Adding a clownfish to your saltwater tank is going to be an exciting occasion. Many people have fallen in love with these little fish because of how colorful and fun they are.
They’re certainly fantastic pet fish, and they’re not too hard to care for even if you’re a beginner. This makes it very easy to get things going, but this doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter issues.
For example, some new clownfish owners have noted that clownfish won’t eat properly, or that their clownfish won’t eat pellets or flakes. If your fish doesn’t seem to want to eat, then you’re likely very concerned that something is amiss.
Could the fish be sick? Is this a sign that the water parameters are off?
Read on to get all of the information that you need to know about why clownfish will stop eating. This should help you to determine what you need to do to get the clownfish to eat again.
1 – The Fish Could Be Insecure
The fish could simply be insecure if it has just been added to the tank. If you added the clownfish to your tank recently, then you shouldn’t be too worried if it doesn’t eat normally for a few days.
This actually happens all the time, and it’s understandable that the clownfish is a bit nervous. Clownfish that get placed in new tanks often go through quite the journey just to be placed in a new environment.
Everything is new to the clownfish and it isn’t too sure about what is going on. It’s very likely that the clownfish will pick a corner and just hide there for quite some time.
As time passes, the clownfish should become a bit braver. It will go out to check out the tank, and it should also start eating the food that you try to give it.
Just give the clownfish a little bit of time to get used to things. So long as it starts eating food after several days have passed, you won’t need to worry so much about it.
That being said, there are many other reasons why a clownfish might stop eating. If your clownfish isn’t new to the tank, then a sudden change in appetite will be much more concerning.
Thankfully, getting to the bottom of this situation should allow you to figure out what to do. You just need to consider all of the possibilities so that you can figure out what’s happening in your situation.
2 – Bullying Issues
Bullying issues have been known to keep clownfish from eating. A clownfish might be so scared of certain other fish that it will never leave a hiding spot that it has deemed to be safe.
If your clownfish is hiding in the corner using some type of reef or aquatic plant, then it might be seeking solace from one of the other fish in the aquarium. Clownfish are very good options for community tanks, but there are plenty of fish that shouldn’t be placed in tanks with them.
You’ll find that there are fish that will prey on the clownfish that you might not have expected. For example, lionfish will prey on clownfish, and it makes sense that your clownfish would be too scared to eat if you have one in the community tank.
Groupers, eels, and triggerfish will also be dangerous. You shouldn’t place clownfish in a fish tank with these fish.
You might need to remove some fish and give them their own tank. Depending on the situation, it might be more practical to move the clownfish to a new, safe tank.
There are other fish that won’t prey on the clownfish that can still be problematic in certain ways. For example, tang fish and saltwater angelfish have been known to stress clownfish.
This is mostly because clownfish are not strong swimmers. You can try to keep tang fish and saltwater angelfish in the same tank as your clownfish, but it could become a problem depending on how things go.
3 – They Don’t Like What You’re Trying to Feed Them
Another possibility is that the clownfish are simply being picky. Have you considered whether the fish don’t like the food that you’re offering them?
It’s possible that the clownfish might be used to eating different types of food. This can happen for a number of different reasons.
You likely purchased the clownfish from someone. It was either in a pet store or you might have bought it from a private breeder.
Either way, you might be trying to feed the clownfish something that it isn’t used to. It might take the clownfish time to open up to eating new foods.
Feeding clownfish won’t normally be all that difficult. These fish eat many different types of foods.
However, it could be worthwhile to try mixing things up to get the clownfish to eat. Some enthusiasts might suggest feeding the clownfish live bait, instead of flakes and pellets, to entice it.
This could work to increase the appetite of the fish. Eventually, the clownfish might be more open to eating the fish flakes and pellets that you’re trying to feed it.
It should also be noted that some people catch wild clownfish. If you’re caring for a wild clownfish that is transitioning to living in a tank, then that can throw things off.
Wild-caught clownfish might very well take some time to get used to how things are in captivity. They might not get used to eating fish flakes and pellets right away.
Eventually, these fish should start eating because they will start to get hungry. However, you could also try the idea of enticing them with live bait.
Clownfish that are born in captivity will be far more used to the idea of eating fish flakes and pellets. Keep this in mind since it could help you to figure out what is happening with your fish.
4 – Water Parameter Issues
Water parameter issues can negatively impact your clownfish in many ways. This is why it’s crucial for you to pay attention to the water parameters at all times.
You should start by testing the pH balance of the water to see where everything is at. If the pH balance is too high or too low, then you’ll want to use chemicals to adjust things until they’re in the normal range.
The recommended pH balance range for a clownfish tank will be between 7.8 and 8.4. You want to do your best to keep things in the right range or the fish could experience health issues.
Another thing to keep an eye on is the temperature of the water. Water that is too cold or too hot won’t be good for your clownfish.
It’s said that water temperatures between 74 degrees Fahrenheit and 79 degrees Fahrenheit will be good. You should have a thermometer that will allow you to monitor the temperature of the water constantly.
Being able to glance at the tank and see if the temperature is off will allow you to make adjustments. If you’re using a heater, then it should be very easy to keep the temperature in the right range.
5 – Sickness
Sickness could cause a clownfish to lose its appetite. There are many types of sickness that can impact your clownfish.
Clownfish are known to experience issues with ich (also called ick) and dropsy. Both issues can be quite problematic, and it might make it tough for your clownfish to eat normally.
You should try to pay attention to your fish to see how it looks. If it has issues with white and stringy poop, then that’s a sign that it might have ich.
Many will choose to enlist the help of an exotic veterinarian at this point. A vet can diagnose the fish and help you to determine what is going on.
If the fish is sick, then you might need to quarantine it in a hospital tank. This is a tank that is separate from the main tank, and you’ll be free to treat the fish in this tank to try to make it healthy again.
You’ve read about many different things that can cause clownfish to stop eating. If the clownfish is new to your tank, then there’s almost surely no reason to be concerned.
Clownfish will be nervous when they first enter a new tank. They need to get used to the new surroundings so that they can feel comfortable enough to venture out.
After several days have passed, it’s likely that the clownfish will start eating the food that you try to feed it. If the problem persists, then there are other things that you can try.
You can attempt to give the fish different food to see if it simply didn’t like what you were offering it. Sometimes enticing the fish with live bait will help to increase its appetite, too.
Issues with bully fish might make the fish too scared to come out and eat. It might choose to hide instead.
Avoid putting clownfish in tanks with fish that will prey on them. It’s always important to research the compatibility of fish that you’re putting in a community tank.
Remember to observe the fish to check for issues with sickness as well. If the fish is ill in some way, then you can try to quarantine it and nurse it back to health.
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.