Clownfish Facts – Diet & Habitat Information

Clownfish are well-known and easily identifiable fish. There are many facts about these exciting fish. So, let’s get into some clownfish facts.

Amphiprioninae is the subfamily these fish belong to. They are also called anemonefish because they live inside sea anemones. There are 30 recognized species of clownfish.

This guide will take you through the most common questions about this exciting fish species.

Let’s dive in.



What size is a clownfish?

Clownfish are a small fish species. Adult clownfish can reach a length of 4.3 inches (11.0 cm).

Male clownfish are smaller than female clownfish and are, on average, 3 inches. Female clownfish are around 4 inches. They will reach this length at around two years of age.

A clownfish weighs ½ pound (226 grams). The largest clownfish species is the Gold Stripe Maroon Clownfish, 6 inches long and weighs three ounces.

What color is a clownfish?

The color of a clownfish depends on its species. The most common colors are yellow, orange, red, and black, with white detailing.

Their bright faces led to the nickname clownfish because it looks like the face painting of a clown. This coloration also allows clownfish to be easily identifiable.

Clownfish can also change color as they become an adult. Juveniles may change from an orange color to black.

Are male and female clownfish different?

Female clownfish are the largest and most dominant in the group and only mate with the second-largest and most aggressive fish, a male. This is the social hierarchy of the clownfish.

All clownfish are born males and possess both male and female organs. When the dominant female dies, the second-largest fish slowly becomes a female, gains weight, and eats more food.

The third largest fish will become the dominant male and begin mating with the female. This process is called sequential hermaphroditism.

The dominant male prevents the juveniles in the community from maturing and gaining weight, so they can’t mate with the female. This is to prevent competition, as there are too many predators on the reef to find mates.

How fast is a clownfish?

Clownfish aren’t good swimmers and stay in the anemone for protection against predators. When they swim, they often have erratic movements swimming very quickly and then slowing down.

They swim fastest at around 18 mph (25-30 kph). An average swimming speed for a clownfish is around three mph (4-5 kph).


How long does a clownfish live?

In the wild, clownfish can live up to 6-10 years. In captivity, they live an average of 3-5 years but can live up to 30 if taken care of.

Lifespan varies between clownfish species. Location can also alter lifespan, as research shows clownfish living near shore have a 36% higher chance of dying due to artificial light.

Are clownfish endangered?

The clownfish is in the Least Concern category by the IUCN assessment in 2010. Clownfish populations are stable globally and aren’t in danger.

The population sizes are unknown, but they are plentiful and widespread in their native habitats. Although, these populations may be at risk due to climate change in the future.

Are clownfish rare?

Some species of clownfish are considered to be rare. Clownfish can be bred to produce unique and “designer” fish that can sell for hundreds.

An example of a rare clownfish is the Picasso clownfish which is very rare in nature. These clownfish are bred to produce irregular stripes and can be graded based on their patterns.

Threats and predators

Do clownfish have predators?

They don’t have many predators as they live inside an anemone, which is poisonous and will sting any predators that attempt to attack it. Once they leave the anemone, they are in danger of being hunted by numerous predators.

One predator of the clown is the sea turtle. Many sea turtles eat clownfish, like the hawksbill, which hunts them in groups and eats them with its sharp beaks.

Other predators include larger fish and sharks. Seabirds such as the bald eagle eat clownfish close to the shore.

What threats do clownfish face?

Climate change is a significant threat to clownfish, alongside the increase in the ocean’s acidity. This is due to carbon dioxide poisoning and damages the anemone, causing clownfish to lose their habitats.

The water’s absorption of man-made carbon dioxide can affect their smell, sight, and hearing. Ocean acidification prevents juvenile clownfish from finding their homes and protecting themselves against predation.


Where do clownfish live?

Clownfish live in warm, deep waters inside reefs and lagoons. This includes the Red Sea, the Pacific Ocean, and the Indian.

They live in Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the Vanuatu coast. They build up to the toxins of the anemone by rubbing against it to form a mucus that protects them from the anemone’s poison.

Do clownfish migrate?

Adult clownfish only migrate during winter to warmer waters. Clownfish babies migrate long distances from where they were born to new homes.

Clownfish do not migrate to mate and stay within their social circles.

Diet And Foraging

What do clownfish eat in the wild?

Clownfish are opportunistic eaters and eat a wide range of live marine species. The clownfish diet consists of the following:

  • Algae
  • Black worms
  • Brine shrimp
  • Copepods
  • Krill
  • Mysis shrimp
  • Phytoplankton
  • Smelt
  • White worms
  • Zooplankton

Clownfish wait until the sea anemone has eaten and eat the leftovers, so they don’t have to forage themselves.

Sea anemone prey on plankton, small fish, and crustaceans by paralyzing them with a neurotoxin and capturing them with their tentacles.

The sea anemone and the clownfish work together to capture prey. The clownfish uses its bright colors to lure in the prey; then, the sea anemone poisons it with toxins.

What do clownfish eat in captivity?

Clownfish in captivity have a different diet than those living in the wild. This includes:

  • Brine
  • Frozen worms
  • Krill
  • Mussels in small amounts
  • Mysis
  • Nori
  • Prepared fish food
  • Smelt
  • Spinach
  • Squid pieces

Being held in captivity can be difficult for clownfish as they are territorial and have the instincts to live inside sea anemones.


How often do clownfish reproduce?

Clownfish lay eggs every 10 to 14 days. It takes 8 to 10 days for the eggs to hatch into larvae.

The female clownfish will only let the dominant male in the community fertilize the eggs. Female clownfish can be very aggressive and territorial.

Clownfish can lay up to 1,500 eggs every two weeks, ranging from 3 to 4 millimeters.

How long are clownfish pregnant?

Females will be pregnant for 10 to 14 days before she lays their eggs. There are many signs that a clownfish is pregnant, including a larger belly, aggressive behavior, lethargy, and nesting.

Expecting clownfish mothers have a protein-rich diet, including live food like bloodworms. She will then lay her eggs in a safe environment nearby the sea anemone and hidden from predators.

Do clownfish lay eggs?

Clownfish lay eggs every two weeks, 1,500 eggs in one session. Yielding about 400 in each pair, how many eggs clownfish lay depends on their species, age, and diet.

Breeding takes every so often each month. Clownfish prefer to breed in 30% salinity levels at temperatures of 77°F or higher.

How many babies do clownfish have?

In the wild, around 1 to 2 babies survive out of the 1,500 eggs laid. This is why clownfish lay lots of eggs in a short period of time.

The clownfish babies will then migrate to a different habitat when they are a week old.

When are clownfish born?

Clownfish are born every two weeks all year around. The eggs will hatch 8 to 10 days after fertilizing when the environment is safe, and the temperature is hot enough.

Where do clownfish have their babies?

Clownfish eggs are laid inside the sea anemone or on nearby rocks hidden from predators. They pick areas that they are familiar with and feel safe in.

While pregnant, the female will begin nesting and start cleaning a rock to prepare for laying the eggs.

Do clownfish mate for life?

Clownfish mate for life and stay in the same community until they die. The dominant female in the community will mate with the second-largest male until she dies.

Once she dies, the male will change into a female, and the third-largest will become the dominant male.

Baby clownfish

How big are baby clownfish?

Baby clownfish that have newly hatched are around 5mm in length. They are also transparent in color for protection against predators.

What do baby clownfish eat?

Baby clownfish need proteins to grow to a healthy, average size. They often feed on phytoplankton and other microorganisms.

Do clownfish care for their babies after birth?

Before the eggs hatch, the female will aggressively protect the eggs. After the fry hatch, they are left to fend for themselves.

They will then migrate to a new community and find a new habitat.


Do clownfish bite?

Clownfish bite and attack people who attempt to clean their habitat in aquariums. They also may attack while they are being fed.

They don’t like having anything inside their tanks. This is why gloves are essential when handling a clownfish tank.

Are clownfish aggressive?

Clownfish are naturally aggressive and territorial fish. Often they get mad at small things and begin to attack objects and other fish and bite humans.

They can get aggressive in confined spaces and when having the wrong tank mates, have poor tank setup, and have an improper diet.

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