How To Breed Tomato Clownfish?

Of all the fish in the saltwater aquarium hobby, few are as popular and in demand as the Tomato Clownfish especially among those who are new to saltwater fishkeeping. The craze for this fish began with the launch of the ‘Finding Nemo’ animated movie series but this craze was sustained because it is a relatively easy fish to take care of.

It is the perfect stepping stone into the world of saltwater fishkeeping. What makes it even more special is that it is quite easy to breed and that is exactly what we will look at today.

Why Breeding Clownfish Is So Popular?

It is one of the easiest fishes to breed thanks to a very unique adaptation. All clownfish are born as males but as they grow up, the dominant fish changes gender and becomes a female. One of the remaining fishes becomes the dominant male with mating privileges.

The remaining males stay sub-dominant. if for some reason, the female dies or is separated, the dominant male becomes the female and one of the sub-dominant males assumes his role. This makes the establishment of a breeding pair relatively easy which is often a huge challenge with most fish.

The Different Ways To Start Breeding Tomato Clownfish

Depending upon the time you have and the amount of money you are willing to spend, there are three main approaches to start breeding these cute fishes and we will look at each one of them.

The Cheapest Clownfish Breeding Method

The most affordable approach is to utilize the sex-changing capabilities of this fish. Buy about six juveniles and keep them together. As they grow, they will establish a pecking order and you will end up with a bonded male and female who will then lay eggs.

Getting six juveniles of even fancy varieties of clownfish is cheaper than getting an adult pair. This is also the recommended approach for people who have never bred fish before.

The Advantages Of This Approach

  • It is affordable
  • It is perfect for beginners

The Disadvantages Of This Approach

  • It can take up to two years for the hierarchy to be established and a bonded pair to form
  • There can be some aggression before this pecking order is established and in rare cases, the juveniles can fight each other to the death

The Quickest Tomato Clownfish Breeding Method

If you do not want to wait for a long time then this is the method to go for. Keep in mind that the trade-off here is cost. Get a bonded pair from a reputable breeder.

This is a pair of male and female that has successfully bred in the past Depending on the specific variety that you get, this can set you back by anything from a few hundred dollars for the standard varieties to a few thousand dollars for some of the fancier ones.

The Advantages Of This Approach 

  • Surest and quickest breeding possible
  • No aggression as the hierarchy is already established

The Disadvantages Of This Approach

  • Can be quite expensive
  • Finding a confirmed pair of adult clownfish can be difficult

The Perfect Middle Ground Between The Two

If you do not want the level of uncertainty that is associated with the first method and the cost associated with the second method then a ‘best-of-both-worlds’ approach can be the ideal solution. Get a pair of subadults with the important criteria being that one is larger than the other. They can both be males or the smaller one should be male.

Under no circumstances get two females or a smaller female as that can lead to a fight-to-the-death situation. As long as they do not fight, chances are quite high that they will become a bonded pair and start breeding. This does not always happen though and that is the trade-off with this method

The Advantages Of This Approach

  • Both cost-effective and time-effective
  • Can be the best option for intermediate hobbyists

The Disadvantages Of This Approach

  • The establishment of a breeding pair isn’t guaranteed
  • Ensuring that you get the right size and gender for this method can be a bit tricky

Setting up the breeding tank

Assuming that you have successfully chosen one of the above methods, you will have a pair of clownfish ready to breed. The next step involves providing them with an environment that is conducive to breeding.

If there are no other fish in the main tank then that itself can be used for breeding. If, however, there are other fish, then house the breeding pair in a separate tank. This does not have to be complicated. A 10 to 20-gallon tank is sufficient. Just ensure that it has all the necessary equipment like a filter, heater, and protein skimmer.

As far as decor is concerned, you can set up the tank any way you want. Just provide a place for the fish to lay its eggs. A bare tile or a small pot works best for this. Clean them thoroughly before adding them to the aquarium.

One of the most important requirements is to keep the water conditions as pristine as possible. The clownfish also tend to develop a vociferous appetite when they are ready for breeding. Feed them at least 3-4 times a day. The clownfish will start spending most of their time in and around the spot they have chosen to lay their eggs.

Caring for the eggs and the larvae

Once the eggs are laid, either the adults can be removed or you can wait till the eggs hatch or the larvae can be removed to a separate tank. This is not compulsory but if you want most of the larvae to survive then this is the recommended approach.

The eggs will be ready to hatch in about 6-8 days. Usually, they will turn a silvery color and you can see the eye of the larvae through the eggs on the day they are about to hatch.

Once the larvae hatch, they should be kept in a tank with tinted glass or one that has its sides covered. The water conditions parameters should be maintained as fastidiously as possible. The larvae should be fed rotifers for the first five days. From the sixth day onwards, they can be fed freshly hatched brine shrimp.

Usually, around the tenth day, the larvae will undergo metamorphosis and transform into baby clownfish. After about twenty days, they should be moved to a larger grow-out tank where they can be fed brine shrimp and crushed fish food until they are large enough to feed regular fish food and that is how you can successfully breed clownfish.

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