How can I tell if my clownfish like each other?

Discussion in 'Tropical Fish' started by i3oosted, Nov 9, 2012.

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  1. i3oosted

    i3oosted Flamingo Tongue

    Oct 1, 2012

    I have a 20g QT tank and I had a small ocerllaris for a few days then I added a black and white ocellaris that I got that is a little bigger than the orange original clown.

    Right away they went to each other and swam really close to each other for awhile and every now and then they will nip at each other but then go back to swimming around the tank, most of the time together... Orange one seems a little bothered, black one seems fine.

    The black one was obviously dominate at the LFS and I guess it's showing it here, this normal? Will they bond?
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  3. N00ZE

    N00ZE Eyelash Blennie

    May 24, 2012
    Gulf Of Mexico
    One of the most common questions on 3reef is“how do I pair clownfish. Pairing clownfish can be a troublesome thing to do or very easy to do. Here are a few things that might help you in this task.

    1) You need to understand clownfish sex change and how that effects pairing and interaction.

    a. Briefly, clownfish are protandrous hermaphrodites. They are hatched as sexually immature fish. Based on signals from their environment and being physically mature (12-24 months) they will either remain sexually immature, change into a male or change into a male then female. This is a one way trip, sexless to male never to be sexless again and male to female never to be male again.

    b. A clownfish kept by its self will become a female in a short period of time if it is physically mature, in as little as a month.

    2) Two female clowns will fight. The tell tale sign that you have two females is fighting ending in the two locking their mouths together.

    Clownfish pairing techniques:
    There are a couple of proven techniques to pair same species of clownfish. Mixing species of clownfish should be avoided and has very limited long term (multi-year) success (only one case that I know of and could be considered unsuccessful as at least one clownfish was killed by another clownfish in the tank).

    Grow out technique:
    With this technique two small juvenile clownfish are purchased at the same time and introduced into the tank at the same time. The fish will establish a dominate submissive relationship as they mature and eventually form a pair bond. This technique works the vast majority of the time.

    [SUB]Notes: Since the fish are going to fight and/or chase each other to establish who is the dominate fish and who is the submissive fish, it will often speed the pairing process and reduce fighting and potential damage to the fish by getting one of the two juveniles larger than the other.[/SUB]

    This technique should not be applied to Premnas species (maroon) clownfish.

    Add a new clownfish to an existing clownfish technique:
    With having an existing clownfish in your tank adding a new clownfish to form a pair can be a little harder or in other words more dangerous to the new fish. The technique is basically the same as the grow out technique. You will want to find a small juvenile clownfish and add it to the tank with the existing tank. By getting a small juvenile fish you are not risking possible sex compatibility problems, e.g. two females.

    Example: Existing Ocellaris clownfish that has been in the tank by itself for over a year. We can assume this fish is a female based on size, age and environment. A juvenile from a community tank is added to the tank. The vast majority of the time the new fish will submit to the existing fish with little or no fighting at all.

    This technique should not be applied to Premnas species (maroon) clownfish.

    Paring Premnas species clownfish (maroon clownfish):
    Pairing maroon clowns is much more problematic than pairing Amphiprion species clownfish. Maroons are notorious for being very aggressive towards other clownfish. They are pretty much fearless and will only back down from an all out fight when presented with the overwhelming threat of death.

    Separation Technique:
    The only technique I am aware of that works the vast majority of the time with the least amount of damage as possible to use a separation and slow acclimation process to introduce a poetical mate to a maroon clownfish.

    First you need to have a large female already established in your tank before trying a pairing. The clownfish should be at least 3" from nose to start of the cardinal fin. Next you will need to do a little preparation before buying a potential mate for your maroon. You need something to securely separate the two fish in the same tank while still allowing the fish to see each other and the new fish to get water flow. You can use a clear plastic specimen container with holes drilled in it for example.

    Now go to the LFS and find the smallest juvenile maroon from a community tank that you can find. It should be no larger than 1" nose to start of cardinal fin. Acclimate the new maroon just as you would any other fish. Once the new maroon is acclimated to your tanks water, place the new maroon in the specimen container. Let the two fish see each other, place the specimen container near the females territory. Carefully watch the females behavior. If she is trying to attack the new fish thru the container, it is not safe to release the new maroon. Give her time to cool off from the disruption to her tank and addition of a foreign clownfish in her tank.

    Now that the female has cooled her temper it is time to try an introduction. Get your favorite fish net ready and release the new maroon to the tank. If the fighting gets too bad you will need to rescue the new maroon and place it back in the container and try the next day. If after three failed attempts you can write off the new maroon as incompatible and you will need a new juvenile to try with.

    Submissive behavior in clownfish:
    As a part of pairing you need to know what submissive behavior is. You will know that you are well on your way to a successful pairing when one fish submits to the other fish. This is especially important behavior to observe in maroon clownfish.

    Amphiprion and Premnas species submissive behavior goes something like this. First the dominate fish will rush or otherwise attack the submissive fish. The submissive fish will turn sideways to the dominate fish and tilt its belly towards the dominate fish and quiver like an epileptic seizure. The female should recognize this behavior and stop the attack short of actual damage. Sometimes in new pairings and old well established pair bonds the dominate fish will move to a parallel position to the submissive and quiver back to the submissive fish.

    In Premnas species there is an additional submissive behavior that is unique to maroons. When the submissive fish is rushed or otherwise attacked it/he will duck the attack, slip to the side of the female and tenderly kiss her cheek spines and pectoral fins of his beloved female.

    Signs that you have a pair bond in your clownfish:

    There are a couple of signs that a pair bond has formed and is maturing in your clownfish in addition to submissive behavior. Typically mated pairs (pairs that have a pair bond) will sleep in the same area. They will also host in the same host or stay in the same territory if there is no natural host present. The two fish will stay close to each other the vast majority of the time.

    The pair bond is a developing thing. It starts out as a general acceptance of each other. Then slowly develops into a closer relationship were both fish are together most of the time. There is a bickering phase too where the female will make sure the male knows who is the boss. During this time it is not uncommon to find the poor little dejected male cowering near their normal host/territory. But don't worry this is normal and the male will be accepted back sooner or later. The ultimate end of the pair bond is seen in a spawning event such as nest cleaning or laying of eggs.

    [SUB]References; Clownfishes by Joyce Wilkerson, Anemonefishes by Dr. Gerald Allen, Conditioning spawning and rearing of fish with emphasis on marine clownfish by Dr. Frank Hoff[/SUB].
  4. i3oosted

    i3oosted Flamingo Tongue

    Oct 1, 2012
    Sweet, I kind of saw the orange one go side belly up for a second and right now they're in separable after little nip earlier. Lets hope they sleep in the same PVC fitting.
  5. m2434

    m2434 Giant Squid

    Jan 11, 2011
    I don't have much to add to NOOZE's post, but if they don't kill each other, it's always a good sign :p
  6. NanaReefer

    NanaReefer Fu Manchu Lion Fish

    Jul 26, 2011
    When u wake up the next day an both are still alive ;)

    DBOSHIBBY Sleeper Shark

    Jul 27, 2009
    Detroit, MI
    My clowns fought like crazy for a month, locked jaws, bit each other, it was pretty bad. Thought I was gunna have to get rid of one. Then one day all was good and now they never leave each others side.
    Give em some time. Clowns are weird little animals and u never know what there gunna do.
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  9. i3oosted

    i3oosted Flamingo Tongue

    Oct 1, 2012
    Well, they're still alive and now sleep together. All's good, no more clownfish drama. ;D
  10. Corailline

    Corailline Super Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 8, 2010
    It is a dry heat, yeah right !
    They will from time to time have spats, with the female showing real aggression towards the male. As long as the male (the smaller fish eventually) does not show tattered fins or hide in the corner it's fine. She will slam him and he will show submission and it's all good.