Clownfish Tank Setup Guide (2024)

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.

Buying clownfish has the potential to be a truly excellent move. These fish are so colorful and fun to take care of.

It’s also nice that they’re good fish for those who are beginners to taking care of saltwater tanks. Knowing this, you should feel a bit more confident.

It’ll still be a good idea to take the time to get some advice, though. Below, you’re going to learn what you need to know about how to approach clownfish tank setup.

Once you’ve finished reading, you’ll have a much better idea of what you need to do to find success. You’ll be able to enjoy your fish tank, and your clownfish should be able to thrive in their new home.

Do Clownfish Need Saltwater to Survive?

Yes, clownfish are going to need saltwater to survive. You absolutely cannot put clownfish in a freshwater fish tank.

Saltwater fish tanks are tougher to take care of than freshwater tanks. You’re going to need to learn how to set up a saltwater aquarium if you wish to keep clownfish, though.

There aren’t any clownfish that are capable of living in freshwater. Knowing this, you might want to be sure that you’re ready for the responsibility of taking care of a saltwater tank before moving forward.

Many people have a better experience learning to take care of freshwater aquariums first. If you’re a true novice when it comes to caring for fish, then perhaps waiting until you gain some experience will be the safest bet.

This doesn’t mean that all newcomers will fail. Many people have been able to do the necessary research to take care of saltwater aquariums.

If you know what you need to do and you’re ready to do things right, then you’ll be just fine. Just know that you 100% need to have a saltwater fish tank setup for clownfish.

What Do Clownfish Need to Survive?

Clownfish need quite a few different things to be able to survive. As you know from reading the information above, they’re going to need saltwater to survive.

This means that you must keep them in a fish tank that has the right level of salinity. You’ll learn more about this later.

The fish also need to be able to live in an environment that suits them. They won’t be able to live in a place that has water that is way too hot or way too cold.

Likewise, they’re supposed to live in water that has a specific pH balance range. This means that you’ll be keeping your eyes open for changes in the pH balance as you care for these fish.

Clownfish will also need food to be able to survive. You’ll be feeding these fish twice per day on average.

What Do Clownfish Need in a Tank?

You’ll need to purchase quite a few things for the fish tank so that the clownfish can be happy. This includes typical things such as a fish tank filter, a heater, a thermometer to check the temperature, and an air pump.

You’re also going to need to have pH testing kits so that you can keep an eye on the balance. It’ll be necessary to buy some type of lighting, too.

Depending on what types of fish you want to keep in the saltwater tank, you might need the lighting to meet certain requirements. Clownfish don’t specifically need lights, but they do need to be able to see what they’re doing to eat.

Other fish that you might add to a community tank setup might require different types of lighting. You’ll need to look into the specifics depending on what you’re trying to do.

You might wish to add live rock to the tank as well. Many types of saltwater fish will appreciate having live rock in the tank, but this isn’t too important for clownfish.

Having some type of gravel or sand in the tank will also be a good idea. Of course, purchasing aquarium salt will be a necessity so that you can keep the water at the right salinity level.

Getting Started by Cycling the Tank

Before you do anything else, it’s important to know that you need to cycle your tank before adding fish to it. Some people use fish to cycle the tank, but there could be dangerous ammonia and nitrate levels during this time.

This is why using chemicals and a filter to cycle the tank will be the safest way to go. You keep cycling the tank and testing the nitrate levels to see where everything is at.

Eventually, everything should be good and ready for you to put fish in the tank. In some cases, people cycle saltwater tanks for months before actually adding fish to the aquarium.

What Size Fish Tank Is Best?

Choosing the right fish tank size is imperative. You don’t want to keep clownfish in an aquarium that is way too small.

The clownfish will become stressed if they’re forced to live in a cramped environment. Honestly, it’s best to give them as big of an aquarium as you’re able to.

Technically, you’re supposed to give every clownfish ten gallons of space. This means that a pair of clownfish should be able to be kept in a 20-gallon aquarium.

However, many enthusiasts say that going with a larger aquarium will be better. You might want to buy a 30-gallon aquarium for a pair of clownfish.

This ensures that they have enough room to feel comfortable. Since these fish are aggressive and territorial, you don’t want them to feel as if they don’t have enough space.

Get the Water Parameters Right

Getting the water parameters right will be of the utmost importance. You need to ensure that the temperature, pH balance, and salinity of the water stay in the right ranges.

Having a good heater and the right chemicals to alter the pH balance will be crucial. You should also be sure to buy high-quality aquarium salt for the water.

Keep the temperature of the water between 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Buying a heater that has an attached thermometer should make it easy for you to check the temperature at a glance.

The pH balance of the water should stay between 7.8 and 8.4. It’s best to test the pH balance quite often using pH balance testing kits.

Of course, the salinity of the water is one of the most important things. It should stay between 1.021 and 1.026.

If you need to make adjustments to get things in the right range, then you’ll be able to do so if you stay on top of everything. Successfully running a saltwater fish tank is really about being proactive.

You’ll need to check the various levels more often than you would when caring for a freshwater tank. It might be necessary to adjust things a bit more often, but you’ll have the necessary tools to do so.

Water Flow

Water flow is something to keep in mind when setting up a clownfish tank. You see, these fish aren’t the strongest swimmers.

Clownfish can swim quickly in short bursts. They’re very fast when it comes to darting in one direction or another.

They just aren’t good at swimming long distances. Clownfish don’t possess the strength that is required to deal with high water flow.

If the water flow in your tank is too high, then the clownfish might have a tough time getting around. Try to keep the water flow in the tank at a medium rate to avoid issues.

Otherwise, you can add rocks and decorations to the tank to try to blunt the flow a bit. It should make it easier for the clownfish to get around.

Feeding the Clownfish

As with all fish, you’re going to need to feed the clownfish properly so that they can thrive. If you aren’t feeding them the right types of foods, then you’re not going to have an easy time keeping them healthy.

Luckily, it’s very easy to feed these fish since they aren’t picky eaters. You just need to ensure that they’re getting the right nutrients so that they can grow strong.

It’s recommended to feed the clownfish marine fish flakes since those have the basic nutrients that clownfish require. You’ll be able to get these fish flakes from just about any pet store that sells fish and aquarium equipment.

Clownfish will also eat various types of nutritional pellets. They definitely like shrimp pellets, and they’ll enjoy eating freeze-dried shrimp too.

When you feed the clownfish, you’re supposed to give them only as much as they can finish eating in two minutes. If they’re taking longer to eat than this, then it’s a sign that you’re overfeeding them.

Overfeeding the fish will be potentially dangerous. If you feed a clownfish too much, then it might wind up becoming constipated.

Feed your clownfish twice per day on average. You should be able to see the fish grow and stay healthy if you’re vigilant about feeding them right and giving them high-quality foods.

Do Clownfish Need an Anemone?

You might be curious about whether you need to have an anemone in the tank for the clownfish. It’s true that clownfish and anemones have symbiotic relationships in the wild.

Your clownfish will love it if you have an appropriate anemone in the aquarium. However, it isn’t necessary for clownfish to have an anemone when living in captivity.

These fish will be able to do just fine living without one. It really just comes down to whether you want to keep an anemone in your aquarium.

It can be a lot of fun to have an anemone living alongside your clownfish. Seeing the symbiotic relationship of clownfish and anemones play out before your very eyes will be something special.

Just know that getting the tank ready for an anemone will require some effort. Also, you might need a larger tank for an anemone, and this might make it an impractical choice for some people.

Clownfish Anemone Tank Setup

Anemones will require a large enough environment to thrive. You’ll also need to give them specific types of lighting.

Sometimes these lights will be too strong for certain saltwater fish. Therefore, it’s best to research the light requirements if you’re planning to put an anemone in a tank with fish other than clownfish.

You should also know that these fish need to be put in a properly established aquarium. It might be wise to cycle a saltwater tank for several months before adding the anemone.

Be sure to look up which types of anemones your clownfish will like, too. Not every type of anemone is going to work well with specific types of clownfish.

Bubble Tip anemones are common types of anemones that people pair with clownfish. Just be sure that things will work out before you move forward.

It’s said that putting an anemone in a fish tank before the clownfish will be the best choice. This way, the clownfish will be more likely to try to host the anemone.

If you add a clownfish after they have already found a spot that they like in the tank, then they might ignore the anemone. This isn’t always the case, but it’s worth noting.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you feel much more prepared for buying clownfish now. You’ve been given the information that you need about setting up a saltwater fish tank.

It’s important to buy the necessary equipment so that you can get the tank going. You’re also going to need to cycle the saltwater tank before adding any fish to it to be safe.

Caring for clownfish involves maintaining the right water parameters and feeding the fish properly. If you’re able to do this well, then the fish can live for a long time.

In fact, some people have clownfish that live to be ten to fifteen years old in their aquariums. Do things to the best of your ability and you can expect to be able to enjoy your clownfish for many years.

Let your friends who are interested in buying clownfish know what you learned today. It should help them to have a smoother experience when getting started.

Clownfish Tank Setup Guide (1)


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.

Clownfish Tank Setup Guide (2024)


What is the tank requirement for clownfish? ›

The ocellaris clownfish is often said to do well in nano aquariums, but we personally prefer a tank of 20 gallons or up for ours here at FantaSEA. This gives them plenty of swimming space and makes it possible to add a few tankmates.

Do clownfish need sand or gravel? ›

The bottom of a pet clownfish's tank should be lined with at least 1–2 inches of a sand or gravel substrate that's safe for marine habitats. Aquariums need about 1.5 pounds of substrate for each gallon of water in the tank.

Is 10 gallons enough for 2 clownfish? ›

Clownfish like maroons, would probably need 50ish gallons (maybe 30) where as others like the occelaris (the classic nemo one) would probably do fine in a 10 gallon, but bigger is always better.

What fish pair well with clownfish? ›

Clownfish mix with lots of other marine fish species including wrasses, gobies, surgeonfish, butterflyfish, damsels, dottybacks, foxfaces and more. As long as the other fish aren't large enough to eat them (like Lionfish,) Clownfish usually get on with them.

Do clownfish prefer to be in pairs? ›

Since the orange clownfish is relatively small, you might be tempted to get a few for your tank, but this may not be a good idea. Unless the tank holds at least 200 gallons of water, the most ideal number of ocellaris sharing an enclosed ecosystem should always be two.

Do clownfish need anemone in tank? ›

Clownfish will survive just fine without an anemone to host them. As I mentioned earlier, clownfish often find a replacement host to snuggle up to or, in the case of a fish-only aquarium, stake out an area and establish it as their home turf. With our myth-busting out of the way, it's time to talk tips and tricks.

How often do you feed clownfish? ›

Additionally, they're usually not very picky about what they consume either! You can feed this species once a day, though it should be more if you're planning on breeding clownfish. You can also consider twice or three times a day for juvenile specimens.

What is the easiest clownfish to keep? ›

For beginners, I would suggest focusing on either Ocellaris or Percula varieties, as certain other Clownfish species can grow sizeable and display pronounced aggression. It's worth noting that Clownfish don't necessitate an anemone to thrive. Opting for a single Clownfish or a pair is ideal.

Are clownfish high maintenance? ›

On the positive side, Clownfish are ideal beginner fish, since they are easy-to-care-for, hardy, and don't require a huge aquarium to survive happily. Because wild clownfish always stay in or near anemones in a reef environment, they require very little space. They readily eat most fresh, frozen, and dried foods.

What is the best clownfish for beginners? ›

Ocellaris Clownfish (False Percula Clownfish)

Tank-raised specimens (highly recommended) of this species are fairly easy to find and, if a young pair is purchased, they will easily become a mated pair, without much of the mating ritual abuse experienced with other species of clownfish.

How many pellets should I feed my clownfish? ›

5 or 6 pellets should be enough if the fish is about an inch.

Can I put 3 clownfish in a tank? ›

No, as said earlier, if you added 3 at the same time, 2 would've paired up and the odd clown out would have been bullied to death by the pair.

What is the best home for clownfish? ›

Thus, for the clown fish's health and safety, most new owners should aim for at least a 20–30 gallon (75.7–113.6 L) tank. The dangers of having a tank that's too small can't be overstated.

Do clownfish like high flow? ›

I absolutely nailed my clowns with flow when I just started and didn't know what I was doing. They just ended up hiding out of the way in the top corner of the tank. In my opinion clowns are much happier with low / medium flow.

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