very small area.
    The issue people have with mixing more than a pr has to do with the
    maturity of the fish. In colonies in the wild is there is only 1 male
    and only 1 female, the rest of the colony is made up of juveniles that
    are kept being juveniles by the sexed pr. This can be replicated in an
    aquarium as long as there is only 1 male and 1 female and the rest are
    juveniles. The difficulty arises in making sure the rest are truly
    juveniles.

    Also, since the territory of a clown fish is also
    quite limited, usually more than 1 pr of the smaller, more docile
    species can be kept in the same tank if it is 4ft or longer and a pr
    doesnt choose a spot in the middle of the tank. I would probably only try this with species in the ocellaris or skunk complex.

    I have had experience with both situations in multiple tanks and it doesnt just sometimes work or usually work, it always works as long as done as proscribed above.

  • Wesley Devers

    And one other thing……they really aren’t that funny.