Whatever forum you read, whichever video you watch, you will find the Clownfish recommended as a great tank inhabitant, but is that really the case?

In an earlier article we explored if Clownfish have OCD, they develop strange behavioural traits within the aquarium which leads me to believe, yes, they do have a form of OCD! But brushing their obsessive behaviour aside, do they really make the great centrepieces we have all be lead to believe?

The Pro’s of Clownfish

Clownfish & Blue Tang
Clownfish & Blue Tang
  1. Everyone knows what they are. Thanks to Finding Nemo & Finding Dory, the humble Clownfish is a household name. This at least means you wont have to spend your time explaining what they are to your non-fishkeeping friends, though it does mean that every Clownfish now goes by the name of Nemo.
  2. They are relatively easy to get a mated pair of. This is great for new hobbyists as the chances are your pair will eventually find somewhere to spawn and you will get to try and raise some baby clowns.
  3. Watching them host an anemone. Clownfish for a symbiotic (meaning both parties benefit) relationship with anemones. The anemone provides the Clownfish with somewhere to live, while the Clownfish will bring food to the anemone. It’s fascinating to watch.
  4. They are available in different colours. With new designer Clowns there are a whole range of different colours and patterns to suit every aquarists tastes, but be warned, designer Clowns come with a higher price tag.
  5. They are nice looking fish. Even the standard, non-designer Clownfish are attractive to look at under both blue and white light. With their bold colours and bright white stripes, they will catch your eyes.
  6. They are relatively hardy. Though they can be a bit prone to some illness such as marine velvet, ick etc, on the whole they are not too bad. they are not at the level of Tang’s for disease that for sure.
  7. Most Clownfish sold into the hobby are tank bred these days. Buying tank bred fish can only be of benefit to our natural ocean reefs, it is something that most reef keepers will consider when buying any livestock. As reef enthusiasts it is our duty to ensure that we do everything we can to preserve our oceans reefs, buying fish & corals that are sustainably sourced is the most responsible thing to do in your aquarium.

The Con’s of Clownfish

Clownfish Pair
  1. They are boring to watch. There, I said it. They are boring. Once they are in your tank, they pick as spot and they stick to it. They may occasionally swim about a bit, but most of the time they just bobble up and down in the same place.
  2. They develop OCD. Ok, so this one is more of an observation based opinion, but they get into these routines that you just can’t seem to get them out of.
  3. The designer Clowns are crazy expensive. If you don’t want the plain Orange & white ones be prepared to spend alot of your hard-earned cash on a fish that will just bobble about in the same spot.
  4. Aggression. Clownfish can be aggressive. Not just to other fish, but to you too! Once they have become a bonded pair and spawned, the chances are your Clown will turn into the devil. It will chase anything that comes near its chosen spot away & every time you stick your hand in the tank it will try to rip a chunk out of you.
  5. Everyone has got them. They are so common, nearly every reef keeper has got a Clownfish or has had a Clownfish of some kind within their aquarium. With so many different types of fish available, there has to be better options than the Clownfish out there… there are better options, go do some research and find something a bit different.
  6. They can be shy. My little male Clown spends half of his life as a quivering wreck in his little cave. Every time I approach the tank, or open the top, or even just walk past it he darts into his cave. You’d have thought he would be used to me after 8 months, but no… still skittish.
  7. If you lose one of the pair, they are hard to pair up again. Once Clownfish bond they will likely reject any replacement of their mate, often killing the new addition to the tank.

So do they make great pets?


Well, yes and no. I suppose if you have a small tank with a large anemone in it then yes, they will be a great addition to your tank. If you have a larger aquarium, I suspect after the novelty of having a new fish has worn off you will find them a little uninteresting to watch.

Would I buy Clownfish again, no. I would rather use the available bio-load on other, more active fish.