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Do Clownfish Eat Their Babies? (5 Reasons Why They Might)

Do Clownfish Eat Their Babies? (5 Reasons Why They Might)

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 have been very popular for a long time. They’re pretty fish, and there are many different types of them to choose from.

These are some of the best first saltwater fish to get for beginners. If you already have some, then you might be hoping that your pair of clownfish will breed.

You might simply want to have more clownfish for your aquariums. Getting the best results will require you to learn what you can about the breeding process, of course.

There are many things that you might be worried about in regards to the clownfish breeding. For instance, you could be worried about the clownfish eating their babies.

Do clownfish eat their babies? Or is this something that you don’t need to be concerned with?

Continue reading to learn everything that you need to know about this topic. You’ll feel much better, and you’ll be prepared to get the best results.

Clownfish Will Indeed Eat Their Babies

Sadly, clownfish are known to eat their babies and eggs. This can be problematic, but it’s something that you can solve by separating the parent fish from the babies.

You see, in nature, the clownfish are going to protect the eggs until they hatch. Once the eggs hatch, the new baby clownfish are pretty much going to be on their own.

This means that other fish could come by and eat the baby clownfish. The parent fish could decide that it needs a meal and will choose to snack on one of the baby fish.

You probably think that this is horrifying, but situations such as this occur all the time in the ocean. A fish will often eat any fish that happens to be small enough to fit in its mouth.

So if you want to protect the baby clownfish in your fish tank, then you should put them in a separate tank once they’ve hatched. Or you could remove the parent fish from the tank.

Why Would Clownfish Eat Their Own Eggs?

Clownfish eating their own eggs might not seem all that sensible either. It’s certainly not something that makes sense, being that the fish usually try to protect the eggs?

Will there be a logical reason why the clownfish will choose to eat the eggs? Or is this something that just doesn’t make sense?

Below, you’ll find some of the reasons why clownfish might start eating their own eggs. This should help you to better understand what’s going on.

1 – Clownfish Will Choose to Eat Eggs That Aren’t Viable

Sometimes clownfish will choose to eat eggs that aren’t viable. There could be a situation where something has gone wrong and the eggs won’t be able to hatch.

It could also be that the eggs weren’t fertilized properly. In this situation, the parent fish will eat the eggs and will likely try again at a later time.

Sometimes only certain eggs will have these issues. There might have been a few eggs that didn’t get fertilized for one reason or another.

It’s important for the fish to eat the eggs to protect the viable ones. Leaving the eggs that aren’t viable near the other eggs will endanger them.

The eggs could get exposed to bacteria, and that could make it so that none of the eggs will be viable. So you can see that eating the eggs will sometimes have a practical purpose.

2 – Issues with Fungus

Fungal issues will make it so that the eggs won’t be able to hatch. If an egg has fungus on it, then the male clownfish is going to eat it.

The clownfish eats the eggs that have been exposed to fungus to protect the other eggs. If it doesn’t, then the fungus could spread and ruin the entire clutch of eggs.

This is another situation where the male clownfish will simply be doing its job as the protector of the eggs. Males look after the eggs and do what must be done to ensure that they are given the chance to hatch.

Sometimes this involves eating certain eggs so that the other eggs can survive. In this situation, eating the eggs won’t be a bad thing.

3 – Inexperience

Inexperience can make it so that a pair of clownfish will make mistakes. This might sound funny, but the two fish won’t have enough experience to truly know what to do yet.

Sometimes this will lead to the fish making bad decisions. The inexperience of the fish could lead to the eggs not being fertilized properly.

This means that many of the eggs might not be viable. The clownfish might be forced to eat the eggs due to the mistakes that they made.

Many enthusiasts say that clownfish parents get much better at breeding after two attempts. They gain experience and figure out what they need to do to find success.

4 – Health Issues

If the parent fish are experiencing health issues, then they probably won’t be able to do what must be done to protect the eggs. Truthfully, taking care of eggs will be a tough job for the fish, and it’s going to require a lot of energy.

When the fish aren’t getting enough food or when they have other health issues, they might feel the need to eat the eggs. Eating the eggs could be an attempt to get the energy that they need.

If one of the parent fish runs out of energy, then eating some of the eggs might be necessary. Under normal fish tank conditions, this shouldn’t be an issue, though.

So long as you’re feeding the fish as normal, there isn’t a reason why the fish should run out of energy. Ensure that you’re feeding the fish the right food and that you’re giving them enough food so that they can do what they need to do.

5 – Problems with Stress

Stress can be a really big problem for many different types of fish. Sadly, if a clownfish gets stressed, then it might wind up making some very bad decisions.

A clownfish that is overly stressed might panic and choose to eat the eggs. It won’t be able to think rationally, and this will make it tougher for the fish to protect the eggs so that they can hatch.

Many different things can cause clownfish to experience stress. Poor water conditions will be one of the biggest issues that you should look out for.

Always ensure that the water parameters are right for the fish so that you can keep them healthy. Give them enough food and try to protect them from being put in a community tank with bully fish.

If you want to keep the fish from stressing, then you could put them in a breeding tank. This ensures that other fish shouldn’t bother them.

It should be fine to keep the clownfish with an anemone that they have bonded with, of course. But it would likely be easier not to have the clownfish breed in a community tank with fish that will bother them.

You should always choose tank mates for your fish carefully. Keep an eye on things that can cause the clownfish stress and try to mitigate stress factors.

Where Will Clownfish Lay Eggs?

Typically, clownfish like to lay their eggs in hiding spots. They want to find somewhere that will be easy enough to protect.

This will often mean laying eggs near rocks or directly on the rocks. It’s pretty common for clownfish to choose a flat surface that is close to their host anemones as well.

Finding where the clownfish have put the eggs shouldn’t be too tough. You’ll just need to observe the tank and keep your eyes peeled.

It’s likely not worth worrying about whether the clownfish will eat the eggs. If all goes well, then the clownfish will hopefully not eat too many of the eggs.

All you can really do is keep taking care of the fish while ensuring that the water parameters stay within the right ranges. Hopefully, this will lead to many baby clownfish hatching from the eggs in the near future.

Final Thoughts

Now you know that clownfish will eat their babies. This is a harsh reality that might bum you out a little bit.

Don’t worry too much, though, because you should be able to save the baby clownfish. Simply scoop the babies up after they’ve hatched and you can move them to their own fish tank where they will be protected.

You can keep the parent fish in the breeding tank and just remove the babies when the time is right. It might seem a bit annoying to have to do this at first, but it’s not that big of a deal overall.

Clownfish will eat the eggs sometimes as well, but there will usually be practical reasons for this. It can also happen due to stress, but you can try your best to keep your fish from experiencing too much stress.

This information should make it simpler for you to successfully breed clownfish. You have a better idea of what to expect, and now you’ll be able to plan ahead.

Breeding clownfish shouldn’t be that difficult overall. You can have a great experience so long as you take the right approach and separate the babies from the parents.