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Do Clownfish Like Being Alone?

Clownfish are a favorite among aquarium hobbyists. With their bright colors and active nature, they make a welcome addition to a community tank environment. But do they need the company of others or can they be kept alone in a saltwater tank? The answer is…

Clownfish will do quite well on their own in an aquarium. As they can be aggressive and territorial with other smaller fish in a community tank, being alone or in a mated pair will allow them all the space they need to swim freely and explore their aquatic surroundings. That said, it’s recommended that you add an anemone, if possible.

Now that you know clownfish aren’t schooling and therefore don’t need others of their kind in an aquarium, let’s explore this topic further. I’ll explain why clownfish do okay on their own, if they’re good for beginner hobbyists, and whether they hide in a community tank environment. I’ll also discuss their temperaments, their need for an anemone and which fish make the best tankmates.

So, if you’re ready to dive deeper into the aquatic world of the clownfish and learn more about its survival habits while in captivity, then let’s started!

Are Clownfish OK Alone?

Clownfish are okay alone, especially if they’ve been acclimated to an aquarium without other clownfish. If you want to keep a pair (preferably a male and a female as two males may fight each for dominance), be sure to buy them together and then add them to your tank at the same time.

Are Clownfish Happier in Pairs?

Clownfish often dwell in small groups in the wild but aren’t really a schooling fish. Rather, they’re a ‘paring’ fish whereby a larger, dominant female and a smaller male will reside together and mate for life. Therefore, you should only have two (a male and a female) with an anemone in a captive environment.

What Happens when You Keep Multiple Clownfish Together?

If you keep multiple clownfish together in the same tank, you’re likely to have problems. Clownfish males are territorial and aggressive in nature. They’ll often fight each other in a captive environment for dominance or space as well as the right to breed with a spawning female. Keeping clownfish in mated pairs in a large tank with anemones will help reduce stress and hostility.

Are Clownfish Good for Beginner Aquarium Hobbyists?

When it comes to saltwater fish, a clownfish is a good choice for beginner hobbyists. They’re hardy and fairly easy to care, particularly the percula clown. They aren’t picky eaters and will feast on readily available options like dried fish flakes and frozen brine shrimp.

Since they can be kept alone (or with a single anemone), clownfish don’t need a huge tank. One clownfish will do fine on its own in a 10-gallon tank. Apart from sufficient food, the only thing a clownfish needs is a clean tank with the proper water parameters.

How Many Clownfish can be Kept in a 10-Gallon Tank?

Keeping any more than a single clownfish in a 10-gallon tank will only increase the chances of aggression and territorial fighting, especially if you have more than one male sharing the same small space. Since clowns are active swimmers and like to freely explore their aquatic surroundings, you should only keep a pair (one male and one female) at most in a 10-gallon aquarium.

clownfish with anemone

Can Clownfish Live without Anemones?

While a clownfish can survive without an anemone, it’ll thrive with one in a community tank environment. The anemone helps provide safety and security for the clownfish, especially in an aquarium with larger fish. The symbiotic relationship is vital to the health and longevity of both species.

If you only have one clownfish in a tank, then you may not need an anemone. Provided the clown feels comfortable in its aquatic environment, it’ll be okay on its own. Setting up the tank to mimic the fish’s naturally reef habitat (i.e. plants, corals, rock caves, etc.) will also help in the absence of an anemone.

What Anemone Do Clownfish Prefer?

One of the best anemones for clownfish is the saddle anemone. It is a type of carpet anemone with one of the highest survival rates in captivity. Saddle anemones live in shallow waters along coral reefs with sandy bottoms at depths of up to 130 feet!

The bubble tip anemone is another good choice. Fairly hardy, this anemone is typically found in most saltwater aquariums containing percula or maroon clownfish. It comes in a variety of colors and can reach lengths of up to 12 inches!

When deciding on an anemone for your clownfish, consider the following:

  • Ensure the color is bright – if pale or white, don’t purchase it.
  • Check that the mouth isn’t too big.
  • Make sure the tentacles aren’t too thin or too short.
  • Observe the foot area for any signs of distress like tears or rips.
  • See that the anemone reacts by moving when it’s picked up.
  • Take both the anemone and the rock if it’s attached to one already and place both directly into your tank without removing them.

Do Clownfish Like Hiding?

Clownfish don’t like to hide. In fact, they prefer to swim about freely and utilize all open areas of an aquarium. The only reason a clown will hide is if it feels unsafe in its environment. Bullying by other, bigger clowns may be the culprit which is why adding an anemone for cover and comfort is suggested.

For more information on which clownfish can live amicably in a community tank and how to properly set-up a tank so your clownfish feel safe and secure, please refer to my other article entitled: Which Clownfish can be Kept Together?

Will Clownfish Live Longer Alone in an Aquarium?

The average lifespan for clownfish is 3 to 5 years in captivity, as opposed to the usually 6 to 10 years in the wild. Happier, healthier clowns tend to live longer. Therefore, keeping them in mated pairs or as singles with an anemone will likely increase their longevity in a saltwater aquarium.

The key to a longer life for clownfish is a clean aquatic environment. The right temperature (72- to 78-degrees Fahrenheit), pH level (7.8 to 8.3) and specific gravity (1.021 to 1.026) are crucial. Doing regular partial water changes will also help keep the environment safe and free of toxic ammonia.

Which Fish Make Good Tankmates for Clownfish?

Choosing the right tankmates for clownfish can be tricky. The best options are creatures of similar size (or larger) and like temperament. Skittish and/or timid fish aren’t recommended as they’re likely to be bullied by the clown. Anemones, angelfish, blennies, corals, damselfish, gobies, mandarin dragonets, saltwater shrimp, tangs, and wrasses are all good choices.

When stocking a saltwater aquarium, you must keep in mind two things: first, the size of the fish and second, the size of tank itself. Avoid adding smaller fish to an aquarium that’s already been established by a clownfish. This will incite aggressive and/or territorial behavior in your clown.

clownfish and butterfly tang

What’s the Best Way to Add New Fish to a Tank with Clownfish?

When you introduce new tankmates to a tank with clownfish, be sure to do so at night when it’s dark. This will allow time for the new fish to acclimate to the tank before being ‘noticed’ by the clown. And don’t forget the rule-of-thumb for stocking an aquarium which is ½ inch of fish per every gallon of water.

Harmony in an aquarium is the result of each fish having enough space to swim about freely and still feel safe in its aquatic surroundings. Overcrowding a tank will only increase tension and stress, ultimately affecting the overall health of all inhabitants. Therefore, it’s important to remember that when it comes to a community tank, bigger is always better!


In summation, clownfish aren’t a type of schooling fish and can live alone in a saltwater tank. The only thing they really need – apart from sufficient food and clean water – to thrive in a captive environment is an anemone.

I hope this article has answered your questions pertaining to clownfish and whether they can be kept alone in an aquarium. Thanks for reading and good luck with your aquarium hobby.

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