Some of the most common questions we get from customers are about the relationship between clownfish and anemones (especially after the release of a certain animated movie several years ago). Aquarists see that relationship and want to replicate it in their own aquarium, only to find that the clownfish and anemone they brought home don’t seem to want anything to do with one another. “Why is that?!”, many ask. “I thought they couldn’t live without each other!” The truth is….they can. Anemones don’t need clownfish and clownfish don’t need the anemone, especially in aquariums where (hopefully) they don’t have any predators to hide from. In the wild, the anemone’s stinging tentacles give the clownfish somewhere to hide from and the clownfish’s messy diet gives the anemones some extra food (although there have been reports of clownfish actively feeding their anemones, but that’s another blog).
So, what can you do to increase the chances of making a successful match? Choose the right anemone! Not all anemones and clownfish are found together in nature and some clownfish have very picky tastes when it comes to where they want to live. Some clownfish, especially tankraised fish that might have been captive-bred for many generations, may never choose to host in an anemone, but choosing one they are more likely to prefer will increase your chances. Here are some of the more common aquarium anemones and some of the common clownfish that prefer them:
|Bubbletip Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)||
|Long-tentacle Anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis)||
|Sebae Anemone (Heteractis crispa)||
|Carpet Anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni, S. gigantea, S. mertensii)||
|Magnificent Anemone (Radianthus magnifica)||
|Condy (Condylactis gigantea), Curlyque Anemone (Bartholomea annulata); Tube Anemone (Cerianthus membranaceous)||None! These anemones, though very common in the aquarium trade are not clownfish hosts. In fact, they can be dangerous to and even eat some fish.|
Of course, this list is just a guideline of anemone preferences in the wild. In aquariums, many clownfish may host in anemones other than those listed here, especially Bubbletip, Long-tentacle and Carpet Anemones. They may even choose corals or other inverts (we had a maroon clown in a display tank a few years ago that bonded with a Feather Duster Worm). Don’t be discouraged if your clownfish doesn’t go into an anemone – it may change its mind down the road, and if not, you still have two awesome animals in your tank!
Until next time,