How to breed clownfish at home?
So, you have been keeping a marine aquarium or several marine aquariums for a while now, and your clowns have decided to start laying eggs? What do you do?
I was in the same place as you when I first started. It wasn’t easy, but I did get there. I was dedicated and I did achieve my goal. Here is a summary of what you will need to learn in order to successfully breed clownfish:
- How to obtain and culture phytoplankton
- How to raise rotifers
- How to obtain and culture copepods
- How to obtain and culture brine shrimp
- How to obtain a breeding pair and get them to successfully pair up and mate, if they aren’t already
- How to catch the fry when they hatch
- How to grow the fry out past metamorphosis
The list looks daunting but if you have been asking yourself how to breed clownfish at home, the above list will point you in the right direction for sure if you follow them.
The purpose of this post however is to give you an overview of breeding clownfish at home, and I will give a more in depth description of each of the points as time goes on. As mentioned earlier, to breed clownfish you need dedication. To be honest with you, from my experience I have found that it is not as tricky as it seems, at least these days. The makeshift breeding setup I currently have consists of:
- Small Glass tank 30L
- Old 200L plastic chemical drum cut in half
- makeshift wooden shelves
- 8 glass bottles approximately 3 litres each
- airline tubing
- 2 air pumps
- air line fittings
- old clear chinese food containers
- a cheap flashlight
- a cheap microscope – optional
As you can see most of the stuff you need is pretty much junk you may already have lying around let me go through the 30L tank and 200L chemical drum in a bit more detail, with the rest to follow on a future post:
Small glass tank 30L – Grow out tank
30L is an approximation, but I do not recommend going much bigger. One thing I noticed at my first attempt to breed Ocellaris clownfish is that the larvae are extremely small. If you where to compare them to a mosquito larvae, I would way they are at least a 3rd of the size. Putting them in a large tank seems like a good idea from a water pollution management perspective but in reality you are making it more difficult for the clownfish larvae to line up and attack their food, expending more energy in the process.
One solution around this is partially filling a large tank, for example if you have a 30L tank, you fill it to about half way full. During the first few days you will do a water change 1 – 2 times a day to ensure pollution is kept to a minimum in the fry tank. Every time you top up, you add a smidgeon more of water as the larvae start to grow. One of the challenges of breeding clownfish at home is time constraints. Having a large grow out tank with the intention of getting around frequent water changes is one solution, but make sure you do start with much less water when the fry first hatch.
Old 200L plastic chemical drum cut in half
The old chemical drum is 200L. You cut it the middle of the height and you’ve got yourself two sturdy tubs to culture Rotifers and Copepods. Just make sure you clean both ends out thoroughly. The end that has the two removable cap holes needs to be thoroughly waterproofed. I got around this with trusty old silicone glue.
Once this part is done you need to find a big enough space to set up shop. To set up a tub from scratch what I do is keep 100L of old tank water from my main marine display tank, I will then boil this tank water on the stove 10L at a time and allow to cool before adding it to the tub 10L at a time until the tub is full. It takes time but this precaution means you have greater control over what’s in your culture, as boiling the water kills the crap out of anything that might still be living in there, leaving nothing but seawater and fish waster nutrients behind. Conversely, you could make up water from scratch with new artificial salt, or use expired salt. I have done all three ways and they all work just the same, its just the old tank water method is cost effective. Once the tub is set up and full of water the next part is to set up the aeration, and depending where it is located, you may have to place a heater inside of each tub. If you’re still interested in breeding clownfish at home, stay tuned for my next post. I look forward to it, but for now I have to cut it short as this post is getting mega long!