Clownfish Breeding for Beginners

An Intro to Clownfish Breeding

How to breed clownfish

Hey Salt-nation, Jeff Hesketh here and Today we are going to be talking about clownfish breeding. I have always been a big supporter of sustainability within the saltwater aquarium hobby. As time goes on we need to find new and creative ways to become more self sufficient. This will also have a positive impact on the wild reefs. A great way to do this is through captive breeding and propagation of marine life.

Clownfish have been breeding in saltwater aquariums for over a hundred years and have been breed for commercial reasons since the mid 1900’s. Clownfish breeding is easily done in the home aquarium and can become a hobby within the saltwater aquarium hobby.

Clownfish Breeding

How to breed clownfish

The clownfish is egg layer and they breed year round in the wild. Males attract the females by courting. Courting behaviors include chasing, biting and extending fins.

Clownfish lay their eggs in batches on coral, rock or next to the sea anemone. In the wild, the male clownfish builds a nest on the rock or coral near the sea anemone in order to be provided with protection from predators.

A mature female clownfish can lay 100 to 1,000 eggs at one time depending on the species. After the eggs are laid the male clownfish guards and protects the eggs until they hatch. The male also fans the eggs with his fins, this increases the oxygen flow around the eggs which is vital to their health and also keeps them free of detritus and other foreign objects. At this time the female tends to become very territorial.

How to Breed Clownfish

Breeding tank should be at least 30 gallons to keep clownfish happy. To make the clownfish feel more comfortable you should place the sea anemone in the tank.  The tank should have live rock. The live rock provides hiding places and gives a surface on which the clownfish can lay their eggs.

Your aquarium parameters are very important when it comes to clownfish breeding. Water chemistry with a pH of 8.2-8.4, hardness of 8-12 dKH and a temperature between 72 and 78° F. The ammonia and nitrite levels need to stay  at 0.0 ppm while  nitrate should stay below 40.0ppm, though lower is always better.  Keep the salinity between 1.022 and 1.025.

To make your tank environment healthy, 10-20 percent water changes are needed daily.  You should also need to remove detritus from the aquarium bottom at least every other day. Make sure the tank does not have a large filtration system but instead has an air stone that lets off little bubbles or some other more gentle means of oxygenation. Too much filtration could easily kill all your tiny fry.  You must also provide proper lighting for the fry to search food. The light shouldn’t be too bright, one light bulb is sufficient and should be as diffused as possible.

During clownfish breeding, both the male and female fish start to clean the rocks with their mouth and fins to prepare for the eggs. At first, eggs are orange in color, then grayish and finally silvery when the eyes are already visible.

Clownfish Egg Development

Eggs typically hatch in about a week after fertilization depending upon species and temperature and the larvae that emerge are about 3 mm in size. In captivity, hatching usually takes place one or two hours after the lights are turned off. After hatching you should remove the larvae as soon as possible from the clownfish breeding setup.

The larvae are phototropic and can be easily removed from the aquarium after they hatch by placing a bright light source such as  flashlight at one corner of the aquarium.

Clownfish Breeding

Once the larvae concentrate in that area, carefully scoop them out with a Tupperware bowl or siphon them out with some large-diameter plastic tubing. You should never use a net because it can cause fatal injuries to the delicate larvae.

During the first 24-36 hours the fry do not eat.  After this time, they should be fed with Rotifers three to four times per day. After the fish are about 6 to 8 days old, you should begin feeding them with live baby brine shrimp (= Artemia) and pulverized dry foods.

Fifteen days after hatching, the young fish can be fed exclusively on pulverized dry foods. Nutritionally complete dry food that includes color-enhancing pigments should be supplied for proper growth and color. If larval nutrition is lacking, physical deformities such as missing eyes, deformed jaws, spinal deformities etc. may result.

From day seven to 15, the larvae undergo metamorphosis and settle out of the plankton. At this point, they drop out of the water column and begin spending their time near the aquarium bottom. The fry reaches sexual maturity at the age between 9 and 15 months.

Breeding Clowning Video

Clownfish Breeding Conclusion

Weather you’re getting into Ocellaris Clownfish breeding for business or hobby, it can very rewarding. As time goes on we need to find new and creative ways to become more self sufficient. This will also have a positive impact on the wild reefs. Clownfish breeding can have a huge impact and help us take a step in the right direction.

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