What Do Clownfish Eat, and How Often Do They Need to Eat?

After good water quality, feeding is probably the next most important aspect in keeping clownfish healthy. There is an overwhelming number of different fish foods available including frozen, dry, freeze-dried, and live foods.

Clownfish are omnivores, they can eat a variety of foods. It is best to feed frozen food as a staple and use dry foods to supplement. The key to keeping clownfish healthy and ensuring that they are getting a complete diet is to feed a variety of foods and/or add vitamins to the food.

Frozen Foods

There are countless frozen fish foods on the market today including specialty foods for particular species, foods that are blended for herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores. They are designed to copy the diversity of food that fish would get in the wild. Most blended foods consist primarily of various seafood and algae. Some manufacturers add color enhancers and vitamins. Blended foods are ideal for everyday feeding.

Specialty foods include krill, mysis shrimp, squid, mussels and plankton, to name a few. Your fish are the best indicators of what foods they like and do not like. It is best to use a wide variety to ensure a balanced and nutritious diet.

Frozen foods, stored properly, are about as close to fresh food as you can get. Some manufacturers use a gel binder to keep the food from falling apart once it defrosts. Other foods immediately begin to fall apart as they hit the water. Foods without a gel binder work well for smaller clownfish because they fall apart; larger clownfish prefer larger chunks and a gel binder will help keep the food together to keep them happy.

Thaw frozen food in RO/DI water to remove phosphates and other possible preservatives. Then, pour defrosted food through a fine fish net before feeding it to your fish. A few frozen food manufacturers rinse their foods prior to mixing and freezing. Some of these pre-rinsed foods have microparticles to feed corals and should not be rinsed again or fine particles will be removed.

Dry Foods

There have been many advances in dry foods to increase the nutritional value and keep vitamins from oxidizing. Remember, variety is the spice of life. While frozen is best as the main staple food, there are many excellent dry foods that can be added as supplements to increase the nutritional value of their diets. Again, your clownfish will let you know what they like.

To keep dry foods fresh, purchase small size containers. It is usually cheaper to buy bulk size containers of food but, from freshness and nutritional standpoint, it is best to buy enough food to last 1 to 2 months.

Here are the best food for your clownfish:

  • New Life Spectrum Marine Fish Formula
  • New Life Spectrum Naturox Series Marine Formula
  • Hikari Fish Food
  • Ocean Nutrition Food Primereef Flake
  • Ocean Nutrition Formula Two Marine Pellet
  • Ocean Nutrition Brine Shrimp Plus Flakes

Freeze Dried Foods

Freeze-dried foods are great supplements. The best feature about this type of food is its ability to soak up vitamins and trace elements – especially helpful when you have sick fish. Set the freeze-dried food of choice, such as freeze-dried krill, into a bowl and pour liquid fish vitamins over it. After a few minutes, the vitamins will soak into the food.

Algae Sheets

If you have some other fish such as tangs, rabbit fish, and most angels spend their days grazing the live rock looking for algae or seaweed. When an algae is in short supply or you want to supplement your fishes’ diets, try algae sheets. These sheets are made of dried seaweed and are especially nutritious for fish. A product called a lettuce clip is available to hold the algae sheet in place via a suction cup or magnet. Place a sheet or strip of dried seaweed in the clip and attach the suction cup against the inside wall of the aquarium.

Feed algae strips daily if you have several herbivores and very little existing algae in your aquarium. Otherwise, feed a couple of times a week as a supplement. If the fish devour the algae sheet within the first few minutes, you can add all or part of another. The algae sheet will eventually decompose if not eaten.

If you have excess algae growing on your live rock, you may want to reduce the number of algae sheets you feed to force your herbivore(s) to graze naturally on the algae growing in the aquarium.

Live Foods

Saltwater live foods such as brine shrimp (sea monkeys) and copepods (small crustaceans) will be quickly consumed by your clownfish. Copepods and brine shrimp are very small and are therefore perfect for small fish and finicky eaters.

Brine shrimp is often sold in too large a quantity to use in one feeding and you may need to set up a small holding tank to keep the excess. Copepods come in a bottle or container which can be used for storing. Depending on the type of copepod they may need to be refrigerated; some may be kept at room temperature.

Copepods can also be added to a refugium to establish a colony. Some copepods will be sucked up by the return water pump and wind up as food for your fish, invertebrates and corals. Others, hopefully, will remain in the refugium, grow and reproduce. Once a colony is established, use a fine mesh fish net to catch some of the larger copepods and feed to your fish.

Suggestions for Fussy Eaters

Some fish are finicky eaters or do not recognize food and must be enticed into eating something different from what they found in the wild. Try different types of foods; or add an appetite stimulator to encourage fish to eat. Many fish are used to eating live foods; you may want to try live brine shrimp and copepods.

How Often Do Clownfish Need to Eat?

It seems like feeding clownfish would be simple, but sometimes it takes a little forethought to make certain everyone gets a fair chance at the food. The real trick to successful feeding is to feed each fish well without overfeeding the aquarium.

You can accomplish this by paying close attention to the fish while you drop food into the water. Add a small amount of food and watch; if the fish eat it all, add more. Food should be consumed before hitting the bottom of the aquarium unless you are aiming to feed crabs or shrimp. If any food is left uneaten, remove it and feed less next time.

Try to feed fish around the same time every day. It is better to give your fish small amounts several times throughout the day rather than a large amount once a day. If there is extra food after fish have stopped eating, net it out, or use a siphon to remove it. Thaw frozen food before feeding. Food that is prepared in a gelatinous base can be mashed into pieces for smaller fish after it is thawed.

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