Tag Archives: Clownfish

Clownfish in bed

14 Jun

It’s so cool to see Clownfish all nestled in a sea anemone. My Ocellaris Clownfish have never done that because my tank doesn’t have the strong lighting required for anemones and hard corals.

My tank does have several species of soft corals, and my Clownfish especially like the Wavy Hand Anthelia. This soft coral may be a nuisance to the more serious reefkeepers out there but I like it and so do the fish.



It took my Clownfish almost a month to start associating with the coral. This type of Anthelia also reproduces quickly so you may find it very cheap from a local Aquarium Reef Club.


If you read about this behavior on the Internet, it’s called “hosting”. A lot of people write, “My Clownfish is hosting!”, or “How can I get my Clownfish to host?”. Others will say, correctly, that they want to get a “Host Anemone”, and that makes sense to me.

CAM02725The Anemone is doing the hosting, not the fish. The fish is the guest.  It’s not like the coral can leave!

CAM02803These two Clownfish have lived together for 6 1/2 years. They cuddle and the male dances for the female (really!) and they make a little lovenest in a shell but I have never seen eggs.



Another tank! Bigger is better.

17 Oct

CAM01690I bought a used 42-gallon glass bowfront tank for my Saltwater fish.

CAM00069I set the tank in front of the old one, trying to see how it would look. The stand is nice but it was nicked-up and it was too much wood for our living room.

CAM00070The old tank was 37 gallons. This tank has more “floor-space” which is most useful to fish instead of height.

CAM01097So I went to work….OK OK a little lie there…my wife went to work. She is very talented when it comes to painting and refinishing. First she sanded the stand.

CAM01098Then she cleaned it.

CAM01102And painted it. Now this makes it look easy, but she spends a lot of time and makes it perfect.

CAM01105Hmmm, much better!


Cloudy water for one day.


Just needed a background, so I got to work…


…I mean , my wife made the background.  Jeesh, what is this, the Spanish Inquisition?

In a few months I will have had my 2 Clownfish and one Royal Gramma for 6 years!  A Green-Spotted Puffer lives with them, too.

Saltwater fish are 5 years old.

24 Nov

My Royal Gramma and two Ocellaris Clownfish are about 5 years old now. I set this tank up 4 years and 11 months ago so the fish must have already been born at that time.
We had carpet cleaners come recently (pre-Thanksgiving!) so I moved the tank and took the opportunity to empty it, rinse out the sand, hose off the rocks and dead corals and make a big water change.
The water was slightly cloudy for a few days but you can see the plants (Caleurpa and Chaetomorpha) are coming back and keeping everything in balance.
Rules for a healthy tank:
1. Not too many fish
2. Occasional water changes
3. Live plants
4. Don’t overfeed
The same rules for freshwater apply to saltwater. The only difference is that I use, and highly recommend, a protein skimmer for the saltwater tank.

Lionfish eating Smelt

27 Mar

I fed the Lionfish this morning before I cleaned up the tank .

Frozen Smelt are too big for my Dwarf Lion and even though I sliced this one, it was still too big.

The Clownfish and Royal Gramma get a meal of Smelt eggs and scraps.

Saltwater tank maintenance

27 Mar

Every few months I need to pull out the Caleurpa (a macro-algae) that grows in my salt tank. I donate it to our local fish shop, along with Hornwort and Java Moss from my freshwater tanks. I also like to do a water change at the same time.

Too much Caleurpa! I can't see the rocks and coral and shells.

I mix salt into the aged fresh water.

After I yank out the Caleurpa the water gets a little cloudy from disturbing the bottom. That's the best time to siphon out the old water.

While the water is low I clean the glass.

Use a hydrometer to get the Specific Gravity (essentially the salt concentration) correct.

It's best that I have no idea how much the petshop sells these for!

Additional maintenance on this tank includes changing, or washing, the filter cartridges, and cleaning the protein skimmer. The protein skimmer is so important I think I’ll write a separate post about it sometime soon.

Clownfish don’t always clown around

27 Mar

I have two Ocellaris Clownfish. I bought them over 4 years ago and they are going strong.

The most commonly  kept saltwater fish such as Clownfish and Damsels can be aggressive and territorial. They are similar to keeping freshwater Cichlids, such as the South America Firemouths and Convicts, or the various African Cichlids.

In this video clip you see my two Clowns tussling over a dead minnow. The minnow wasn’t dead about 30 seconds before this video started. The first Clown to grab it nearly tore it in half. I don’t recall Nemo the Clownfish tearing another fish to pieces in the movie.

When you put your saltwater fish together keep a close eye on them for awhile until they work out their differences.  If the fighting doesn’t settle down in a few days, you will have to decide what fish to remove.  Do you remove the most aggressive one, the most or least expensive one, or the prettiest one?  It’s  up to you.

If you add a new fish to your tank, give it a chance by re-arranging the decor of your tank so your old fish think they are in new surroundings, too.

Saltwater tank made easy

22 Dec

I set up a Saltwater tank 4 years ago,  I started with 2 Ocellaris Clownfish which are still alive, a Royal Gramma who is still alive, and a Blue Damsel, who died of old age. I recently added a Dwarf Lionfish who is doing great. I have bought NO other fish.

I have not had any smashing success with the invertebrates. Little hermit crabs would live a few months , then disappear, Feather Duster worms also faded and died. My worst choice was to try a Bubble-tipped Anemone and it also died a slow death. Currently there is a healthy population of snails, micro tube-worms, and various other worms and “bugs”.

Saltwater can be expensive, VERY expensive. But my saltwater tank is not. Essentially it is the same as a freshwater setup, with the addition of a Protein Skimmer, which is essential.

I do not have “reef quality” lighting. I do have two fluorescent bulbs over the tank, which I would call strong freshwater lighting. The bulbs I have are 10,000K and 6,700K, which is enough to grow the plants in my tank but would never be good enough for live corals. If you want live corals and anemones in your tank start reading, a lot, on other sites about those subjects. If you want a tank with a few healthy fish and some nice green plants let’s keep going.

Locally I can get rocks that are limestone. The bedrock in this part of Iowa was once in an ocean and this limestone is full of fossil coral and shells, really neat stuff to look at. A few of these rocks in the tank looks great but also serves to help keep the pH of the tank around an 8.0

Our city water is also high pH, at least 7.8, which is also perfect for African Cichlids by the way. But back to the saltwater, I just use a little sand on the bottom of my tank, about an inch deep, but you should probably buy a bag of shell-based substrate that is made for a saltwater tank to keep that pH in line.

Then you get the salt mix. Any brand name salt mix will work. You need a hydrometer to measure “specific gravity”, which tells you the salt concentration. Try to set yours close to 1.022. Add salt to make it higher, add water to make it lower.

Of course you have a heater, right?  Pretty obvious.  Set it to at 78F. Don’t go below 75, and 80 is wonderful.

I wish Skimmers worked in freshwater too, but they don't.

The Protein Skimmer. I use the cheapest kind you can buy, an air-driven skimmer. Mine is called a Berlin-type skimmer. It uses a regular aquarium air pump and a wooden air stone.  It pushes micro-air bubbles through a narrowing passage, then the air bubbles come out into the top chamber and expand and “fractionate”, they burst into separate components and the fish pee (and other proteins) stays in the skimmer.

Google “Protein Skimmers” and read about them, decide what you want. My cheap skimmer cost about 35 bucks a few years ago, plus the air pump, tubing, adjustable valve, I must have 60 bucks in the skimmer. You can spend hundreds if you want. I did see a Skimmer, similar to mine, at PetCo recently for around 50 dollars.

You can see the bottom part of the Protein Skimmer.

You need a filter. In my 35 gallon tank I am currently using 2 side filters with cartridges that slide in and out, just like in a freshwater tank. These filters claim to pump about 150 gallons per hour. I don’t use any carbon in the filter but you sure can.

I was using only one side filter but when I added the Lionfish I figured he was adding a large biological load to the tank, which is to say he eats and poops a lot.

Time to give away some Caleurpa. See the little Lionfish hiding at the bottom right.

I keep two types of aquatic plants in my saltwater tank for the same reason I like plants in my freshwater tanks. They are natural filters. They take waste and turn it into “leaves”. One of the plants I have is a type of Caleurpa, which is truly a “macro-algae”, an algae with big leaves. The other plant is called Chaetomorpha, which looks like a blue-green scrub pad.

The Chaetomorpha is the plant on the far left.

I’ll write a separate post about the Caluerpa because there are some issues that people have with using it but I like it. I have not had the problems that I have read about.

The real reef experts in the Saltwater community use Caluerpa and Chaetmorpha in their “refugiums”. A refugium is a tank that is connected to their main tank and used to filter their water. In a way, my main tank is a glorified refugium. I like it. It’s cheap. When I want to do corals someday I’ll buy the expensive lights and filters and…wait a minute, I ain’t gonna do that.

What else do you need? Ah yes, PATIENCE. Set up the tank, run it for weeks with no fish. If you can, borrow a handful of  sand/gravel from someone’s saltwater tank. That will speed up the process. Your tank has to “cycle”. Read all about it.

When I set up this tank  I used some Mollies to cycle it.  Buy a pair of Mollies, keep them in a small tank or bucket and add a little saltwater to their tank over the course of several days until they are in nearly full-strength saltwater, then add them to your tank.  In my case, the Molly Mom had babies in the tank and it took me weeks to catch them when I finally got my Blue Damsel. I started with a Blue Damsel because they are tough and only cost 4 bucks. You can leave the Mollies in the tank or take them out and slowly convert them back to freshwater (or preferably brackish water but that’s another subject!).

This Balloon Molly was born in my saltwater tank.

If your ONE fish lives a month, add another one or two. It should take you months to stock your tank, not days , not weeks, but MONTHS.  PATIENCE!

I have had this Royal Gramma for 4 years.

Feed them good food, make 20% water changes every month, monitor and understand the skimmer, which means empty it and clean it so it functions properly.

If  you can take care of a  freshwater tank and understand your fishes behavior, you can easily do the same with Saltwater.