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FAQs about the Clownfish Behavior 1

Related FAQs: Clown Behavior 2, Clown Behavior 3, Clown Behavior 4, Clown Behavior 5, Clown Behavior 6, & Anemones & Clownfishes, Clownfish/Anemones 1, Clownfish/Anemones 2, Clownfish/Anemones 3, Breeding ClownsClownfishes 1, Clownfishes 2, Clownfish Identification, Clownfish Selection, Clownfish Compatibility, Clownfish Systems, Clownfish Feeding, Maroon Clownfish, Clownfish Diseases 1, Clownfish Diseases 2Clownfish Diseases 3, Brooklynellosis,

Related Articles: ClownfishesMaroon Clowns, Brooklynellosis

Peculiar clownfish behaviour Greetings! We hope you can help us! <Me too> We set up a 100 gal. saltwater tank on Feb 1. We have added 108 lbs. of live rock, 120 lbs. of gravel, 20 lbs. of live sand, 10 snails, 10 blue leg hermit crabs, 2 emerald crabs, 3 brittle starfish, 1 dancing shrimp. On Feb 18 we added 2 ocellaris clownfish. On March 2 we added 2 Banggai Cardinalfish.  We didn't quarantine anything (didn't know better), but are reading avidly now and learning a lot! Your website is an amazing teaching tool! <Our intention... along with inspiration of course!> We thought one of our clownfish mysteriously had been sucked out of the tank or eaten, but just this past week we had seen him hiding in behind the live rock and mouth breathing. We set up a hospital tank, but before it had warmed up enough to put the patient in, he died tonight.  The weird thing happening now is, one of the Cardinalfish is hovering about an inch from the bottom in the area where the clownfish died; he was hanging around him before he died. The remaining clownfish has been passing thru and several times has come down to the cardinal and settled down on the sand beside him or even on top of him!  Are they in mourning, or does the clownfish think the cardinal is an anemone? <Hard to say... but this happens> Worse yet, are they both sick, and should we isolate both of them in the hospital tank? <Too late for quarantine to be of much use... whatever is happening... is "in the tank"> The other cardinal has been active on the other side of the tank and doesn't hang out with the other cardinal, but seems to like hanging out in the clownfish's corner, and the 2 of them are quite lively.  Is it normal for the other cardinal fish to just hang out quietly and subdued like that, away from the other two? <This species, yes> Thanks in advance, we sincerely appreciate your help! UnderTheSea, R & R <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Clown aggression Hey fish people. your site is so informative.  My question is I got a 24g nano cube two months ago and I have a purple firefish and a flasher wrasse as the inhabitants. I talked to my LFS and they said it would be ok to add a maroon clownfish to it considering it will be the last addition to the tank. The maroon is just a baby about more than an inch long. It shows no aggression to the other clowns in the divided sections at the pet store. It just seems to be happy in his BTA and does venture out from time to time. I'm sure his aggression will appear later when it gets older. So would it be wise to buy it when so young and should I put a BTA ASAP to calm the aggression? Thanks for all your input. TJ  <I would not put a maroon in a cube tank this size. There will be some aggression as it grows. Adding a BTA will just increase the aggression as the clown will be defending it. You really don't want a BTA in this size tank also, especially if you are going to have corals etc. James (Salty Dog)> 

Sick clownfish appearance? [I] wanted to know what are the symptoms for a clown fish having a bladder infection? <Mostly trouble in spatial orientation... sitting on bottom, floating at top... on its side...> I have a clown fish that usually swims out around the whole tank, now he just stays in the back left side corner of the tank. When he begins to swim toward the surface I feed him [and] he gets the food and then right back to the corner.  I notice[d] him stay right above the sand in an up right position with his back tail right on the sand and his mouth up right towards the surface.  My pH, ammonia, and nitrites are normal. What could be the problem? I think a bladder infection of some sort, how should I treat him? <You need to start adding spaces, capitalizing your "I's"... There's nothing likely wrong with your Clown... this is normal behavior for a single one (better in pairs, twos)... Bob Fenner> 

- Cheering-up an Angry Clown - Hi Crew, Hopefully all is well with you today.  <And you as well.>  We just received several more inches of snow in New England this morning so I am just dreaming of Spring here! Today I need some help with my female maroon clownfish. I have had this mated pair for about two years now and the female is approximately 3.5" in length. Over the past six months I have seen this fish tear polyps out of my Alveopora, rip chunks out of hairy mushrooms, push soft corals around the tank and just be a general "tank bully".  <Pretty standard for maroon clowns when they get to this size.> I thought this might be due to the loss of the BTA that had previously been the home for this pair of fish so I added a new rose BTA. This did appear to solve the problem initially but one morning I noticed the female clown aggressively tearing flesh from the oral cavity of the BTA. I moved the BTA to my refugium and, after about a month it appeared to have nearly recovered. Unfortunately it just died this morning. I have noticed a few fluorescent green Alveopora polyps lying on the substrate so I think this clown might be back to her old tricks as well.  Do you have any suggestions for dealing with this clownfish?  <Like what? Send it to reform school? There's not much you can "do" beyond isolation I'm afraid to say.>  This is really a beautiful pair of fish but the female is wreaking havoc on my reef so I am beginning to wonder if I might not be able to keep her. Of course catching her in a 180g tank, full of LR is another problem! I have read that Ritteri anemones are the preferred anemones of gold stripe maroon clowns. Do you think adding a large Ritteri would solve this problem?  <No... these fish are what they are... the anemone would only make it more territorial.>  I had also thought the female maroon might have been "angry" because the previous anemone was only 2.5" - not quite large enough for both clowns.  <Doubt this... honestly very hard to "know" the motivations of fish, but it is safe to say those motivations rarely mirror our own.>  I want to find a solution to this problem but I do not want to just offer another anemone as a sacrifice either.  Regarding the Ritteri, I have also read that these anemones are difficult to keep and that they tend to wander more than other anemones.  <Usually in search of proper light.>  Since I have several corals in my tank, this would be a problem for me. I have previously prevented coral / anemone contact by keeping the anemone on a separate island of LR from the main reef wall. BTAs (at least mine) do not appear to like to travel across sand, so this kept them on their own, separated rocks. Would this setup likely prevent a Ritteri anemone from wandering onto my corals as well?  <Hard to say, but I will say this: I've a good friend back in San Diego who has a custom 240, which has a divided section on one end of his reef tank. This separate, but connected section houses his two tomato clowns and a large carpet anemone. This accomplished two things - it stopped the anemone from wandering and the clowns from ripping everyone else apart. He can't put his hand in to the tank to clean without getting bitten.> I apologize for the long email but thank you, in advance, for your help. This has been a problem I have been trying to solve for a long time.  --Greg <Cheers, J -- > 

Clown suicide Hello all...just had the weirdest thing happen...I have a 30g tank...25 lbs of live rock, 2 pair clowns, 1 shrimp watchman goby, 8 hermit crabs, 2 cleaner shrimp, 3 snails...8.2ph 0 ammonia 0 nitrite....I woke up this morning and just found one of my clown fish, the smallest one which is the male, on the floor dead...looks like he jumped out, why would he do that?   the weird thing is that I have a Tru vu tank which has the light fixture cover on and a hang on Prizm skimmer on the back and the powerhead and filter tubes coming into the tank...don't see how he fit....am I able to just buy another clown and pair it up?...female is large size...she is a false percula. <Julio, can't tell you exactly why he jumped out.  Normally a flash of light or whatever to frighten the fish.  Yes, another clown should get along fine, you'll just see some minor skirmishes to decide who is going to be what sex.  James (Salty Dog)> Clownfish behavior... normal for crowding, aging Hi: Thanks a lot for keeping such a wonderful site I've learned a lot about my fish just by reading at other people's questions and your valuable answers! <Ah, good> We have a 10 gallon tank that converted to a saltwater tank maybe 9-10 months ago. We've been receiving advice from a local marine store where we buy our fish. At this point we have two clownfish (bought small tank raised) now size about 1 3/4-2 in and one slightly smaller than the second, one sixline wrasse, two dwarf feather dusters and a few snails and hermit crabs. A skeleton, no live rock, just sand and an ornamental rock (clownfish home). Clownfish got along well with normal behavior until recently after our trip (we were gone for almost a month and left them with an automatic feeder and friends who came twice a week to check water conditions and feed them brine shrimp). We had left them with an automatic feeder before (4-5 days) and found out that they were perfectly fine, so we decided to give it a try. Our friends always reported the fish to be fine as well as the readings.  Anyways, the first day after our arrival the clownfish were extremely aggressive against each other (readings were fine), up to the point where they were "blocking" their jaws. The larger was the most affected, and as a consequence it was sitting at the bottom of the tank in a corner with its jaw extremely damaged and not eating. Therefore we decided to separate them (using a division)... <Good move> ...for almost three weeks, they could see each other, and the aggressiveness through the division decreased throughout the days. Yesterday we removed the division and allow them to get back together. At the beginning they were doing fine, not fighting, swimming together, twitching against other, "female" always swimming in front of male and no male aggressiveness, both ate fine. However last night (once the lights were turned off) the "female" was hiding from the other inside the skeleton (abnormal place for her to be in), or on the corners of the tank behind other rocks as the male kept looking for her. Every time he found her, HE started to pick at her hardly trying to bring her next to their "favorite" rock (dominant behavior in the smaller one). It looks like the male keeps trying to be the dominant now trying to regulate where she should go, and how far she can go.....(maybe not a male after all). <Actually... the larger, more aggressive of the sexes in these fishes is the female> Their size is very similar although you can tell that she is still a bit larger. So what should we do if they become severely aggressive again? <What you need to do period... get a larger system. A ten gallon is WAY too small> Should we just let them sit and wait or should we pull them apart again? Will they remain as male and female or would they become two females (can we keep them together if this turns out to be the case)? <One will almost invariably change into a larger, more dominant female... keeping the other a male...> Would an anemone help or would it make it worse? <Worse by far in terms of your troubles keeping this system going...> Also we are aware that our tank is pretty small but we're planning on moving in less than a year and thought that we would rather keep a smaller tank until we move (easier to transport), and always thought about having an anemone (not sure we have enough space and light 50/50 Coralife fluorescent screw-in bulbs total of 30W) What would you suggest?  Thanks for your help! Denia <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clownfis.htm  and the Related files (linked above, in blue) re clownfish behavior, reproduction, systems... Bob Fenner> 

Clown fish sick or lazy?? I have a 10 gallon tank with two clown fish, several snails, 5 hermit crabs, and a cleaner shrimp. One of the fish has started lying motionless on the bottom in the corner. If someone comes near the tank, it will get up and come to the front of the tank. It is still eating well, and is not showing any other strange behavior.  I see no external signs of disease. I have had the fish for about 2 years. The only things that I have added in the last two months are two snails. The water  parameters are as follows: SG - 1.024, ammonia - 0, nitrite - 0, nitrate - 5, pH - 8.4, kh-10, Ca- 450-500,  <Calcium is a bit high... I'd let this drop a good 100-150 ppm> Temperature - 76-78. These have changed little for the past year or more. I change 2 gallons of water every other week. I feed them Mega Marine frozen food once per day. Any idea what could be causing this behavior?  Thanks, Bob Irwin <Actually... may be as you state, simply natural (lazy) behavior... Clownfishes are rather sedentary in the wild. Your set-up, though small, sounds like it's very  well run. Bob Fenner> 

- Clown Fish Sick or Lazy?? Follow-up - Bob <JasonC here in his stead.> This is new behavior for my fish. I guess it could still be normal even though it is different. A newsgroup participant suggested it my be an infected swim bladder and that I should treat it with Maracyn 2. Does this seem like a possibility.  <It "seems" like a possibility but not one I'd be in a hurry to follow up on... typically swim bladder infections display differently, problems swimming, fish being vertical in the water column... not laying about on the bottom.>  Since I don't have a quarantine tank, I am reluctant to try this.  <Well... this is a good time to get a quarantine tank. Is always good to have the stuff laying about in case it is needed.>  Maybe the best course is to just observe the fish as long as he is eating well.  <I agree.>  By the way, the only thing that I have been feeding them is a frozen product called Mega Marine. Is it possible a diet change would be beneficial.  <No matter how the fish is swimming, it's always a good idea to mix up the diet.> Thanks, Bob I. <Cheers, J -- >

- Clownfish Behavior - Hello again, We have a maroon clownfish and in the past couple of days he is digging around his anemone. Just curious as to were this behavior is coming from.  <It's in their genes... pretty typical, and in truth hard to know the actual motivations of any fish.>  Thanks in advance <Cheers, J -- >

Coral Beauty missing fin Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2005 I have a pair of clowns male and female...I just bought a coral beauty 4 days ago...now my coral beauty is missing one fin to swim and I'm sure my female clown did it!... <Have CSI check it out> I have decided to sale [sic] my clowns and replace them...first question is how much should I charge for the pair?  Second question is what can I do to help the coral beauty recuperate?  Will the fin grow back?  <Julio, welcome to the world of marine fish keeping. What you just have experienced goes on every day. The clowns are just protecting their territory. This will subside soon. The Coral Beauty will eventually grow it's fin back without any help <<Or the clowns will kill it... more likely. RMF>>. If you must sell the clowns, they are basically worth what someone is willing to pay for them. Base this on what you paid for them. James (Salty Dog)>

Percula Clown Attack I reviewed your website and didn't see anything mentioned regarding aggression of the Percula clown to other species of fish. <I didn't either, just the section on breeding marine fish which I'm sure you've looked at>  We have two mated Percula clowns for seven years.<Great>  They are constantly laying eggs on a piece of live rock underneath a soft leather coral. We recently purchased a red flame hawk and they have attacked it every chance they get. The hawk is not even near their "rock", but they will search and destroy every chance they get. There are other fish in the tank ( some old and some added recently) but they do not bother with them. Is this normal behavior and can I try anything to discourage their contempt for their new tank mate? Thanks! Diane Bachman Active Saltwater Hobbyist X12 years <Diane, it is very normal behavior as the clowns are trying to protect their young/nesting site. It is quite possible the clowns are not regarding the others as a threat, but it is unusual to only pick on one. Tank size will have an effect on this, the smaller the tank the more aggression that will take place. You didn't mention your tank size. James (Salty Dog>

Percula Clown Attack Mark2 Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2005 Wow...can't believe the quick response! Thanks. <Your welcome>  My tank is a 120 gallon.  Is it possible by moving the piece of live rock to another area of the tank they will be less focused on the hawk? Presently, their "rock" is in the center of the tank towards the front, thus they attack on both sides.  <Diane, you could move the rock anywhere and it will temporarily cut down the aggression towards the hawk. Generally, just rearranging the area of the spot they inhabit, even turning rocks around helps. James (Salty Dog>

Clown/Dartfish incompatibility My other query is on my recent purchase of a firefish (Magnifica).  The fish is continually bullied by my captive bred Percula clown, to the extent that it will not eat.  I removed the clown and the firefish ate for a couple of weeks, but when I reintroduced the clown the same thing happened.  The clown has no anemone or particular territory in the tank, but will chase the firefish remorselessly.  I've currently put the clown in a mesh bag in the tank to try to get them used to each other but I am not too hopeful.  Any other tactics I can try? <Set the clown in a colander (a pasta strainer, plastic) in the tank for a good two weeks... if this doesn't calm it down, reconcile yourself to either trading one/t'other in, or getting another tank. Bob Fenner> Thank for a great site Peter

Clownfish raising, breeding Dear Crew, <Peter> My tank is up and running for about a month now (thanks again for helping me setting it up). Just to refresh your memory it's a 55 gal with 4-5" deep sand bed, 60-65 pounds of live rock, AquaC Remora, Fluval 304, 2X MaxiJet 1200 Powerheads). The water condition (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, sg and ph) is good, so I've put in two A. percula in there, they are about 1 inch long. I was told that if you get them small then they will turn into male and a female as they grow up (when they grow to about 2 inches long). <Usually so> Mine were fine for first couple of days, swam together, played with each other, etc. but yesterday they have started to get into fights and nip at each others fins. <Typical> That is all they have been doing since then. Today I have noticed that their fins are torn in some places. Do you think I should give them time and see if they start to get a long, or should I take one back to the store (which I would really hate to do but will if it is absolutely necessary). <I would leave them be> I really wanted a pair hoping that they will reproduce in the future. What is your expert advice on this one? Is it possible that my clowns will eventually come to like each other? If not how do I get a pair in my tank (I would not want to buy an adult established pair because it is more interesting to me if I grow them myself) Thank you very much for all your help. Peter <Likely will learn to get along. Bob Fenner> Clarkii's pairing up Hello,<Hello Stewart> I have two unmated clarkii's that will not share the anemone, in fact since the smaller has been kicked out he took up residence in a torch coral and killed it. My LFS said to take the clowns out and put them in a QT to pair up. The Qt is only 10gs and they seem to be swimming around together happy after one week. My question are: Is this a good method for pairing and if so how long before they can go home? <Stewart, all clowns are born the same sex.  When pairing up occurs, one will change to a female.  The female will become the larger of the two. When they can go home, I can't say. I would leave them in QT for two weeks and let them back in the main tank.  Can I ask what kind of anemone you have for them?  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, Stewart Hardie

- Clown Antics - Hey guys, just had a brief question about Clownfish behaviour. <Ok.> I have a 90 gallon tank and have had two percula clowns (Bonnie and Clyde) for over two years.  They were originally about 2", both the same size.  They are good buddies and always hangout together.  One is now approach 4" and the other remains about 2.5". <What has likely happened is that the one who is now larger has become the female of the pair.> The smaller one always hides when I have tank tongs or my hand in the water.  However, the larger clownfish lunges at me.  When he actually connects, ya it's a little nip, but he can actually hang on to my hand. <He is a she.> He's a vicious little sucker.  I've read that larger clowns can actually draw blood with their bite? <Yes, they can... pretty typical for the female to become aggressive, the smaller male passive.> Next point of interest.  Would clowns be able to see out of the tank? <Sure.> Ya they all come to the top when it is feeding time before I bring food anywhere near the tank.  But the larger vicious clown, when I have both sides of my tank top open, will actually leap from the water landing on his side thus shooting water at me (kind of like a sideways belly flop).  He has a decent enough aim with these belly flops because he has yet to miss shooting water on my shirt or face. Is this normal? <I wouldn't call it abnormal... not that I've heard specifically about jumping and splashing, but it sounds like a defensive behavior which would be pretty normal, sure.> I find it amusing and fascinating... yet at the same time am developing a fear for my clownfish.  Give me a Rottweiler, cattle, or an eel any day, but I think I am developing a Clown Fish phobia *sigh* (I am such a wimp). <Personally, I'd much rather be bitten by a clownfish than a Rottweiler.> Dave <Cheers, J -- >

Clownfish behaviour Hey guys, just had a brief question about Clownfish behaviour. I have a 90 gallon tank and have had two percula clowns (Bonnie and Clyde) for over two years.  They were originally about 2", both the same size.  They are good buddies and always hangout together.  One is now approach 4" and the other remains about 2.5".<You have a pair> The smaller one always hides when I have tank tongs or my hand in the water.  However, the larger clownfish lunges at me.  When he actually connects, ya it's a little nip, but he can actually hang on to my hand.  He's a vicious little sucker.  I've read that larger clowns can actually draw blood with their bite?<I've had a large Tomato Clown attack my hand but never drew blood.> Next point of interest.  Would clowns be able to see out of the tank?  Ya they all come to the top when it is feeding time before I bring food anywhere near the tank.  But the larger vicious clown, when I have both sides of my tank top open, will actually leap from the water landing on his side thus shooting water at me (kind of like a sideways belly flop).  He has a decent enough aim with these belly flops because he has yet to miss shooting water on my shirt or face.<That sounds unusual> Is this normal?  I find it amusing and fascinating... yet at the same time am developing a fear for my clownfish.  Give me a Rottweiler, cattle, or an eel any day, but I think I am developing a Clown Fish phobia *sigh* (I am such a wimp).<Like most people, the nip startles you while cleaning the tank causing you to pull back your arm, usually getting everything wet in the process.  They are certainly not going to hurt you.  James (Salty Dog) Dave Clown Hosting Alternatives? Hi guys, <Ruthanne> I have a 12 gallon nano cube, has about 126 watts of modded lighting.  I'm unfamiliar with my GPH but as of now it's only running the Rio 606, I plan on drilling a hole in my sump in the back and adding a second powerhead as a counter-flow.  I've done my homework and know that my tank is just way too small to house an anemone comfortably, but my poor little clown has been hosting this dead powerhead for weeks now and I feel awfully bad he's lonely. <Mmm, not lonely...> What corals do you know of that I could purchase that would live under my lighting conditions that my clown could possibly host in?  I would appreciate any help that you have with this matter. I don't think he will have much trouble hosting something else as he seems pretty clingy. If he found comfort in a powerhead, I'm sure he can find comfort in something else!  Will a frogspawn be too much for my tank?  Thanks for taking the time to answer my question! - Ruth <A good choice, but do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnfshanemfaqs.htm and the Related FAQs (linked, in blue, above). Bob Fenner>

Fighting clowns Hey, Great website, thanks for all the help.  I recently got a red-bubble tip anemone and two ocellaris clowns. I got them four days ago, and all was well up until tonight.  All of a sudden, the two clowns are not leaving the anemone (which they took too very quickly) and are fighting.  They are really going at it.  I removed one and put it in a small breeder box in the tank, but what should I do?  Is this normal,<they more than likely are deciding which one will be the female, this will soon pass>  (James) should I just let them figure it out?  HELP!  One is larger than the other, but the little one sure is feisty. Thanks a million in advance. -Pauli

Catching a Clown (12/27/04) Hello there.  I have read all I can find on your board as well as on the internet pertaining to maroon clowns and destructive behavior. I have a well established 135 gallon reef with only a few fish, one of them being a small (1.5") gold striped maroon clown. He has been no problem throughout his history in my tank until now. He has claimed a long tentacle plate coral for his home really tries to take good care of it. The coral is doing well, no adverse effects are noted.  However, I recently added a flower pot coral to my tank and the little ba#$%@d has decided to remove polyps from the flower pot to feed the plate. I have relocated the flower pot several times, moved rocks, I even moved the plate but nothing helps. I found a posting on your site that discussed this but my goal is different. I want the fish OUT of my tank. Without tearing the entire tank apart, do you have a good solution to catching the clown?  Thanks for your help. <Bad news indeed. Have you read about the dismal survival rate of flowerpots in captivity? Exceedingly few last more than a few months, even without a fish tearing them up. Even with the clown gone, your flowerpot is unlikely to survive. Do read up on how to maximize its chances. As for getting the clown out, the tear-down is sometimes the only thing that works. There are fish traps (commercial or jury-rigged) that sometimes work. Search "fish trap" or "trapping fish" on WWM or check with your LFS. Good luck, Steve Allen.>

Clownfish behavior <Hi Mark, MacL here with you today. I have a terrible cold so bear with me if I sound a tad off. Very medicated lol.> I have had a pair of percula clown fish for about a year now. Recently they have both stationed themselves on the bottom of the tank right in the front.  They just lay there in the sand with little movement.  They leave that area when the lights go out, only to return in the morning.  The larger clown will leave his spot to feed. The smaller one is a little more reluctant. They both return to their spots in the sand after feeding. They both seem to look around their sand spots very closely. I don't see anything there. <Honestly it sounds like they are preparing to lay eggs.> Any reason for their behavior? <Their behavior typically sounds like a pair that has chosen where they intend to nest and then protecting that nesting site.> I have a 55 gallon tank with around 60 lbs of live rock and live sand.  I haven't introduce any new fish in quite some time. <Sounds like a marvelous tank.> Blue tang, Coral Beauty, neon goby, and fire shrimp.  They all seemed to get along very well. All the water parameters are fine. All the other fish look and act very healthy. <There is a possibility that they aren't feeling well and are choosing a place to hide as it were but my best evaluation is that they have picked out a nesting site and will shortly lay eggs there or in the nearby vicinity.  There are great discussions on this site about clownfish breeding and an ongoing discussion by a person who is breeding clownfish on www.fragexchange.com. Good luck, MacL>Thanks. Clownfish Aggression 12/27/04 Dear WWM, I recently purchased two clownfish. They  are either false or true perculas. I can't seem to identify them. They don't  have as much black on them as some of the true perculas I've seen, yet they have  more than some of the false ones. <Telling them apart for sure often involves counting fin rays and some other very specific and subtle anatomic differences.  One good way to guess is price...  True Percs rarely sell for less than $25 each, while ocellaris rarely sell for more than about $15.> The store I bought them from was only selling  them as a pair. At the store they were swimming together, and they continued to do so for a few days. After this point they began to fight. One of the fish  usually just chases the other one around. Although they fight they still swim  next to each other once in awhile. <This sounds like very normal juvenile clownfish behavior.  One will become dominant, grow larger and developed female reproductive organs.  The other will remain submissive, smaller and will remain male.> They are currently the only two fish in a 75  gallon aquarium. The only other things in with them are two skunk cleaner shrimp, two turbo snails, and a pulsing xenia. The fish look very healthy and there color is great. I don't know whether I should take one back, or if  this is just something that they go though. I am worried about the stress that the fish that is being chased is suffering. Please inform me what your suggestion is.  Thank you. <Without any additional stress and as long as they have a good diet, your fish will do just fine through this process.  Enjoy the process for how amazing it is!  In a couple of weeks, all will be settled.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Clowns, Crabs Thanks a lot for the fast response.  I actually received two responses on my letter!  Not bad! <Well, not bad if we agreed!> I don't see a plump belly or any rock cleaning going on, But she did eat a few flakes last night after I sent the E-mail.. so hopefully everything is going to be ok. <I am sure it will.  Switching brands of food or trying tempting treats like frozen Mysis often help too.> These two fish have been "side by side shimmying" since I first laid eyes on them in the stores tank,  they are always doing the "Cichlid Shimmy" as I came to think of it over several years of raising cichlids.  Hopefully this is a good sign. Anyways, I plan to get the Wilkerson book ASAP. <Sounds like love!  The Wilkerson book is one of my favorites.  It is easy to read, but packed with practical info.> Ahhh... what big crabs are scary?  Did you mean the mystery crabs (both of which were under the size of a quarter when I last saw them...one was brown and bumpy, the other was almost white and buries himself in the sand, actually got him with a bag of live sand) or the large "spider Crab" which I am told is a total scavenger... I watched him for a long time in the store and never  saw any untoward behaviour.  This still remains true 4 or 5 months in my tank... the only time I've ever seen him even touch anything else is when a hermit crab was hanging onto it's leg... it tried to shake it off, making NO move to kill it.  It is possible that one or both of the mystery crabs ate my firefish about 9 months ago, as it disappeared without a trace (actually, so did a peppermint shrimp) but it is also possible that my anemone got them....or they jumped (you know... horrible, horrible freedom!).  Should I be overly concerned about any of these crabs?  Perhaps I should try to catch them, if they're still alive. <I personally don't trust any crabs, even supposedly "reef safe" hermits.  Their usefulness really doesn't outweigh their risks.  I have seen crabs tear apart corals and anemone for food, and they are quite capable of killing fish, especially at night.  In the case of your firefish and shrimp, I would guess jumping and anemone food to be the most likely scenarios.> The reason I asked about the immobile brittle star is that I have a serpent star that crawls all over, day and night, but even in the middle of the night the brittlestar only pokes the tips of his legs out, he's been under that rock for nearly a year to the best of my knowledge. Thanks again... Tom <There are many brittle stars that live a very sedentary lifestyle.  They nestle down into a hole in a rock or crevice and wait for food to come to them.  As long as you see that it is alive, there is nothing to worry about.  If it isn't getting enough food, it will move to a new spot.  If you are really worried, you could target feed it small morsels of food to be sure that it is getting enough.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Sick clownfish HI Very informative site! I introduced two clarkii clowns to my 10 gallon tank one week ago. One is about 2 inches and the other about one 1.25 inches. About two days ago the larger one stopped eating and hides away a lot. Any ideas of what this behaviour could be caused by? << Unfortunately many clowns will ship poorly and don't do well in our tanks.  This sounds like a very common sick clown.  The best advise I can give is to quarantine if you can, and try offering live foods. >> All tank parameters are normal. Thanks for the help. Regards Nasi <<  Blundell  >> Dying clown fish? We added a Percula Clown to our 12 Gal Nano-Cube Three days ago add he joined a Manchurian Gobi, and a Royal Gramma. For three days everything has been great and the three fish have interacted well together. Today however we noticed that the clown is sitting head ground on the sand and while he is not gasping he is breathing rapidly. When stirred he will move away, (swimming normally), but immediately returns to the exact spot. Our water salinity was at 1.026 but we did a 25% water change and got it to 1.022. All of our other chemical test show things to be normal. Are we losing him????? << Yep.  Sounds like what happens so often with clowns.  I think they just ship and acclimate poorly.  I don't think I can offer much advice other than to provide healthy and live foods and hope for the best. >> <<  Blundell  >>

Marine quarantine, clownfish behavior, mixing grammas 1. I have an empty 20g tank that sits in the garage.  I would like to set it up for a QT tank, but don't want to have the heater running 24/7.  I am thinking of an insulated blanket of some sort - perhaps a modified moving <When the fish are in the tank, a heater is a must for a constant temperature.> blanket.  Will total darkness for extended amounts of time (2-3 weeks) cause fish to go psycho? <Total darkness for such a long time would not be beneficial for the fish. Just about any light will do just fine for a QT. You can also purchase a standard socket/reflector and run a regular 50wt bulb off of that for less than $10.00 from Home Depot. This is a very cheap way to go about getting light for the QT.> I don't need the fishy version of Hannibal Lechter causing havoc in my display tank after doing hard time in a dark QT... 2. Do clowns rest?  I was up at 0300 last night, whipped out my...flashlight, and had a look at things.  Everyone was "asleep" except for the two clowns...they were bobbing along - fat, dumb and happy.  Do they ever "sleep"? <No, they do not sleep in the way that we think of sleep. They do not have eyelids, and they do not loose consciousness during the night due to sleep. Instead, they rest. They will always be on a constant alert, but they will rest -- they will often lay in the anemone for a few seconds, or swim around it very slowly.> 3. I have a Royalus grammiticus (my version of scientific naming...).  Your faq says not to add another...c'mon, can I?  Please?  He's the coolest fist in the tank - along with the duskimus jawfishicus.  I have a 120g, 6 feet long - isn't that enough room for them to roam?  I mean, c'mon - can't we all just get along? <It would be very very risky to add two of them. If you did, you would need to add them at the same time. Because your tank is so long, however, it may be possible. If you did decide to get another, I would first re arrange your rockwork so that both will establish their territory again. This is likely to reduce any aggression. I would also turn the lights completely off when adding the fish. But as I said above, this is extremely risky. You may end up loosing the newly added fish due to aggression. And as you likely already know, the Royal Gramma is a very aggressive fish.> Thanks, Dave Brooks <Take Care! Graham.> San Diego

Odd clownfish behavior Hi, my name is Taylor. we have a 60 gallon saltwater fish tank setup for 6 months. well anyways let me give you the tank stats: salinty:1.024 ph: 8.2 (what does ph mean anyways?) nitrate:10 nitrite/ammonia:0 livestock USE to consist of 3 months ago: 1. yellow tang 2.3 yellow tail damsels 3. 2 false percula clownfish 4. 2 maroon clownfish well about the clownfish they acted strangely................ introduction order was: first I added a 2 inch false perc. then about 2 weeks later I added a 2nd 2 inch false perc they got along fine swam together and did that vibrate thing to each other. then I added 2 more weeks later, 2 2 inch maroon clowns well they didn't get along and the slightly bigger one killed the smaller one. SO then I decide to not add any more clownfish. But then 1 day my dad brought home this huge 3.1 inch maroon clown from a LFS. so we added it and immediately the big maroon went after the smaller maroon. but then something strange happened. The slightly bigger small perc.(2 inch) kept darting in front of the smaller maroon clown to protect it from the large maroon. amazingly it worked! the big maroon backed off and stopped. then a day later the false perc kept showing aggression to the other small perc and the small maroon it had been defending. So I thought this was the end for my brave dominant small perc. but it started swimming side by side the huge maroon!!! and amazingly the maroon let it without any aggression!!!!!!!!   then the non dominant maroon and non dominant false perc swam with each other too!!! this WAS all getting me confused but to make matters worse a disease spread over all my fish and killed them all within a week!! << Very sad, these fish sound quite interesting. >> the last survivor was the large maroon but he died that night. Isn't all of this soooo strange?!!! the disease was some white fuzzy stuff starting on and around their eye and slowly spreading to the rest of their body. DO you have any idea what this was? I know it was not ich. or ick. is there a difference? << I'm not sure what it was, but a fungus sounds probable. >> well I hope you can explain what was going on with my clownfish, << I don't think anyone can.  Fish are fish, each with their own personality which is why we keep them.  The make friends and enemies just like we do. >> I'll see ya later, Taylor <<  Blundell  >> Do clownfish get lonely? Hello, I have several marine tanks at home, all doing very well.  At work, however, is another story.  We have a 12 gallon TropQuarium55.  We had a Royal Gramma,  a goby firefish (both deceased thanks to crappy fish store purchase, they were sick when we bought them) and we still have a ocellaris clownfish.  We also discovered a 16 inch (maybe longer) blue bristleworm. He's approximately ? inch in width and ? inch thick.  I'm concerned that the bristleworm (who is very popular here) might keep the clownfish from exploring..<< I wouldn't worry about the worm, I'm sure he is beneficial. >> What do you think? Should we get our fish another clownfish? Do they get lonely by themselves? << Hmmm, well it is a good fish to try out. I think some green Chromis may be a good start for now since you've had some other fish die.  But yes, I think it pairs it will do well. >> Thanks for your time. Erin <<  Blundell  >> One BAD Maroon named Norman I'm extremely perplexed by the behavior of my maroon clown and I hope some one can give me a good idea of how to fix this. I have a 75 gal bow front tank that has been established now for over 3 years. Residing in the tank are a percula clown, maroon clown, coral beauty angel, a Pseudochromis and a black algae blenny. I also have several emerald Mithrax crabs, a boxer shrimp and an assortment of mushrooms. I recently added an anemone (the pink tipped variety) for the clowns. The percula wants nothing to do with it; however, the maroon has done nothing but push this poor anemone around flipping upside down and dragging it around all day. I have had the anemone now for 2 days and have resorted to building a make shift cage out of PVC grid in order to keep the clown away. Since adding the "cage" over the anemone the clown has done nothing but try to get at this thing. The fish in the tank are all well behaved and get along really well with each other.  I did notice that after adding the anemone to the tank "Norman" the maroon's fins appeared slightly shredded. Still he persists relentlessly after this anemone. What's a girl to do?? I know Maroon clowns have a nasty reputation but has not exhibited any except towards this anemone I spent a pretty penny on. I would like to take this cage out of the tank but am afraid of what Norman will do. Any suggestions? Is this normal behavior? I have read tons of articles and have not come across any of these behavior problems with host anemone and clowns before. Thanks, Jaimee >>>Hello Jaimee, You really should do as much research as you can before purchasing any critter for your tank, ESPECIALLY an anemone. When you say "pink tipped variety", this doesn't give me enough info to be of much help unfortunately. There are pink tipped Sebae anemones, which are difficult to care for, not favored by maroons, and not an appropriate choice for your tank. Then there are pink tipped E. quadricolor (bubble tip) anemones which are a perfect choice. For the moment, given the description, and the behavior of the clown, I'm going to assume it's a Sebae, and advise you to return it to the store. Frankly, I can't imagine the maroon behaving this way towards a healthy bubble tip, but can't rule out some kind of strange anomalous behavior in that regard either. Sometimes fish just do weird things. I would be willing to bet though that if you purchase a rose Bubbletip anemone (assuming you have enough light), or the green variety, you will cease to have problems with your clown. Cheers Jim<<<

Disgruntled clown! Hi Crew, <Greg> I hope all is well with you.  As for me, I think I need an aggression counselor for my maroon clown fish! <Hee hee! Know what you mean> At least, I could certainly use your advice.  I have a gold-striped maroon clown pair and the female has become overly aggressive with my corals.  She has nipped several polyps out of my Alveopora and she has destroyed a few hairy mushrooms.  She does not appear to be interested in eating corals; she just likes to rip the polyps out and spit them on the sand.  I would almost say she appears angry as she watches the coral for a second, then quickly takes a firm bite out of it. <Happens> A few months ago I moved to a new house and the clown fish's anemone suffered a tear, then died shortly after the move.  Could it be that the female clown is angry that she does not have an anemone? <Of a sort, yes> I have ordered another rose anemone but it was backordered so I am worried that my corals might not survive the next four days until the anemone is supposed to arrive. What are your thoughts? <I would isolate this fish... at least for a day or three... likely in a floating, plastic colander (spaghetti strainer) in the tank... this often takes "the spit" out of aggressive fishes... and look into ordering the anemone from another supplier> Is this somewhat normal behavior for a maroon clown? <Not atypical> Do you think an anemone might solve this problem? <Yes, likely so> Should I begin an anger management support group for clown fish? :-) --Greg <Be chatting! Bob Fenner>

Lonely Clown? My clown fish is doing well. The only behaviour I seem to be worried about is that he tends to like stay next to the glass and swim up and down the corners of the aquarium. <Ahh. A very typical Clownfish behavior, actually! As long as he is eating, chances are there is little to worry about.> He is fed well and water and everything seems well. Its like he wants to get out. any ideas? <Sounds like this guy may simply want a friend or two, and that's probably part of the reason that he's "chasing" his reflection. If your tank can support another couple of clownfish, I'd give him some buddies and watch his behavior change! Have fun! Regards, Scott F>

Clownfish sex change Hello, <Hi Shannon, MacL here with you tonight> I was wondering if you could answer a question for me about clown fish. I had heard that the male clown fish can turn into the female to take care of the baby fish, is this true?  <Shannon, clown fish start off life as males and only become females later in life when they are larger <Become adult>. Here again, sex change is socially controlled. A male changes into a female only when his female partner is removed and he is joined by a smaller fish. This is called protandrous hermaphroditism.>    Thanks you for your time. <Hope that helps you Shannon>                 Shannon Watz

What's That Fish Up To, Anyway?  A. clarkii >Hi >>Hi. >I read your website all the time.  It is so full of information.  I really appreciate it.  I have a question about my Clarkii clowns.  We have a 55 gal. with 30 lbs live rock, bio wheel filter, sterilizer, 78 deg., 1.021 salinity, 9 KH, 0 ammonia, nitrates, ites.  The clarkii's were added together 3 weeks ago (one is significantly larger than the other but both are under 2 inches) to the tank with 2 thriving pacific cleaner shrimp, Yellow Tang, Kole Tang, 2 damsels, feather duster and a couple other small inverts. >>I do hope this was after a 30 day quarantine during which the fish showed no signs of disease.  And, although your question doesn't address this at all, I also hope that you have plans to move the tangs at least to a larger system in the near future (assuming they're thriving and growing well).  I am not familiar with the common name "Kole" tang, either, I'll suggest you search Surgeonfishes and tangs at fishbase.org so you will know what sort of growth to expect from this fish. >Although initially scared they seemed to adapt well and did not fight with each other and  often they swim close with each other.  Recently the larger one began to go behind and under a niche in back of the live rock near the coral bottom.  He/she goes in way deep and sometimes  wiggles and other times he just lies on his side motionless. >>If not already, we can expect this fish to become the she of the two. >He/she does come out to eat and does come out at other times at which the two Clarkii's are side by side wiggling.  Is this "burrowing" behind the rock an indication that something is wrong?   >>No, I believe that it's more territory-related.  You make no mention of hosting (clowns have been known to host just about anything, not just anemones), but this does sound like hosting, with the smaller (male) of the two playing lookout.  I don't believe they're ready to breed just yet, but it would be the next logical step. >Is it mating related?   >>Indeed, it certainly could be, but more so speaking towards an establishment of territory.  Watch closely their interaction with the damsels, the most closely related animals, also the ones most likely to have tiffs with the clowns regarding whose flat is whose. >When the Clarkii's are out and next to each other is this a mating sign? >>Mating and subsequent breeding will be marked by a decidedly and QUITE noticeable increase in aggression, including towards YOU.  When they start harassing the damsels is when you'll know for sure.  If it gets really bad you may have to remove the other fish (to a larger system, my recommendation), leaving the 55 to the clowns, or you'll have to move the clowns.  Your system will soon be rather crowded once those clowns begin to really grow.  Their intolerance is legendary, watch your arm-hairs! >The smaller Clarkii is never near the niche with the larger one.  Your insight would be appreciated!!!  Kathy >>This is my best guess, the larger one is establishing her (or, soon to be her) territory.  It doesn't sound like illness at all, just fish doing the best they can in a system that's a bit snug for everyone.  Just watch closely, I think you'll know if or when it's time to make a change.  And yes, this does come under the umbrella of normal behavior.  Marina Maroon clowns...2 females?? ok I have 2 maroon clownfish which have been in my tank for about 1 1/2 months together now, I introduced them at the same time which I later found out isn't the best idea when dealing with maroons, but I had recently added an anemone and the 2 began fighting, the smaller one which I'm hoping is a male took the anemone 1st, a week or so after the bigger one (hopefully the female) decided to beat up the little guy and take the anemone for herself, the little guy looked beaten pretty bad. I was kinda suspicious...should clowns that have been together this long still be fighting, <Happens> I contacted my LFS, sounded like I got a new guy, but he said that it was possible that I have 2 females and he told me they will never pair. BUT I have seen the submission dance, both of them actually, I've seen the quiver and the one where the male ducks to side and kissed the females cheek spines.. well mine kissed more where her fin is. I know that 2 females are notorious for locking jaws and I have yet to see this happen.. well since the hopefully female clown took the anemone I bought I mid sized Condylactis for my poor depressed little man who spent all day hovering a little above the sand by a rock, well the anemone's have stayed on opposite sides of the tank and the 2 clowns haven't interacted in a couple of days...could they both be female or am I rushing them????? thank for the help <What is the size of these fish? Very likely they are still either sexually undifferentiated if under two inches in overall length... (and likely tank bred, reared)... and will sort themselves out in time... IF the system is large enough... Much more to state... Atlantic Anemones are not a good choice to house with Premnas... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/premnasfaqs.htm and on to the related articles and FAQs files (linked, in blue, at top) where they lead you until you understand enough what you are about here. Bob Fenner>

Clownfish Pair Hi, I have 2 clownfish and have noticed they have behaving weird. The big one lunges at the little one and the little one turns on its side and twitches. They don't beat each other up and are always swimming near each other. I was just wondering why they have been doing this. It sounded like breeding behavior but I am not sure. If it is, Is there anything I can do to help them out. They have been in quarantine for about month. I have a 20 gallon tank I have had for awhile, should I set that up or should I leave them in the quarantine? Will moving them disturb them? If I set up the 20, should  I use live rock to make the tank more natural for them? thanks >>>Greetings! What you are witnessing is the female (larger one) asserting her place of dominance over the male. The twitching is the male acknowledging her position. No worries. Peace Jim<<<

Clownfish pair writes: Hi, I have 2 clownfish and have noticed they have behaving weird. The big one lunges at the little one and the little one turns on its side and twitches. They don't beat each other up and are always swimming near each other. I was just wondering why they have been doing this. It sounded like breeding behavior but I am not sure. <Sounds like it> If it is, Is there anything I can do to help them out. They have been in quarantine for about month. I have a 20 gallon tank I have had for awhile, should I set that up or should I leave them in the quarantine? Will moving them disturb them? If I set up the 20, should  I use live rock to make the tank more natural for them? >Take a look at Joyce Wilkerson's book on clownfish, great section on breeding clowns.  Also you might check out http://fragexchange.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2692&perpage=20&pagenumber=1, which is a hobbyist who is breeding clownfish. The WetWebMedia web site has two faq's on breeding clowns, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnfshbrdfaqs.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnfshbrdfaq2.htm> <Good luck, MacL> thanks Sorry if you already got this, I haven't gotten a message back though.

Clown Fight (10/25/04) Dear Crew <Steve Allen tonight.> Thank you in advance for the help. <A pleasure> I have been reading and reading your site about the fish, lighting, maintenance - everything - however, I have not been able to find anything on this thing that is happening between my perculas. I have had my 30g tank established for about 3 mos. I bought (post tank cycle) a pair of true perculas locally. They were always together, slept together, swam together, so I am assuming they were a pair. <Probably so, but relationships can be tenuous.> One was obviously more dominate and slightly bigger, so I am guessing she was the female. <Maybe not quite enough bigger?> She would pick on him periodically and he took it like a man. Soon after their move to my tank I, regretfully, rushed out to get the Percs an anemone. Which, btw, the flash light at night trick worked for them. They loved it. They had a home and she ruled it with an iron fist. After some time and without the appropriate conditions, their anemone died. <Sadly, too often the case.> I pulled it at the second sign of loosing it's battle. I tried a plastic one, but I could not stand the sight of it, plus it was hard and it didn't seem the same. Now, they do not have anything to "host." <A "host" is not necessary.> I have since noticed, at night time, they sleep in separate corners. It seems that they battle, rather than bicker and he has gotten a lot  bigger then her. <Not so sure of the gender in this case then. They may have switched.> Is it possible for them to struggle, after several months, on who is going to be the dominate female? <I don't see why not. Just like Nicky Hilton's marriage, fish relationships don't always last.> Do you think the placing and removing of their anemone has thrown off the dynamics? <Quite possible.> And, does this mean that there might not be a chance of them to "hook up" and remain a pair? <Again, possible.> They are juveniles, only about an 1 1/4 inch. <I would consider removing the larger one to a simple quarantine tank for several weeks for them to forget what they are fighting about. Before putting it back in, re-arrange the LR. Pairing is going to be more likely if the fish added second is significantly larger than the first, so that dominance is not subject to question by the smaller one. This may require returning one in trade for a bigger one.> The only other tank mates are 2 peppermint shrimps and 1 chocolate chip star. My apologies for such a long email. I hope I have not messed up my fishes minds. <You may be able to fix this.> Thanks again, Chris <Hope this helps.>

- Clown is Down - Hi! I have had this tank for 8 months. I have one firefish which has done great for 6 months. Two weeks ago I add two false clowns. They were doing great until three days ago. The male seemed to be attracted to some green algae at the bottom of the tank, rubbing all over it, chasing the female away. (weird!!!) Well, three days ago he was swimming head down tail up! He still eats but never swims any where else around the tank. He has also gotten to where he will lie down on his side without moving his fins the only way to tell if he is still alive is by his gills moving. Now the firefish is staying over with him and doesn't seem to eat much. Before then the firefish had made a home in a cave in the live rock. The female clown is still doing great! Water parameters are all great, no other signs of disease! HELP??? <Hmm... I'm not sure there's much you can "do" besides make certain the water quality stays tip top at this point. It is very possible this fish has some internal issues that will either work out or not. Do look for other signs, but as long as it eats there is some hope. Cheers, J -- >

Crazy Clownfish Behaviors! I just bought a pair of Percula clowns. After acclimating them for about an hour with occasional additions of tank water to the floating bag etc. Then, I attempted to do a "fresh water dip" I prepared dechlorinated water with about the same pH and temperature (8.3 and 77 F respectively). Upon being introduced to the water, the fish curled up and sunk to the bottom. <A horrifying sight, but a common response to this tactic...> As per instructions from the internet I immediately removed them and introduced them to the tank. Later I found another page that says the fishes reaction to the dip was normal. Which is correct? <That is a very normal reaction. You should see the way a Centropyge Angel or wrasse responds to this kind of process! It can really unnerve you, but most fishes will pull through fine. In fact, in about 20-some-odd years of freshwater dipping, I can categorically state that I've never lost a single fish to the process. I hope that you placed the fish in your quarantine tank after the dip...? Do embrace the quarantine technique if you haven't already.> Except for an affinity for swimming in the strong current from the sump return, they seemed normal. Now one of them is swimming very strangely. He is always leaning to the side a little and flailing around quite a lot for the amount of forward propulsion he gets. Also, his tail is always higher than his head. It really, really seems like something is wrong. The other one seems fine and is snacking on algae. <Do keep an eye on this fish. However, Clownfishes have a rather unusual swimming technique. They are not great swimmers, but they don't need to be, either! As long as the fish is breathing normally, eating, and otherwise appears disease free, I wouldn't be too concerned here.> Neither seem to want to settle down, even though the lights are off. Should I be worried? Did I damage him somehow in the dip or is this just another one of those crazy clown behaviors I hear about. Tank info: Size 55 gal Age 6 weeks (clowns are first post cycling fish) Inhabitants: 3 yellowtail blue damsels and 3 blue-leg hermit crabs Thanks, Lina <Well, Lina- this is most likely another one of those "crazy clown behaviours!" I'm sure the fish will be fine. If it encounters any difficulties, feel free to contact us again! Regards, Scott F>

Crazy Clownfish Behaviors! I just bought a pair of Percula clowns. After acclimating them for about an hour with occasional additions of tank water to the floating bag etc. Then, I attempted to do a "fresh water dip" I prepared dechlorinated water with about the same pH and temperature (8.3 and 77 F respectively). Upon being introduced to the water, the fish curled up and sunk to the bottom. <A horrifying sight, but a common response to this tactic...> As per instructions from the internet I immediately removed them and introduced them to the tank. Later I found another page that says the fishes reaction to the dip was normal. Which is correct? <That is a very normal reaction. You should see the way a Centropyge Angel or wrasse responds to this kind of process! It can really unnerve you, but most fishes will pull through fine. In fact, in about 20-some-odd years of freshwater dipping, I can categorically state that I've never lost a single fish to the process. I hope that you placed the fish in your quarantine tank after the dip...? Do embrace the quarantine technique if you haven't already.> Except for an affinity for swimming in the strong current from the sump return, they seemed normal. Now one of them is swimming very strangely. He is always leaning to the side a little and flailing around quite a lot for the amount of forward propulsion he gets. Also, his tail is always higher than his head. It really, really seems like something is wrong. The other one seems fine and is snacking on algae. <Do keep an eye on this fish. However, Clownfishes have a rather unusual swimming technique. They are not great swimmers, but they don't need to be, either! As long as the fish is breathing normally, eating, and otherwise appears disease free, I wouldn't be too concerned here.> Neither seem to want to settle down, even though the lights are off. Should I be worried? Did I damage him somehow in the dip or is this just another one of those crazy clown behaviors I hear about. Tank info: Size 55 gal Age 6 weeks (clowns are first post cycling fish) Inhabitants: 3 yellowtail blue damsels and 3 blue-leg hermit crabs Thanks, Lina <Well, Lina- this is most likely another one of those "crazy clown behaviours!" I'm sure the fish will be fine. If it encounters any difficulties, feel free to contact us again! Regards, Scott F>

Clowns hiding by the powerheads Hi Bob, this site has been my crutch for the 3 years I've been involved in fish as a hobby.  It is a bottomless pit of information that I couldn't not live without, kudos to you and the rest of the staff for the outstanding service you provide to the public. << Thanks, we appreciate it. >> I recently lost an Octopus I had in a 44gal pent-corner tank to senescence. By the way, that not the most fun way to lose a pet.  It's like watching someone older deteriorate in front of you.  But, for the 19 months I had the Octopus he was the most engaging aquatic life I've owner, bar none.  I too, have fallen for the hobby, head over heels, starting with one tank 3 years ago and now have five over 29gal.   And with the passing of this Octo I was left with a species tank open.   Being a species tank, and having a fairly small bioload, the water was immaculate (8.3, 1.025, 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrites, 0 Nitrates) so I decided to turn this open tank into a mellow clown/invert tank.  I put in a 4" Red Hawaiian Reef lobster, 2 Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (1 big, 1 small) and a Carpet Anemone (Approx. 6" diameter)  in anticipation of the clowns.  There was already 2 starfish in there (Chocolate and Atlantic Serpent) I watched the water for about 2 weeks after introduction of the new occupants to make sure there wasn't any drastic change in the water quality or a mini-cycle. Confident everything was OK, I added 2 Skunk Clowns, not a pair, but just two random ones, one significantly larger than the other hoping for an eventually pairing.  Which I know is a crap shoot.  From their introduction (acclimated via drip over hour and a half) the clowns huddled in a top corner against a powerhead. << I hate it when that happens. >> They remained that way for about a week, until dying seemingly of stress.  I never say them leave that corner, only huddling up there almost parallel to the water line on there sides.  No real rapid breathing or any markings on them, just not eating and seemingly stressed.  I checked the water, all parameters in line, same as above.   A week later I went and purchased another set of Skunk Clowns, this time a mated pair.  They took up the same characteristic huddling again the powerhead in the top back corner, but at least they have been alive a week and are eating, but still refuse to come down.  What's up? << Next time try captive raised.  Otherwise I don't know why clowns do that, but trying Calfo's flashlight trick may help.  He shines a flashlight onto the anemone for about an hour in the middle of the night.  The clowns get use to just seeing it and eventually take home in it. >> Could they be that terrified of the lobster?  He has shown no aggression towards them, though I realize they are timid clowns by nature.  The lobster digs all day and night, but doesn't seem to bother anyone, including the cleaner shrimp. I decided to find a dither fish to maybe help break the ice.  I intended to get a Coral Beauty, so there would be a 3rd fish in there to help calm them down.  But, impulse took over and I left with the Potter's Angel in the cube next to the Coral Beauty at the store.  Once I got home and look on here I realized how fragile they were in comparison to the other Angels I've owned. The Potter is small, about 1"-1 1/4" long.  He immediately headed for the cave the lobster dug and got chased out by a snapping lobster, though half-heartedly.  He continued to flutter in front of the cave instead of in the open water or by the clowns for the next 4 hours.  I left the lights on overnight as a precaution.  The second night (last night) I decided to turn the lights off and just go with moon lights.  I woke up this morning and the Potter could not be found.  He turned up sleeping with the lobster in his cave!?  Now the two seem to be buddies.  Both the lobster and Potter are eating fine, << Well that is surprising, but great. >> the Potter isn't doing the dither fish thing as the Clowns still want to stay up top. << I wouldn't think of a Potter as a good dither fish, and would try something like green Chromis. >> I've added Prime StressCoat several times this week as well. Do you any have any insight to the clowns behavior or the weird pairing of the Potter and lobster?  I thought the anemone would help but after a week the clowns don't want anything to do with it or the rest of the tank. Other notes:  There is 180W worth of PC lighting, and I feed the fish/lobster/cleaners flake, silversides and krill (soaked in Formula One), and live phytoplankton, Iodine, Calcium and Essential Ingredients for the rest of the bunch.  The only other occupants are a small sea matte and some tube worms on the rocks. Thanks (as always) for your insight and your willingness to share your years of experience. << Try the flashlight, and next time look for tanks raised clowns. >> Scott <<  Blundell  >> Flying Clownfish? (Or- Any Landing That You Can Swim Away From Is A Good One!> Hello! <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> This is the first time we have resorted to email, since your fantastic site usually answers our questions.  Thanks! <Glad we are helpful to you!> We have a 40g FOWLR, about 4 months old,  with a Cleaner/Skunk Shrimp, Fire Shrimp, Red Sea Star and a handful of hermit crabs and snails.  Our two fish are a Spotted/Psychedelic Mandarin and a Percula clown.  Both are really healthy - we keep the tank stocked with copepods and feed the Mandarin brine shrimp fortified with phytoplankton. He eats like a pig (!) about 40 shrimp a day, (he learned to eat the shrimp out of a feeding tube). <Excellent! Glad to hear how well this fish eats!> Anyhow, I am writing to ask about my Clownfish. He has been really territorial and has taken to attacking our hands in the tank. <Not the first time I heard of a Clownfish doing that!> Twice now, we have moved our hands in time, and as a result of missing his target, Pete has flown out of the tank onto the couch or floor.  We pick him up immediately and put him back in the tank.  He doesn't even seem phased by it and goes back to eating/being aggressive.  From the last time he fell out, we think he hurt his dorsal fin and there is a little white speck about 1mm along the tip of one of his fin bones.  We think one of his dorsal fin bones pushed through the skin during one of his flying episodes, and his bone is protruding through, and is catching some debris that is floating around the tank, hence the white spot, but we are not sure.  Anyhow, if it is the case, and it can get infected, how can we tell, and what can we do about the infection. <Well, if it is infected, it will display visible signs, such as swelling, discoloration, or other problems. The best thing that you could do would be to provide clean water conditions, and continued good care. If there is a serious infection, then you could use a broad spectrum antibiotic (in a separate hospital tank, of course). But do try simple good care before resorting to the medications.> Other than that, Pete is eating fine, swimming fine, acting normally (Aggressive!). <Good to hear that! Even the "being aggressive" part is good to hear!> Your help is always appreciated.  Many Thanks! Mike & Amy <Sounds like you've got a good handle on things. Just keep a good eye on this fish, and be prepared to take action if it becomes necessary! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Maroon clowns Hello Bob, <Hi Adam, MacL here with you tonight> I recently purchased a large bubble-tip anemone for my pair of gold stripe maroon clowns. Before I introduced it they were very outgoing and active but now they spend all their time lazing around in the anemone. The real concern is that they are not eating near as much as they used to because they only take the bits of food that float right past the Anemone. They greedily take what floats past but they seem too scarred to venture out more than a few centimeters. Is this behaviour normal? <Definitely normal behavior, they are content and happy with their new home.> I have kept other clowns with anemones before but they never did this, will they eventually come out? <They could be nesting and possibly preparing to have babies.>  Any advice would be greatly appreciated. <That behavior is typical of bonded pairs.> Yours Sincerely Adam Harbeck Percula Clowns 7 Aug 2004 Hello and good evening from Hertfordshire, England. <Hello Dave, MacL here with you tonight. Sorry for the delay in your reply. Little busy these days.> We introduced 2 small tank-bred percula clowns (with malu anemone) 2 weeks ago. Everything was fine until yesterday, one clown was eyeing-up a furry mushroom all day, then the other one hid under the anemone/rockwork. <Sometimes they start picking on each other over the anemones. Often as a prelude to deciding who gets to be what sex.> He hasn't come out to feed or play and  we are getting worried about him/her, we don't want to lose him. <Very understandable> A few tank stats:- 65 UK gall, top-up using RODI via AquaMedic Kalkwasser reactor during night, 4x T5 Fluoro tubes on timers (on for approx 9hrs  day), external large Fluval containing only RowaPhos, 30 kilos live rock,  Turboflotor multi SL skimmer, 2x Tunze Turbelle 6000 + controller, 2x AquaClear  802 powerheads, 5 gall weekly water change using Reef Crystals salt. All water  tests OK:- Amm= 0, Nitrite=0, Nitrate=5, Temp=79-80, pH=8.4, sg=1.022,  calcium=400, alkalinity=2.8, dKH=8, magnesium=1275(a bit low, but being  corrected using Kent tech M), phosphates=0-0.03.  Other inhabitants   red and blue leg hermits, turbo snails, 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 peppermint shrimp,  pulse coral, green star polyps, 3x feather dusters, furry mushrooms. <I have to tell you very envious of your system.> Soon  upgrading to 125 UK gall system with sump, calcium reactor+CO2, IKS computer  management/monitoring and more T5's.  Thank you very much for a  most informative site, it is most helpful. Any help or advice about my  little clowns would be much appreciated. <I would try tempting him with some brine shrimp to get him out and about. You see him? know that he's okay, just hiding?> Thank you once again,  Dave. <Dave, I think your nitrates are a bit high, possibly cut back your feedings just a bit?> The Clown's New Look! (Rapid Color Change In Clownfish) Hi Scott, <Hello again!> Thanks for the prompt response. <You're quite welcome!> My eyesight is bad but not this bad: The Perc was black last night (had slightly faded) however this morning he his orange?  Any suggestions. Thanks again for your time Chris <Wow, Chris! Ya got me on that one! If it was any color but orange I might suspect some kind of possible disease. However, orange is a "normal" color for these fish. Rapid color changes are often caused by either environmental conditions (like sudden changes or gradual stresses) or physiological situations, such as fright. I'd investigate both possibilities, running basic water tests and reviewing possible stressors in your system. And, as always, be very alert to any potential disease signs. In the absence of any other obvious signs of illness, my best advice is to feed the fish well, keep water quality high, and keep a close eye on things. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> "And in this corner..." a Percula Dear Bob, <Hi John, MacL with you here tonight.> My True Percula who I have had for a week will not eat or come out of the corner of the tank. Water Conditions are great. I ran a full test today. The tank is a 38gallon community. <I believe he's hiding from the Sebae clown. Its usually not a real good idea to put two different types of clowns together unless you have a huge tank. Its also possible the damsels are picking on him. You didn't mention what size tank it is? Its possible that eventually he will fill secure enough to find a place.> Every now and then he will swim around but he goes right back to the corner. We have offered him marineflakes,brineshrimp,formula1and shrimp pellets Still he wont eat. His tankmates are a Sebae clown. cleaner shrimp, yellow tang, blue tang, a domino damsel,2 zebra damsel, coral banded shrimp and a peppermint shrimp. All the above tank mates are young and small. Please help we do not won't to lose him. <I have to tell you John if it was me I would only keep one type of clown in a tank.> John Swing

Fin Regeneration Question Hi, <Hi! MikeD here!> One of my clownfish got one of its ventral fins bitten off by a maroon clown... not the whole thing but a good bite size< This is fairly common in tanks housing more than one species of Clownfish. Clowns are a sub-category of the Damselfish family, and can be just as territorial and aggressive as the rest of the clan>. The fin looks like tattered flag now. I would like to know if the fin will regenerate back to normal or it's going to stay like that for life?<It should regrow back to its normal configuration as long as the bite doesn't extend down into the "root" of the fin. Keep watch to make sure a bacterial infection doesn't set into the injury site, but it should be just fine> The fish looks OK and happy now after I locked up the maroon.<As in where? In all likelihood you'll get a repeat of the same situation when you put the maroon back> Thank you for your attention.<You're so very welcome> Alan Yeo Singapore

Clown On A Rampage! 7/29/04 Hi Ya'll <Hey there! Scott F. here tonight!> Absolutely LOVE this site and all you guys and gals - mucho info - spend  hours -reading! <Me too! And I work here! It's a great source of information, and we're thrilled to be here for you!> So far haven't seen this question - here's SW Tank Info: ques. near end (LOL) TANK AGE: 1989 SIZE: 120 G (5'L X 2'W X 3 1/2'H) w/skimmer and auto evap. and SW/FW replacement sys.- its awesome Mag pump - 200 GPH w/lots of circulation has 6 extension arms ORIGINAL TANK INHABITANTS: 2 - Choco chip stars ( 1 1/2" & 2 ") named: Chewy & Crispy 4 - Feather Dusters 1 - Hawkfish ( 3 1/4") - friendly let's me measure him - named: Rocky 1 - Pomacentrus (alleni or coelestis - can't tell - he's 2 1/2" very social - comes when called named: Blue Guy 1 - Coral Banded Shrimp - 3 +" named Crusty 1 - Heteractis Malu - named: Rover - cause he likes to roam all over <I'm loving hearing the names!> 2 - Finger Corals - over 6" well spaced apart (LOL) 2 - Distinct groups of Purple Mushrooms  - they pretty much move on their own (LOL) 50 Lbs. Live rock 1 1/2" crushed coral Live Grass and Live Kelp - keep them both mowed NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: Added 1 yr ago 1 - Astropecten Articulatus (beaded sea star) 3" named: Tiki - she's a  beautiful deep purple <ANYONE who names their starfish is totally cool, in my book!> 1 - Thalassoma lucasanum (male) - 4" my final tankmate - named: Phllippe likes to be hand fed and touched - great wonderful dog - I mean fish - very tame - was able to visit him in Fish Lady's quarantine for a month before I brought him to his new home - and here lies the problem. He's been home for 8 months-no problem BUT .... 3 - Amphiprion bicinctus (real clowns) (1)- 3" & (2) - 1 1/2" all were from same family - named: Sampson, Delilia and Chip - and all of a sudden Sampson is being a butthead bully - his name fits - Delilia and Chip ignore him - period - as much as I love my Sampson - I think he needs to move to a new home - he picks on him (Phillippe) - thank goodness Phillippe has plenty of places to hide - and likes to play w/us - otherwise he would have gone nuts along time ago. <Ahh...a clown with a behavioral problem- not entirely uncommon> OK here it is: (2) parts: Should I evict (sigh) Sampson? (My Fish Lady wants him big time - said he's a primo fish) -  if so how? He is a wriley wrascal. <Well, if the harassment is keeping the other fishes in constant distress, then you're best taking some sort of action> OR (hope) Try to keep Sampson busy with a new toy? and not Phillippe. <This could backfire, resulting in death to the newcomer...I'd rather remove the known problem- Sampson> OBTW - all sys. are go - no spikes - no drops - absolutely beautiful tank - probably due to my  and my honey's diligent maint. <That's great to hear! There is simply no substitute for rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands wet!> - my friends each have a well rounded vitamin packed variety diet - they each better than us - suited to each one - some times they cheat and share. (LOL) <Sounds like dinner at a fish conference with the WWM Crew!> Sigh - I am at a loss - HELP - SOS - can I keep him or let him move away from home? <Well, if there are "irreconcilable differences" between the clown and his tank mates, I'm afraid that the best solution would be to get him out. If you have a great home for him, you can't feel all that bad about giving him away! I think it's too risky to add a "dither" fish into the mix. Hope this helps! Continued success! Regards, Scott F.>

Shy Clown! I have a Maroon  Clown fish in a 30G tank. I've had him for a few months. About a week after I got him, he started to hide behind the filter. The only time he comes out is when it's feeding time. I've read that clown fish are real active, but mine is not. Is there something wrong with mine? <Well, fish- like people- are individuals, and each fish will display different behavior. This guy may simply be a shy fish...Unique, though- because categorically, Maroons are some of the most aggressive of all clownfish!> He stays on one side of the tank but he acts like he's fine and he doesn't look sick. <That's very important, and a very good sign! And it's also important that he's been eating. A fish that refuses to eat is telling you that something is very wrong.> I have a Bubble Tip Anemone and he wants nothing to do with it, never even goes near it. <This is not all that uncommon, actually. Many of the clownfish that we purchase for our aquaria are actually tank bred and tank raised, and-believe it or not- have never seen an anemone! Seems crazy, but it's true! All part of the unique experience of keeping these fishes in captivity!> Tank mates are hermit crabs, snails, Scooter Blenny, Cleaner Shrimp and a Neon Goby. Please advise. <Well, once again, fish don't always conform to our expectations! If the tank were larger, I'd consider getting a couple of other clowns to see if you can "socialize" this guy (or girl). However, this tank is a bit too small to accommodate another couple of Maroons for the long term, IMO. They can be quite aggressive in close quarters.  I suppose you could try adding more clowns, if you will be moving up to larger quarters soon, but that's your call. Otherwise, keep trying to coaxed this fish into a more "social" mode by feeding him farther and farther away from his "home base", moving the filter around, etc. These types of moves can slowly get the fish out into the open more and more. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Percula Clown  HI <Hi Tristan, MacL here.> I just received one false percula clown. <Wonderful fish.> He is doin fine but is acting really weird. He swims from one side of the tank to the other over and over again. <Very typical behavior.> He's not eating a lot but does nibble at some brine shrimp. At night he goes right to the top and bobs around is this normal thanks a lot. <Sounds quite typical to me. You don't mention what else is in the tank with him.  Is he alone? Is there another fish there that might be causing him to stress in some manner?  How big is the tank? He really is exhibiting normal behavior but you might make sure there are no stressing factors on him.>  Tristan ><Hi again Tristan> The tank is a 55 gallon I have 30 pounds of live rock and the clownfish has mellowed out a lot. <Wonderful> There's a scopas tang, 1 orange lined damsel and a pixy Hawkfish. They all are doing great. I was wondering what else I can put in there with them? I was hoping to get a coral beauty and a Valentini puffer is this alright? <I think both might work nicely with the crew you have already chosen, if you add them slowly and really think about quarantine.> thanks a lot  <Good Luck Tristan>

Spawning of Ocellaris Clowns Thank you guys for a great site!!  This is my first time with a question because I usually find the answer in the archives.  My question is this - I have two ocellaris clowns, Flip 'n Tig.  Both came from the same LFS and were shipped there together (tank-raised).  They have been close since being put into our main tank but today I noticed that Flip's stomach has developed a pooch which seems slightly discolored (yellowish/greenish).  Flip also started following Tig around the tank and sidling up sideways to Tig would start to flutter and vibrate.  Then Flip would go over to the powerhead and rub up against it rapidly.  This whole ritual continued for several minutes.  Could this activity mean that they have spawned??  Tank:  55 gallon, nothing else but live rock, crabs, and sea star.   Thanks for the help, Kimberly Taylor <Does sound like spawning behavior, and you should be able to see the small stalked eggs (though transparent at first), with the parents guarding, cleaning the area fastidiously. Like neotropical cichlids, if this "batch" doesn't work out, don't be too discouraged... the next one or two will. Bob Fenner>

Pics of the Day - Odd couple. was looking over some of my images on the server. Thought you might get a kick out of this. <I did> was "baby-sitting" a friends Percula clown. He had a tank mishap and took in his one clown fish. Well the only tank that he could be in was my Green Spotte Puffer tank. and the clown fell in love with my largest puffer. It seemed like it actually was trying to host with this puffer. rubbed against it, would sleep between the puffer and the sand at night. was practically inseparable. There are two puffers in that tank and the clown would always keep the larger puffer between it and the smaller (more aggressive puffer). Not sure if you had ever seen anything like this, and thought I would take a moment out of the day and share a funny pic. http://xanadu.ambrosiasw.com/~jchamplin/images/animal/55sw/pufferclown_again11.JPG More photos of the "odd couple" http://xanadu.ambrosiasw.com/~jchamplin/images/animal/55sw/ <More "Frankenfish" to come! Bob F>

Clownfish Behavior (5/21/04) Hi WWM Crew! <Steve Allen Tonight> Thank you for all the sound advices you have given for this beginner. I've been a recipient of your coral and ich treatment advice before, and now my question is about my clownfish. My tank is a beginner 10 gal. with 3 inch sand and around 10 lbs. of live rock, with a skimmer and a powerhead placed at the side of the tank near the surface, stirring the water from one end to the other moderately. The tank started fishless since Feb. to cure the live rock, and only 1 percula clown survived after months of QT due to ich. No inverts as well.  After 2 weeks of non-ich symptoms, I've placed the clownfish in the 10 gallon tank, this was last Sunday. <Better to go 4 weeks symptom-free.>  I turned off the lights on his 1st day at the tank, he started swimming all around the tank, looked like he was checking his new place. On the 2nd day I turned on the lights and saw that he has a preferred spot, near the surface and in front of the tank, right side near the powerhead. He is eating a lot when I feed him, and would play around, he'd sometimes play with the current from the powerhead, but he always stayed at the surface. He occasionally dives down but goes back up again. I saw him once biting the powerhead.  Is his normal for him? <Clownfish do a lot of seemingly strange things.>  Or would there be water issues which force him to stay at the top? <Low oxygen would cause a fish to gulp air at the surface.>  Or would a powerhead generating current be too hard for him? <Could be if you have a large powerhead in this small tank.>  I'm observing him and there is no rapid breathing, gasping, or vertical swim to the surface, just his normal wiggle. No apparent ich symptoms as well. I tried turning off the powerhead, still he liked his spot. <They often hang out in the same area a lot. Clownfish are not natural explorers. Remember that the wild ones seldom stray from there anemone. If he looks healthy and eats well, I would not be overly concerned about this particular behavior.> Thanks! Romel 

Clown Behavior HI <Hi Tristan, MacL here.> I just received one false percula clown. <Wonderful fish.> He is doing fine but is acting really weird. He swims from one side of the tank to the other over and over again. <Very typical behavior.> He's not eating a lot but does nibble at some brine shrimp. At night he goes right to the top and bobs around is this normal thanks a lot. <Sounds quite typical to me. You don't mention what else is in the tank with him.  Is he alone? Is there another fish there that might be causing him to stress in some manner?  How big is the tank? He really is exhibiting normal behavior but you might make sure there are no stressing factors on him.> Tristan

Clowns Hi,<Howdy!> I'm writing because I've looked everywhere on the web to find the reason why Clownfish in general make a jolting/vibrating/jerking action when they are either facing each other or near each other.  I have four Black percula clownfish in a display tank hosted by a 40 cm carpet anemone. Tank inhabitants include the clowns, emperor angel, coral catfish and 3 blue/green reef Chromis.<I honestly could not tell you the answer to this but I would guess it is just a way of interacting with each other.> Thanks in advance Johan (Australia) 

Clownfish Funnies Dear Mr. Fenner,<Cody here today, while Bob and a lot of the crew is off diving in the Red Sea. That is why this email is so late, sorry for the lateness.> I have had 1 single Ocellaris clown in my 46g tank for 2 months now, and about 2 weeks ago I decided to buy another one. Today I just took the new one out of the QT and into my main tank. I am beginning to be disturbed by some of the before I have been seeing. I will refer to my old clown as "Nemo" so we don't get them confused. Just a little background, Nemo has been in my tank for 8 weeks now by himself, with a peppermint shrimp, snails, hermits. When I bought Nemo he was the only fish in the tank at the LFS, the guy told me he had for about 3 weeks, I asked him if he could feed him, he did, and Nemo chowed. So I got him couldn't pass it up for 14.99. Anyways this leads to my questions. Nemo has been harassing the daylights out of my new Ocellaris. BTW, they are approximately the same size. Nemo will pin the new one into the corner of the tank, chase the new one around the tank, they will stop for a few minutes, Nemo will go underneath and go sideways and shimmy and tremble. This is where I get confused, from my knowledge on this subject, the soon to be female is normally the chaser, correct? The one that will shimmy and shake will become the male, correct? But, Nemo is the one that's displaying both behaviors. Strange? By chance what if I have 2 females here? Asking for trouble? They both look in great health, since I bought them from the same LFS, and he does buy ORA fish. How long will this behavior go on? I really don't see Nemo hurting the new one. After awhile Nemo would race to one side then back to the other and stop nose to nose with the new one, and the new one didn't move. They really don't even hang out together yet. Am I just an overworried clownfish owner?<Probably! I would just give them some time and I bet things will work out. I you do start noticing wounds I would separate them. In the future I would get the clowns in different sizes so you know you only have one female. Cody> Thanks for your time Tim 

Clownfish lying at bottom of tank (5/15/04) Put clown fish in tank and it just lays at the bottom of tank does not swim other fish does fine bought at same time what is wrong. <Hard to say. More information would be helpful....like tank and set up details, how the fish was acclimated, and current water parameters. If all of that is within normal limits my best guess would be stress form transport and acclimation> Hope this helps, Leslie 

Clown trio? Ananda, <Hi again!> I have 2 juvenile what I believe to be Ocellaris clowns. The new 46g bow front has a larger (3") 4 year old, so I assume it is mature, Percula or Ocellaris clown with a host anemone. <A 3" clown is probably female...> I had planned to isolate the mature clown in my 10g Eclipse system to allow my smaller clowns to establish a territory before attempting to add the mature clown as I thought since 'she' had an anemone she'd be especially territorial toward the smaller clowns. Might it be possible to maintain a TRIO of clowns with the one anemone? <Doable for a while, perhaps, but you're likely to see significant aggression towards the odd man out once two of them pair up. In the wild, there are many subordinate males and possibly several immatures that the pair can take out their aggression on... here, you've got just the one clown. Would you consider keeping a separate tank for one of the clowns?> Thanks for the thumbs up about my years of experience with freshwater and I will visit the message board and add my two cents worth if I can help someone else.  Sue <Oh, excellent! We have a small, but growing, community and would love to be able to benefit from your expertise. Thanks! --Ananda> 

Wacky Clownfish Behavior? I have 2 Ocellaris clownfish and have noticed that after they roll around the Green Bubble Anemone and the Open Brain Coral they twitch for a second or two. I've noticed that the smaller one seems to do it more recently. I'm just trying to find out if this is normal or if it something I should be worried about? The water levels are ok. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Devin <Hmm...In the absence of any symptoms of distress, such as rapid breathing, difficulty swimming, scratching, etc., then I'd just chock it up to more wacky behavior from these endearing little fishes! Keep a close eye on 'em, and be prepared to take action if there appears to be a problem. Have fun watching! Regards, Scott F>

- Bannerfish Flying at Half-Staff - I have a long fin butterfly or Bannerfish as some people call them and his long extended dorsal fin seems to be getting limp. Just the top inch or so. What can cause this? <Well, this part of the dorsal fin is really like any other - there is a ray of cartilaginous material, sometimes bone that gives the fin its rigidity. In your fish's case, there is a break at that point - not all that uncommon in capture/handling. Will heal in time provided a lack of aggression from other fish and calm/quite for the Bannerfish... will take months, but will heal.> Also my new Ocellaris clownfish likes to lay on his side. He is new to the tank (2 days). I acclimated him along with all the others, but he is the only one laying on his side and not moving from the corner of the tank. Any suggestions. <Is this a constant? Does the fish ever get about swimming? If not, things do not fare well for this fish - as you might guess, would be a highly vulnerable position to take in the wild, and this fish may have just given up.> My other clownfish, also Ocellaris did this too and they died! <Yes... would be what I would expect, sorry to say.> The pet store tested my water as well as I did before I put them in and it was in perfect parameters. What else can it be? <Could be compromised livestock - perhaps something you are doing in acclimation. Please tell more about this tank - size, age, etc.> Confused in Colorado Kelly <Cheers, J -- >

Gold Striped Maroon Anemonefish  Good morning this is Joann  <Hi! Ryan with you today>  My question is regarding the behavior of my pair of Goldstripe maroons. <Surely> The two have been in the same tank for about 6-7 months now. The male was a "replacement" because the original suddenly died. The second male and original female went through a rough adjustment period (the male preferred swimming through the divider and staying with the miniatus grouper and the harlequin tusk. About 2 months ago a 30 gal reef was set up for the maroons and other "community" fish. Their BTA wasn't looking good so about 1 month ago was taken out and is being nursed back to health. Two days ago the male seemed to be "sitting" on a rock the has a section of hair algae growing and is located where the BTA use to be. Since he has been continuously "resting" there and fanning the area. Could you give me some advice on what's going on. <In the absence of a hosting anemone/coral, some clowns will adopt a rock as their own. Have you considered a Sarcophyton for him? If you have the lighting to house an anemone (4+ watts/gallon) then a Sarcophyton may be perfect for your system. Much hardier, and doesn't require supplemental feeding.> Could the pair have become a mated pair? <Possibly, but maybe not. By definition, a mated pair has spawned. Are there eggs in your tank?>  Thanks for your time and advice!! <Absolutely. Good luck! Ryan>

Clown's problem Hi, WetWebMedia crew <A day off due to Easter :) Michael here>  My husband and I are new to saltwater fish keeping and have been learning a lot from your website. <Excellent!> We started with a small 10gal tank, then decided to have a slightly larger tank 30gal, can't have much larger because no space.  <A problem for me, as well> So, now we have 2 tanks with some corals in larger one and fish only for the smaller one. Both tanks have been running for 8-9 months. We have 2 ocellaris clowns in the larger tanks. One of them 2" we have it for more than 6 months. About a month ago, he started to swim vertically head up tail down. Then, he stops swimming, just hangs in the corner in the upper of tank, seems to breath heavily with mouth opens continuously. He seems want to catch the food but is unable to. A week ago, one other clown in smaller tank started to do the same thing. Oh, we also have two 1 1/4" clowns in smaller tank. But this one is a little better since he is able to swim, eat and fighting with his tankmate. He hangs vertically mostly at night and close to the surface. What's wrong with my clowns? Anyway to help them? <What are your water parameters (pH, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, salinity, temperature)? Do they show any physical signs of a parasitic or biological infection? I suggest you do some reading on our FAQs regarding marine fish diseases> By the way, in larger tank I also have a 2" yellow tang, 1" blue damsel, a cleaner wrasse and 2 cleaner shrimps. Please help my clowns. <Your tank is MUCH too small for any sort of tang. Please look into finding a new home for him of 75+ gallons>  Tia S.  <No problem, get back to me with your water parameters and I will try to be more helpful. M. Maddox>

- Freaky Clown - Hi Bob and Crew, A few weeks ago I bought a tank-raised ocellaris clownfish from Pet Kingdom in San Diego.  I noticed that you have mentioned San Diego a few times... do you know if this store or recommend it? <I do know this store and I don't recommend it - go to Octopus' Garden... they'll take good care of you there.>  He has been a healthy eater, but has not taken to my Rose BTA. My wife decided that our little "Nemo" needed a friend, so I purchased another tank-raised ocellaris from FFE. <There are enough stores in your area that you shouldn't be ordering mail order fish.> Upon arrival, the new clownfish darted back and forth across the tank faster than any fish I've seen. Once it slowed down, I was able to notice that the new clown is breathing very rapidly (it opens its mouth about 3-4 times per second).  Is this a sign that something major is wrong? <Possibly.> This clown has also refused to eat anything (Mysis, Brine, morsel or flake) with food literally bouncing off its nose and it still wont even take a sample.   The weird part is that the new clown took to our Rose BTA last night, but still wont eat anything.  To me, it seems like a stressed out fish wouldn't be playing around in an anemone. <Uhh... I would expect the opposite... a stressed out fish would want a place to hide. More interestingly, ocellaris and percula clowns don't typically inhabit these anemones so the fact this fish went in there means it went for 'any port in a storm'.> Is it possible he's getting food from somewhere else, or is the not eating along with the rapid breathing a pretty clear sign of trouble? <The latter... this is not what you want your fish to be doing.> My Tank: 29g with 35lbs of live rock, 2 inches of aragonite, a SeaClone 100, and a Penguin 330.  Amon - 0 Nitrite - 0 Nitrate - 20 Ph 8.1 (I've been using Kent Marine Pro-Buffer for the past two weeks without any PH change so I'm thinking I need a new test kit). Thanks for any advice you can give, Justin <Cheers, J -- > Blind Fish, Or Just A Clueless Clown?  Hi there,  <Hello! Scott F. here tonight>  I have a mated pair of Ocellaris clowns, who have taken to hosting in a yellow colony polyp (strange, huh?) in our 54-gallon LR tank. They have as tankmates a yellow tang, and three green Chromis, with numerous snails and dwarf hermit crabs, and two cleaner shrimp. Water quality is good, all parameters at the proper levels, and everyone was healthy and seemingly happy. Yesterday, I noticed that the smaller of the clowns was getting aggressively evicted from the colony polyp by its larger mate. No big deal, the pair seems to have their periodic "arguments" from time to time, and things always settle out after a day or so. Except in this case, the smaller clown is now swimming near the top of the tank in the corner, lying sideways, but breathing normally and seemingly without any stress. I even was able to guide it back to its colony polyp home, whereupon it was immediately evicted by its larger mate. As it moved around the tank, I noticed that it bumped into the rocks, a snail and the glass, and it looked very much as if the fish had suddenly gone blind.  <Most curious>  After observing him for a day or two, I moved him to our QT so I could take a closer look at him without stressing the other denizens of the MT. He continued to bump around and ultimately took up station in one of the upper corners of the tank, and something is definitely wrong with his vision. He's usually pretty quick on the move for a clown, and used to eat heartily when fed, picking and choosing from the shrimp, flakes and other "meats" that we fed him. I floated a few flakes and a Mysis shrimp by him and he took little notice, although he did seem to "smell" and detect the presence of food in the water. Under normal circumstances, he'd have snapped up the flakes and shrimp. I did read in this FAQ that someone had a blind Ocellaris clown that they were able to feed by holding some krill in front of him. I've not been able to get mine to eat for a couple of days now -  any other ideas? Thanks, MM  <Well, MM- if this little guy is not reactive at all to visual stimuli, such as abrupt movements towards the front glass of the tank, then there is a very good chance that the fish has some sort of visual impairment. I suppose that the best course of action would be to provide him a safe, comfortable home, and continue to place food very close to the fish in an attempt to evoke a feeding response. I would be careful about feeding excessively, of course- especially if this guy rejects the majority of his fare. Perhaps another good idea that can help stimulate his appetite, or at least provide him some sustenance, would be to administer liquid vitamins, such as Vita Chem, directly to the water. Since marine fish do drink, he can absorb some nutrition in this manner. It's worth a shot, anyways. And, as always, do keep water quality high, and continue to observe for other possible signs of disease of any sort. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

-Humu and clown- Hey Guys, great website!  I had 2 quick questions.  First, the other day my maroon clown fish picked up a small rock in his mouth, swam to the top of the tank, and spit it out almost hitting my Humu trigger, who was down below. < (gasp) > A little odd, do you think he's trying to take him out? <Haha, I think you've been watching the Sopranos too much.> My more important question is that I believe that I (have) glass anemones, that have slowly spread from 5 in the original rocks 1.5 years ago to 15 now. <Wow, spreading out pretty slow, nuke them now.> Do you think that I should do something about them? <Well, maybe I shouldn't be so hasty. If you have no intentions on keeping any live coral, then you have no need to kill them. They're only pests if they're killing stuff, absolutely no problem in a fish only tank.> They kind of add to the tank but I don't want them to become pests.  Thanks a lot in advance, Jon <I hope this helps! -Kevin>

Clarki Pair I picked up my second clown fish yesterday. They only have 2 a the store both were half an inch longer there my current clarkii. My concern is the new clown chases my smaller clown a bit. They never fight though! I really want these 2 Clarkii's to bread will it happen or is my new clown to big.<I would just give it time. If you start seeing any missing fins or obvious sign that they aren't going to get along I would split them up.>  Should I bring him back or is this normal in the beginning.  Also what can I do to speed things up with breading and then feeling close?<Just provide the best conditions possible and keep them well fed.  Also some say that a anemone helps but they are tough to keep and not necessary.  Cody> Thanks

- Clownfish Behavior - Hello!! My husband and I have a problem.  We have had a tank raised Ocellaris Clown that has been in our tank for a few months.  He's normally spunky and has a lot of personality but a few days ago he began swimming very strangely (kind of like doggy paddling on one side).  He eats but not as much as he used to and today when I got home he was furiously swimming around in circles at the top of the tank!  Nothing is chasing him or harassing him to my knowledge.  This behavior started (not sure if it is a coincidence) when his tankmate who was a Carpenter's Wrasse escaped from our tank. <Think it is coincidence.> He really seemed bummed after that.  We have since added another small Ocellaris to the tank but it doesn't seem to have affected his temperament at all.  I don't believe that he has gone below the top inch of the tank since this began.  Hope you have some suggestions because it's hard to watch and not know if he's suffering in some way! <Don't think so - these fish are given to strange behaviors, hence the name CLOWN-fish. Wouldn't be too concerned.> Thanks in advance! Lisa   <Cheers, J -- >

Clownfish Swimming Strangely (2/23/04)   Hi and Happy Sunday- <Thanks. Same to you as well.>   I was hoping you could solve a mystery for me. Someone I work with has a marine tank in their office with a yellow tang, yellow tail damsel, a clownfish  and hermit crabs. And a bit of live rock. It has been set up and running for a few years an all is ok.   BUT, I have noticed that just the clownfish is almost always floating at the top and swimming on its side or swimming in the top 1" of the tank. A lot of times with one fin in and out of the water. I asked and I was told that it had been like this for years. It seems quite healthy otherwise. It eats like a horse and likes biting my hand if I put it in the tank. It will swim lower in the tank but only for very brief periods.     Any ideas on what would cause this? It almost seems like it has to work at staying lower in the water. Perhaps a permanent case of gas? ha-ha. I am a Marine aquarist myself and I think I had read once that fish that eat foods off of the surface may get air trapped somehow. We feed them flake food and Nori. What do ya think? <Well, I'd say that if he's been that way for years, it's nothing to worry about, especially since he eats well and seems feisty. Could be a permanent problem with it's swim bladder that it seems to be adequately compensating for. Also, clowns actually aren't very good swimmers and will often hang out in one spot wobbling around against the flow.>   Thanks in advance  Dennis <Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

Clownfish - Hey there suck! Hi, <Hello.> I've noticed the strangest behaviour from my ocellaris mated pair recently. The larger female has been sucking at the tips of my bulb tipped anemone, and looks like she's getting some serious kicks out of it. She's also sucking at the undersides as well... and can stay "attached" to it for quite some time. The male also does the sucking thing and there's no harm done to the anemone, no marks or anything. <I wouldn't worry about it.> The tank's stable and everyone's happy and plays well together, but this sucking thing is creeping me out and I can't find any info on such behaviour. Whassup with my suckas? <Sucking on the tentacles of the anemone is quite common in the symbiotic relationship between the host (anemone) and the clownfish. There are many theories about why clownfish suck on the tentacles of their host. I can say from my personal experience that it's nothing to worry about and is usually quite normal for clownfish to do. Take Care, Graham.> Regards, Yvette Nippy Clowns (2/18/04) Hi, <Howdy, Steve Allen here.> I have a gold stripe maroon clown fish in my 60 gal tank. The clown has been there for about a year. Recently I added 2 feather dusters. At first none of the fish in the tank bothered the feather dusters. After the introduction of an anemone the maroon clown is now nipping at the feather dusters. The feather dusters aren't being damaged due to their quickness, however they spend a great deal of time inside the tube and I am afraid that they may not be getting enough to eat. <A legitimate concern.> Can this be a problem and what suggestions may you have to help? The maroon does defend the anemone from other fish but what threat does he feel from the feather dusters? <It's probably not a matter of feeling threatened. Clowns just get nippy sometimes. If you can move the worms farther away from the anemone, this may help. the clown may also lose interest. Otherwise, there's not much else to be done--very unlikely that you can change this fish's behavior in this regard.> Many Thanks <Hope this helps.> Rick

Clownfish Enquiry Sometime during the middle of the night, I walked into my living room (where my tank is located) and could hear a strange sound coming from the tank (it turned out to be the powerhead vibrating against the glass, as the screw holding it in had slackened)... Anyway, so that I could check what it was, I turned on the lights and removed the top from the tank. My clownfish were acting VERY odd. They stayed close to the substrate and didn't seem to care even when I put my hand in there to swirl the water around. Both of them just sat very still, watching me. After a little while, their companion Angelfish came over and annoyed them both until the male went for a swim with her, but the female stayed where she was and hardly moved except of creep back behind her favourite rock. Could this strange behaviour be because I interrupted their sleep? <Yes... quite normal for these fish/es to "sleep" and not move much during the dark hours... or "wake up" soon after light applied> (They didn't get any sleep last night or the night before, apparently, coz I was not home and some dummy left the tank lights turned on). <Do consider getting/using electrical timers for your lighting... It's what this dummy uses. Important that lighting be regular.> I'm only new to reef keeping, and the clownfish are my first fish (I've had them for 2 weeks). <I see> During the day, they are the sweetest little things, they will swim to the surface when I feed them, and like playing with my fingers (they definitely know their owner) <I suspect you are correct> My tanks nitrate levels are kind of high at the moment (50) ... I bought the tank second hand, with the 2 clowns and the angel in it, and since buying the tank, it seems to have undergone a mini cycle with the fish in it (fish are acting normal though)... <Good> I'm thinking that the reason my clownfish are acting weird, is because I woke them up or something... but I do of course feel concerned. I'm attached to the clowns. <Not to be overly concerned here.> Thanks Laney <Welcome, Bob Fenner>

Send In The Clown...Or Clowns? Hi guys <Hi there! Scott F. your guy today!> Great site, your information has helped me through the setup of my tank and the loooong wait to get fish in there, during this time I read a lot including Joyce Wilkerson's book Clownfish. <An excellent book on these fish, and a good acquisition for anyone's library!> I have a 35g tank and purchased 2 juvenile ocellaris clownfish. When I first got them home they hung out together - but now after close to a month and the addition of a yellow tail damsel and a Dottyback (all getting along nicely) the clownfish have started the 'dating' thing or maybe I should say the 'WWF' thing. No wonder we didn't see this in Finding Nemo - it's not Disney stuff!!! <No "warm fuzzies" here!> The dominant one chases the loser (I mean that in a nice way) constantly and he ends up twitching and cowering, then she leaves him alone and like counts to 10 so he finds a spot to hide then she finds him and chases him again. <Part of the process, but it can get out of hand...> But I am a bit concerned - Loser has lost a lot of coloring and his fins are looking ragged, he is breathing rapidly and hiding almost all the time. He is still eating but gets hard time from the others so I tend to hand feed him. <Good work on your part..> Is this behaviour going to last long and is it something I should be worried about? Thanks for your help - your time really is appreciated Sasha <Well, Sasha, I think that you're doing a great thing by keeping an eye on this little guy. It's important to make sure that this behavior doesn't get out of hand. It sounds like the male might be in danger here. Do keep a close eye on him. The fact that he is ragged and behaving stressfully makes me think that you might want to remove this guy to the protection of a smaller tank until he regains his strength. Give him a little TLC and some clean water conditions, and he'll make a full recovery. Unfortunately, this violent attack may be repeated again when he is reintroduced, so you have several options: First, you could add more than one clown, to allow the female to "choose" her mate (not to mention- to divide the aggression between two fish), or you could simply try a different male (and risk the same behavior occurring again), or- you could let the female go "solo" for some extended period of time, giving the male a chance to grow and strengthen himself, and the female time to "mellow" a bit. In the end, option one may be the safest bet here...Most importantly, keep a close eye on the male and take action as soon as possible if it becomes necessary to save him. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Shy Clarkiis? 1/1/04 Happy New Year to all of you! <You too!> I have a question regarding a pair of recently purchased Clarkii Anemonefish. They have been hiding in crevices and refusing to come out during the day. Attempts to feed them flake and pieces of prawn have not worked in coaxing them to leave their hiding place. Will live food work? Or is it just initial shyness? <Most clowns are pretty shy for a few days, and boisterous tank mates will make it worse.  Give them a few days, and if you need other options to try, Mysis shrimp and Sweetwater zooplankton are pretty irresistible to most fish.> Secondly, as they are tank raised and kept in a bare tank when I purchased them, do they need a symbiotic anemone or coral for general well-being? <Kudos for buying tank raised!  Even wild caught clowns do not require an anemone or coral to host them.  They will establish a territory somewhere in the tank, and that is all they need.> Thank You for your time. <Best regards!  Adam>

Honey, your clownfish are clicking again. Hi folks,    I've been trying to find out exactly how my Clarki clown makes that clicking sound. I've found plenty of web sites that affirm, "Yes, they make noises.", but none that explain how they do it. Special click organ? Grinding teeth? Biological proton acceleration? As you can see, I'm really scrounging for answers. Happy Holidays, Craig <Hee hee! It's... their teeth grinding... using their gas bladder to add volume (as a resonator)... other fishes generate sound with articulated bony body parts (e.g. triggers), stretching muscles along their bladder (e.g. croakers)... Bob Fenner>

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