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Tips on Clownfish Care and Spawning
Clownfish are classified in the Pomacentridae family. Clownfish are among a group of species referred to as selfish. 28 known clown species. Of them, 27 belong to the genus Amphiprion. Clownfish are native to both the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Their natural habitat includes the Great Barrier Reef and the Red Sea.
The color palette varies between clownfish depending on the species. They can be found in orange, red orange, maroon, yellow or black. Most of the species have the characteristic white bars with black trim on their body for which they are named. These white and black stripes that contrast with the fish’s skin make them look like they are wearing a clown costume. Clownfish grow from 4-6 inches depending on the species. Their lifespan is from 3-6 years.
Clownfish are well known for the symbiotic relationship they share with the sea anemone. The co-evolution of these two animals makes for one of the most interesting symbiotic relationships found in nature. Sea anemones are highly toxic to most aquatic life. This giant creature paralyzs its prey with powerful neurotoxins. It then uses the tentacles to pull the prey into its stomach cavity for digestion. This single hole serves as the mouth and anus. The digestion process results in semi-digested matter floating around the immediate vicinity of the anemone. Clownfish use this substance as a source of protein. They then extract the internal material which is an additional source of protein for the anemone.
Clownfish have a mucus membrane that surrounds their body that acts as a natural barrier against the anemone’s poisonous nematocysts. Scientific testing has resulted in the death of clownfish exposed to these neurotoxins after being stripped from their protective stomachs. This stomach allows the clownfish to find shelter from predators within the protection of the anemone’s tentacles. It is common for a clownfish to stay within 2-4 inches of its host for its entire life. This symbiosis has led to clownfish commonly called anemonefish.
Clownfish are tough and docile creatures. They make an excellent choice for serious aquarists. They are also the perfect addition to a marine tank. Catching sea anemones presents more of a challenge. Fortunately for beginners, clownfish can be killed without their natural host animals. Just make sure to provide them with adequate storage space and avoid mixing them with more aggressive species and you’ll be fine. Once you have more experience you can choose to add anemone to your aquarium. Be sure to check for compatibility with your local fish store or online retailer. The individual characteristics of clownfish are compatible with different sea anemones.
Despite their ridiculous nature, clownfish will show territorial behavior towards other clownfish, even clownfish of the same species. It is best to keep a clownfish or a pair.
Clownfish are eaten commercially in captivity. When buying any captive-bred fish you want to buy captive-bred rather than wild-caught fish. You will have a happier, healthier fish that is much more likely to adapt to its new environment. And tank farmed fish are generally more disease resistant than their wild counterparts.
Clownfish are omnivorous. Clownfish raised without the presence of sea anemones can be fed vitamin enriched brine shrimp, or zooplankton in combination with frozen foods formulated for omnivores.
Spawning Clownfish Unlike most hermaphroditic fish species clownfish are sequential hermaphrodites. All clownfish are born as males as opposed to protogynous hermaphrodites who are always born as females. If two clownfish are in an aquarium together the larger of the two will turn into a female.
You will want to use a breeding tank if you are trying to breed clownfish in captivity. Place a piece of pvc pipe at the bottom of your aquarium floor to be used as a breeding chamber. The eggs will be deposited either on the bottom of the pipe or on the surface of a nearby flat rock. The fry will hatch 6-10 days later.
Newly hatched fry are very small. They should eat rotifers until they grow up. Once they are a little bigger, they can be fed freshly hatched brine shrimp or powdered dry food.
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