Pairing up a clownfish with an anemone is a task which many marine fish enthusiasts undertake each year. For many, the vision of a clownfish playfully and enthusiastically cuddling itself into the soft tentacles of an anemone for protection invokes a “feel good” moment and is often the driving force behind someone setting up their first marine aquarium at home. Getting this bond to happen in a home aquarium usually isn’t as simple as putting in some clownfish and an anemone so that “viola,” you have clowns bonded to a host. It will often take a little work on the part of the aquarium’s owner to increase the odds of such a symbiotic relationship occurring.
It Begins with the Anemone
When beginning to work toward a pairing of saltwater clowns with an anemone, it begins with the anemone. Doing some research on the particular type of clownfish you intend to keep prior to purchasing an anemone is in your best interest for success.
The Bubble Tip Anemone is often a good go-to anemone in most cases, since the majority of clownfish have a fairly good chance of setting up home with one, but always do your research first. Realize that anemones move around quite a bit, especially at first when being introduced to a new aquarium. You will not have a say on where the anemone decides to anchor its foot and call home.
Putting the anemone into the aquarium first is something I consider to be very important. If you put in an anemone after the clownfish, or at the same time as the clowns, then you may be dooming the anemone to death. The clownfish could go for the anemone right away, as they may end up beating the anemone to death before it can get settled. The clownfish won’t intend to kill the anemone, but clowns can be very enthusiastic about developing an immunity to the sting of the anemone. If they do that before the anemone has settled in and is stable, then the stress may result in a dead anemone. My recommendation is to keep the anemone for at least several weeks before introducing clownfish to the aquarium.
Adding Clownfish to the Aquarium
When it comes to the introduction of the clownfish, most aquarists will prefer to add two of the same type at the same time, both of them small. This allows for gender change and possible eventual pairing of the clowns, giving the possibility of possible future breeding behavior from the pair when they are adults. Adding just one, having it imprint on an anemone, and then adding a second clown down the road often doesn’t work out as well, since the clownfish already claiming the anemone will tend to be very protective of it and often aggressive toward other clowns. This is also a good reason to make sure an aquarium is appropriately large if you are planning to keep more than just the pair of clowns and anemone in it. Clownfish will defend their territory around the anemone against other saltwater fish, so you want to make sure the aquarium is plenty big enough to allow the clowns to have room and still give the other fish space to swim.
A clownfish will not always decide to use an anemone as a host, even when one is present, so it is not something that can be forced. However, choosing the proper type of anemone and following the guidelines in this article will help increase the odds of success for your attempt.
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