I recently did a short text on anemones. One of the reasons anemones are wanted by the aquarist is their relationship with an anemone. This relationship is remarkable and it is understandable why an aquarist would wish to duplicate this in an aquarium.
For the relationship to work it is obvious that aquarium conditions must be correct. Clownfish are generally hardy (in marine terms) and, if there are problems, it is usually the anemone that fails to thrive. It is important that the anemone is happy by providing the correct lighting, water movement and space (anemones can grow as I found out in the early days!).
Clownfish are lovely fish in their own right. They will live in an aquarium without an anemone, but if the aquarium is a reef with corals, they may well decide to make their home in, say, a mushroom coral (Sarcophyton sp) or similar. I’ve seen this occur in Peter’s aquarium and the coral didn’t seem to be affected by the clownfish’s presence at all. Then again, some clownfish do not make their home in a provided anemone, even if it is one of the preferred species. Why this is I’m not sure, but maybe it is because the clownfish were home bred and just don’t know what to do? Maybe!
It is best to house just one species of clownfish with an anemone, although it is known for different clownfish to co-exist. If they are mixed, aggression may occur and this is certainly not wanted. What is wanted is peace and harmony as far as possible. To be cautious, present the anemone with just two clownfish of the same species. Even the same species may show aggression if there are just too many, and of course the anemone will be none too keen either.
My favourite clownfish is the so called common clown (a bit of injustice there, fancy calling the little beauties common), the proper name is Amphiprion ocellaris. I kept one of these with an anemone for a couple of years. Unfortunately the anemone grew too large, so I took it to the retailers along with the clownfish. I asked the retailer to sell the anemone and the clownfish together, he later told me he had done that. I hope the two had a long life in a suitably sized aquarium.
So, after choosing the clownfish check which anemone is preferred, then make sure the aquarium is spacious enough.
With proper pre-purchase checks, proper water quality, lighting and feeding, the aquarist should be rewarded with one of nature’s amazing sights – clownfish in the security of a host anemone.
Below is a link to help choose the correct anemone and clownfish.