Clown Fish & the Anemone - The Reef Tank

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Old 03-24-2002, 05:26 PM   #1
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Clown Fish & the Anemone

Should a clown fish be introduced at the same time as an anemone or after the anemone? Does it matter? If the clown has been in the tank for a while, then an anemone is introduced, will it accept it as a host. I know their is a chance that a clown fish wont take to an anemone, but is their a right and wrong way to try?

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Old 03-24-2002, 06:14 PM   #2
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Without going over again all the reasons why not to have anemones, if you are set on doing itI really suggest Joyce Wilkersons book on Clownfish and Anemones. Not all anemones host, different ones host different fish, and no guarentees
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Old 03-24-2002, 06:42 PM   #3
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I just read "Fish Behavior, in the Aquarium and in the Wild" by Dr.Stephan Reebs.In it he states how clownfish in the wild use 'smell'to locate and identify the proper host anemone in the ocean.With all the stanky foods and additives we drip and dump into our captive reefs,it's no surprise that some anemonefish have a difficult time identifying their anemone in a captive reef aquarium.In my experience,Amphiprion clarkii will take to almost ANY anemone.I prefer to add the fish first.I recommend purchasing captive-raised bulb tipped anemones.Certain fish may take months to locate the anemone in the aquarium.And a few never take to the proper host anemone.Certain corals that you may have already present in your system make excellent anemonefish hosts: Sarcophyton and Euphyllia are among them.

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Old 03-24-2002, 07:23 PM   #4
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i agree with gary and doug. anemones are difficult to keep, but not impossible. gary's recommendation of a clarkii clown and a bulb anemone has worked well for me. i also can say that a maroon clown and bulb anemone is also a good combination. i always introduce the fish first, then later the anemone. bulb anemones are easy to feed and are hardier than the rest. if you can, stay away from carpet anemones as they will eat other fish, can deliver a powerful sting, and are very difficult to keep. another possible anemone that people have had good success with is the long tentacle anemone. hope this helps...
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Old 03-25-2002, 01:22 AM   #5
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I have had oscellaris clowns and they did not take to a bubble tip, I plan on adding a carpet an. and hopefully they'll take to that.
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Old 03-25-2002, 06:44 AM   #6
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PLEASE PLEASE before attempting ANY kind of anemone, make your tank anemone-proof.

Cover all intakes and powerhead intakes with foam prefilters. Failure to do so will end up in blenderized anemone when it goes walkabout.

Do not expect the anemone to be happy where you place it, it will walk around til it finds a suitable place for its needs, providing your tank HAS a suitable place. Make sure your lighting is up to snuff for this animal, and don't forget to feed it.

Research what kind of clown you want, OR what kind of anemone (captive propagated E. quadricolor is your most likely to succeed) and choose the clowns that will most likely host in it. In the wild. Maroons host in it but in the tank, A. melanopus, A. frenatus, A. clarkii and sometimes A. ocellaris will host in it. Others are hit-and-miss and as stated above, even a "textbook" match doesn't always work.

If you don't want E. Quad, then I'd suggest a Long Tentacle as the next best choice. I don't believe there are captive propagated ones readily available, but I've read that some are having success at this. I've had a LTA for 7 months, that I got from another hobbyist who was moving and taking down his tank. It does just great with my A. frenatus pair, they will also host skunk clowns (both varieties, false and true skunks), skunks are a bit less aggressive than many clown species, and you could get away with a small group of 4 or 5 fish if the tank was large enough.

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Old 03-25-2002, 07:06 AM   #7
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I haven't posted this pic in a while, but for those that still think a clown needs an anemone:
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Old 03-25-2002, 10:53 AM   #8
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I have a different method than the above poster. I place the anemone first. I think clowns can pester an anemone that is not quite settled in.

Carpet anemones are my personal favorite. I had a green carpet for a couple years and then traded it in for this blue s. haddoni. If you research the needs of your particular anemone, I think you can successfully place it on your first try. Just be sure to know its preferences (ie rock/sand/flow etc).

These saddlebacks found their anemone in less than 15 minutes.


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Old 03-25-2002, 02:35 PM   #9
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Addition to Jenn's comments -

We had to remove two brittle stars from our tank, they were leterally taking food out of the mouth of our bubble tip anemone. We have nursed it back from the "mysterious" starvation caused by the stars.
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Old 03-26-2002, 10:52 AM   #10
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it took my a. ocellaris clown a day to find my magnifica anemone...he hasnt left it since, except to eat...IMO clownfish are pretty boring without an anemone...not sure i would have one again without one...

if you study up on the anemone you wanna keep and provide the right kinds of food, light, flow, etc i think it is possible to keep one...

of course im a newbie, and in a year i might be anti-anemone...

...but for now it seems to be doing great...


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Old 03-26-2002, 03:13 PM   #11
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I have two BTA in my tank and one each Oscellaris and maroon clown fishes. The maroon hosts with one BTA but also 'plays' in the other and in the torch coral. The Oscellaris has hosted with the giant colt in the tank and defends it fiercely from the Maroon. The Oscellaris has never shown any interest in either BTA, but it sure loves that colt!

Be aware that if you plan on going with a carpet anemone that the carpet is more than a match for any fish in your system including full grown tangs and angelfish. They are very toxic, too, so even if a large fish breaks away from contact, the toxin injected into the fish is capable of killing it. This is one that should be in a tank of its own with only the hosting clownfish.
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Old 03-26-2002, 05:34 PM   #12
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While I have heard of lots of reefers who have lost large fish to their carpets, I cannot say that I share in this experience.

My carpet is very sticky, but I have seen my clown tang brush it and drive on unscathed.

Properly placed, I think a carpet can have a place in the reeftank.


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Old 03-26-2002, 07:03 PM   #13
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Oodley Boodley, I'd be interested in seeing a reference to the toxicity of carpets. I'm not doubting you, I've just never read this before. I know that their nematocysts are particularily strong and can cause damage that may not be reversible. A large carpet's nematocysts can fire through a clam shell (just a little Clavenism for y'all).

Brad, I'd be real interested in knowing how long you've kept Heteractis magnifica. You probably already know this (because you researched your purchase) but they are notoriously one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult species to keep in captivity.

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Old 03-26-2002, 09:08 PM   #14
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My O. Clown treats his "host" fuzzy shrooms just like an anemone. Lays in them, plays in them, feeds them, sucks the tentacles, the whole bit. If you don't have the right tank and lighting for an anemone, don't get one as it's not necessary.

It's not just the fact that there are fewer anemones in the wild for their own sake, it's also for the sake of the clownfish that need the protection of their natural hosts in the wild and are losing them.

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Old 03-27-2002, 08:16 AM   #15
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well, im not sure i would do it again or not...i bought it locally from

i live about 15 mins from them...i have been kinda lookin for an anemone and she had gotten about 10 of these beautys in...i couldnt pass it up...but then i got home and started researching and discovered how hard they are to keep...

my tanks only 4 months old but seems to be doing well...the anemone looks great and is attached to a rock at the very top of the tank right under one of my 3-250w 10K MH's...

i have been feeding about once a week to start...frozen silversides...i have read alot of articles by dr. ron shimek and bought this book...

they key with the magnifica is good current, strong lighting, med to high temps (82ish) and high S.G. (1.025-26)...and a nice flat rock for it to make a home....i dont really have a flat rock...but he seems to be doing fine where he is now...

like i said, im not sure i would buy it again knowing what i know now...but hes in there now and i have to try and offer the best home possible...


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brittle stars , bubble tip anemone , clam shell , clarkii clown , clown fish , clown tang , heteractis magnifica , host anemone , joyce wilkerson , maroon clown , maroon clown fish , ocellaris clown , ron shimek , tentacle anemone , torch coral

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