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Clownfish Predators: What Feed on Clownfish?

Clownfish Predators: What Feed on Clownfish?

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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 have been among the most popular pet fish for quite some time. They’re definitely some of the most common saltwater fish that you’ll find at pet stores.

People love these fish because of how colorful and fun they can be. If you’re planning to place them in a community tank, then you’re going to want to be sure that you don’t put them in a tank with predators.

There are some fish that will feed on clownfish. In the wild, there are many types of fish that clownfish will need to be concerned with.

Read on to learn about clownfish predators. You’ll have a better understanding of what fish feed on clownfish so that you can make good decisions when setting up a community tank.

What Eats Clownfish?

Panamic Green Moray Eel Resting With Mouth Wide Open
Panamic Green Moray Eel Resting With Mouth Wide Open

There are actually many different types of large fish that will eat clownfish in the wild. Pretty much any predatory fish that is larger than a clownfish will potentially try to eat the clownfish.

As such, listing each and every fish that can be considered a predator to clownfish wouldn’t be practical. The best thing to know is that larger predatory fish will always try to prey on smaller fish such as clownfish.

Aside from large fish, clownfish are also going to have to worry about eels and sharks. Both eels and sharks are common predators that feed on clownfish when the opportunity arises.

Since clownfish have to worry about so many predators in the wild, it makes sense that they would need to protect themselves. Clownfish are good at defending themselves against smaller fish, but they’re not so good at fending off larger fish.

This is why clownfish have a symbiotic relationship with anemones. You’ll learn a bit more about that later.

These fish will hide from predators when they are sleeping to try to stay safe. If there isn’t an anemone present, then the clownfish will sometimes sleep in hollowed shells as a way to hide from potential threats.

Do Anemone Eat Clownfish?

Clownfish Resting in Purple Anemone

As mentioned above, clownfish have a symbiotic relationship with anemones. Anemones do not eat clownfish because they find the clownfish to be very useful.

Clownfish are the only fish that are capable of living inside anemones. Other types of fish that get too close will be stung and killed by the anemone.

The anemone will protect the clownfish from potential predators. Large fish that might try to get too close will get stung by the anemone, and the clownfish will (theoretically) be kept safe.

Clownfish will return the favor by protecting the anemone from aggressive small fish that will try to harm it. The clownfish will aggressively defend the anemone.

Even the waste that is produced by the clownfish will be beneficial to the anemone. It’s a very interesting relationship.

In the wild, clownfish really do rely on the relationship with anemones for survival. With the presence of an anemone, the clownfish would be substantially more vulnerable.

When you’re caring for clownfish in a home aquarium, it’s generally recommended to also have an anemone in the tank. It helps to make the clownfish feel at ease in the aquarium.

However, clownfish don’t technically need to have an anemone in the tank to be able to live. A clownfish will be able to eat, sleep, and live just fine in captivity without an anemone.

You’ll simply notice that the clownfish might be happier if an anemone is in the tank. It helps to make things a lot more natural.

If you plan to put an anemone in the saltwater tank with your clownfish, then it’s a good idea to look into the water requirements first. You’ll want to get an anemone that matches up perfectly with the type of clownfish that you’re taking care of.

Doing a little bit of research will ensure that you have a good experience. It won’t take long to get the information that you need.

Some anemones are going to be better than others when it comes to placing them in home tanks. Once you’ve discovered which anemone you’d like to purchase, it should be easy enough to get the anemone from a reputable aquarium store that sells fish.

What Not to Put in Tank with Clownfish

White-Banded Trigger Fish Swimming With Coral in the Background
White-Banded Trigger Fish Swimming With Coral in the Background

When you’re putting together a saltwater tank for clownfish in your home, it’s sometimes going to be appealing to make a community tank. A community tank is a fish tank that will host more than just clownfish.

You can have multiple types of fish in the aquarium. This can be a lot of fun because it’ll give you a fish tank with a great variety of fish.

Of course, it can be easy to make mistakes when setting up a community fish tank. If you don’t take the time to do your research, then you could wind up putting fish that are incompatible with clownfish in the tank.

This would be very problematic because it could put the clownfish in danger. Since you want to care for the clownfish to the best of your ability, it’s going to be wise to put some thought into the types of fish that you put in the community tank.

If you want to know about some of the fish that you’ll want to avoid keeping in a fish tank with clownfish, then you should know that any large predatory fish should be avoided. There are dozens of common saltwater fish that will not be good to place in a tank with clownfish.

Lionfish Resting on the Sand
Lionfish Resting on the Sand

Some of the fish that you will want to avoid putting in the tank with the clownfish include groupers and lionfish. If you have any interest in keeping groupers or lionfish, then you’ll need to keep them in a separate tank from the clownfish.

Since eels are among the more common clownfish predators in the wild, it makes sense that you would need to avoid putting eels in the tank. Eels will absolutely eat the clownfish, and you don’t want that to happen.

Triggerfish are another type of fish that shouldn’t be kept with clownfish. They’re known to prey on clownfish when kept in the same tank.

So long as you keep this information in mind, it should be easy to set up a community tank that will be safe for the clownfish. You just have to put the effort in to do things right.

Compatible Tank Mates

Royal Angelfish Swimming in Large Aquarium
Royal Angelfish Swimming in Large Aquarium

Now that you know a bit more about fish that you shouldn’t put in the same tank as clownfish, it’s going to be time to learn about some compatible tank mates. You have many different options when setting up a community tank with clownfish in mind.

Of course, putting an appropriate anemone in the tank with the clownfish makes a lot of sense. This will help the clownfish to thrive and it’ll make them feel more comfortable in the tank.

Aside from anemones, clownfish are known to do well living in the same tank as various types of angelfish. You can put them in the tank with dwarf angelfish or even large angelfish so long as you ensure that the water parameter needs match up fine.

Gobies should be good tank mates for clownfish, too. These fish can be a lot of fun to add to the community tank.

Yellow Tang Swimming Against Coral Background
Yellow Tang Swimming Against Coral Background

You could put tangs in the tank as well. These are very common sights when people are setting up community fish tanks.

Other options that you could choose include corals, puffers, blennies, dartfish, damselfish, and wrasses. As you can see, you have plenty of good fish that can live alongside your clownfish.

Just remember that whatever fish you choose also needs to be compatible with each other. This means that you need to check each fish to see how they will get along with whatever other fish you’re adding to the tank.

Yes, it can be a lot of work to get everything right, but it’s going to be worth it in the end. Do your best and you’ll be able to enjoy your new community tank in no time.

Advice for Adding Clownfish to a Tank

Adding clownfish to a tank isn’t as simple as just buying the clownfish whenever and putting them in a tank at your convenience. There are multiple things that you need to consider.

First, you’re going to need to acclimate the clownfish before putting it in the tank. Failure to do so can lead to problems.

New Guppies Acclimating to Tank Using Float Method
New Guppies Acclimating to Tank Using Float Method

There are a few different methods for doing this that you will want to consider. One of the most common and simple methods is known as the “float method.”

This involves floating the sealed bag in the aquarium for around thirty minutes to let it acclimate to the temperature. Once the temperature is adjusted, you’ll cut the bag open at the top and then roll down the top edge of the bag like a shirt sleeve to create an air pocket.

Next, you add a cup of aquarium water to the open bag. You keep doing this every five minutes until you fill the bag with aquarium water.

Now you drain half of the water in the bag into the sink. Add more aquarium water to the bag until it’s full again.

You should be able to place the fish in the tank now. This is a good, safe way to acclimate a fish to a new aquarium.

Top View of Guppies in a Bucket for Drip Acclimation
Top View of Guppies in a Bucket for Drip Acclimation

The other method that people like to use is called drip acclimation. It’s actually a method that is generally considered to be superior for acclimating clownfish.

You cut your bag and then transfer the clownfish into a bucket. Ensure that there is enough water to cover the clownfish.

If there isn’t, then you might need to use a smaller bucket. With this done, you’re going to run a drip line from the aquarium to the bucket.

Essentially, you’ll be siphoning water from the aquarium and sending it to the bucket. You mess with the valve until it’s dripping into the bucket at a rate of three to five drops per second.

After 90 minutes or so have gone by, there should be two or three times as much water in the bucket as when you started. At this point, you can stop the siphon.

Get a large cup and remove half of the water from the bucket. Restart the drip line and try to put it at a rate of seven to ten drops per second.

Allow the drip line to drip into the bucket for another 90 minutes or so. When this amount of time has passed, the clownfish will be ready to be introduced into the tank.

It’s really best to do one of these acclimation methods for the sake of the clownfish. It’ll make it much less likely that the clownfish will experience health issues in the tank.

Clownfish Aggression

Two Clownfish Swimming Near Anemone in Tank

Clownfish will sometimes be aggressive toward each other. This happens when you don’t add the clownfish to the tank at the same time.

You should try to avoid adding clownfish to the tank at different times. So this means that you shouldn’t buy one clownfish and then buy another clownfish two weeks later.

You want to buy a mated pair if possible. At the very least, it’d be wise to buy a pair and add them to the tank at the same time.

Adding the clownfish to the tank at the same time will keep them from being territorial. A clownfish that is already in the tank might choose to attack new clownfish that it feels are encroaching on its territory.

Issues such as this might not be quite as bad if you’re keeping the fish in a very large tank. Remember that one clownfish is going to want to stay in a tank that is at least 10 gallons, and you’ll need a much larger tank than that if you wish to keep multiple clownfish.

Final Thoughts

You’ve learned a lot about clownfish and clownfish predators in this article. In the wild, clownfish will get eaten by eels, sharks, and large predatory fish.

It’s best to avoid putting large predatory fish in the fish tank with your clownfish. Fish such as lionfish and groupers will certainly try to eat your clownfish.

So long as you understand this, it should be easy enough to protect your fish. Let your friends know which fish are safe and which aren’t if they’re planning on setting up a community tank soon.

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