Due to the huge popularity “Finding Nemo” has garnered, Clownfish has occupied a significant place in the hearts of fish lovers. They are popular aquarium residents because they are hardy, attractive, and relatively easy to take care of.
However, not all fish make great tank mates for these little guys and it’s important to choose their tank mates wisely. You can put clownfish with living organisms like Pufferfish, Dartfish, Yellow tangs, Goby fish, Mandarin dragonet, Blennies, Sea anemones, Hermit crab, etc. as they go well together.
Wanna know more about clownfish tank mates? Keep scrolling…
Fishes suitable for Clownfish tank
Clownfish are a kind of saltwater fish that grows to about 4.3 inches on average. There are 30 species of clownfish, but the False Percula Clownfish, Percula clownfish, and orange Clownfish are most suitable for keeping in tanks. But here’s a catch, you can not put clownfish with any fish you like.
There are a select number of clownfish tank mates, and we will take a look at them now one by one.
1. Mandarin Dragonet
A stunningly beautiful fish, Mandarin Dragonet is a perfect tank mate for clownfish. This is not because both add colorful radiance to the tank but because these two species occupy entirely different parts of the tank.
They are an unusual kind of fish because their dorsal fins have evolved to help them crawl along the bottom of the ocean on the rocks. They mainly eat copepods like calanoids. So they have to be kept in a mature tank and fed supplements once in a while. They also eat other organisms like Mysis shrimp and brine shrimp.
Although they are a bit difficult to take care of, they more than make up for it by being extremely beautiful and having a long lifespan. They live up to 10-15 years and are open to accepting other crustaceans and invertebrates once they have settled down.
They also aren’t susceptible to predatory fishes as they use a coating of thick slime in place of scales for protection. Although this makes them prone to parasites.
Because of its elongated shape and habit of darting in between rocks and sand, it leaves nobody wondering where they get their name from. They like to spend time in open water and grow to about 4 inches long.
A peaceful animal when it comes to other fishes, Dartfish temperament varies when it interacts with its own kind. While Fire Dartfish can’t tolerate their own kind, Zebra Dartfish can be kept in a group without any difficulty.
Although they are a perfect tank mate for clownfish because of their size and tolerance towards other species, they shouldn’t be kept with much more aggressive Maroon clownfish and Tomato clownfish.
3. Red Coris Wrasse
Usually growing to about a foot long, Red Coris Wrasse grows to about 8 inches in length when kept in home aquariums. They are semi-aggressive, because of which and their larger size, they are ideal tank mates for more aggressive types of clownfish.
They are more often than not sold as juveniles who look entirely different from the adults. The juvies look like elongated clownfish with their red coloring with white saddles. When mature, they turn into fish with mesmerizing color patterns like a rainbow with blue dots.
They live on snails, small clamps, and shrimps like other fishes of their kind. So, they do well in tanks where there aren’t mobile invertebrate species. Alongside prepared foods, they should be fed shellfish that are chopped up.
4. Yellow tangs
Like Dartfish, Yellow tang’s personality also differs depending on which fish they are dealing with. While they are extremely aggressive and territorial towards other Tangs, they have no problem co-existing with Clownfish, sometimes ignoring them altogether. Because of this, these are ideal tankmates for fish like Maroon Clownfish.
Yellow tangs are vegetarian, so you have to feed them food that is rich in protein. They also like to eat vegetables like cucumber and cauliflower. They need to be given supplements based on spirulina.
Make sure you don’t keep them in a group as they suffer from the horrible disease known as Lateral line disease, which happens if they have insufficient vegetables in their diet. But if they are added at the very last after all the other inhabitants of the tank are introduced, they should be fine.
It’s also prone to a disease named the ich disease, which gives white spots on the tang. So you should be very careful dealing with a disease as it occurs to clownfish as well.
5. Basslet Fish
This extremely beautiful fish is a perfect tank mate for clownfish. Although they are usually very peaceful in nature, they are extremely territorial and can’t stand the sight of other basslets. They are very hostile towards intruders who try to invade their caves under the rocks. This makes them a perfect match for the clownfish as they don’t live in caves.
These stunningly beautiful fishes require subdued lighting, making it tougher for you to keep sea anemones.
They live on plankton, Brine shrimp, and Mysis Shrimp.
6. Chromis Damselfish
Clownfish themselves are a kind of Damselfish. While other Damselfish are fairly aggressive and very territorial towards other fishes, making them harder to keep in a tank, Chromis Damselfish is an exception.
They are a peaceful, schooling damselfish which live on planktons. Compared to other damselfish, they are pretty smaller, making their size and temperament perfect for keeping in the tank with clownfish.
Beginner aquarists should face no problem keeping these fish in the tank as they are tough and easy to take care of and feed. However, as they are schooling fish, make sure to keep at least 4 to 6 fish in your tank.
Although they are not prone to disease, sometimes they bite the fingers of the owners out of curiosity, so keep that in mind.
7. Pygmy Angelfish
Despite all kinds of angelfish getting along with clownfish, Pygmy angelfish is the most suitable to keep in a tank as a clownfish’s tank mate because of its smaller size. It is a similar-sized fish to clownfish. Although all angelfish are compatible with clownfish, avoid bigger species as they are a bit aggressive.
They mainly eat sponges, bryozoans, algae, and other rock-dwelling organisms. As a result, most angelfish are not reef friendly. If you have an angelfish that eats sponges mostly, make sure to prepare differently for the angelfish. The most popular Pygmy Angelfish are Flame Angelfish, Lemonpeel Angelfish, and Potter’s Angelfish.
Be careful of various diseases caused by protozoans, bacteria, and parasites when you raise pygmy angelfish and clownfish together.
Butterfish is yet another stunningly beautiful saltwater fish that likes to swim around reefs. Coming in various colors like white, black, yellow, orange, reddish-orange, and blue. They grow up to almost 9 inches in length.
Oceanic organisms like plankton and artemia are their favorite food. You can also feed them frozen sponges.
They are susceptible to diseases like Dropsy and black ich. Dropsy leaves them with an inflamed belly while black ich puts dark spots in its body. Make sure you have a tank of at least 75 gallons, and you check your nitrate levels regularly as they can die due to nitrate poisoning.
Pseudochromis has 71 species in different colors like orange, light orange, yellow, black, etc. Among these 71 species, the neon-colored Dottyback Pseudochromis is the most beautiful.
They are aggressive tropical fish who like to swim in heavily reefed areas suitable for laying eggs. They live on frozen or dried worms, fish flakes, and shrimps.
Due to its aggressive nature, you need 3 Pseudochromis in your tank at best. Also, make sure the tank is big enough for them to avoid clashing with the clownfish.
Blennies are often mistaken as miniature eels because of their streamlined bodies. They are small fish that can be found in seas worldwide, but most blennies raised in tanks come from the indo-pacific region.
Blennies come in different colors, such as yellow, orange, brown, black, and silver. Some rare ones also have patterns on them.
Blennies are an excellent choice to be a tank mate for clownfish as they occupy different areas of the tanks. In addition, they are bottom-dwelling fish which are an excellent choice for beginner aquarists or someone with a fixed budget.
11. Banggai Cardinalfish
This species is only found in the ocean around the Banggai archipelago of Indonesia. They grow up to 3 inches long and love to swim in the seagrasses and coral reefs.
They are an aggressive species, although records of attacking clownfish are rare. But make sure to have their hiding spot in a corner if you have sea anemones in your tank.
They feed on various marine invertebrates like bloodworms and feeder shrimp. They are also quite affordable, making them an ideal tank mate for clownfish.
Firefish are native to the Indian and the Pacific Oceans and inhabit the tropical waters with coral reefs. They come in a host of colors like white, light and deep red, and pink.
They usually grow to a length of 4 inches. They live in planktons and algae, which grow in the reef regions.
Be very careful when designing the tank if you want to raise them with clownfish. Put marine rocks, plants, and replicas of the reef in the tank so that they feel at home.
13. Goby fish
Gobies are small fish (about 1.5 to 2 inches in length) who mainly live in warm oceans. However, they dwell in the bottoms of the shallow part of these oceans. Coming in various different colors, gobies have about 2000 species.
They are called nature’s cleaning station as they are devoted to cleaning their surroundings and also larger fish. Larger fishes specifically come near goby fish habitats so that they will clean the fish of their parasites. So they will be an ideal fish to keep in your tank as they will keep your tank clean.
Of all the species that are suitable for amateur aquarists, neon goby is very popular. You can easily keep them with clownfish as they live in different parts of the tank.
14. Valentin’s Sharpnose Pufferfish
Pufferfish are a kind of fish that can inflate themselves like a balloon when feeling threatened. Despite almost all species of pufferfish being poisonous, many Asian cultures treat it as a delicacy.
Most species of pufferfish are not suitable for keeping in tanks as they grow too big and are too aggressive to do so. But one exception to this is Valentin’s Sharpnose Puffer. They are pretty small at 4 inches and are not usually aggressive.
Usually, they save all their aggression for invertebrates which make up most of their diet and other pufferfish. So if you want to keep them in your tank, make sure there are only fish in your tank.
15. Flame Hawkfish
Hawkfish are small fish living on coral reefs that have evolved to live on the corals. Because of this evolution, they lack the swim bladder, which is an organ that helps fish float. Instead, they sit on the corals to observe their surroundings, which they will do when kept in a tank top. So, if you are alone in the room and feel someone is watching you, it’s probably the Hawkfish.
They are named Hawkfish because they act exactly like hawks while hunting. Like their namesakes, they dive down on their prey. Keep them in a fish-only tank, and you wouldn’t have too much trouble taking care of them.
Growing to about 3 to 5 inches in length, there are two kinds of Flame Hawkfish. The first one has red as the base color with black markings, and the other is Long Nosed Hawkfish with white and orange patterns on its body and has a pointy snout.
16. Royal Dottyback
These are a kind of shy-natured fish who like to hide inside caves in the coral reefs. They are easier to raise in tanks as they are only about 3 inches long and suitable for tank raising. An excellent choice for beginners, they come in various amazing colors.
Dottybacks are extremely territorial, which can make them aggressive towards other fishes. Therefore, if you have a small tank, do not have more than one Dottyback in it. It also is easier to keep them if they are the smallest fish in the tank.
Other animals as Clownfish tank mates
It’s not that you can only have fish as the tank mates for clownfish. You also have the option to keep other animals in your tank along with them as well.
I. Sea anemone
If there’s one thing ‘Finding Nemo’ has taught us, it is that the clownfish love to live alongside Sea Anemone. They have an unusual bond with the clownfish that isn’t seen anywhere else.
The anemone protects clownfish from predators with its tentacles full of stings; in return, the clownfish defends the anemone from its predator quite aggressively. They will even go to lengths to feed the anemone directly by dropping food into its mouth.
But keep in mind, not all anemones have a symbiotic relationship with the clownfish. The ones that do are Bubble Tip, Adhesive, Delicate, Beaded, Sebae, Long Tentacle, Giant Carpet, Saddle, Merten’s, and Magnificent anemones.
They also need great care. Even the anemones which need the least care require specific water and lighting conditions.
If you’re adding anemone, try to put the small ones, also wear gloves in case they try to sting you.
II. Hermit crab
These weird crabs have a weird feature: they don’t have their own shell at all! Instead, they use the shells left behind by dead snails or other mollusks. So, you have to give it a new shell if you intend to keep it in your tank.
They are vegetarians who eat lettuce, spinach, carrots, etc. They’ll also eat detritus and algae that are a nuisance to the tank environment.
III. Peppermint Shrimp
Peppermint shrimp has a pretty good relationship with clownfish when kept together. So it won’t be an issue to keep them as a tank mate for clownfish. But as they like dark, make sure your tank doesn’t have bright lights.
You won’t need to feed them as they live on the detritus that fall on the bottom.
IV. Blood Red Fire Shrimp
One of the most popular choices as marine invertebrates to keep in the tank, they are an excellent tank mate for clownfish species like the Common Clownfish and the Pink Skunk Clownfish. But, unfortunately, they live only in the oceans of the indo-pacific region.
They dwell on the bottom and live on algae and other organic particles. When kept in a tank, they will also eat any prepared food. They also are cleaners as they will invite other fish to be cleaned by waving their antennae. They then clean the fishes’ scales and skin from loose scales and parasites.
Although they are not nocturnal in nature by any means, they are at their most active in the dark. So make sure to have dim lighting in your tank if you want to keep them.
V. Harlequin Shrimp
They are small invertebrates that grow to about 1 to 2 inches in length. They come in white with blue, pink, or red dots.
These shrimps only eat starfish and nothing else. So feeding them is a kind of hassle as they have no alternative food other than the tube feet of starfish.
They are an ideal tank mate for clownfish as they only harass starfish.
Tips for raising clownfish in A community Reef Tank
Now that you have learned about Clownfish, there are a few things you have to keep in mind before releasing them in your tank:
1. Have enough space in the tank
Make sure you have enough space for the fish you are keeping. Also, as all of the tank mates are saltwater species, maintain the saltwater environment. You need around 20 gallons of water for 1 clownfish.
As for choosing clownfish tank mates in a 20-gallon tank- Goby and pistol shrimp are a good pair, another choice is firefish. Royal gramma is another fine choice. A bicolor or tailspot blenny or pygmy wrasse is also acceptable.
However, you’re raising a bunch of clownfish, I’ll suggest you go for 100 gallons of water.
2. Avoid clownfish predators
As their many fishes are suitable for being clownfish’s tank mates, some fishes aren’t. Don’t have any fishes in your tank which are natural predators of the clownfish. If you do, your clownfish won’t survive. Examples of such fishes are Groupers, Lionfish, Eels, and triggerfish.
3. Be careful about adding fish
These go both for clownfish as well as the friends you want them to have.
Clownfish are extremely aggressive towards other species of their kind. So don’t mix two species in your tank. Different species of clownfish are unlikely to live together in harmony.
All clownfish are born males. Some of them later change to females under the right circumstances. So don’t put female clownfish in your tank. 2 or 3 male clownfish are enough.
Clownfish are usually peaceful fish, but they could turn aggressive if there are too many fish and a shortage of food. That’s why; be careful about how many fish you’re adding to the reef aquarium, and whether or not you have enough food for them.
There is another common reason they could turn aggressive, but that’s a funny one. Often clownfish get irritated due to an inappropriate aquarium setup and start attacking other fish- be it their fellow clownfish or a different species.
4. Provide them a healthy habitat
Clownfish need good water conditions to live; a little change in their surroundings could make them sick. It’d be great if you have items like a pH meter, protein skimmer, or an aquarium filter that help maintain the aquarium.
Let your Clownfish enjoy with new buddies!
The beauty of clownfish is something that has always captivated aquarists and in recent years, there has been a lot of discussion about the best tank mates for these beautiful creatures.
I believe this article has provided you with enough information about clownfish tank mates. Please let us know if you have any further questions regarding this charming species. Best wishes!