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Does a Clown Fish Need Saltwater to Survive

Clown fish are those cute little orange and white and sometimes with black linings that when you see them at the fish store you are drawn to them even if you don’t own an aquarium.

The little fish with the bad fin in the children’s movie Nemo is what people call a clown fish. There are actually 30 different varieties of clown fish or anemone fish. The most common species being the Ocellaris which is the kind of fish that Nemo was modelled after. The Clarkii, Maroon, Pink Skunk and Tomato Clowns are a few of the other more popular types of Clown Fish that you will most likely find at your local aquarium and pet store.

Clown Fish Origin

Clown Fish originated from Pacific Oceans and the Indian Ocean as well as the Red Sea and even the Great Barrier Reef. Clown or Anemone Fish are typically found in more shallow depths around sheltered areas in reefs and even lagoons that are not overly deep.

A large percentage of the species of the more popular Anemone Fish you will find in the aquarium store are bred in captivity on fish farms in North America and around the world.

Clown Fish are also called Anemone Fish because they can be found living amongst the tentacles of Anemone’s. Anemones are actually aggressive creatures so the fact that a Clown Fish can live safely amongst the creature is truly amazing. The Anemone provides protection for the fish.

So Does a Clown Fish Require Saltwater?

Yes a Clown Fish whether it is a Clarkii or a Percula or Ocellaris they most definitely need Saltwater to survive.

As mentioned previously these fish are native to the Pacific and Indian Oceans. So if you are interested in purchasing Clown Fish then you will need to start a Saltwater tank.

How Much Aquarium Salt, is Required in a Saltwater Tank?

First off no you cannot use table salt and expect fish to live on a tank that has table salt mixed in. They will die.

Luckily for aquarium hobbyists there are many companies that manufacture Saltwater and Reef mixes that the aquarium owner just has to mix into the water of the tank to replicate the Oceans salt parameters.

Aquarium salt can be purchased in sizes that work best for the size of your tank. You will need a special salinity gage to test for the proper parameters. Salinity testers are cheap to purchase and extremely easy to use.

When you measure for the proper salt levels in the tank you want to see a salinity between 34 and 36 PPT and the specific gravity should be somewhere in the range of 1.021 and 1.026 is ideal for your Clown Fish and pretty much all of the inhabitants of the Saltwater Aquarium.

If your test reveals that the specific gravity or Salinity is to low then using some aquarium water in a pail mix in some more saltwater mix and then pour into the tank.

If the test reveals that the Specific gravity and salinity are too high then siphon some of the tank water out and then replace that water with freshwater that has no saltwater mix added. This should bring your levels inline to where they need to be.

How Big of a Tank, is Recommended for Clown Fish?

The size of a tank for Clown Fish will depend of a couple of things. Will you be pairing up the clown and will there be other fish in the aquarium?

If you’re going to own just Anemone Fish and nothing else I would say a 10 to 15 gallon aquarium could work for up to 2 fish, although I would suggest you purchase as big of a tank as possible.

Even though I say 10 to 15 the thought of someone housing these beautiful creatures that come from the Ocean in such a small container makes me cringe. If a 30 gallon is in your budget I would go with that for up to 2 Clown fish, that way you could add a bottom feeder or shrimp as well.

If you are new to the hobby stay away from purchasing an Anemone for your fish. They are not easy creatures to keep alive in a tank if you are inexperienced. As well a Clown Fish will do just fine without an Anemone. Just make sure you have a few hiding spots throughout the tank.

Clowns are territorial and will set up shop in one place and will protect that place so do your best to provide some good options for your fish.

What Tank Temperature Does a Clown Fish Require?

A marine fish tank that has fish only should be in the temperature range of 78 to 82 Fahrenheit. If you end up branching out to purchasing live rock and even corals try to keep the temperature at 78 Fahrenheit as your Clown Fish will be okay at that temperature and so will the live rock and corals.


So there you have it, Clown Fish do require Saltwater to survive. I know it might sound obvious but there are some people that just don’t know where these beautiful little fish originate from.

I have not only offered you information of whether Anemone Fish require saltwater or not but how to measure the salinity in the tank as well as some other recommendations on how you can have great success, in owning your very own Clown Fish.

Want to learn about Hardy Saltwater Fish for a Home Aquarium?

New to the hobby? Check out my Recommended Tanks Page.