Since clownfish are so popular, many people want to buy them for their home aquariums. If you’re new to the idea of keeping a fish tank in your house, then you likely want to start out with the easiest type of aquarium possible.
Freshwater aquariums are so much easier to take care of than saltwater fish tanks. Saltwater fish tanks aren’t impossible for beginners to come to terms with, but they do require a lot more attention and care.
You have probably heard that clownfish are considered to be saltwater fish. If you have your heart set on getting some clownfish for your home, then will that mean that you must get a saltwater fish tank setup?
Can clownfish live in freshwater under certain conditions? Or is this simply not possible?
Keep reading to learn about clownfish and whether or not they can tolerate freshwater. This will ensure that you know everything that you need to know so that you can care for clownfish properly.
Are There Freshwater Clownfish?
Sadly, there aren’t any clownfish that are capable of living in freshwater. This means that you will not be able to take care of clownfish in a freshwater tank.
If you were to try to keep clownfish in a freshwater tank, then they would simply die. You wouldn’t be able to keep the fish alive without them being in a saltwater tank that has been properly set up.
You might be wondering why it is that saltwater fish such as clownfish cannot live in freshwater. Simply put, it’s because their bodies have high concentrations of salt solution.
The salt concentration in their bodies will be so high that they will wind up bloating when placed in freshwater. The bloating will continue to get worse until the saltwater fish dies.
This happens because the cells of the fish accumulate so much water. The water just keeps flowing into their bodies, and this wouldn’t happen under normal saltwater conditions.
As you can tell, putting a clownfish in a freshwater tank would truly be cruel. This is not something that you want to do.
If you wish to keep clownfish in your home, then it’s going to be necessary to learn how to set up a saltwater tank. This is going to be a bit tough for a beginner to do, but you can learn if you’re dedicated enough.
Why Do Clownfish Need Saltwater?
Clownfish need saltwater because they cannot survive in freshwater. As mentioned above, placing a clownfish in freshwater is going to kill it over time.
The fact that the clownfish has a body that contains so much salt works against it when it’s placed in freshwater. It can’t handle the freshwater, and it’ll continue to flow into its body.
This causes the water to keep accumulating, and the fish will start to bloat. Eventually, the clownfish is going to bloat so much that it’ll simply die.
If you don’t want to kill a poor clownfish for no reason, then you should never place it in freshwater. It’s necessary to properly prepare a saltwater tank to take care of this type of fish in your home.
Knowing this ahead of time should allow you to avoid making a costly mistake. You’d feel bad if you caused a clownfish harm for no reason, and now you know not to even try keeping a clownfish in a freshwater tank.
Why Are Some Fish Able to Adapt to Freshwater and Saltwater?
There’s a chance that you might have heard that some fish are capable of adapting to both freshwater and saltwater. Some fish are capable of living in either a saltwater tank or a freshwater tank.
After learning about the information above, you’re aware that clownfish are not among the fish that can adapt to freshwater. The only fish that can do this are known as euryhaline fish.
Euryhaline fish are able to adapt to different levels of salinity. Standard fish aren’t able to do this because they have only adapted to live in freshwater or saltwater.
One of the most common examples of a euryhaline fish is the molly fish. Mollies are common sights in many aquariums, and they make good tank mates for many different fish in community tank settings.
Marine organisms such as clownfish are much different than euryhaline fish. They’ll die really fast when exposed to freshwater, but euryhaline fish have adapted to be able to survive in both environments.
To put it as simply as possible, some fish have evolved differently, and this allows them to live in either freshwater or saltwater. The vast majority of marine fish will not be capable of doing this, and the same is true for the vast majority of freshwater fish.
How Do Saltwater Tanks Differ From Freshwater Tanks?
Saltwater tanks are significantly different from freshwater tanks. If you’re still new to the world of taking care of fish tanks, then you might not understand what the differences between the two types of tanks are yet.
Freshwater tanks are significantly easier to take care of. If you’re someone who is just getting into fish tanks, then it’s recommended to stick with freshwater tanks.
This is partially because it’s easier to figure out how to maintain them. There are extra things to worry about when you’re taking care of saltwater tanks.
You’ll also want to consider the fact that saltwater tanks are more expensive to purchase, set up, and maintain. You’re going to need more equipment to keep a saltwater tank setup going.
The most obvious difference between these two tanks will be the water system. In a freshwater tank, you simply have to prepare the water and keep the right pH balance for the fish that you’re caring for.
When you have a saltwater tank to worry about, you’re also going to be concerned with the salinity of the water. Running a saline system requires different equipment than running a freshwater system.
You’re going to wind up needing a ton of equipment for your saltwater tank setup. You’ll need standard pieces of equipment such as the fish tank itself, a water filter, a heater, and aquarium lighting.
It’s also going to be necessary to purchase things such as dosing units and reactors. You’ll need fish acclimation equipment, water testing kits, water purification, and much more.
In some cases, getting set up for a saltwater fish tank will cost hundreds or thousands of dollars more. If you’re on a budget, then sticking with a freshwater tank is a much better bet.
Why Saltwater Tanks Are Harder to Maintain
You might be able to guess some of the reasons why saltwater tanks are harder to maintain already. For instance, it’s going to give you more things to worry about than a freshwater tank does.
Monitoring the salinity, or the specific gravity, of the fish tank will be important. You’ll wind up having to use additional equipment to keep everything balanced, and this is going to take up more of your time.
The maintenance that is required for saltwater tanks will be more to deal with than a freshwater tank. You’ll wind up spending more time cleaning and maintaining the tank than usual.
You still need to change out the water on a weekly basis for the purpose of cleanliness. However, doing so is going to be tougher since there are extra steps involved.
It’s also necessary to use special lighting when you’re running a saltwater tank setup. All of this combines to create an experience that is difficult for beginners.
When you’re new to taking care of fish tanks, you’re likely going to make mistakes. Freshwater tanks and freshwater fish are generally a lot more forgiving than their saltwater counterparts.
Knowing this, you’ll have to decide whether or not you’re up for the challenge. If you’re very interested in clownfish, then you might be driven to put in the work to get good at taking care of a saltwater tank.
If you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to this hobby, then it might be better to look for an easier option. This is especially true if you’re the only one in the house who is going to be looking after the fish tank.
The Cost Matters
It’d be hard not to consider the cost when looking into saltwater tank setups. You’ve already learned a bit about how saltwater tanks are more expensive than freshwater ones.
You’ll need to purchase a fair number of extra pieces of equipment for your saltwater tank setup. This is going to equate to hundreds of extra dollars being spent.
In some cases, you might spend 1,000 dollars more than you would on a freshwater tank setup. These saltwater tanks are more expensive to maintain, and not everyone has that type of money to dedicate to this hobby.
It’s also notable that many types of saltwater fish will be on the pricey side. Some of the prettiest and most colorful saltwater fish will cost a lot of cash.
Even clownfish are going to cost you more money than an average freshwater fish. You’ll likely be paying 50 dollars or more for many of the most colorful clownfish.
There are much more expensive fish than that as well. For example, many marine angelfish will cost hundreds of dollars for just one fish.
Keep all of this in mind when you’re making your decision about what is right for you. It might wind up being more practical to get a freshwater tank with colorful fish that will be appealing.
Saltwater tanks have the potential to be very satisfying, but they might not fit into your budget depending on the situation. Take an honest look at things and try to price things out ahead of time so that you know what to expect.
Otherwise, you’re going to wind up being blindsided by the cost. Keeping aquariums should be a fun hobby that brings you joy.
Saltwater aquariums have the potential to be such great additions to your home, but only if you’re ready to take on the responsibility. Consider the difficulty and the cost before you commit to bringing clownfish into your home.
Are Clownfish Hard to Care for?
What if you’re not a complete newbie when it comes to caring for fish tanks? Perhaps you have a bit of experience and you understand the responsibility of taking care of a saltwater fish tank.
Will caring for clownfish be a difficult thing to do? Not really.
Clownfish are actually considered to be quite hardy, and this means that they’re good fish for beginners. If you’re still relatively new to taking care of saltwater fish tanks, then you’ll have a good time with the clownfish.
They’re hardy enough that they’ll be able to put up with things if you make a few mistakes. It’s also nice that the water parameters are pretty straightforward.
So long as you remember to keep the fish tank in good condition, it’s likely that the clownfish will thrive. These fish like to live in water where the temperature is kept between 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
The pH balance of the water should remain between 7.8 and 8.4. The specific gravity of the water needs to stay between 1.021 and 1.026 so that the fish can remain healthy.
If you’re doing your best to keep an eye on the water parameters, then there’s a good chance that the clownfish will thrive in your tank for a long time. In fact, these fish can live between ten and fifteen years in a fish tank setting.
Of course, you’ll have to keep caring for the clownfish really well to keep them alive that long. Knowing to take care of the water properly is a good start toward making this happen.
Feeding the Clownfish Right
Feeding the clownfish right shouldn’t be all that tough when you know what you’re doing. These fish should be able to eat simple fish flakes that have enough protein for them to thrive.
Marine fish flakes should be perfect for these fish. You just want to be sure not to feed the fish more than you’re supposed to.
Ideally, you should be feeding the clownfish once or twice per day. Whenever you feed the fish, you want to give them as much food as they can finish in around two minutes.
If it’s taking the fish longer than two minutes to finish all of the food, then you’re giving them more than you’re supposed to. Try to avoid feeding the fish more than you should since it’ll cause issues.
When clownfish eat too much food, it makes it so that they will become constipated. This is problematic because it can lead to swim bladder issues.
In case you don’t know, many fish have an organ that is known as a swim bladder. It helps fish to regulate buoyancy, and it makes it easier for them to swim around properly in the water.
This can happen when a fish gets bloated from eating too much. The constipation leads to bloating, and the swollen belly of the fish will push down on the swim bladder.
It’s definitely not a good thing, but it’s something that can be solved. You can feed the fish a boiled pea and it’ll cause them to poop a lot to alleviate the constipation issues.
Avoid having this happen at all by just feeding the fish the right amount of food. Eventually, you should get pretty good at feeding your clownfish without going overboard.
Knowing more about this topic will allow you to make a decision. You have to decide whether getting clownfish will be the right choice for you or not.
For some, it’s not going to be a practical decision. While clownfish aren’t necessarily hard to take care of, it’s a lot of responsibility to maintain a saltwater aquarium.
Beginners will often feel like they aren’t capable of keeping up with saltwater fish tanks. It involves a lot more maintenance, and it’s also going to be more expensive than purchasing what you need for a freshwater aquarium setup.
Sadly, clownfish cannot be kept in a freshwater aquarium setup. If you were to place a clownfish in a freshwater aquarium, then it’d wind up bloating, and it’d eventually die.
This means that you should never put a clownfish in a freshwater aquarium since it’d be cruel to do so. These fish can’t adapt to freshwater since they require the salinity of the saltwater to thrive.
Most fish adapt to a specific environment. Some fish, such as euryhaline fish are capable of living in both saltwater and freshwater.
Keep all of this in mind and figure out what you want to do. If you have enough money for a saltwater tank setup, then you might be ready to give it a shot.
Just remember that it’s a lot more work than taking care of a freshwater tank. If you’d like to have an easier time, then perhaps getting a freshwater tank with some angelfish will be a better choice for you.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.