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Establishing a pair of Clownfish

By Stanley Brown
The Breeders Registry

It is up to the aquarist to decide on a species and then seek out a potential pair.  A. ocellaris and A. perculae are good first choices.  These species are relatively small and less aggressive than some of the other anemonefish.  However, there is no compelling reason that I can think of why the other species would be poor choices, expect perhaps with the exception of A. latezonatus  which comes from slightly cooler waters and seems to do best with  temperatures  of 75°F. 

There are several methods of obtaining pairs.

  1. Purchase a “proven” pair from another aquarist. Proven meaning that the pair has been observed to spawn.   Proven pairs will typically command the highest dollar and if you are purchasing from a breeder, find out why they are selling their broodstock.  If it is an older pair, it might be advisable to continue your quest.

  2. Purchase a “pair” from a wholesaler or retailer.  Unfortunately, these are pairs made by humans, rather than a pair collected from the wild.  Often if a large and a small fish seem compatible they may be offered as a pair.

  3. Purchase individual fish, introducing a large fish and a small fish together into an aquarium.  Watch for aggression and separate if one fish (usually the smaller) is constantly chased and nipped at.  This method is generally successful, however, it may be some time before the fish become sexually mature and begin spawning.

The acquisition of a “proven” pair is no guarantee that the aquarist will be immediately rewarded with a nest of eggs by the anemonefish.  It has been commonly reported that the disruption of moving the fish can interrupt even the most “regular” spawners.  How long is difficult to predict, but 6 months (or longer) is not uncommon.

i- Fautine, Daphne G. & Allen, Gerald, R., 1994, Anemonefishes  and their Host Sea Anemones, Tetra Press, Germany. 
ii- Personal communication, 2000, Joe Lichtenbert, Reef Propagation’s, USA.
iii- Ibid. i
iv- Moe, Martin Jr., A., 1989, The Marine Aquarium Reference: Systems and Invertebrates, Green Turtle Publications, USA
v- Wilkerson, Joyce D., 1998, Clownfishes: A Guide to their Captive Care, Breeding & Natural History;  ,Microcosm Ltd., USA
vi- Brown, Stanley D., 1998,  Low Tech Larval Trap, The Journal of MaquaCulture, Vol 6:1-17

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