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Do Clownfish Like High Flow Water?

Since the release of Finding Nemo, there has been constant growth in the popularity of keeping clownfish and as more and more people start to build an aquarium focused around keeping clownfish, we have noticed more and more questions being asked from the community about keeping clownfish.

Due to clownfish being one of the most beginner-friendly marine fish available as well as the Finding Nemo movie serious ensuring that they maintain their popularity, we only expect the number of questions that we see steadily increase.

One of the more commonly asked questions that we have noticed people asking recently is if clownfish like high flow water or not.

We have seen a surprisingly high amount of incorrect information being circulated on social media relating to clownfish and their water flow preferences so we wanted to publish this article to try and help as many of our readers as possible.

Although it is easy to overlook just how important the flow rate of water actually is in an aquarium for clownfish, it does have to be kept within ideal conditions.

If the flow rate gets too high then your clownfish will start to avoid certain areas of the aquarium and may even just hide in any plants or any other type of cover to avoid the higher flow water.

Do Clownfish Like High Flow Water?

Although some people do keep their clownfish in marine or reef tanks with high flow water, they do usually prefer to have a medium flow rate with a moderate current.

This can help to keep the stress and anxiety levels in the fish low but the size of the tank that you are keeping your clownfish in will also come into play too.

For example, clownfish should be kept in tanks that are SeaClear 20 gal Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set, 24 by 13 by 16", Clear with a decent 30 gallon tank usually being recommended.

That said though, more experienced fishkeepers may keep their clownfish in much larger tanks while still just using a low powered flow pump for their aquarium.

If you are planning on keeping your clownfish in a larger tank then remember to use a suitable flow pump that will be able to maintain the correct water flow through a full tank.

One of the main reasons that there are so many people on social media saying that they have their flow tank set to high and their clownfish are fine is due to using a flow pump that is designed for much smaller tanks than they are using.

Although their flow pump may say that it is set to high, the relative flow rate in the tank may be medium or even low depending on your tank size.

How Much Flow Can Clownfish Handle?

Clownfish tend to prefer a medium flow level but their actual tolerable flow range is quite large with adults being able to do well in the upper low flow range and the lower high flow range.

The majority of modern flow pumps will have standardized flow options making it easy to set exactly what you require.

Some of the older flow pumps may still use a percentage dial making it slightly more difficult to provide your clownfish with the correct flow level.

If you know for a fact that you are using a percentage based flow pump that is designed for use with the tank size that you have your clownfish in then a range of around 35% up to around 65% will be fine for clownfish.

We really don’t like the percentage dial flow pumps though as it does leave a lot open to interpretation making it easy to make mistakes.

If you notice that your clownfish is only staying in one area of your tank where you suspect the water flow rate would be lowest then there is a good chance that your water flow is too high and should be lowered as soon as possible.

What Happens If There Is Too Much Flow For Clownfish?

Most clownfish will try to find shelter in their fish tank if the water flow rate is too high for them.

This can be due to the stress and anxiety levels of the fish increasing and them having to find shelter. Depending on your tank setup, you may find your clownfish hiding away from the water flow too if it is set too high.

This is where it can get complicated when keeping a highly stocked reef tank as some fish and corals will prefer or even require a high flow of water.

If you are mixing a range of fish and coral species that prefer different water flow rates in the same tank then a common work around that is cheap, easy, and very effective is to take advantage of natural slate rock formations to reduce the flow rate of the water in certain areas of the tank.

Although the actual process to do this is very simple and straightforward, it does usually only tend to be more experienced reef and marine aquarium keepers who need to use this method due to most beginners not highly stocking their tanks with a wide range of fish.

Still, it is a great way to offer your clownfish some protection in an aquarium that has to have a high water flow level to artificially create areas of medium water flow.

Do Clownfish Need A Wavemaker?

Clownfish do not require a wavemaker to be happy and a regular water flow pump set to a medium flow level is more than enough for most clownfish.

If you have other fish species in the aquarium with your clownfish that do require a wavemaker then clownfish can be in a tank with a wavemaker provided the wavemaker is set to a lower intensity level and only runs for short periods at a time.

In our opinion though, wavemakers are drastically overrated for most fish species and are simply not needed at all.

A small number of fish can benefit from them but they are not as important as we see people suggesting in certain social media groups, especially if you have smaller fish or just clownfish in your aquarium.

One thing that we do want to clear up is that a large number of modern flow pumps will also offer wave-making functionality too.

This can result in some slightly confusing marketing with the product being called something like a “wave making pump” when it is just a flow pump that can be set to a higher settings to create waves with the nozzle being able to rotate for the waves.


That brings our article going over if clownfish like high flow water to an end. Although we would never recommend that you keep your clownfish in an aquarium with high levels of waterflow, they can do well in medium water flow levels. Although some people will keep their clownfish in a tank without a flow pump and not run into issues, some clownfish will end up having issues in a tank that does have a flow pump that is set to low so try to keep your pump set to medium flow if you have one.