Clownfish

Percula clownfish

Getting to Know the Clownfish

Percula clownfish

A lot of you might already be familiar with the clownfish, especially because of Disney’s Finding Nemo cartoon. These little fish are in high-demand all around the world as they make for colorful additions to any marine aquarium.
If you’re someone who wants to know more about the clownfish or wish to keep one as a pet, below you’ll get to know everything there is to know about this little marine fish.

Clownfish -Description

Clownfish are a small sized fish which is often found near tropical coral reefs. It is also known as anemonefish as it lives inside the fronds of sea anemones. There are different types of clownfish with regards to their color and size, but the most common type has orange and white stripes. Clownfish is considered beautiful due to their features and bright colors.

Size and Body Features of Clownfish

Cinnamon clownfish
Cinnamon clownfish

The most common clownfish is almost 4.3 inches or 11 cm in length. Its body is best described as having an oval shape and chunky in appearance. From the front, it has a somewhat round and compressed look.
In the Northern Australian parts of the world, you might get to see one that’s black and white in color as opposed to the usual orange and white. However, as mentioned above, most clownfish species color ranges from orange to reddish brown with three white vertical stripes lined with black. The body’s patterns cover the fins too.

The Amphiprion ocellaris happens to be different from the Amphiprion percula as it has a thicker black outlining and the former one has a relatively taller dorsal fin. Furthermore, the former has 11 dorsal fin spines while the latter has only 10 dorsal fin spines.

Clownfish Species and Family

clarkes clownfish
clarkes clownfish

The clownfish has a total of 28 recognized species, and they mostly live in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. You can also find them in the northern parts of Australian east coast as well as in the Great Barrier Reef and even in the Red Sea. The red-sea species is called the red clownfish. These fish live together in a large colony, where there will be a dominant female and a single male that mates with her. The rest of the colony will be subordinate males. If the female dies then a male will change gender to replace the lead female.

While they thrive in the ocean, in captivity, in a home aquarium they might die unless properly cared for. When the correct conditions are supplied, such as temperature, salinity, feeding and the right anemone as well as proper biological balance the the fish can thrive in your aquarium. Furthermore, breeding them in captivity is difficult for beginners. But some experts are breeding them regularly.

Clownfish Locomotion

false percula clownfish
false percula clownfish

Clownfish swim with the help of their fins in the water. The fins of a clownfish are used for stabilization, direction, and giving rise to a propelling motion for swimming. Each fin has a particular function.
The dorsal fins assist them in keeping the fish vertically stable. The caudal fin(tail fin) propels the fish forward by being flapped from side to side. The ventral fins like the dorsal fin provide better stability and some steering and are located in the pelvic region. The pectoral fins are located forward of the pectoral fins and are used as brakes and also assist in steering. When clownfish are threatened this little fish will hurry back to the safety of its sea anemone.
Immunity

The sting of a sea anemone is somewhat deadly and poisonous to most fish. However, the clownfish have developed immunity to it because of a mucous-coated skin. There is some debate as to whether the mucous protects from the anemone’s sting or that the mucous fools the anemone into not stinging the clownfish. Clownfish use sea anemones for shelter, protection from predators, as well as for food. Keep in mind that depending on the species of the clownfish, some are innately immune to sea anemone while others have to acclimate (or get used) to the stings by rubbing themselves against the tentacles.

Clownfish Feeding Habits

percula clownfish
percula clownfish

The clownfish is omnivorous and can feed on both small animals as well as plants. They eat a variety of food like plankton, mollusks, algae, and small crustaceans. The diet varies depending on the habitat they have adapted to and the size of the fish. Clownfish are known to eat small organisms that are killed by sea anemones.

Clownfish Predators

Clownfish are often preyed upon by larger fish and other marine life, and they rely on their speed and protection by the sea anemone to survive. Humans are also a threat to clownfish as a lot of their species are captured to be sold off to the aquarium trade and bought by hobbyists some of whom don’t know how to take care of them.

Clownfish Habitat

clownfish living in sea anemone
clownfish living in sea anemone

Clownfish are found in the Western Pacific Ocean and the Eastern Indian Ocean. They are also found in Japan, Northern Australia, and Southeast Asia. The Amphiprion ocellaris lives in a depth of 15 meters in the form of schools in the sheltered lagoons and the outer reef slopes. Species such as Stichodactyla gigantea, Heteractis magnifica, and Stichodactyla mertensii are often found to be in a symbiotic relationship with clownfish.

Clownfish and sea anemone Symbiosis and Mutualism

Clownfish have a symbiotic as well as a mutualistic relationship with the sea anemone. The anemone provides them with food from the dead tentacles and the food scraps left over and also protects them from the clownfish from predators. While on the other hand, clownfish defends the sea anemone from the parasites and predators of anemone. The excrement of the clownfish are also used as a source of nutrients by the sea anemone.

Furthermore, the sea anemone provides a suitable nest for the fish to lay eggs. The clown fish excretes nitrogen compounds which are used by the anemone for the regeneration of its parts and tissue growth. The clownfish have an attractive color, which may attract smaller fishes to their doom. The clownfish swimming between the anemone’s tentacle keeps them aerated because of the water flow.

Clownfish Sexuality and Reproduction

baby clownfish
baby clownfish

You can find clownfish near a single sea anemone. They have a breeding female and male fish with a large amount of young male clown fish. They are hermaphrodites. This means that they’re all born male, but when the breeding season approaches one of them develops into a female. In a situation when a breeding female dies, the large male develops into a female and then breeds with the next active male in the same habitat.

The female lays eggs on the sea anemone on a flat surface. The number of clownfish eggs can vary from hundreds to thousands, depending on the species. On a full moon, the female clownfish lays the eggs while the male protects and guards them until they hatch after a week. They are breed in warm water and can reproduce all year round.
The breeding season begins mostly with the lunar cycle. When the moon is at a high level, the male breeding fish attracts the female breeding fish. They display a courting behavior which includes biting and chasing the female and extending fins. A rapid downward and upward motion is also demonstrated by the male to attract the female. The female normally lays almost 400-1600 eggs in a cycle, and the nest needs to be large enough to ensure the survival of all the eggs.

Each female’s breeding tenure is around 12 years, and it can be more if the size of the breeding female is large. The breeding female has a body larger than the breeding male. The non-breeder males have a size smaller than the two breeders, and the size hierarchy descends progressively.

Clownfish Taxonomy

The clown fish are identified and distinguished on the basis of their morphological features. The scales on their head, body proportions, color, and tooth shape, and size has helped the biologists to recognize them. On the basis of these features, they have been categorized into 6 categories. The skunk complex, maroon complex, clarkii complex, clownfish complex, tomato complex, and saddleback complex. All fish within a complex look almost alike.

Clownfish in the Aquarium

clownfish in the aquarium
clownfish in the aquarium

The clownfish comprises of around 43% of the aquarium trade with regards to fish bought for the home aquarium. Sadly, a majority of aquarium clownfish are captured from the wild. Unchecked capture of clownfish has led to a decrease in the natural population in a lot of areas. While adding clownfish to an aquarium might sound like a good idea, the wild population has to be considered. Buying aquarium bred clownfish is a worthy goal.

There are some members of clownfish like the maroon clownfish which are known to become aggressive when held in captivity. The percula clownfish, on the other hand, are suitable for aquariums as they’re known to adapt and live peacefully. So, make sure that you know which species you’re introducing in your aquarium. Having an aggressive little clownfish won’t sit well with other marine life.

Keeping sea anemones in an aquarium isn’t always easy. However, clownfish are known to adapt to this too. In the absence of a sea anemone, they can make large polyps and soft corals their home. The clownfish is accustomed to defending its habitat, and once they have settled down in a certain coral, they will defend their home.

Make sure that your aquarium has an appropriate reef structure (sand, live rock, and more). Also, allow your aquarium environment to mature before introducing the fish. Furthermore, if you feed the fish on a fixed schedule it’ll learn to anticipate the food. Watching the fish come near the water’s surface for food can be fun to watch.

So, if you’re interested in having clownfish as a pet, make sure it has a suitable environment (add in a few corals) for it to live properly. Once that is all achieved, you will have happy clownfish that will be a joy to watch.

How to set up a home-based breeder business

Setting Up A Home-Based Aquarium Fish Breeding Business: An Overview

Setting up a home-based aquarium fish breeding business can be an exciting step for any fishkeeping enthusiast to partake in. While experience goes a long way in ensuring the success of your ambitions, just about any aquarist can begin breeding and start realising profit in the fun and rewarding business of fish breeding at home.

Why home fish breeding works

breeding tanks
professional breeders multi-tank set up

When you visit your local aquarium fish store and take a look at the various imported species of fish that they offer, chances are that a great deal of them come from commercial breeding farms that, in some cases, can be separated by hundreds or thousands of kilometres of distance from the store itself.

Naturally, this presents problems for the local store owners: namely, the health of the fish during transport. The local store has to pay for the number of fish they purchased regardless of how many of those fish show up dead-on-arrival or battling sickness and stress. These newly imported fish undergo a quarantine period where they are nursed back to health during which the shopkeeper will not be able to sell them.
 
For this reason, many local stores are more than willing to purchase their fish from local suppliers who can provide healthy, happy fish at similar prices and with a greater chance of their continued survival. Fish which can be put up for sale within days. If you are interested in setting up a home-based breeder business, you can earn a decent living through a reliable network of these local stores.

The Internet also provides a great way to make a profit through your home-based breeder business, especially through using local classifieds websites that let you undercut the local fish shop entirely, selling and delivering your fish directly to customers who, if they are pleased with your fish, will become repeat customers and pass the word on to their friends.

How to begin setting up a home-based breeder business

juvenile discus fish
juvenile discus fish in growing on tank

Naturally, the first thing that you need to do is choose which species of fish you would like to breed. Buying quality pedigree fish can pay dividends in the long run. In general, you can expect to get a higher price on species that are harder to breed successfully, or on common species that you can breed with specialised morphs or colours, ie of high pedigree. It is just as expensive to breed and raise expensive fish as inexpensive fish but the returns are greater. It is better to compete on quality than quantity.

 

 

• Killifish are a popular choice, but need a lot of involvement to breed;

• Discus fish are difficult to breed, but can earn breeders a healthy profit and are always in great demand.

• Angelfish are easier to breed, but are not likely to gain a good price unless you pick a specialised colouring or finnage.

• Guppies are easy to breed, and make an excellent beginner’s breeding fish. Some specialised varieties can even fetch good prices.

Pedigree livebearers

• Bettas are easy to breed, but you will have to specialise— for example, pedigree bettas such as koi bettas are highly desirable.

pedigree koi betta fish
pedigree koi betta fish

There are many other options available, and a successful fish breeder will want to have a selection of species available. Once you become established as a fish breeder, you will develop a good reputation and begin to get repeat customers who will be interested in other species you can provide.

Once you have chosen your fish, you can begin grouping them into suitable pairs or spawning groups. This will require sexing the fish, which is a simple process for some species and a very specialised one for some others. There are several important traits to consider in your pairs or groups that will yield higher-quality results in the resulting offspring:

 

 

• Markings, colour and finnage. Choosing fish that display attractive markings and bright colours should produce similarly attractive young. Many people are impressed by the colouration of tropical fish, and this factor will play an important role in the value of the fish you breed.

Similar markings and colours should be paired together, as differences in these attributes will often produce unattractive young. It is generally good advice to avoid crossing different strains of fish for this reason.

• Fish health. Only mature, healthy fish should be used for spawning because unhealthy fish can produce sick or deformed young.

• Pair Compatibility. This is an important factor for some species of fish. For example, some species of cichlids will only form pairs after being raised together for months or years. Other species will respond poorly to induced breeding and begin to bully one another, sometimes to death.

As an additional consideration for pair compatibility, fish must be of the same species. Hybrid fish tend, like many other members of the animal kingdom, to produce sterile young.

One final tip: Keep your eyes and ears alert for any new species of breed of fish that crops up. If you feel you could successfully breed these novelties then you could make money if you are ahead of the curve.

Breeding strategies for egg-laying fish

Breeding egg laying

While livebearers are very easy fish to breed and offer a great starting point for beginners, you will eventually need to begin breeding egg-laying fish in order to realise a profit. There are five major groups of egg-layers to be considered when setting up a home-based breeder business:

• Egg-scattering fish These species of fish scatter their eggs during spawning. The eggs either fall down into the substrate, attach to plants, or float to the surface. These fish will produce large numbers of small eggs, and may eat their own eggs. So must be separated from eggs soon after spawning.

• Egg-depositing fish These fish will deposit their eggs safely on a substrate in the tank. This may be the glass wall of the tank, or on rocks or wood present in the tank. The eggs tend to be larger than scattered eggs. Some of these egg-depositing species will care for their eggs and the resulting young, while others will not.

• Egg-Burying Fish. Setting up a home-based breeder business with egg-burying fish can be tricky. These fish inhabit lakebeds that are dry for some portion of the year; the eggs lay dormant until the annual rains begin and hatching begins then. Recreating these conditions in an aquarium can be difficult.

• Mouth-Brooding Fish. Mouth-brooders are fish that retain the eggs and sometimes even the young fry in their mouth until the fish are ready to fend for themselves.

• Nest-Building Fish. These fish are not unlike egg-burying fish, except that they actively construct nests for themselves to lay eggs in. Examples include the bubble-nests formed by labyrinth fish.

Whichever type of fish you choose to breed, you must design your tank to have the necessary rocks, plants or other spawning material and enough space for the fish to feel comfortable spawning.

Designing your spawning tank

yellow lab fish breeding set up
Mouthbrooding yellow lab with previous spawning young yellow labs

Since community tanks are filled with neighbouring fish that may predate on the vulnerable young, it is crucial to grow the young fish in a separate spawning tank. Spawning tanks need to have some special construction elements to protect the young fish:

• A protected heater will keep the young fish from burning themselves against the edges of the heater.

• A slow-moving sponge filter will prevent eggs or fry from being sucked into the filtration system.

• Tanks with a dual-layer substrate are ideal for egg-scattering fish since the parents of these fish may eat their own eggs. A permeable layer that lets the eggs fall down out of reach of the hungry parents is ideal for allowing optimal spawning conditions.

• Egg-depositing fish should be provided with a healthy number of fine and broad-leaved plants. Additionally, egg-depositors that do not care for their young should be removed from the tank once the eggs are laid.

• Nest-building fish should be provided with materials with which they can build their nests. Additionally, water currents should be very low so that the nests are not disturbed.

Once you have setup your spawning tank, you need to simulate natural conditions and keep your parent fish in good, healthy condition in order to stimulate the production of offspring. With care and a little bit of luck, you should begin to see young fish appearing in your tanks, ready for sale.

You will also need growing on tanks for maximising the growth rate of your young fish. large tanks without gravel and sponge filters are ideal. This will result in fish that are saleable within 3-6 months depending on species. The earlier you can sell the young the more profit you will make.

Tips on advertising and selling your fish

Like any business, you need to be competitive in the existing market both in terms of price, quality, and advertising. These three factors are what combine to create value in any product or service, and your fish are no different.

While the price is largely determined by the existing local market, and the quality by your fish keeping experience, your advertising is only limited by how much effort you invest in the process. Taking good pictures is a must— high quality photographs of your fish will attract buyers. Invest in a reasonably good digital camera, preferably one that takes animal photos. Then, take many, many different photos and select the best.

It is especially important to include pictures of your adult fish, as well as the young, in your adverts so that your buyers have a good idea about what to expect as they grow. Investing in quality photographs can pay off with a stream of interested buyers, especially if you choose to advertise your breeding business exclusively online.

How to photograph fish