How Often do Clownfish Eat? (And How Much)

The first question I asked myself when I got my first clownfish was – how often do they eat, and how much. Since they are no longer in their natural habitat, I wished to mimic the conditions they get in the wild as best as I can. That was when I began to research that topic a little deeper.

Adult clownfish that have already reached maturity should be fed twice a day in 8-10 hours intervals. Juvenile clownfish should eat more frequently, approximately three to four times a day. You should provide your clownfish with the quantity they may consume within two to three minutes.  

As we move forward in this article, I will elaborate on the proper food types you should introduce to your clownfish, and explain how long can clownfish survive without food. Keep in mind that the more attention you pay to the little details, the longer your fish are likely to live.

How Often Should Clownfish be Fed?

This is the crux of the matter. It is all well and good to give your clownfish the right mix of animal and plant matter. But how frequently should you feed them? This matters because the frequency is going to affect the quantity.

If you feed ordinary fish too many times a day, you will ultimately harm them due to overfeeding. But if you don’t feed them enough times in the day, you risk underfeeding and health issues. So, where do clownfish fall in this equation?

The answer is both straightforward and complicated. In most cases, you are encouraged to feed your clownfish twice a day. Most fish experts you encounter are going to provide this same estimation. 

However, that applies explicitly to adult fish that have already reached their full size. Juveniles have more vigorous appetites since they are still growing. As such, they need all the nutrients you can give them to maintain their health as they mature. 

For the best results, you need to feed juvenile clownfish 3-4 times a day.[1] Breeding fish are in a similar boat. They need more food than ordinary adult clownfish, which is why they should be fed three or four times a day.

How Much do Clownfish Eat?

Fish owners love clownfish because they are not picky eaters. They will eat almost anything you add to their tank. Unfortunately, they will also keep eating if you keep adding food to their tank. They have no significant self control in this department. It is up to you to ensure that you do not feed them more than might be healthy. 

It isn’t enough to settle on the frequency with which you will feed your clownfish. The duration is just as important. Even if you only feed your fish once a day, you still ran the risk of overfeeding them by adding too much food to their tank.

Give your clownfish food in quantities they can finish within two or three minutes. You can bring that figure down to one minute, depending on how frequently you feed them. You can also raise it to five minutes if you only feed them once a day. 

Ensure that they have eaten every morsel of food you have offered them within the set duration. If they fail in this endeavor, then you have probably given them too much food. For instance, if 3 minutes is your chosen duration, keep adjusting the quantities until you are giving them food in amounts they can completely devour in 3 minutes.

If they have food leftover after that period expires, you are still giving them too much. Excess food isn’t a good thing. Not only will your clownfish produce more waste, but anything they don’t eat will ruin the chemistry of your water, especially if you fail to remove these leftovers from the tank.

What do Clownfish Eat?

Clownfish are omnivores. In other words, they have an affinity for both animal and plant matter. Out in nature, they will eat everything from algae to fish eggs and larvae. They have also been known to eat crustaceans and the tentacles of anemones. 

Do not permit their diet to become stale. Try to add some variety. While they will appreciate live foods, throw frozen foods into the mix every once in a while, not to mention freeze-dried foods, flakes, and pellets, etc. 

That includes vegetables like Nori and Spinach. As omnivores, they can eat both animals and plants, but you shouldn’t force them to survive on just one type of food or the other. Keep things interesting by varying their diet. 

If you are interested, here is an article where I’ve answered whether or not clownfish eat seaweed. While the general answer is yes, I also mentioned there a few feeding techniques that would prevent water pollution. Seaweed, and Nori, in particular, are incredibly nutritious for clownfish. 

How Long Can Clownfish Survive Without Food?

It is never a good idea to feed an adult fish more than four times a day. However, as was mentioned above, things are not so straightforward with clownfish. First of all, while you are expected to feed them one or two times a day, clownfish can actually spend entire days without eating.

Talk to some experienced fish owners. Quite a few of them will tell you that their clownfish have gone two or three days without eating. Some will tell you that their clownfish have survived an entire week without food.

The duration that any fish can survive without eating depends on factors such as its size and feeding habits. For the most part, older and larger fish can survive for more extended periods without food. You can blame this on their much more substantial fat reserves. Younger, smaller fish are not so lucky. The younger the clownfish, the faster they will deteriorate without food. 

People rarely starve their clownfish on purpose. In many cases, they are given little choice because they have to leave their home for days at a time, and they cannot afford to buy an automatic feeder or hire a fish sitter. This puts them in a situation where they have to rely on their clownfish’s ability to survive without food for a few days. 

On the whole, carnivorous fish can go longer without food than herbivores. This is because, in the wild, meat isn’t always available. They have evolved to survive seasons during which they cannot find food. Herbivores are not as lucky. They are accustomed to eating every day. One can conclude that omnivores like clownfish fall somewhere in the middle. 

So, in general, clownfish can survive up to a week without food. During that period, they will mainly nibble on the vegetation available and consume food leftovers. They will also take advantage of their fat reserves within their own bodies. However, underfeeding your clownfish isn’t advisable. 

While it may be difficult to tell if your clownfish are hungry, there are few things to pay attention to. If your clownfish are frequently trying to jump out of their tanks, starvation could be the issue. In this article I’ve written, I elaborated on this phenomenon and presented five prevention techniques that will make sure your fish remain healthy and satisfied. 

Planning For Scarcity

If you expect to spend entire days without adding food to the tank, you need to prepare your clownfish. Some clownfish might not survive the fast. This is why you need to experiment. You can do this by neglecting your tank for a few days.

Use that opportunity to see how things will fair when you leave. If your clownfish continue to thrive and survive in such circumstances, you can take that as a sign that they will survive your absence. However, if their health begins to suffer visibly, you can try acclimating them to the fast.

Some people do this by slowly cutting back on the frequency with which they feed their clownfish. Others have argued that turning down the temperature will decrease their metabolism, reducing their need for food.

You can also manipulate the tank’s artificial lighting to make their daytime shorter. This will limit their activities, which can, in turn, reduce their need for food. If these steps fail to produce the results you expect, get a fish sitter, someone that can add food to the tank every day or two in your absence.[2]

Regardless of the approach you take, as you can tell, you need time to experiment before you can decide on what you will do. You shouldn’t cut their diet abruptly. That may compromise your clownfish’s health significantly. 

Can You Overfeed Clownfish?

Rational thinking will tell you that it isn’t a good idea to feed your fish more than four times a day. However, you have exceptions. For instance, it has been argued that clownfish can eat biogenetically engineered organisms like Cyclop-eeze six times a day.[3]

That obviously sounds ridiculous. However, you have to take the type of food into account. For instance, the food item above consists of microscopic crustaceans that you feed to clownfish by diluting a powder with water and adding it to the tank using a turkey baster. 

These crustaceans are so small that you don’t have to worry about overfeeding your clownfish. You can also get away with adding the crustaceans to your tank four or even two times a day and then supplementing the meals with other types of fish food.

The fish food industry is always evolving. Some brands produce food items that are so complex that they will compel you to change your clownfish dieting plan. Though, if you have chosen to remain loyal to traditional food items, you should stick to one or two feedings a day. 

Where do Clownfish Eat?

Smaller and younger clownfish do not necessarily go wandering around the aquarium. They prefer to remain within so-called safety zones. If you want them to eat to their fill, you should feed them near these designated areas.[4]

However, adult clownfish are different. They come from a carnivorous family. This gives them a predatory personality that you are encouraged to engage by scattering their food across the tank’s surface. You may also let the currents of the water take it. This will drive the clownfish to chase the food.

That being said, while it isn’t a good idea to stop the currents of the water, you should ensure that the flow isn’t too harsh. Otherwise, feeding might become a challenging undertaking for the clownfish.

Alternative Food Sources For Clownfish

The reason clownfish can go for days without the meals you provide is that, as omnivores, they have other food sources. If you watch them closely, you will see them nibble at algae or bite at the walls, decorations, and rocks. 

If you have an anemone in the tank, the clownfish can eat its food waste and parasites.[5] Some even argue that anemones are sufficient, and food supplements aren’t necessary for tanks that feature them.[6] Even though they look like plants, anemones are sea creatures that prey on other sea creatures. What they typically do not finish a clownfish will eat.

While it isn’t an excuse to neglect your fish, depending on the nature of your aquarium, you can probably trust your clownfish to fend for themselves for a while if you can’t feed them. However, if your tank doesn’t feature any anemone or vegetation, your fish rely more on your feeding schedule.  

Conclusions

The feeding schedule of clownfish features a strong correlation to their age. While adult clownfish should be fed twice a day, the young ones eat much more frequently (up to four times a day). You should provide them this schedule so that they can reach their full size. 

Underfeeding your fish isn’t advisable, although you should keep in mind that clownfish may survive up to seven days without food. That primarily depends on the vegetation in your tank, anemones in particular.

I hope my article had answered your question. Overall, the best way to determine your clownfish feeding schedule is by experimenting. Over time, you’ll learn what your particular fish require. 

References

  1. https://aquariumsphere.com/what-do-clownfish-eat-in-an-aquarium/
  2. https://petgearlab.com/how-long-can-your-tropical-fish-survive-without-food
  3. https://books.google.co.ug/books?id=ulbrAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA29&lpg=PA29&dq=How+Often+do+Clownfish+Need+to+be+Fed&source=bl&ots=7lOikVJfoQ&sig=ACfU3U2HtPDD-JXkykf8GMYSePx9hDrxsQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjP1Jrh4MvoAhWHsBQKHRbWB-84PBDoATACegQIDBAm#v=onepage&q=How%20Often%20do%20Clownfish%20Need%20to%20be%20Fed&f=false
  4. https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/clownfish/#What_Do_Clownfish_Eat
  5. https://www.animalwised.com/feeding-a-clownfish-430.html
  6. https://www.cuteness.com/article/do-sea-anemones-eat

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