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Clownfish Breeding Guide (Everything You Need to Know)

Clownfish Breeding Guide (Everything You Need to Know)

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Clownfish are so incredibly popular that many people want to be able to breed more of them. Buying clownfish can be very satisfying, but it can be even better to successfully breed the fish.

Of course, if you have no experience with breeding fish, then this might be a bit tough. Thankfully, you can learn everything that you need to know about clownfish breeding to make things much simpler.

Below, you’re going to be able to read a handy clownfish breeding guide. This will answer many common questions that people have about the clownfish breeding process.

Once you’ve read everything, you should feel significantly more confident about breeding clownfish. It might help you decide whether you want to try to do this or not based on your current tank situation.

Can Clownfish Breed in Captivity?

Yes, clownfish can breed in captivity. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s always going to happen.

Some types of clownfish are easier to breed in captivity than others. For example, it’s said that Percula clownfish are among the easiest to breed in a fish tank setting.

You might have trouble breeding clownfish if you don’t give them the right environment, though. Female clownfish will generally lay their eggs on a flat surface such as rocks.

If you don’t have flat rocks that will make for good breeding spots, then the clownfish might not lay eggs. It’s also true that clownfish often lay eggs in or around anemones that they are hosting.

Sometimes people will encounter issues with getting clownfish to bond as well. This is going to work best if you introduce the clownfish at the same time.

Bringing a clownfish in later to act as a potential mate for a clownfish might not work out. Clownfish are aggressive and fairly territorial, and they don’t like other clownfish invading their territory.

When you put two clownfish in the fish tank at the same time when they’re juveniles, they’re more likely to get along well and form a mating bond. As the clownfish mature, the size of the fish will determine which one will become the dominant female.

How Old Do Clownfish Have to Be to Breed?

Snow Onyx Clownfish Pair in Tropical Tank

Of course, clownfish aren’t going to be able to breed when they’re too young. When the clownfish are in a juvenile state, they won’t be ready to breed yet.

Typically, it’s going to take clownfish around one and a half years to reach breeding maturity. Sometimes it can take as long as two years for the fish to be ready to breed, though.

You’ll just have to look out for the signs to see how things are going. The larger fish of the group will be the dominant female, and the breeding male will be submissive to the female.

When the female is getting ready to release its eggs, you’ll notice that the middle portion of its body will become thicker than usual. Also, you might notice that both the male and female fish will begin cleaning an area of rocks to get ready to lay the eggs.

How Hard Is it to Breed Clownfish?

It’s not considered to be all that hard to breed clownfish. Most people would even go so far as to say that breeding clownfish will be fairly simple.

This doesn’t mean that it requires no thought, though. It’s going to be necessary to gain some knowledge about feeding the fish to get things right.

You’re also going to need to know a bit about the life cycles of these fish to know what to expect. This won’t be hard to learn, but you’ll need to go about doing things right to have the best experience when breeding clownfish.

As mentioned earlier, some clownfish will be a bit easier to breed in captivity as well. None of them should be considered to be exceptionally hard to breed, though.

How Long Does It Take to Breed Clownfish?

Two Ocellaris Clownfish Against a Blue Sea Anemone

This question is harder to answer because it depends on what you mean when asking it. Clownfish need to reach breeding maturity before they’re going to be capable of breeding.

Simply put, you’ll need to wait one and a half years into the lifespan of the clownfish for it to reach maturity. Sometimes this might take two years.

When the clownfish is ready, it should form a mating bond with another clownfish. The larger clownfish will be the female and the male will be the smaller submissive fish.

How long it takes two fish to form such a bond will vary. It’s not really possible to give you a reliable schedule for this, and this means that you’ll just have to pay attention.

When the female fish is ready to lay eggs, it’ll be thicker around the middle portion of its body. At this point, you should see both clownfish cleaning an area in the fish tank for the eggs.

Once the eggs have been laid, they’re going to hatch after eight to ten days have passed. It’s said that clownfish eggs always hatch in the evening, and you should expect some of the eggs to hatch one day and then other eggs to hatch the next day.

Clownfish are capable of spawning this way every ten to fourteen days. This means that they can keep breeding and producing eggs fairly regularly.

What Size Tank to Breed Clownfish?

You aren’t going to need to give the clownfish a larger tank than usual when you want them to breed. This means that the standard tank that you have them in should be just fine.

Each clownfish wants to have around ten gallons of space. Most people will decide to keep two clownfish in a 20-gallon fish tank.

If you have a 20-gallon fish tank for your clownfish, then that will be a perfectly fine tank for breeding. Of course, everything will go easier if the clownfish are in their own breeding tank and not a community tank.

Clownfish will breed in a community tank, but sometimes the presence of other fish might cause undue stress. It could make the clownfish panic and choose to eat more of its eggs than usual.

How Do Clownfish Mate?

Clownfish Pair in Anemone With Eggs

If you’re very new to learning about clownfish, then you might not even know how they mate yet. These fish aren’t live-bearers, and this means that the female is going to lay eggs.

A female will lay the eggs and then the male will pass over those eggs to spray them. The male sprays the eggs to fertilize them so that they will be viable.

Of course, this is only going to occur when two clownfish have reached breeding maturity. The dominant female needs to accept the submissive male as a breeding mate, too.

This process is something that clownfish can keep doing, too. A female clownfish is capable of laying between one hundred and one thousand eggs at once.

Not all of those eggs will wind up hatching, though. Often, a portion of the eggs won’t hatch, but you could have dozens or hundreds of clownfish fry in the tank at once if things go as well as possible.

How Often Do Clownfish Reproduce?

Your clownfish aren’t going to have to wait too long between spawning sessions. They can reproduce every ten to fourteen days once they’ve started the process.

This means that ten to fourteen days after the clownfish eggs have hatched you’ll be able to expect the female clownfish to lay eggs again. They don’t need a significant amount of time between spawning sessions.

Those who want to try to get as many baby clownfish as possible will be pleased by this. Your two breeding clownfish should be able to produce many clownfish fry over the course of a few years.

All you need to do is keep taking care of them properly. Feed them properly so that they have good nutrition and ensure that the water parameters are in the right range.

Do Clownfish Mate with Their Offspring?

Two Clownfish Swimming Near Anemone in Tank

It’s certainly possible that clownfish could mate with their offspring. This could or could not happen depending on various factors.

The dominant female clownfish is always going to mate with the largest male fish in the group. When one of these fish passes away, another fish in the group is going to replace the dead fish.

So if the female dies, then the non-dominant male winds up becoming the new female due to being the biggest male fish. The next biggest male fish becomes the new male breeding partner.

If the next largest male fish in the group happens to be the offspring of the original breeding pair, then that means that the clownfish will wind up mating with its offspring. It comes down to circumstances.

A clownfish won’t shy away from breeding with a fish because it happens to be its offspring. Of course, the offspring would have to be old enough so that it can breed.

You’ve already learned that clownfish can’t start breeding until they’re a year and a half old or older. Some clownfish take two years to reach breeding maturity.

How to Breed Clownfish

Breeding clownfish doesn’t have to be overly complicated. You’re just going to want to put a pair of clownfish in a breeding tank.

Prepare the tank so that the clownfish will have what they need. Feed them properly to ensure that they have the energy to breed as well.

Ideally, you’re going to want to have many smooth rocks with flat surfaces near the area where the clownfish like to hang out. This will wind up being the spot where the clownfish lays its eggs.

Another option is to put a breeding slate in the aquarium. This is something that is great for clownfish to lay eggs on, and it has the added benefit of being easily removable.

If you wind up wanting to care for the clownfish eggs yourself, then you can easily do so by putting the breeding slate in another tank. So long as the clownfish have good spots to lay eggs, they should breed as expected.

From the time the eggs have been laid, it’s supposed to take eight to ten days for the eggs to hatch. They’ll hatch at night and it’s normal for some eggs to hatch one night and other eggs to hatch the next night.

This process will continue to repeat itself fairly often. Your breeding clownfish will keep breeding together every ten to fourteen days.

Do Clownfish Eat Their Own Eggs?

Clownfish Mother Tending to Eggs

Sometimes stress might cause the breeding process to go bad. For example, the male clownfish might get stressed and choose to eat all or most of the eggs.

This shouldn’t occur if you’re taking care of the fish regularly. It’s normal for the clownfish to eat some of the eggs, though.

For instance, a male clownfish might need to eat certain eggs if they aren’t viable. Eggs that aren’t viable might grow bacteria or fungus.

This fungal or bacterial growth could spread to the other eggs and ruin the chances of them hatching. A male clownfish is in charge of protecting the eggs, and this means that it will be making decisions about what needs to be done.

It might choose to eat certain eggs for the sake of protecting the rest of the eggs. This doesn’t mean that clownfish won’t make mistakes and sometimes eat eggs that would have been fine, but it does show you that there is some reasoning behind the eggs being eaten.

Of course, clownfish will also choose to eat eggs sometimes as a way to gain energy. If the clownfish aren’t being fed properly, then they might feel the need to eat some of the eggs for survival purposes.

It’s unlikely that this will occur in a fish tank setting. You should be feeding the clownfish twice each day.

Remember to always feed your fish as much as they can eat in two minutes. Don’t feed them more than this or they could become constipated.

A clownfish that is being fed enough food should be less likely to eat eggs for no reason. However, it is possible that stress could cause the fish to panic.

Stress can make fish feel too panicked, and they’ll wind up making rash decisions. There are many things that can cause stress, such as water parameter issues, sudden light changes, issues with other fish, and more.

How to Tell If a Clownfish Is Pregnant

Clownfish are not live-bearing fish. This means that they don’t “get pregnant.”

What’s going to happen is that a female will start to produce eggs when it’s ready to mate. The female and the male will then start to prepare an area of rocks in the fish tank to ensure that it is ready for the eggs.

The clownfish will try to lay its eggs on a smooth area of rocks. Generally, this area will be near the spot where the clownfish like to hang out in the aquarium.

When the eggs have been laid, the male clownfish is going to pass over them. It will fertilize the eggs by spraying them so that they’re viable.

Now it’s just time to wait for eight to ten days. The male clownfish will protect the eggs and keep them clean during this period of time.

Raising Clownfish Fry

Saddleback Clownfish Eggs Found in Malaysia

Raising clownfish fry will be the toughest part of this process. You see, baby clownfish have a pretty low survival rate in the wild.

Clownfish parents don’t look out for their young like some other types of fish do. This means that they can easily be eaten by other fish.

Sometimes clownfish parents will even wind up eating their own babies. This might seem particularly cruel, but it’s just how things go in nature sometimes.

To get the best results when raising clownfish fry, it’s going to be best to put them in their own tank. Remember that clownfish fry will hatch from their eggs between eight and ten days after the eggs are laid.

They always hatch at night, too. It’s normal for some eggs to hatch one night and then others to hatch the next night as well.

You’ll need to keep your eyes open and try to scoop the clownfish fry up sometime after they’re hatched. It’s truly best to get them in their own tank fast so that the parent clownfish don’t wind up eating them.

Some people choose to collect the eggs and move them to a new tank just before they hatch. In some ways, this might be easier than scooping up the clownfish fry since they can be hard to collect.

If you decide to move the eggs to a rearing tank, then you’ll need to set up an air bubbler to give the eggs oxygen. This is very easy to do thankfully.

It’s also going to be necessary to tint the water with liquid algae. The final color of the water is supposed to be pretty green.

Clownfish fry won’t be able to eat the same food that normal clownfish do. They’re too small to eat the normal food options.

You’ll need to feed them rotifers instead. The clownfish fry should hunt the rotifers and they will have plenty to eat.

Keep a close eye on the water parameters so that the fish can survive. They should keep growing, and once they’re large enough, you’ll be able to care for them the same way that you do standard clownfish.

Do Clownfish Mate for Life?

The question of whether clownfish mate for life is an interesting one. You see, clownfish are indeed monogamous.

In a group of clownfish, there is going to be one dominant female and a non-dominant breeding male. In the wild, clownfish often live in groups of three to five.

The other fish in the group are going to be males that don’t breed. They’re just fish in the group that are lower in the “pecking order” than the two breeding fish.

You’ll find that the two breeding fish will keep on breeding together until one of them dies. In the wild, many different things could cause one of the fish to die.

One of the fish could get eaten or one could die due to natural causes. When one of the fish dies, it’ll be replaced by another fish in the group.

If the female dies, the non-dominant breeding male will change into the new female of the group. This process takes around two weeks, and it’ll then be able to mate with a male.

The new non-dominant breeding male will be whichever male fish in the group is the next biggest. When this bond has been formed, these two fish will continue mating until one of them passes away.

Things will just keep going like this in the wild. You can get a clownfish in your fish tank to take a new partner as well, but sometimes it’s problematic trying to introduce a new clownfish to the tank.

You’ll always need to put a smaller clownfish in the tank for things to go well. Enthusiasts also recommend introducing the new clownfish at night to reduce the risk of encountering problems.

Final Thoughts

You’ve learned a lot about clownfish at this point. You should feel as though you have the necessary information to know what to expect when trying to breed these fish.

While clownfish aren’t difficult to breed, it’s going to be imperative to give them what they need. They need to be kept in a good environment or they won’t be as likely to breed.

This means keeping an eye on the water parameters and feeding the fish properly. So long as you’re doing your best, there’s a good chance that your clownfish will keep breeding every ten to fourteen days.

If you want the most clownfish babies to survive as possible, then it’s wise to care for them in a separate tank. You’ll need to monitor the clownfish fry closely and feed them the right food so that they can keep growing stronger.

Eventually, you’ll be able to have many different clownfish in your aquarium. If your goal is to be able to enjoy more clownfish in your fish tanks, then you should be able to get excellent results.

Even amateurs have a good time breeding these fish. If you approach things with the right mindset, then you should have a good time with it.

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