When people think of colorful clownfish, they often picture them peeking out from the polyps of an anemone. This is because, in the wild, clownfish and sea anemones have a symbiotic relationship.
The anemone’s stinging polyps protect the clownfish from predators and provide a safe nesting place, and the clownfish protects the anemone from parasites.
Anemones also thrive on the nitrogen the clownfish produces, while the fish gets to eat scraps left by the anemone.
Although clownfish can survive quite well without an anemone companion in the home aquarium, it’s often entertaining to watch these fish interact with anemones, and it creates a more natural, healthy habitat.
Selecting a proper anemone, especially one suited to particular clownfish types, such as Ocellaris or Picasso, will help to ensure a stable, beneficial mutual relationship.
Best Anemones for Ocellaris Clownfish
In the wild, Ocellaris clownfish tend to gravitate toward giant carpet sea anemones, Merten’s carpet anemone, and magnificent anemones. It’s often best to pair particular clownfish with the anemones they would choose in the wild. However, Ocellaris clownfish have also been known to adapt well to bubble tip anemones.
Carpet anemones can become quite large, but bubble tip anemones stay smaller, so they are often a good choice for smaller aquariums. Bubble tip anemones are also readily available, can be found in a range of colors, and are quite hardy, making them a popular choice for even beginner saltwater aquarium keepers.
Bubble tips, however, are considered to be aggressive, and they tend to reach out, so it’s often best to keep them away from any other delicate fish, invertebrates, corals, or anemones.
Best Anemones for Picasso Clownfish
Picasso clownfish tend to be a bit more versatile than Ocellaris when it comes to selecting companion anemones. Like the Ocellaris, the Picasso will often adapt well to bubble tip anemones. They also tend to favor Merten’s and giant carpet sea anemones as well as the magnificent sea anemone.
The leathery, or Sebae, sea anemone is another favorite of the Picasso. This striking anemone, which can be white or tan with bright blue tips, can be aggressive and does not adapt well to life in an aquarium, making it difficult to keep.
However, pairing it with a clownfish can help it adapt more quickly and often greatly extends the life of the anemone.
Other Good Anemone Choices for Clownfish
In addition to the anemones mentioned above, many clownfish, particularly the Picasso, will adapt to living with a variety of other anemone species. The beaded sea anemone, for example, is a popular choice for many clownfish and is a favorite of aquarists because it’s hardy and relatively easy to keep.
The Haddon’s or saddle anemone is another excellent choice, favored for its bright colors and unique shape. This anemone is semi-aggressive and relatively easy to care for, so they’re a good choice for intermediate aquarists.
They can become quite large, however, growing to nearly 3 feet, so they’ll require an aquarium of 100 gallons or more.
The long tentacle or corkscrew sea anemone is also a good choice for intermediate aquarium keepers. This anemone, which grows to only about a foot and a half across, can be purple, tan, or black, but is most often a red or orange color.
In the wild, some clownfish select this anemone type specifically, but many clownfish will gravitate towards the corkscrew anemone in the home aquarium.