What Do Clownfish Eat?(In the Wild & Aquarium)

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A fussy eater is hardly ever the ideal pet to have. 

Thankfully, the clownfish is an omnivore that will relish most of the food you feed it. In fact, it is just one of the few saltwater fish that will readily devour the flake fish food usually reserved for the freshwater kind. 

At the same time, it is very easy to overfeed clownfish, which makes it all the more important to provide a balanced diet. But, do you know what do clownfish eat?

Read on to find out what all you can add to their diet plan. 

What Do Clownfish Eat In The Wild?

Clownfish live among sea anemones in the wild. The signature bright colors of the clownfish lure in other fishes that approach – only to come into contact with the stinging tentacles of the sea anemone. 

The sea anemone then proceeds to eat the poisoned catch, and the clownfish receives the leftovers. Apart from this mutually beneficial feeding strategy, a clownfish relies on algae and small invertebrates for its nourishment. 

Although it spends most of its life swimming among the tentacles of its host anemone, the clownfish will sometimes leave to forage on its own. After all, they are plankton pickers, which means that they will often swim up to feed on zooplanktons and phytoplanktons.

What Do Clownfish Eat In An Aquarium?

Clownfish Flakes 

Just like any omnivore, a balanced diet without vegetables is incomplete or, at least, unhealthy. Introduce healthy greens to the clownfish by adding algae and seaweed sheets to its diet.

Also known by different names, such as nori, these can be attached to a lettuce clip fitted on the wall of the tank via an in-built suction cup. This is an excellent daily feeding strategy if your fish tank includes other species of herbivores.

However, seaweed and algae sheets should be fed regularly only if there is little to no existing algae in the tank. Excess algae growing on live rocks is a definitive sign that the fish can graze for themselves.

Alternatively, some clownfish delight in eating cooked spinach and chard. Add these to daily staples, such as pellets and flakes consisting of high spirulina content.

Can Clownfish Eat Tropical Flakes?

Tropical flakes blend spirulina, minerals, vitamins, and meaty meals, such as fish, squid, shrimp, earthworms, and so on. Evidently, these flakes offer a wide range of essential nutrients from various sources. Therefore, it goes without saying that clownfish can not only eat tropical flakes, but they can reap a lot of benefits with these in their staple diet.

Best Flake Food For Clownfish?

The best flake food for clownfish should be a blend of ingredients suited for omnivorous saltwater fish. This includes ocean kelp, seafood, spirulina, omega-3 acids, and other nutrients that support the immunity of the fish. The best flake foods that can be bought from the store are:

Freeze Dried Foods

Freeze-dried foods are essentially cooked critters, such as bloodworms and krills that have been dehydrated and rapidly frozen to preserve their color and nutrients. Unlike frozen food, these have to be soaked in tank water before they are dropped in to feed the fish.
The rehydration process of freeze-dried food provides them with great soaking abilities. For this reason, some aquarists choose to soak freeze-dried food in liquid fish vitamins for a few minutes before feeding. These vitamin supplements are especially beneficial for fish that get sick often.

Live Foods

Although live foods can make you feel squeamish, some fish species cannot do without them. Live foods for clownfish can include anything from store-bought brine shrimp to mosquito larvae that are freshly scooped out of stagnant water. 

But perhaps the most common live foods for them are amphipods and copepods. You can either culture these small crustaceans or buy them from the store; rest assured, the fish will gobble it all up in seconds.

Alternatively, you can try offering your clownfish earthworms – however, this can be a hit or a miss. Begin by washing the earthworms and chopping them up into bite-sized pieces. Then, drop one in the tank and monitor how the clownfish reacts. If they avoid or ignore the feed, promptly remove them from the tank. 

Feeding Tips For Clownfish:

Tips For Fussy Eaters

Although clownfish are considered to be beginner fish primarily because of the ease of feeding them, getting a picky eater is not unheard of. Underlying reasons could be anything, be it illness, stress, or personality. 

Nevertheless, you can try experimenting with different kinds of fish food to see if the fish has a personal preference; usually, most fish go crazy for live food, such as brine shrimp. If all fails, try adding an appetite stimulator to the fish food before dropping it in the tank.  

Maintaining A Clean Tank

If you tend to sprinkle in more fish food than required, don’t forget to scoop up the remains that the fish could not eat. Apart from wastage, the leftovers quickly collect at the bottom of the tank and soon lead to murky waters. 

Alternatively, you can introduce snails, starfish, and crabs to your clownfish aquarium. These sea creatures not only enhance the aquarium’s aesthetic appeal, but they act as a cleanup team that feeds on the leftover scraps of food.

Feed Away From Water Flow

Strong water flow will wash away the fish food you drop into the tank, making it difficult for the clownfish to catch flakes or food pieces. With that being said, remember to feed in areas that are away from filtration systems or any other device which causes water flow.

Blend Your Own Frozen Food

Some aquarists prefer to know what exactly goes into the food they are feeding to their precious clownfish. Although there are many high-quality products on the market, you may blend together your own selection of nutritious fish foods, freeze them, and save them for feeding time. 

How Often To Feed Clownfish?

Adult clownfish should be fed once or twice a day – depending on how much you provide them. As a rule of thumb, it is recommended you only put enough food that they can eat in 3 minutes. However, if you are feeding them only once a day, leave enough food for a 5-minute feeding window.

At the same time, scattering feeding times throughout the day might be a better plan, rather than dumping a large quantity at one go. In any case, it is easier to overfeed fish than to underfeed them.

Do Clownfish Eat Their Babies?

Clownfish are a subject of interest for many because of their gender-bending capabilities and their tendency to eat clownfish babies. Anyhow, they are considered to be territorial and aggressive to their own species. In fact, it is common to see a bigger clownfish chasing away younglings from anemones.

However, a clownfish pair does protect their eggs until they hatch after approximately four days. Once they do, the couple take no part in rearing the fry. In fact, the younglings are left out to be swept away, or eaten by other fish or their own parents!

Do Clownfish Need Anemones?

In the wild, clownfish and sea anemones have a symbiotic relationship; they strategically work together to hunt other critters for food.

Accordingly, the clownfish acts as a colorful and attractive bait to lure in the catch, which comes closer only to be stung by anemone tentacles. Interestingly, the clownfish itself has a mucus covering that protects it from the toxins released by the sea anemone.

But when it comes to clownfish in captivity, they do not necessarily need the sea anemone for protection or food. However, some aquarists do pair clownfish with sea anemone for aesthetic purposes.

How Long Can Clownfish Go Without Eating?

Although overfeeding clownfish may be easier than underfeeding them, the latter isn’t a healthy alternative either. With that being said, clownfish can go up to seven to nine days without eating, but this dramatically compromises their health and immunity.

At the same time, it is commonly agreed that smaller and younger clownfish are less likely to survive extended periods without nourishment, unlike full-grown ones.


From freeze-dried and frozen food to nori sheets and live wriggly worms, it is easy to spread out a buffet of items for clownfish. And while they are omnivorous in nature with little self-control when it comes to eating, they are also easy to overfeed for the same reason. 

Therefore, aquarists are advised to put forethought and carefully plan how much and how many times in a day they will feed their clownfish. Also, keep in mind the size and age of each clownfish before setting a schedule.

Apart from this, you should have no problem feeding these foodies of the sea!

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Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over 25 years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

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