American Oceans

The 15 Types of Clownfish

Clownfish are a popular species of saltwater fish. There are also many clownfish species, falling into a few different complexes of similar fish. 

Amphiprion Ocellaris Clownfish

The most famous clownfish is probably Nemo, the star of the Disney movie. The success of the film and the playful clownfish it featured made the already popular aquarium fish a household name.

While the most common saltwater variety features black, orange, and white stripes, there is an abundance of options for saltwater aquarium enthusiasts.  

While the gregariousness and attractiveness of the clownfish from the movies are part of this fish’s appeal, some species are particularly territorial, and they can be violent in the wrong circumstances.

Keep reading to become an expert on the popular types of clownfish!

Clownfish swim in the world’s oceans, often near anemones. You can make an aquarium feel more like home by mimicking a fish’s natural habitat as much as possible.

All of these clownfish are species that can be successfully kept in a tank, but you need to understand their unique traits to ensure you don’t harm the fish.

Common Clownfish 

The common types of clownfish might also go by other names, as some people call it the false clownfish or the ocellaris. They are indigenous to the waters of the Western Pacific and the Eastern Indian Oceans. 

common clownfish

Whichever name you call it by, these peaceful fish have vividly orange bodies and typically feature three white stripes running vertically along their tail, face, and middle. They also have black highlights outlining each fin. 

They are omnivorous fish that tends to stay reasonably small, reaching about three inches in length when fully mature. Some fish might grow to reach four inches, but that is at the extreme. 

These peaceful fish are omnivorous, preferring a blended diet of pellets, flakes, and frozen and live meaty foods. 

All in all, they are easy enough to care for that a novice can do so with a bit of practice and make a great starter for a reef tank. 

  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Lifespan: 8+ years
  • Body Size: 3 or 4 inches
  • Cost: Inexpensive

Allard Clownfish 

The Allard clownfish is native to the western Indian Ocean, where it’s common in the waters off of the Mascarenes and East Africa. Where the common clownfish is bright, the Allard clownfish is equally vibrant but dark. 

an allards clownfish in the anemone

It has a full, round face and a flat-ended tail, and the skin is brownish with orange highlights on the belly and fins.

There are typically two white bars with black edging that divide and encircle the entire body, roughly dividing each fish into thirds. 

The Allard clownfish needs a bit of room, especially if there is potential for territorial aggression. They are, however, very adaptable to various conditions, eat an omnivorous diet, and tend toward peacefulness. 

Lifespan: 20+ years

Body Size: Up to 5.5 inches


Cinnamon Clownfish 

Cinnamon clownfish are native to the western Pacific, especially between Guam, New Guinea, and Indonesia. They have a fiery visage with a vibrant mixture of dark red and orange tones. 

a cinnamon clownfish in anemone

There is a single, thick, vertical white stripe behind their eye, and the overall appearance is slightly darker than other clownfish. Juveniles start almost entirely orange but typically have an almost black body by adulthood. 

In addition to its unique color, the cinnamon clownfish is a rounder and more compact species than the famous Disney fish. Though they are adaptable and hardy, these fish can become aggressive.

They brood in community tanks and can snap at their fellow swimmers. It’s not a good idea to mix them with fish of the same species or those with similar coloring. 

You should keep some types of clownfish species separate from each other, and cinnamon clownfish are one of these. If you do have more than one of the same gender in a tank, expect violence. If you want a mating pair, make sure to introduce them to the tank together when they are young, so they grow familiar with each other. 

Cinnamon clownfish are hardy eaters and will devour brine shrimp, flakes, and pellets. They’ll even eat algae

  • Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Lifespan: 17-18 years
  • Body Size: 5 inches
  • Cost: Moderately expensive

Clarkii Clownfish 

Clarkii clownfish are from the waters of the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. They aren’t overly choosy about the type of anemone that they live near, and they are fairly tolerant of other fish species living nearby. 

clarkii clownfish swimming at night

There are a few different species of Clarkii clownfish, but the Clarkii species is the most common within the complex. Their colors tend toward more muted tones than some of the more outrageously colored species of clownfish, and they can get quite large. 

Some have an overall flat orange coloring and single, thin white stripe, while others have a white tail fin and a dark blue body. There is a lot of variation within this complex. 

Clarkii clownfish will eat almost anything, so pellets, flakes, and frozen or live snacks are part of a healthy diet. Be careful, though, as these fish particularly enjoy eating other fish. They are usually peaceful when given lots of space and a reef structure with caves and hiding places. However, they may consume their similar-looking tankmates, especially in territorial battles. 

Clarkii clownfish also prefer a bit less light than other clownfish. In nature, they tend to swim in deeper, darker waters. Overall, they’re not too hard to care for, but they need regular attention from a knowledgeable fishkeeper. 

  • Tank Size: 35 gallons
  • Lifespan: 14 – 20 years
  • Body Size: 5 – 6 inches
  • Cost: Inexpensive

Maroon Clownfish 

The maroon clownfish is another native of the Western Pacific. Sporting a three-stripe profile, they typically have a deep red body. Some maroon clownfish may even have a gold tint, making them a specific type of maroon clownfish called a gold-stripe maroon clownfish. 

a maroon clownfish swimming

These large swimmers are among the largest clownfish and have an outsized personality. Maroon clownfish may even recognize their owners when they come near the tank. Their friendly displays can turn territorial, so take care not to agitate these fish. 

The largest females, in particular, can become quite hostile. While the maroon clownfish is easy to care for, and they eat omnivorously, they are prone to aggressiveness. When they decide they don’t like a tankmate, they become relentless. It’s not uncommon for maroon clownfish to kill their co-habitants, and they need a large tank with lots of room for swimming and hiding. 

  • Tank Size: 55+ gallons
  • Lifespan: 8 years
  • Body Size: 6 – 8 inches
  • Cost: Moderately expensive

Oman Clownfish 

The Oman clownfish is from the Arabian Peninsula and the waters of the country of Oman.

These clownfish have a muted coloration featuring a light orange body and pale orange fins. They also sport splashy white stripes on their midsection and head. 

The Oman clownfish can grow fairly large, and specimens over six inches in length are common. They eat voraciously, are omnivorous, and have a reputation for being beginner-friendly.

While they’re generally easy to care for, they can become agitated by living too closely with their tank mates. 

Keep their tendency toward mild aggressiveness at bay by keeping them in a large tank and keeping a sharp eye on how they interact with their neighbors. 

  • Tank Size: 30 gallons minimum
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Body Size: 6.1 – 6.3 inches
  • Cost: Inexpensive

Pink Skunk Clownfish 

The pink skunk clownfish is a natural resident of the waters near New Guinea and Northern Australia.

a pink skunk clownfish swimming near anemone

They have a pinkish-red hue to their orange bodies and a prominent white stripe along the ridge of their back. They also have a vertical white stripe behind their eye.

Pink skunk clownfish are fairly small and among the worst clownfish swimmers. Perhaps that’s why they are also often unable to tolerate a tank without a nearby anemone. 

They like to feel close to this stable structure and can become quite timid without one. They are not tolerant of deteriorating conditions, and while other clownfish may adapt well, the pink skunk clownfish does not.

Careful, routine, and consistent water monitoring and maintenance is a must with this species, and they are difficult to care for. 

However, if you provide the right conditions, pink skunk clownfish are peaceful swimmers with a reputation for sociability and calm.

They may even tolerate living with other clownfish, whether in a small colony of pink skunks or other species like percula clownfish and clarkii clownfish. 

  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Lifespan: Up to 21 years
  • Body Size: 4.0 – 4.3inches
  • Cost: Expensive

Saddleback Clownfish 

The saddleback clownfish has a curved profile and a dark body of deep orange to brown. There is a white stripe behind the eyes that can be fairly thick.

a saddleback clownfish underwater

But, the white splotch on its side and dorsal fin lend the appearance of a saddle, giving the saddleback clownfish its name. On some specimens, that saddle stripe may spread around the fish. 

Like the maroon clownfish, the saddleback clownfish is native to the Western Pacific and are among the most common in the store.

They have a bit of a mixed reputation, as they are easy to care for in the right circumstances but tend toward mild aggression when they don’t like their surroundings and co-swimmers. 

In the wild, it’s common to find a single dominant pair of saddleback clownfish presiding over the entirety of an anemone and all its fish.

Interestingly, this species of clownfish is the only one to have males and females of the same size. 

The dominant pair will also single out fish they don’t tolerate, and they much prefer the saddle carpet anemone over all others.

Keep these factors in mind when designing your tank. They’re omnivorous and reasonably hardy, but their social side has its ups and downs with other clownfish tank mates. 

  • Tank Size: 30 + gallons
  • Lifespan: Up to 12 years
  • Body Size: 4 inches
  • Cost: Expensive. 

Sebae Clownfish 

A typical sebae clownfish has a nearly black body, marked with a splash of yellow on its belly and face and sometimes its fins.

a sebae clownfish underwater

They also have two prominent white stripes running vertically and dividing the fish into roughly three equal parts.

Their tails have white tips, and they are native to the shallow waters and coastal reefs from Japan to Southeast Asia and India. 

Sebae clownfish aren’t the easiest clownfish to care for, as they are a bit finicky about water conditions and their tankmates.

These fish are mildly aggressive and ravenous eaters, so make sure to monitor their interactions with other swimmers. 

In a well-designed atmosphere with lots of room for swimming and hiding, they may get along fairly well with other fish. Remember that they thrive in group settings in the wild, but impose strict social order. 

  • Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Lifespan: 12 years on average
  • Body Size: 5 inches
  • Cost: Expensive

Three-Band Clownfish

The three-band catfish, as you might suspect, has three vertical white stripes. One roughly splits the body in half, there is another at the base of the tail, and the third is just behind the eye. They tend to have deep brown bodies with hints of orange along the fins and face.

a three band clownfish swimming underwater
three-band anemonefish close up

In nature, you’ll find the three-band clownfish in the waters off Queensland in the Indian Ocean and some areas of the Pacific, especially near Singapore.

They aren’t violent by nature, but they can become aggressive with other fish. They do quite well in groups, so long as there is a dominant male and female to keep everyone in line and happy. They are omnivorous like most other clownfish, and small shrimp or invertebrates are a favorite treat in their natural rocky, shallow habitat. 

They’re easy to care for, but you must keep a close eye on their social interactions. They are also quick swimmers, and when they’re feeling skittish, it helps to have a lot of room to run but a lot of structure and hiding places. 

  • Tank Size: 45 + gallons
  • Lifespan: Females up to 18 years, males 4 – 5 years
  • Body Size: 5 inches
  • Cost: A little expensive

Tomato Clownfish 

The tomato clownfish often has a distinctly red body and some amount of blending into a dark brown to black coloring overall.

a tomato clownfish underwater
Tomato clownfish in Bohol sea Philippines

They have a single white stripe behind their eyes. Tomato clownfish are another species native to the Western Pacific Ocean, like the maroon clownfish, where they live exclusively among bubble-tip anemones. 

It’s easy to give them the tank conditions they need, but they are semi-aggressive with their neighbors. It’s best to pair them with other semi-aggressive species like angelfish, damselfish, tangs, triggerfish, and other tomato clownfish. Even then, they require a bit of watching.

Not only are tomato clownfish omnivorous, but they are voracious. They will rapidly consume all the food they can, so it takes a bit of patience, observation, and practice to make sure everyone gets fed. 

  • Tank Size: 30 – 40 gallons
  • Lifespan: 15 years
  • Body Size: 2 – 3 inches
  • Cost: Inexpensive

True Percula Clownfish 

The true percula clownfish is the smallest of all clownfish species. Their body is a shade of vivid orange, with three vertical white stripes.

a true percula clownfish swimming near anemone

The stripes are rarely uniform and have a solid black outline, highlighting them. They are native to the tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. 

The true percula clownfish is relatively docile. They are usually too small to become much of a bully, though they can be territorial.

These diminutive fish are more likely to become the target of aggression than the instigators. So, if you’re pairing percula clownfish up with other tank mates, look for other non-aggressive fish. 

Percula clownfish are omnivorous and relatively easy for which to care. But, since they’re so small, they are among the most sensitive clownfish regarding water conditions. 

  • Tank Size: 10 – 20 gallons
  • Lifespan: Up to 30 years
  • Body Size: 2 – 3 inches
  • Cost: Inexpensive

Ocellaris Clownfish 

The amphiphrion ocellaris clownfish is one we are already familiar with. You may see it with the name common clownfish or in the store as ‘Nemo’ from the famous Disney movie.

a school of ocellaris clownfish near anemone
Sea anemone and clown fish in marine aquarium. On black background

Ocellaris clownfish are from the Eastern Pacific and Western Indian Oceans and have distinctive orange bodies with three vertical stripes. This fish is also sometimes called the false percula clownfish. 

The ocellaris clownfish is a peaceful fish, so it does well in community tanks with similarly docile friends. When considering the size of your tank, always try to go as big as you can. The extra room you provide will offer more opportunities for play and exploration. Plus, it will help reduce the chances of tension or aggression between tank mates. 

Ocellaris clownfish are omnivorous and happy to eat a mixed diet of pellets, flakes, frozen, and live food. 

  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Lifespan: 8+ years
  • Body Size: 3 or 4 inches
  • Cost: Inexpensive

Red Sea Clownfish 

The Red Sea clownfish species is native to the waters of (you guessed it) the Red Sea. Compared to other clownfish, its tail is longer and wider, giving its yellow to orange bodies an elongated look.

Three white, vertical stripes are the standard, but some fish have only two, and some have diffuse borders and blended colors ranging from reddish to black. 

These fish are big and require a lot of room for swimming, hiding, and exploring. They are also hungry omnivores, and out of all species, these clownfish will consume the most food. 

While not aggressive by nature, it’s best always to introduce your fish when juveniles. Adding a new fish to the territory of an established tank could send a mated pair or even a single Red Sea clownfish into aggressive mode. 

As a rule, more space is better than less. As your fish mature, they may become more aggressive, so be sure to plan for their future growth and potential changes in their behavior. 

  • Tank Size: 35+ gallons
  • Lifespan: Up to 20 years
  • Body Size: 5 – 7 inches
  • Cost: Inexpensive

Orange-Finned Clownfish 

The orange-finned clownfish has a brownish-to-red body, with two vertical stripes. Unlike many other clownfish whose stripes are white, the orange-finned clownfish has blue stripes.

an orange fin clownfish in front of anemone
an orange fin anemonefish living in the tentacles of its anemone

Their tail is also blue, usually a slightly lighter shade than their stripes. They are from the waters of the northern Indian Ocean. 

Orange-finned clownfish are omnivorous, and they are fairly easy to care for. However, they are semi-aggressive and a little bit harder to keep happy than other clownfish species. You can do it, but it takes great care to have this species mixed with other clownfish species. 

  • Tank Size: 30+ gallons
  • Lifespan: 8 years
  • Body Size: 4.5 – 5 inches
  • Cost: Moderately expensive

Mauritian Clownfish 

The Mauritian clownfish is native to the waters of Mauritius and can also sometimes wander near Reunion Island.

a mauritian clownfish in anemone

Their bodies are quite dark, ranging from brown to nearly black.

Three white bars mark the body, and there are usually splashes of yellow on the chest, belly, and snout of individual specimens. 

These fish are pretty rare, so they are expensive. Combined with their penchant for mildly aggressive behavior, these are not the best fish for beginners. They take an experienced hand in most cases. 

Mauritian clownfish are omnivorous and relatively easy to feed. 

  • Tank Size: 40 gallons
  • Lifespan: 8-15 years
  • Body Size: 5.5 inches
  • Cost: Expensive

FAQs

Clownfish are quite popular for home aquarium keepers, so they tend to generate a lot of questions. These are some of the most common. 

Can you pair clownfish with other fish?

Clownfish can pair well with other non-aggressive fish in many cases. But, you must maintain their social hierarchy and dominant pairings. Otherwise, they can become aggressive. Research each species and their most suitable co-swimmers before introducing new friends. 

What to feed your clownfish?

All types of clownfish tend to be omnivorous, and many species are quite hungry feeders. They will happily eat frozen and live food, particularly invertebrates, seaworms, and small shrimp. The ideal diet includes a mix of those favorites with pellets and flakes. 

How to pair a clownfish?

The best way to pair clownfish is when they’re young. They develop a bond when they mature together, and this approach minimizes the risk of aggressiveness toward each other. 

How many clownfish can be in a tank?

Clownfish can co-exist, but they do better when ample room and hiding space exist. The more fish you add, the bigger your tank needs to be. It’s crucial to research the species you’re working with to determine the best size tank and remember that even a small group of juveniles may need a tank of more than 100 gallons. 

Which anemone is best for clownfish?

Some clownfish require specific anemone species. Others have favorites that they do best with, and still, others are very tolerant of different anemones. Some can even adapt quite well to life without an anemone. 

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