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Can You Keep Clownfish In A 5 Gallon Tank?

The clownfish has been a very popular species with marine tank keepers within the fish keeping hobby for decades but after the release of the Finding Nemo movie, there really was a surge in the popularity of keeping clownfish with the species seeing solid growth each year ever since.

This has resulted in a huge number of people who are brand new to the fish keeping hobby often looking to keep clownfish, often as their very first fish with many people asking about keeping clownfish in a 5 gallon tank.

Some people do keep a single clownfish in a 5 gallon tank but we really don’t recommend it as the fish will not be happy and it is highly likely that the fish will end up frustrated and angry.

Depending on the specific species of clownfish, we would highly recommend that you use a 10 gallon tank as an absolute minimum but some clownfish species will require larger tanks.

The majority of the people reaching out and asking about keeping clownfish in a 5 gallon tank are usually full of good intentions and often led by photographs or video that they see on social media of other people keeping clownfish in a 5 gallon tank.

Just because other people are going it, does not mean that you should or that the fish will be happy and it is likely that the small size of a 5 gallon tank will be able to reduce the potential lifespan of the fish too.

Can You Keep A Clownfish In A 5 Gallon Tank?

You can technically keep a clownfish in a 5 gallon tank and it is highly likely that the fish will be able to live for a number of years but we would not recommend it.

A 5 gallon tank is too small for even a small adult clownfish of any sub-species but you may be able to keep juvenile clownfish in a 5 gallon tank if absolutely required until you are able to get a suitably sizes tank for the fish.

We know that it can be tempting to try and keep clownfish in a smaller tank to try and help improve the pairing process between a clownfish and an anemone but putting a clownfish in a smaller tank to try and get the clownfish to pair with an anemone is a roumer rather than fact and is unlikely to work.

Keeping your pet clownfish in a larger aquarium that is at least 10 gallons is a much better option and then going by some of our recommendations in our best anemone for clownfish list will usually help to get your clownfish to pair with its anemone.

As we touched on above, some people will use a 5 gallon tank as a temporary tank for a juvenile clownfish until they are able to find a large enough tank for the clownfish.

In other situations, some people will use a 5 gallon tank as a temporary tank for a sick or injured clownfish and use the tank as a quarantine tank while they apply medication to the fish until it is better and ready to be placed back in its other, larger aquarium tank.

Can You Put 2 Clownfish In A 5 Gallon Tank?

We would never recommend that you put two clownfish in a five gallon tank as five gallon tanks are too small for a single clownfish never mind multiple clownfish!

If you are using the 5 gallon tank as a temporary tank for juvenile or sick fish then it may work but you should never keep multiple clownfish in a 5 gallon tank for an extended period of time.

We have a dedicated article going over how to keep a pair of clownfish together that may be helpful if you are looking to keep two or more clownfish in the same aquarium.

It should be able to help you better understand how to prevent the two clownfish fighting each other when kept in the same tank as clownfish aggression can be a very real problem, especially if you are new to keeping the species.

Just keep in mind that the smaller the tank, the more likely it is that multiple clownfish will be aggressive to each other and fight each other.

This is even more likely for multiple clownfish kept in such a small tank like a 5 gallon aquarium and even 10 or 15 gallon aquariums can sometimes be too small for multiple clownfish and result in them fighting amongst each other for dominance of the tank.

But I Have Seen People Keep Clownfish In A 5 Gallon Tank!

We know that there are a large number of photographs and videos of people keeping clownfish in 5 gallon tanks on social media but this does not mean that the fish are happy or healthy.

Clownfish can end up stressed, anxious, and unhappy in small tanks and many of the people who are sharing photographs of their clownfish in small tanks on social media don’t even know that the tanks are too small for their fish.

Unfortunately, this is part of a vicious cycle that we see time and time again within the fish keeping community.

Someone with good intentions will get a fish, put it in a tank, think that their setup is suitable for the fish and then share photographs on social media that other people then see and replicate.

This is one of the main reasons that we see people reaching out and asking about keeping clownfish in a 5 gallon tank, due to seeing other people do it on social media.

Another common thing that we often see people misunderstanding when it comes to keeping clownfish in smaller tanks is that they see videos on YouTube of people keeping a clownfish in a 5 gallon aquarium as a temporary solution to try treat something like white spot on their clownfish and presume that the tank is the permanent home for the fish.

Once the clownfish is better they are placed back into their regular aquarium tank that is often much larger than a 5 gallon tank.

Why You Should Keep Clownfish In Larger Aquarium Tanks!

Clownfish really should be kept in 10 gallon tanks at an absolute minimum with some of the larger species of clownfish needing a minimum of a 15 gallon tank.

Anything smaller will often result in the clownfish being stressed, anxious, and aggressive as well as strange behaviors starting to develop in the clownfish that it uses as a coping mechanism.

So many people who are new to keeping clownfish fail to realize that clownfish are a surprisingly aggressive species of fish that will often fight, nip or chase their tank mates on a regular basis.

When kept alone in a small tank they have no way to release the energy that is often burnt off during this behavior and this can add to the frustration of the fish resulting in a number of potential health issues.

We know that the standard rule for keeping fish in an aquarium is that you should have at least one gallon of water per inch of fish and the average length of a clownfish being just over 4 inches suggests a 5 gallon tank is enough but its not.

The problem with generic equations like that is that they fail to take into account the base minimum of a tank that a fish requires to swim around in and for most clownfish species, the base minimum is 10 gallons.


That brings our article going over if you should keep a clownfish in a 5 gallon tank or not to an end. We hope that we have been able to help our readers better understand that for the most part, you really shouldn’t be looking to keep a clownfish in such a small tank size. A 5 gallon tank can sometimes be used for a clownfish in some very specific situations such as the clownfish being a baby or it being quarantined due to sickness or injury but for the most part, you really should be looking for a larger aquarium size for an adult clownfish.