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Why Is My Clownfish Lying on the Sand? (7 Common Reasons)

Why Is My Clownfish Lying on the Sand? (7 Common Reasons)

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

Clownfish are very popular because of how beginner-friendly they are for saltwater fish. They’re generally pretty hardy and easy to care for, and this makes them a good choice for anyone who would like to get used to caring for saltwater fish.

Even though they’re supposed to be easy to care for, you shouldn’t underestimate the responsibility of caring for fish. Many people choose to get clownfish because they think they’re so cute, but then they have things go wrong because they don’t take caring for the fish tank seriously enough.

You might be worried that you have made such a mistake right now. If your clownfish is currently lying on the sand, then you might be very concerned that you caused it to get sick or that the clownfish is dying.

Why would a clownfish suddenly start lying on the sand in the aquarium? Is this a sign that something is wrong with the tank?

Read on to learn everything that you need to know about this topic. It should help you to figure out what you need to do to help the fish.

1 – It Could Be Resting

A Clownfish Near the Sand

One thing to consider before getting too worked up is that the clownfish might be resting or sleeping. Clownfish are diurnal fish, and this means that they generally sleep at night.

It’s said that you need to turn the lights off for the fish at night to give them a normal day and night cycle. This ensures that the fish get enough rest so that they can have the energy that they need during the day.

Could it be that you just caught your fish napping during the evening or night? It’s not impossible for a fish to choose to rest for a bit if it gets tired either.

Sometimes, it’s a bit hard to determine if this is really what is going on or not. There are other potentially serious reasons why a fish might lay at the bottom of the tank.

A clownfish will generally not stop moving unless it is sleeping. This means that you should observe the fish to try to determine if it’s really sleeping or not.

If the fish seems to be lying on the sand at the same time each day, then it could just be sleeping. Hopefully, you’ll be able to tell the difference between a sleeping clownfish and abnormal activity.

2 – Disease

A disease could cause the clownfish to lay on the sand or gravel at the bottom of the fish tank. When a clownfish gets sick, it might start acting very strange.

Do your best to keep an eye on the fish to try to spot any signs of illness. You might notice that there are certain signs that will help you to diagnose what is wrong with the fish.

Clownfish will be susceptible to certain diseases such as Brooklynella hostilis. This can easily wind up killing the clownfish, and it might spread to the entire tank.

Some types of clownfish diseases will be easier to deal with than others. For example, clownfish have a natural resistance to ich, but they can still struggle when they develop white spots on their gills.

Keeping an eye on the fish will allow you to take action to try to help the fish get better. If you catch a disease in its early stages, then the chances of saving the fish will increase quite a bit.

Of course, it isn’t always easy for an average fish tank owner to determine exactly what is wrong with the fish. Sometimes, it might be apparent that a clownfish is dealing with a specific disease, but other times, it might be a bit perplexing.

You could choose to reach out to an exotic veterinarian if you would like to. This will allow you to determine exactly what is wrong with the fish.

A vet can look at the fish and give you a diagnosis. They will then be able to advise you on the best treatment options.

It might be possible to save the fish by taking certain actions. Sometimes, it might be impossible to save the fish, though.

3 – Water Parameter Issues

Man Holding PH Tests for Freshwater Aquarium

Having problems with the water parameters will make it more likely that your clownfish will struggle with its health. When clownfish are going through health issues, they might feel as if they aren’t able to swim as usual.

If the water parameters are way off from what they’re supposed to be, then you might notice the clownfish lying in the sand at the bottom of the tank. This is a sign that the clownfish is not doing well, and you’re going to want to address the problems in the tank as soon as possible.

Remember, clownfish can be sensitive to significant fluctuations in the pH balance. If you don’t keep things steady, then the fish will not be able to remain healthy.

The pH balance range is supposed to stay between 7.8 and 8.4. If the balance is off, then you should use chemicals to get things back in the proper range.

In the future, you’ll want to do a better job of keeping a keen eye on the pH balance of the water. Try to use a pH testing kit to check the water every now and then.

You’ll be able to make adjustments when necessary to keep everything in line. It’s also wise to limit issues with organic debris in the tank such as leftover food.

The temperature of the water can be problematic, too. If things get way too hot or very cold, then the fish will suffer.

You’re supposed to keep the temperature of the water between 74 degrees Fahrenheit and 79 degrees Fahrenheit on average. Water that is too hot will increase the metabolism of the fish and cause it to experience many issues.

Cold water is bad because it can make the fish sick. Sudden and dramatic temperature fluctuations have the potential to kill the fish.

4 – Clownfish Breeding

Have you thought about what the issue of the clownfish hovering near the bottom of the tank has to do with breeding? Clownfish lay eggs, and a female will generally lay eggs somewhere near the rocks.

If you have rocks and gravel in your tank, then the clownfish might lay the eggs there. Often, this will mean that the clownfish will be spending time near the bottom of the tank to protect the eggs.

Even if you have sand in the bottom of the tank, there might be some rocks near the sand that you use as decorations. The clownfish may have placed the eggs there, and now it looks like the clownfish is hanging out in that part of the sand.

Of course, if the clownfish is just lying down on its side in the sand, that’s likely got nothing to do with taking care of eggs. You’ll just have to observe the fish to try to see what’s going on.

5 – Ammonia Poisoning

Cleaning Fish Tank Water

Ammonia poisoning could be to blame for the clownfish lying on the sand. This is a very serious issue that could wind up killing the clownfish.

Essentially, the ammonia levels in the tank will rise when you don’t keep it clean. If you aren’t cleaning the tank properly and you don’t change the water weekly, then there’s a chance that this will occur.

Ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels will steadily rise in the aquarium. You’re supposed to keep the tank clean and ensure that the ammonia level always reads 0 ppm.

You might need to change how you’re taking care of the tank if the clownfish has ammonia poisoning. This means you’re doing something wrong and you need to correct things fast.

When a clownfish is exposed to too much ammonia in the tank, it’s going to make it harder for it to breathe. It will significantly damage the gills and it might kill the clownfish faster than you realize.

To solve this issue, it’s recommended to change 25% of the water and keep changing the water on a daily basis. Eventually, you should be able to balance the chemical levels out.

Then, you just need to hope that the clownfish recovers. Do your best to avoid ammonia issues in the future.

6 – Swim Bladder Disease

Swim bladder disease is something that makes it impossible for your fish to swim normally. Sometimes, a fish will become constipated and this will press on the swim bladder.

When the swim bladder is being pressed, it won’t function as intended. This might make the fish swim sideways or upside down.

Sometimes, it makes it so that the fish simply can’t get around at all. A fish lying in the sand on its side could be having swim bladder issues.

If the fish looks constipated, then you might be able to get it to poop a lot by giving it a frozen pea. Swim bladder issues can also occur when a fish has an infection, though.

You might need to help the fish clear up an infection with antibiotic or antibacterial treatments. It depends on the case.

7 – Crowded Fish Tanks

Clownfish in a Community Tank

Crowded fish tanks might make the clownfish feel as if they need to stay near the sand. Some fish tank owners have noted issues when putting clownfish in aquariums with too many fish.

This won’t be a problem if you give the fish enough space, though. You don’t want to try to keep a fish in a tank that is too small for it.

It’s said that keeping just one clownfish in a 10-gallon fish tank is acceptable. If you’re going to have two clownfish, then you’ll want a 20-gallon tank.

When you’re putting fish in a community tank, it’ll be necessary to consider if all of the fish have enough room to live happily. Don’t put as many fish as you can cram into an aquarium because you’re going to stress the fish.

Fish will experience great stress when living in an overcrowded tank. Also, it’ll make it harder to keep the water parameters in check due to the presence of too much fish waste.

Why Is the Clownfish Kicking up Sand?

Kicking up sand is actually nothing to worry about at all. You see, this is a fairly natural behavior for the clownfish.

Sometimes, clownfish will swim around near the bottom of the tank and they will kick up sand. Since clownfish are a bit territorial, they do this to disturb the nests of other fish in the tank.

If you see the clownfish doing this, then there’s no reason to be alarmed. It might be a bit annoying to some of the other fish in a community tank, though.

Many enthusiasts say that their clownfish only do this in a few specific spots in the fish tank. It might be interesting to observe the fish and see whether this holds true in your situation.

Final Thoughts

You should feel like you know the reasons why a clownfish might lay on the sand now. It could be a normal thing if the fish is simply resting or sleeping.

Sometimes, clownfish might get sick and they will stay at the bottom of the tank lying on the sand. This is not good and you’re going to want to figure out what is going on as soon as you can.

There are certain diseases that you’ll want to look out for because of how deadly they can be. If you can catch some of these issues quickly, then you’ll have a better shot at saving the fish.

You might want to get the help of an exotic veterinarian to diagnose the fish. Otherwise, you can look out for symptoms and try to deduce what is wrong with the fish yourself.

No matter what, it’s going to be wise to keep a close eye on the water parameters. Water parameter issues can cause your fish to get sick very easily.

Remember to keep the water clean to avoid issues with ammonia poisoning. You don’t want the ammonia, nitrate, or nitrite levels to get too high in the tank.

Taking care of clownfish won’t be too bad if you’re a dedicated fish tank owner. Just do your best to keep the tank clean while keeping an eye on the water parameters.