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How to Make Clownfish To Be Hosted By Anemones? (7 Easy Steps)

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When I got my first clownfish, I was eager to create the known symbiosis they share with anemones. However, as I introduced both species to the same aquarium, they seemed to ignore each other. That was when I began to look for ways to make clownfish host anemones, especially in domestic tanks. 

Making clownfish host anemones involves these steps:

  1. Wait a few weeks and see whether your clownfish merely required an adjusting period. 
  2. Pour your clownfish upon the anemone by using a vertical tube.
  3. Surround your tank with pictures illustrating clownfish hosting anemones.
  4. Bait your clownfish to the anemone using granulated fish food.
  5. Enforce proximity between the two by moving them to a smaller tank.
  6. Use direct lighting during nighttime to emphasize the anemone’s colors.
  7. Create a slightly stressful environment by introducing companions to the aquarium. 

As we move forward in this article, I will elaborate on each step, so you get the ideal results within your particular fish tank. Also, I will show you how to choose the right anemone for your clownfish. Keep in mind that specific types of anemones may host specific kinds of clownfish.

Also Read: Clownfish Care Guide

How to Get Clownfish to Host Anemone?

Clownfish and anemones have a special relationship in the wild. The anemone provides a safe habitat for the fish by keeping potential predators away. In return, clownfish offer food for the anemone.

While these two creatures enjoy a mutually beneficial arrangement in the wild, many fish owners that rear clownfish in tanks do not have anemones. This is because domestic clownfish do not necessarily require the protection of an anemone. That is particularly true for home aquariums where food is abundant, and predators are not present.[1]

However, plenty of fish owners add anemones to their tank, not because the clownfish needs it. They do so merely because they like the idea of watching their clownfish as they swim among the tentacles of an anemone. 

But you cannot fulfill this dream by merely adding an anemone to your tank. Ultimately, the clownfish has the final say in the matter. It can choose to either host in the anemone or ignore it. If the anemone refuses, what happens next?

While you cannot necessarily force the clownfish to adopt the anemone as a habitat, there are steps that you can take to encourage the formation of a relationship between them:

1. Be Patient

Many times, it is a simple issue of patience. It has been argued that clownfish raised in tanks are less likely to host an anemone because they have never seen one. As such, they have neither an understanding nor an appreciation for its capabilities. 

Therefore, you shouldn’t be so hard on your clownfish if it is a little hesitant to approach the alien creature you have added to its tank. You need to wait. Give it time. Some fish owners will tell you that they had to wait for months and even years before the clownfish finally hosted the anemone.[2]

Don’t be so quick to presume that your clownfish has rejected the new anemone. Give it a moment to adapt to the situation. At this point, you basically have nothing to lose. Even if the two do not share a symbiosis, you will be able to enjoy their beautiful appearance until they do. 

2. The Vertical Tube Trick

Some people will tell you that you have to encourage clownfish to host anemones rather than forcing the issue. But, believe it or not, there is a way to push your clownfish into an anemone without harming them.

First, get a generously sized acrylic tube and Stick it into your aquarium. Lower it until it is hovering over the anemone. The tube shouldn’t touch the anemone. If it does, the creature might close right up. If possible, find someone with a steady hand to hold the tube while you work.

Once the tube is in place, scoop some clownfish out of the tank and pour them down the pipe. The idea is to force them into the anemone. It might take a few minutes and a bit of coercing on your part. 

But given enough time, the clownfish will swim down towards the anemone, if only out of curiosity. You can do this with as many clownfish as you might want to add to the anemone. In most cases, they stay in the anemone, even after the tube has been removed.

3. Hang a Few Pictures

This option may sound strange to you, although you should not reject it immediately. What I suggest is to tape pictures of clownfish with anemones to the tank. This supposedly sets the mood. Any reliable scientific evidence doesn’t back the method’s efficacy. 

That being said, you will find plenty of anecdotes online from people who used it only to see it bear fruit. Make sure that you tape the pictures where the clownfish can see them. Only when it has a clear view of the aquarium’s walls, the images will have an impact. 

4. Bait the Clownfish

Some fish owners will encourage you to lure the clownfish to the anemone by feeding the anemone. The food will draw the clownfish close enough for it to start investigating the anemone. If you are fortunate, it might probe the anemone intimately enough that it eventually chooses to stay.

You may even try feeding your clownfish in proximity to the anemone. For this, you should avoid pellets, simply because they float. Get yourself a granulated fish food that immediately sinks and pour it just next to your anemone. 

If you are not sure about your clownfish feeding requirements, I got you covered. Here is an article where I discussed how often clownfish eat. I also elaborated there what are the right amounts you should feed them and what kind of food clownfish typically eat. 

5. Enforce Proximity

If your clownfish have refused to warm up to the anemone in their tank, you can nurture a closer relationship between them by forcing both creatures to spend ample time within one another’s company.

Take them out of their tank and place them in a smaller container. Better yet, put them in a clean, cozy strainer that has been lowered into the tank. This will force them to grow accustomed to one another, especially once you start feeding them, and they begin to cooperate during mealtimes. 

You might have to leave them alone for a few days before finally returning them to their original tank. I would suggest waiting for at least a week. Eventually, only when returning them will you know whether or not they bonded during their period of isolation. 

6. Use Direct Lighting

It has been suggested in some communities that, if you leave a single light shining above the anemone at night (after the rest of the lights have been switched off), it will pique the interest of the clownfish, drawing it to the anemone in the process. 

When you go with this method, avoid using lights that are too bright. You shouldn’t interfere with the clownfish’s inner clock. Your fish should be able to distinguish between day and night. Instead, use a dim light that merely emphasizes the anemone’s colors. 

7. Stress Your Clownfish a Bit

There are no guarantees that any of these methods above will work. In the wild, clownfish use anemones for protection. But if your clownfish feel perfectly safe and secure, they might have no desire to live in the anemone, especially if they have been living peacefully without one for years. 

With that in mind, you could convince them to change their attitudes regarding anemones by making them feel less safe.[3] You don’t have to put their lives in real jeopardy. The key is to give them a simple scare or to create a clear sense of danger. You can do this by introducing new fish to their tank.

Rearranging the aquarium can have a similar effect. You may move your decorations from one place to another or change the current spot of the filter. This will make the tank feel less like home, and that could push the clownfish to set up shop in the anemone.

If that sounds like too much work, you can save some time by placing a mirror outside the tank (or a photograph) to make your clownfish think that other clownfish have entered its territory. 

Regardless of the approach you choose, if you make your clownfish feel unsafe, you have every reason to expect it to flee to the anemone for sanctuary. Remember, clownfish are more likely to be hosted by anemones when they feel uncomfortable.

Choosing the Right Anemone for Your Clownfish

The arguments above presume that clownfish that refuse to host anemones are to blame, which isn’t always the case. Sometimes, the fish owner is at fault. Anemones come in numerous types, and clownfish are not compatible with every single one of them.

In fact, any professional worth their salt will tell you that most clownfish have a particular type of anemone they prefer to host. If you pair the right clownfish with the right anemone, the chances of the two bonding are quite high.

  • Naturally, selecting a suitable anemone for your clownfish will require quite a bit of research. You have so many options to consider. 

For instance, Bubble Tip anemones are drawn to Maroon, Fire, Tomato, Cinnamon, and Clark’s clownfish, to mention but a few.[4] Long-tentacle anemones are compatible with Pink skunk, Saddleback, and Percula clownfish. Sebae anemones should be paired with similar species.[5]

The sooner you find your clownfish the appropriate anemone, the faster they will host it. Of course, as suggested above, the task is easier said than done. But the research you perform will bear fruit once the clownfish start swimming through your chosen anemone’s tentacles. 

The key to success is to gather as much knowledge as possible. You need to know what to expect to plan for unexpected outcomes. Avoid some of the myths and misconceptions that some people have nurtured regarding this issue, for instance:

  • Most fish owners know that clownfish raised in tanks are hesitant to host anemones. However, some people keep spreading the notion that aquarium clownfish can’t host anemones.

This is not true. Clownfish are wired to adopt hosts. If they ignore your anemone, you will see them seek out an alternative. Yes, tank clownfish are more hesitant where the hosting of anemones is concerned. But it is erroneous to suggest that they are utterly incapable of hosting anemones. 

  • While tank fish can host anemones, it is wrong to presume that they actually need one. This is another myth that has circulated in some circles. Some people have actually suggested that it is cruel to keep clownfish in a tank that has no anemone.

However, clownfish can live quite happily without anemones. Even if they have the desire to host, they can easily make do with a replacement such as open-brain corals. Their existence is not dependent on the presence of anemones. Therefore, even if your clownfish refuses to host an anemone, it will be just fine.

If you are interested, here is an article where I explained the symbiosis clownfish share with anemones, and in which cases they might do just fine without them. Here is another article where I discussed clownfish and torch corals, and how to make them corporate (just like anemones). 

  • The third misconception has been mentioned above, but it bears repeating. Contrary to what some people suggest, clownfish cannot host every anemone you find in a store. Certain types of clownfish are compatible with some anemones and incompatible with others. 

You should not force a clownfish to get along with the wrong anemone. For instance, Condylactis anemones have no interest in hosting any clowns, no matter the type. Do not expect them to make an exception for your clownfish.

Bubble-tip anemones, on the other hand, are quite popular because they come in numerous colors, and they are compatible with 13 different clownfish species. You are less likely to encounter a mismatch once you add one of these creatures to your tank.


It is possible to make clownfish host in anemones. As mentioned, the relationship between the two may evolve faster when taking the necessary steps. The key here is to be patient. Also, you should make sure beforehand that you have picked the specific anemone and clownfish that may share a symbiosis.

I hope my article has answered your question on how to get clownfish to be hosted by anemones. If you have any hanging questions, let me know by using the Contact Me page. I will do everything in my power to get back to you as soon as I can.