Star of the movie The World of Nemo, the clownfish are very popular with aquarists. Living in the water of sea, this species of fish requires precautions particular conditions favoring his well-being in captivity.
Clownfish identity card
A clownfish refers to a group of marine fish belonging to the pomacentridae family and the subfamily of the amphiprions. Its range includes the great ocean Indo-Pacific (Indonesia, Australia) and the Red Sea. These fish evolve exclusively in the waters hot tropical, lagoons and shallow seas where they shelter in reefs corals. No species of clownfish evolve in the ocean Atlantic. Their bodies are generally brightly colored (yellow, orange or red) and are adorned with one to three bands white cells composed of cellular pigments that reflect the light (iridophores). Their lifespan in the natural environment is estimated at around 6 years and more than 10 years in captivity. The purchase of a clownfish is therefore a commitment on the long term.
29 species of clownfish
Two species are, by their size, adapted to a life in aquarium : the best known, the three-banded clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) is easily recognized by its color orange very bright and by its three vertical white bands. Another star of the family: the Pacific clownfish (Amphiprion percula) which is distinguished by the thin bands black delimiting the three white bands lining his body. Among the 29 species recorded, we can also mention the clownfish of fire (Amphiprion melanopus) dominated by the color orange and a vertical white stripe bordered with black behind the eye. Amphiprions are between 7 and 15 centimeters long.
Cohabitation recommended for clownfish
Friendly in nature, the clownfish likes to live in couple in a defined and limited place or in groups in a large aquarium. If he feels cramped he might attack its congeners. Note that amphiprions display a behavior territorial not very compatible with the presence of other species of fish to which it risks showing itself aggressive. Clownfish live in bench headed by the oldest subject (often a female), followed by the second oldest clownfish which is the male reproductive.
Interdependence with the sea anemone
All species of clownfish live in symbiosis with a sea actinium (anemone). Resembling aquatic plants, the anemones actually form an order ofanimals sailors, living fixed on the rocks. The symbiotic relationship is based on a exchange mutual:
- The sea anemone protects the anemonefish from predators thanks to its poisonous tentacles. She provides him with his leftover food and dead tentacles. In addition, it offers him a safe shelter.
- The clownfish defends the anemone from its predators and parasites. It keeps it clean by eating its dead tentacles and the algae that settle there. Fish droppings and food debris facilitate the growth and regeneration of the anemone through a process of photosynthesis. Finally, the fish help it to feed by attracting its prey to the sea anemone.
This relation ofinterdependence requires the presence of an anemone compatible with amphiprion among which we can mention:
- The magnificent anemone (Heteractis magnifica);
- The giant anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea);
- Mertens’ anemone (Stichodactyla mertensii);
- The bulging anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)
Precautions before introducing a sea anemone
Other sea anemones may s’associate with amphiprions such as adhesive anemone; pearl necklace anemone; the anemone-leather; the delicate anemone; the corkscrew anemone; carpet anemone; Haddon’s anemone. However, some species of clownfish only coexist with varieties specific sea anemones. Check with the vendor before bringing them into the aquarium. Another important precaution to take is to always install the sea anemone for at least one to two weeks. before the arrival of clown fish. If the anemone is placed at the same time as them or after them, the amphiprions can harass to the point of preventing it from finding the right location and dying of it.
The ideal aquarium for clownfish
The clownfish aquarium will imperatively includesea water which implies, on the one hand, that the water must be salty and, on the other hand, that it must be cleaned using a osmosis. Important parameters to take into account:
- Volume minimum: 200 liters for a couple;
- Temperature between 25 and 30 °;
- pH between 8 and 8.5 (neither too acidic nor too basic);
- Salinity: about 1024-1016 density meters;
- Magnesium: about 1200 mg / l;
- Hardness: between 0 and 32 ° fH (hydrotimetric titer);
- No nitrites no copper;
- The sand coral is a good substrate.
Food for clownfish
In their natural habitat, these omnivorous fishes also consume materials vegetable (algae, copepods) thatanimal (shrimps, plankton). In the aquarium, this distribution must be respected and a variety of meals rich in vitamins. A balanced diet includes a mixture of products frozen or alive (brine shrimp, mysis, small krills, tubifex daphnia, cyclops). You can also complete their menu with flakes and granules. It is advisable to feed the amphiprions at minimum twice a day and three times in the case of reproduction.
Recommendations before breeding clownfish
The need to make the clownfish evolve in seawater is not necessarily suitable for beginners given the cost represented by this type of installation and knowledge necessary for its proper functioning. On the other hand, the essential cohabitation with a sea anemone, a fragile and demanding species, is more recommended to aquarists. experienced.