So many people absolutely adore clownfish. They have become the most popular saltwater fish that people want to own.
You might have added one to your tank recently because of how neat they are. These fish are certainly appealing from an aesthetic perspective, and they’re also simple to care for.
It’s likely that you’re having a good time caring for the fish so far since they’re hardy. However, you could be a bit confused by the behavior of your fish.
If you notice some of your clownfish appear to be twitching, then that might make you worried. Is this a sign that something is amiss?
Keep reading to learn about the reasons why clownfish start twitching. It should help you to set your mind at ease.
Why Your Clownfish Is Twitching
The first thing to understand is that this twitching is almost surely nothing to worry about. Your clownfish isn’t experiencing a medical issue or anything such as that.
Clownfish will start twitching for a few different reasons. One of them is related to showing submission to a dominant clownfish.
The other reason is related to mating rituals. Either way, you don’t need to be concerned that something is wrong with your fish.
It’s normal for fish tank owners to worry about the clownfish when they don’t know what’s happening. Sometimes the twitching can be quite alarming because it sort of looks as if the clownfish is having a seizure.
Now that you know that nothing like this is occurring, it’ll be easier to breathe. The fish will be fine, but you will want to learn more about what the twitching means.
Twitching and Dominance/Submission
Twitching is often related to simple dominance and submission. One fish is going to be the bigger of the two.
In the world of clownfish, the bigger fish is going to be the female. The smaller fish will wind up being the male.
These fish can change genders, but they’re only able to do it once. Essentially, the fish will be genderless in the beginning, and then it will choose its gender based on the situation.
If the fish winds up pairing up with a larger fish, then it’ll wind up being the male. The larger one will always be the female.
This can be a bit confusing, but it’s not really anything that you need to understand in a scientific way. If you’re simply caring for clownfish as pets, then you can accept that things are this way and ignore the twitching.
The smaller of the two fish will twitch to show that it recognizes the dominance of the bigger fish. There really isn’t anything more to it than that.
Twitching for Mating Purposes
When it’s time for the clownfish to start mating, it’ll wind up doing the “twitching” routine. Some enthusiasts have different names for this twitching that the clownfish does, such as seizing or dancing.
This twitching is done by the male to show its submissiveness to the female fish. Despite the male being in the submissive role of the relationship, it can actually become very aggressive when it’s time to mate.
The male might start to extend its fins toward the female. After this, it’s likely that the male will chase the female around.
In the wild, male clownfish will bite and chase the female fish around the anemone. These fish have symbiotic relationships with the anemone and remain close to them.
It’ll be interesting to observe this behavior in a fish tank. Eventually, the female clownfish should lay eggs somewhere, and the male will then take the time to fertilize them.
Generally, clownfish are considered to be easy to breed. They might be some of the easiest saltwater aquarium fish to breed overall.
If you want to make things as easy as possible for the clownfish, then you might wish to put them in a breeding tank. It’s still possible for these fish to go through the spawning process in a community tank, though.
Having an Anemone in the Tank Is Recommended
If you don’t already have an anemone in the tank, then you should know that it is highly recommended to get one. Clownfish feel a lot more comfortable when an anemone is present.
In the wild, clownfish have a symbiotic relationship with anemone. If the anemone is in the tank with the clownfish, then the fish will be that much more likely to breed.
If your goal is to get the clownfish to breed, then that will be a good step to take. There are other things that you can do to make the fish comfortable that should be considered, but having an anemone in the tank is likely the most important thing.
Plants and Rocks
Plants and rocks should be put in the tank as well. It doesn’t feel as if a fish tank is complete if it doesn’t have aquatic plants.
There’s a practical reason for having these plants in the fish tank as well. It will give your fish places to hide and breed.
Having live rocks in the tank will be great, too. Clownfish like to hide by live rocks, and they make for good hiding spots.
A clownfish might choose to lay its eggs somewhere among the rocks. You might not have good results if the fish are just placed in an empty tank with nothing for the fish to utilize.
Knowing that you don’t have to worry about the fish when they start twitching should help you to feel better. The fish isn’t having a seizure or going through some sort of medical episode.
It’s just normal behavior that plays a role in the mating process for clownfish. Clownfish twitch to show submission to the dominant and larger fish.
The male fish will always be the one that starts twitching. For the most part, twitching is a good sign because it shows that the two are forming a mating pair.
Keep this information and mind and have fun observing your fish. If you do your best to keep the water clean while caring for the fish, then the clownfish might breed in the tank.
This will make it so that you can have even more clownfish to take care of. It’s a great way to get more fish without having to buy them from the pet store.
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.