How to Get Your Clownfish to Host an Anemone

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Written By Fun Fish Tanks

I Love my Fishes 

People join the reef aquarium hobby for a variety of reasons. The color of fish and corals are beautiful and appealing to some. Others are faced with the task of maintaining a successful “piece of the reef” in their own backyard.

Let’s start with the symbiotic link that exists between clownfish and sea anemones. Most people can see what clownfish get from the partnership.

First, they find a “home” within the anemone’s stinging tentacles, which defend it from predators. Slow-moving clownfish are sitting ducks for larger predatory fish like groupers and barracudas if they don’t have this reinforced home base.

In exchange, what do anemones get?

Anemones are also protected from predators that eat polyps, such as butterflyfish and angelfish. If you have a pair of clownfish in your aquarium, you are probably already aware of their protective nature. In addition to providing safety, clownfish also provide anemones with food scraps and waste.

Adding Friends

One way of getting your clownfish to host your anemone is to add more fish (ideally larger fish if your tank can allow them) or rearrange the aquarium rock in your aquascape to achieve this. Your newly expelled clownfish is now forced to look for a new place to live.


Attaching a mirror or a photograph of a clownfish to the outside of your aquarium is another approach. The goal of this is to make it appear as if another clownfish is invading your clown’s domain. The ideal scenario is for your clownfish to feel intimidated enough by the invader to dive into the anemone’s waiting tentacles.

Tube Method

Acclimating the anemone to the reef tank first is the best method to ensure that this strategy of introducing your Clownfish works. You can begin adapting your Clownfish once the anemone is satisfied and has hooked onto a rock. You’ll need an acrylic tube large enough for your Clownfish to easily pass through once it’s ready to enter the tank’s environment. You don’t want your clownfish to get stuck and get hurt.

When you have a large enough tube, gently place it so that the tube’s exit is barely touching the anemone.

You don’t want to push the pipe down into the anemone since it would startle it and cause it to seal up. If the anemone is closed, the Clownfish won’t be able to move in. Once the tube is in place, carefully insert your Clownfish inside and allow it to swim around. It may take some time, but it will finally find its way to the anemone.

When trying to get clownfish who have already been introduced to your reef tank to host a newly purchased anemone, it’s best to take them out of the tank and put them in a smaller tank for a few weeks. After enough time has passed, use the tube approach to reintroduce them to your main reef tank.


Some fish keepers recommend feeding the anemone to draw the clownfish in. The clownfish will be enticed to approach the anemone and inspect it because of the meal. If you’re lucky, it’ll investigate the anemone well enough to decide to stay.

Alternatively, you might feed your clownfish near the anemone. Pellets should be avoided due to their tendency to float. Get some sinking granular fish food and put it just beside your anemone.


None of the aforementioned tactics can be guaranteed to work. In the wild, clownfish rely on anemones for protection. Your clownfish may have no desire to live in the anemone if they are completely safe and secure, especially if they have lived happily without one for years.

With that in mind, by making people feel frightened, you might be able to persuade them to change their minds regarding anemones. You don’t have to endanger their lives in any way. The trick is to scare them or instill a strong sense of danger in them. This can be accomplished by adding new fish to their tank.

A similar effect can be achieved by rearranging the tank. You can move your decorations around or change where the filter is currently located. This will make the tank feel less like home, and the clownfish may decide to take up residence in the anemone as a result.


In specific communities, it has been reported that leaving a single light shining at night above the anemone (after all other lights have been turned out) can pique the clownfish’s attention, attracting it to the anemone.

When employing this method, avoid using excessively bright lights. It’s not a good idea to mess with the internal clock of the clownfish. Your clownfish should be able to distinguish between day and night. Rather, use a soft light to highlight the colors of the anemone.


Many times, all it takes is a little patience. Because they have never seen an anemone, clownfish kept in tanks are assumed to be less likely to host one. They have a limited understanding of and appreciation for its capabilities.

As a result, if your clownfish is afraid of the alien organism you’ve introduced to its aquarium, you shouldn’t be too harsh with it. You’ll have to wait for a while. Allow for some time to pass. Some fish owners claim that the clownfish took months, if not years, to host the anemone finally. Don’t assume that your clownfish has rejected the new anemone just yet. Allow it some time to adjust to the situation.


Regardless of the technique you take, if you make your clownfish feel threatened, you can expect it to seek refuge in the anemone. Remember that when clownfish are stressed, they are more likely to take up residence in anemones. The two’s relationship may evolve more quickly if the appropriate procedures are taken. Patience is crucial. Double-check that the anemone and clownfish you’ve picked are compatible for a symbiotic relationship.

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