Will Clownfish Host In Rock Anemone? (Video Included)

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As I bought my saltwater fish tank, I wanted to know if my clownfish are likely to host rock anemones. I knew about the symbiosis clownfish share with anemones and assumed they might feature that with the vast majority of anemone species. That was when I began to research the topic a bit deeper. 

No, Clownfish will not host in rock anemones. Raising both species in the same tank may harm your clownfish due to the harsh sting rock anemones feature. In the case of clownfish, it is advised to stick to more accommodating types, such as Bubble-tip, Sebae, and Carpet anemones. 

As we move forward, I will elaborate more deeply on why clownfish are not likely to host rock anemones. I will also go into that anemone’s characteristics and water requirements in case you wish to grow it in a separate tank. Lastly, I will provide you with a useful guide to make your clownfish host other types of anemones, like the bubble-tip one.

Also Read: Clownfish Care Guide

Do Clownfish Host Rock Anemones?

Anyone who has experience with clownfish knows of their relationship with anemones. Anemones protect clownfish while stinging and eating everything else. They keep the clownfish safe because it has some sort of resistance to their sting. 

That sort of protection isn’t necessary for tank clownfish. But people still add anemones to their aquariums because they like the idea of their clownfish swimming within the anemone’s tentacles. But clownfish can’t host every single anemone they encounter, which is why this question regarding rock anemones is so essential.

Whenever conversations about clownfish and anemones arise, experts always mention the Bubble-tip anemone, Long-tentacle anemone, Sebae, Carpet, and the Magnificent anemone, to mention but a few.[1] These are the most popular types on the market. Rarely do people discuss rock anemones. 

As such, most clownfish owners have probably never heard of them. For that reason, they cannot be faulted for not knowing whether or not clownfish can host them. 

Fish owners with experience in this field will discourage you from adding these creatures to your tank if all you want is a host for your clownfish.[2] This is because rock anemones do not host clownfish. You cannot change this. 

Rock anemones will happily host crabs and shrimp. But you shouldn’t expect them to welcome your clownfish with open arms. You are better off sticking with the Bubble Tip anemone, which is compatible with so many clownfish species. 

Naturally, you can try forcing the issue. Experts encounter situations like this all the time. They are frequently approached by fish owners whose clownfish have refused to host the anemone they added. In many cases, they will encourage such people to apply some patience.

Tank-raised clownfish have never seen an anemone. Therefore, they need a moment to acclimate to the new addition to their tank and to understand what it is. It might take days, weeks, months, and even years in some cases, but the chances that they will eventually host the anemone are quite high.

If you hate the idea of waiting, clownfish experts are always happy to provide additional steps that you can take to improve the relationship between the clownfish and your tank’s anemone. 

That includes attaching pictures and videos of clownfish hosting anemones to the tank to educate the inhabitants of your aquarium on the subject. If that doesn’t work, you can always isolate the clownfish and anemone in a smaller container, giving them no choice but to pair up.[3] 

Regarding that topic, I have dedicated an entire article on how to make clownfish host anemone. I mentioned there seven easy steps you should take as a clownfish owner to make the symbiosis between the two more likely. That applies to all kinds of anemones, including those that clownfish will probably host. 

But all these methods are only useful in situations where you have paired the right clownfish with the right anemone. If the anemone you added to the tank is not compatible with your particular species of clownfish, the chances of those clownfish hosting the anemone are meager.

If you have anemones like the rock anemone that clownfish do not host, there is no point in forcing the issue. Don’t expect your coercion to produce any results. You cannot go against nature. Doing that might harm both your clownfish and anemone. 

  • As you can see in the following video, rock anemones also lack the long tentacles that usually benefit clownfish. Hopefully, this particular one won’t get hurt as time passes:

You may also find these articles useful:

Why Should You Keep Rock Anemones if They Cannot Host Clownfish?

If you had your sights set on rock anemones as potential hosts for your Clownfish, you could still add them to your tank even though you know now that clownfish cannot host them. They are an attractive species, and for several reasons:[4]

  • First of all, compared to other anemones, they are one of the most convenient species to look after. Once they find a comfortable spot in your tank, they will not move. You are still expected to feed them, but they rely on light as their primary food source. This makes them less of a chore to keep.
  • Even though they can’t host clownfish, rock anemones can host shrimp and porcelain crabs. So, if you have ever wanted to keep anemone shrimp, a rock anemone gives you an excuse to do just that. 
  • Because of their temperament and immobility, you can keep rock anemones in groups. Other species of anemones have hostile tendencies that make this somewhat difficult. 
  • They are so small, only growing to 6 inches in many cases. So, they don’t take up much space. You don’t have to worry about the creatures crowding your tank.
  • Their colors are breathtaking. You should add them to your tank simply because of the impact they will have on its appearance. They are the perfect addition for any aquarium owner who is looking for something new to inject energy into their tank.

People overlook and underappreciate rock anemones because they cannot host clownfish. But their deficiency in that one area does not make them any less attractive. You can add that anemone to your tank for the rest of its benefits. 

Rock Anemones – What Should You Know?

To better understand why clownfish cannot host rock anemones, you should probably get familiar with the species. That will also help you in growing rock anemone in your tank regardless of its relationship with clownfish. 

Fortunately, there isn’t that much to know, especially if you have some limited knowledge about anemones in general:

1. Nature Habitat

Scientifically referred to as Phyllanthus crucifer but also called flower anemones, rock anemones come from the shallow waters of the Caribbean Sea. In their natural habitat, you can find them on reef rocks (in the crevices) and sand flats.

They prefer to settle within the fissures of rocks and on the stones found beneath the sand. The objective is to remain hidden, leaving only the oral disk out in the open, still visible. They won’t hesitate to disappear altogether if you disturb them, retracting into the sand or fissure. 

2. Appearance

Rock anemones are roughly 6 inches in length when their bodies are fully extended, though they can exceed 8 inches in some cases. The diameter ranges between 2 and 3 inches. The disk and tentacles can reach 8 inches when they expand. 

The disk has numerous (6-12) wavy undulations curved into it, though they can disappear, leaving a large, concave disk. The tentacles are stout and tapered, and they are roughly the same length. They are arranged in 3-4 crowded rows. 

The rock anemone gets more complicated once you take a closer look at its body. You will notice rows of tubercles of varying shapes and sizes. You will see short rows of suckers on the column, which is smooth below. 

The column’s ground color tends to be creamy or whitish. You are likely to observe irregular stripes and streaks of crimson. But if you have ever taken the time to analyze any common anemone, none of that will surprise you, nor anything else that you are bound to see.

3. Growing Rock Anemones in Tanks

Rock anemones are quite hardy, especially when compared to other types of anemones.[5] This makes them an appealing species for beginners. They are easy to feed, and they don’t do that much moving once they find a comfortable spot. In fact, once they fix their foot onto a hard surface, moving them can become a challenge.

They come in so many exciting colors that people will seek them out for the transformational impact they can have on an aquarium’s appearance. Fluorescent lights can do wonders for their colors. And because they are small and generally immobile, you don’t have to worry about the creatures disrupting the activities of the other fish in your tank. They are not a threat to fish or corals.

Because they are less likely to run around stinging other anemones, you can keep them in groups. They require a moderate-strong water movement. They can eat a variety of food items, including shrimp, squid, and fish. If you know anything about anemones, then you know that the lighting in the aquarium will provide a lot of the nutrition they need.

They can also draw nutrients from the water. That being said, you are encouraged to feed them at least once a week. Place their food near the mouth and ensure that there are no fish nearby that can snatch it away before the anemone can eat it. 

Don’t be surprised to find them in nano tanks. Even as adults, they are quite small, which makes them more suited to a smaller living space. The small size doesn’t say anything about their age. They will seek out brightly lit locations; they will survive in moderately good lighting. 

4. Water Requirements

Even though they are hardy creatures, rock anemones should be approached with caution. They have an extreme sensitivity to nitrates and copper. You need to keep the parameters of their water within the required range. That includes the temperature (72-78 degrees F), the hardness (dKH 8-12), and pH (8.1-8.4).[6]

The anemone will not respond positively to fluctuations in these parameters. And if it dies, it could destroy your entire tank.[7] This is because you won’t know right away that it has died. As such, it could decay right under your nose, destroying the balance of your tank in the process. 

That is why I highly recommend a stable heater for your tank. Keeping minimal temperature fluctuations is fundamental when it comes to growing anemones.

As far as a living rock anemone is concerned, it has a weak sting. Therefore, it doesn’t pose much of a threat to your hands. You won’t even know that it has stung you. Still, I tend to work with gloves when it comes to anemones, just in case. 


Clownfish will not host in rock anemones, and you shouldn’t try to do so. That may harm your clownfish severely. However, you may raise that anemone in a separate tank, and it would probably host species like crabs and shrimp. Regarding the case of clownfish, you should stick to the more docile anemone. 

You should pick those that won’t sting too hard and will eventually contribute to the survival of your fish. Instead of rock flower anemones, I would suggest picking species like Bubble-tip, Long-tentacle, Sebae, and Carpet anemones. Keep in mind that in fish tanks, clownfish may do just fine without anemones at all. 

If you have any questions regarding Clownfish and their hosting, feel free to contact me in person. I will get back to you as soon as I can and help you fix your problems. Either way, I wish you the very best with these beautiful, exciting creatures.


  1. https://www.thatpetplace.com/clownfish-anemone-preference
  2. https://www.aquariumcreationsonline.net/FlowerAnemone_page9.html
  3. https://www.ocellarisclownfish.com/getting-clownfish-host-anemone/
  4. https://reefbuilders.com/2012/05/25/flower-anemone/
  5. https://www.tidalgardens.com/stock-red-flower-anemone.html
  6. https://www.liveaquaria.com/product/3619/?pcatid=3619
  7. https://www.livingreefs.com/threads/rock-flower-anemone.31495/