Can Clownfish Live in Freshwater?


Clownfish have become a pretty popular choice for aquariums ever since Nemo was lost.

The Ultimate Guide To Saltwater Fish…

However, the easiest and most common aquarium is a freshwater aquarium so when considering a clownfish, one of the first things you need to know is…

Clownfish cannot live in freshwater. They are from the ocean and their bodies are acclimated to a saltwater environment. Clownfish live in warmer saltwater tropical waters in the ocean. If they are in freshwater for too long, they will die.

If you really want that clownfish for your kiddo or if you are just an adult Nemo fan, let’s get started setting up that saltwater aquarium for your clownfish.

First, you need to learn some important info about clownfish, like their habitat and diet, so you can set up the perfect living conditions for them in your aquarium.

A saltwater aquarium can be a bit harder than a freshwater aquarium, but I have some great news for you. Clownfish are a great beginner fish for a saltwater aquarium, so they are great, to begin with.

Keep reading so you can learn more about a clownfish’s natural habitat and then we’ll show you how to set up a saltwater aquarium for your own clownfish…

Clownfish Habitat

Clownfish live in warmer waters like the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Pacific Ocean which includes the Great Barrier Reef. Clownfish usually live at the bottom of shallow waters in covered reefs and lagoons.

Clownfish are called anemonefish because they live with anemones in their natural ocean habitat.

Anemones, actually called sea anemones, are actually a predatory animal in the ocean. They are related to jellyfish and corals.

Anemones are usually attached to a hard surface at their base but some live in soft sediment or float near the surface. Anemones have tentacles that extend and grab passing prey, shock it and then pull it in to eat it. They feed off small fish and algae.

If anemones are predatory, why in the world would clownfish have anything to do with them?

Just like in ‘Finding Nemo clown fish actually depend on the anemones. Clownfish have mucous that covers their body so the tentacles from the anemone can’t shock them. Because of this, the anemone does not think they are food.

Since the anemone can’t shock clownfish they can flee among the anemone tentacles and hide from predators.

Clownfish also feed off the leftover scraps from dead fish (killed by anemones) and leftover parts of dead anemone tentacles. So, in essence, the anemone serves as a safe home to stay in and to get some free food. What more can you ask for?

In return for this safe nest, the clownfish give nutrition to the anemone through their excrement. This provides the anemone with more algae to eat. Clownfish also defend the anemone from predators or parasites.

To summarize, clownfish live in warm tropical saltwater and among anemones. So the ideal living conditions in your aquarium would be as close as possible to their ‘natural’ habitat…

Setting Up Your Saltwater Aquarium

  • When” you get your tank, you need to make sure it isn’t close to any doors vents or windows. If the water temperature in your saltwater aquarium changes to fast, it can cause health problems for all fish much less a saltwater fish.
  • You need to make sure that whatever you set your aquarium on is going to be sturdy enough to support the water weight from the aquarium.
  • You need to make sure there are enough electrical outlets close by to support filter equipment, lighting and a heater for the water.
  • You need to make sure there is enough room between the tank and the wall to fit this equipment and to perform the proper maintenance.
  • You need to clean your tank even if it is new just in case it has been sitting for a while
  • You need to make sure your clownfish aquarium is level either with level tool or just put some water in it and eyeball it. Try to make sure the water level is straight along the bottom or the top of the tank.
  • You can attach a background to your tank at this point if you have one before you fill your tank.

Skimmer and Filter –

These always come with easy setup instructions, so you will not have any problem here. Just do not plug them in yet.

Substrate –

The substrate is the material used at the bottom of your aquarium tank. This is important because it affects the filtration and chemistry of the water, in turn affecting the health of your clownfish.

There is ‘live sand’ available to purchase that is similar to what you find in the ocean. Just make sure you rinse everything before you put it in your tank.

The Heater –

When you put your water heater in the tank, just make sure it is as close as possible to the water flowing out of the filter if it is non–submersible. A submersible heater should be placed as close as possible to where the water is flowing into the filter.

Always check your tank for leaks throughout this process and during the life of your aquarium during this process and always check your measuring tools like your thermometer or hydrometer to ensure the safety of your clownfish.

Thermometer –

The thermometer, like all aquarium equipment, comes with easy-to-follow instructions. Just make sure the thermometer is away from the aquarium heater…

Fill Your Aquarium With Water and Salt –

You can use a 5-gallon bucket as long as it is clean. Male sure you use reverse osmosis water (you can filter your faucet water or buy some). “Put your pump in and start circulating the water. Start with a cup of ‘aquarium salt’ and add more as needed to achieve the proper salinity/gravity…

This is measured with a refractometer. Let the water mix for a few minutes before measuring with the refractometer or hydrometer. These measuring tools always come with easy-to-follow instructions. If you keep the same tank you can write down or memorize the amount of salt you use for next time…

It is easier to use the 5-gallon bucket because you can just mix one bucket at a time. Here is a chart below with some good specifications for clownfish…

Ideal Temp 76- 78 Degrees Fahrenheit

Salinity 1.020 – 1.026sg PH8.1 – 8.4 Alkalinity 7 – 12 dkh Nitrates 20ppm or less Minimum Tank Size 20 gallons Tank Contents Live Sand for Aquariums

It comes in handy to have a spare aquarium heater so you can heat the water in the bucket before you pour it into the aquarium.  You need a gravity reading of 1.020 with a hydrometer. 1.020 to 1.025 is good for just fish but bump it up to 1.023 to 1.025 if you want to add something like an anemone to your aquarium…

Let your aquarium full of water sit for a day with the heater and filter running and then make any final adjustments to your measurements. Your water may become cloudy because of the atmosphere. Just wait until the cloudiness goes away and your measurements are right before you add clownfish or anemones.

Clownfish Diet –

Clownfish are easy to feed because they eat a wide variety of food. They are omnivores, which means they eat meat and plants.

Any flake/pellet food made for fish will work. If you want to go the extra mile, you can feed them some live food for fish. They only need to be fed once a day. Just keep giving them food until they are full.

Extra Tips

Make sure your power cords run from the tank down to the ground before going up to the electrical outlet – this keeps water from running to the outlet.

When you first start the filter the water level will probably drop so you will have to add more water.

Certain species like snails, crabs, or starfish will keep your tank clean.

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