Watching your clownfish swim around in the tank has the potential to be very entertaining. You might enjoy spending portions of your day just watching the fish in your saltwater tank.
Occasionally, you might notice your fish doing something weird. For example, you might see your fish yawning.
Do fish actually yawn, though? Does it simply look as if the fish is yawning but it’s actually doing something else?
Continue reading to learn about whether clownfish can yawn or not. This will help you to get a better idea of what is actually happening.
The Fish Isn’t Actually Yawning
The fish isn’t actually yawning even if it really looks as if it is. Fish don’t yawn, and this means that it can’t be doing what you think it’s doing.
When a fish opens its mouth wide as if it’s yawning, it’s actually trying to realign its mouth parts. Fish have several moving components near the mouth area, and these moving components can get out of alignment.
If the fish looks like it’s yawning, then it’s almost surely just realigning its jaw and other mouth parts. It’ll likely look a bit silly, but that’s the answer to the question.
Many people speculate that doing this feels good, and that might be why you’ll see clownfish doing this quite often. It’s interesting that it looks so similar to what you would call yawning, but it’s not that.
What If the “Yawning” Appears to Be Contagious?
One interesting thing about humans yawning is that it appears to be contagious. What that means is that when one person yawns in a room, another person might yawn sympathetically.
This is a weird phenomenon, but it’s something that most people are very aware of. You can consciously suppress the urge to yawn, but you might yawn if someone yawns near you without thinking about it.
Sometimes while observing clownfish, you’ll see one of the fish do the “yawning” motion. It’ll open its mouth really wide and do what it needs to do to realign its jaw parts.
Then you might notice other nearby fish will start doing the same thing. Your other clownfish might start “yawning,” and it’s possible that other fish in the community tank will too.
This gives you the appearance that the fish are experiencing something similar to a “contagious yawn.” It’s interesting to think about, but there hasn’t been a scientific study into this matter.
There isn’t any information about whether the “fish yawn” is contagious. Many fish enthusiasts speculate that fish see other fish doing it and respond in kind for some unknown reason.
Many Animals Yawn
If you’re interested in the topic of yawning, then you’ll be intrigued to hear that many different types of animals yawn. You can see various household pets yawning, such as dogs.
Parakeets are also known to yawn. Many of these animals and birds will also yawn contagiously as humans do.
If you have several dogs in your home, then you might observe one yawn followed by another. It’s a very funny thing that doesn’t necessarily have a succinct explanation.
Animals that are very social and live in groups appear to have this happen. Some common examples of animals that yawn contagiously include wolves, chimpanzees, and bonobos.
It isn’t outside the realm of possibility that what the clownfish are doing is similar. In the future, scientists might choose to research this topic out of curiosity.
As it stands, there isn’t anything definitive about what fish are doing when they look like they’re yawning. It’s likely that they’re moving their jaw parts around, but there could be something else to it that is not understood as of yet.
Water Parameter or Salinity Issues
Some people have suggested that excessive yawning could be a sign that something is wrong with the tank. While this doesn’t always appear to be the case, it might be worthwhile to check the water parameters.
Remember that clownfish are supposed to be kept in water that is between 74 degrees Fahrenheit and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. You want the pH balance of the water to be between 7.6 and 8.4.
If something is off, then it can make it so that there are oxygen issues in the tank. For example, you could have allowed too much ammonia to show up in the tank.
This will make it very tough for your fish to breathe. What you’re perceiving as a yawn might actually be the clownfish gasping for air.
Something such as this is quite a bit different from the “yawning” described earlier, though. Regardless, it’s important to check everything for the safety of your fish.
You might be able to make some quick changes to get things back to normal. Ensure that the ammonia levels aren’t high and do your best to keep enough oxygen in the tank.
It might be necessary to buy a few air stones that will help you out. Sometimes clownfish tanks have issues with aeration as well.
This is because people are wary of using strong water pumps since clownfish are weak swimmers. You might need a stronger current so that the oxygen in the water will carry throughout the tank.
So long as you’re keeping all of this in mind, it should be easy to make any necessary changes. Just check things out for the sake of due diligence.
You’ve learned a lot about whether clownfish yawn now. They might not technically be yawning because most enthusiasts speculate that they are actually realigning their jaw parts.
However, it’s also speculated that the fish do this because it feels good. People have even observed some fish appearing to “yawn contagiously.”
It’s an interesting topic, but there aren’t any definitive scientific answers out there right now. For now, just know that nothing is wrong with your fish if it yawns sometimes.
If it appears to be gasping for air, then that’s a different story. In this case, you’ll want to check the water parameters to see if something is wrong.
Clownfish need oxygenated water to be able to breathe. If you have too much ammonia in the tank, then you’ll need to handle that to get things back to normal.
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.