Clownfish 101

advice and information on clownfish in marine aquariums

Clownfish are excellent aquarium residents. Adding clownfish or bonded pair to a marine aquarium works with virtually all other residents except for very large predators such as very large groupers, sharks or lionfish which can eat smaller fish.


Clownfish tend to be very territorial, but not aggressive. All the larvae are born males, and when one attains dominance of a territory, almost always being an anemone, it rapidly undergoes a hormonally driven transformation and becomes a female, a one-way trip. It then invites a male to become its mate, with a show of mild aggression, which invitation the male accepts with a sign of submission by sliding to its side and “shivering”.

The female grows larger than the male and defends the territory. The male tends to eggs, defends the eggs under the protection of the female, cleans out dead eggs, massages the eggs, and eventually, hatches the eggs just after sunset.

Natural Habitat

Clown fish are found in a wide range in warm seas ranging from Madagascar to the West, The Red Sea, Persian Gulf to the North and the Arabian Sea, to Fiji to the East, as far south as Lord Howe Island (which is about 400 miles Northeast of Sydney) and Japan to the North.  None are found in the Atlantic.  While most species have restricted distributions, others are widespread. Clown fish typically live at the bottom of shallow seas in sheltered reefs or in shallow lagoons.

Clownfish are not strong swimmers.  They can dart and move quickly but not fast nor far. To protect themselves, they hide in and use anemone for protection and evolved to develop a resistance to the stinging defense that the sea anemone uses to ward off hungry predators.


Clown fish are omnivores,  eating small invertebrates, algae and pick off the table scraps from their host anemone. Like all reef fish,  vibrant color expression is part of mating selection. We formulated SA Hatchery Diet to mimic the micro and macronutrients reef fish find in nature.   Feed your clownfish 1-2 times per day offering enough feed to be consumed in 2 minutes.

Our Collection

SA currently has collected about 28 of the species and developed methods to interbreed between species, creating  over 100 variants, which we call “Designer Clowns”.

Scientific Classification

Clownfish belong to the subfamily Amphiprioninae in the family Pomacentridae. There are about 30 species of clownfish. One is in the genus Premnas, while the remaining are in the genus Amphiprion. Here is a table from Wikipedia covering known species.

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