The popularity of keeping clownfish is higher than ever, largely due to the initial surge in their popularity due to the Finding Nemo movie but each year, more and more people add clownfish to their tanks.
This has allowed clownfish to grow their popularity to become the most commonly kept marine fish species in the world and we often see a huge number of questions about caring for clownfish each month.
One of the questions that we have noticed people asking recently is about the salinity requirements for clownfish as well as a number of different related questions about clownfish salinity levels so we have decided to publish this article.
The majority of aquariums with clownfish in them will require a salinity level between 1.020 – 1.024 for the clownfish to thrive but in some rare cases clownfish may be able to live outside of this range.
Still, there are a number of different variables that you have to factor in when looking at salinity levels for clownfish, and the actual way that you need to go about tweaking the salinity levels will also come into play so we decided to publish this article to try and help as many of our readers as possible.
What Is the Recommended Salinity Level For Clownfish?
The recommended salinity levels for an aquarium containing clownfish is usually between 1.020 – 1.024 but in some tank setups, some clownfish can do well slightly outside of this salinity range.
If you are new to keeping clownfish then we would always recommend that you do your best to stay within the 1.020 – 1.024 salinity range if possible to make your life as easy as possible.
Some of the less commonly kept types of clownfish may require a 1.025 salinity but this is rare and most people new to keeping clownfish just go with the Percula clownfish or Ocellaris clownfish than need a salinity range of 1.020 – 1.024.
There are a number of ways to work out the salinity level of your clownfish tank to give you an idea of your current salinity levels but in our opinion, a simple, cheap hydrometer is still the best option for the majority of people.
A hydrometer allows you to quickly get a reading of the salinity level of your tank with your clownfish in or that you plan to keep your clownfish in and then allow you to make any required adjustments.
Can Clownfish Live Outside Of Their Recommended Salinity Levels?
Some clownfish can live outside of their recommended salinity level but this is not recommended as it can be difficult to work out if your clownfish is able to live outside of the recommended salinity range without putting your fish in danger.
As we touched on above, some of the less commonly kept types of clownfish do require a slightly different salinity level for their tank water but the majority will be happy with a range between 1.020 – 1.024.
Many people new to keeping clownfish don’t know that there are actually over 30 different types of clownfish that each have their own slightly different salinity requirements, this is why most people use the standard range of 1.020 – 1.024 as it covers most types of clownfish.
This is why you should do your best to research the salinity requirements of the specific type of clownfish that you are keeping in your tank but for most people, a salinity level of 1.020 – 1.024 will be fine.
What Salinity Is Too High For Clownfish?
It is generally considered that a salinity level of 1.026 or higher is too much for a clownfish and you will usually start to see issues with your clownfish if you reach a salinity level this high.
As we have mentioned a couple of times already, most people use a salinity range of 1.020 – 1.024 for their clownfish with a small number of people going with a salinity level of 1.025 for some specific types of clownfish.
Anything outside of this is usually considered bad practice and may be enough to put your clownfish at risk and cause some potentially serious health issues with your fish, especially if the salinity levels are kept at these ranges for long periods of time.
What Happens If A Clownfish Is In A Tank With Unsuitable Salinity Levels?
There are a number of potential health risks to your pet clownfish if it is kept in an aquarium with unsuitable salinity levels.
The most common problems include but are not limited to:-
The longer that a clownfish is left in water with unsuitable salinity requirements, the higher the chances of these issues become as well as the more likely it is that your clownfish will develop long term health problems too.
This is why it is so important for you to monitor your salinity levels using something like a hydrometer if possible and correct any problems with your tank’s salinity levels moving outside of the 1.020 – 1.024 range.
A large number of beginners don’t pay much attention to their tanks salinity levels and this can eventually end up causing problems with the health and wellbeing of your clownfish and their tank mates.
How Should You Change Salinity Levels For Clownfish?
The vast majority of fish keepers who keep clownfish in their tanks will have to change their salinity levels at some point of their fish keeping career.
This will usually be directly after a water change as your tank’s salinity levels will often change but there are a number of other, less common situations where you may have to tweak the salinity levels of your clownfish tank’s water too.
Here are our four main points for changing the salinity levels of your clownfish tank but we will go into each of them in more detail below:-
- Slow And Steady!
- Use A Suitable Product!
- Track Everything!
- Monitor Your Clownfish!
Slow And Steady!
The saying goes “slow and steady wins the race” and this is definitely correct when it comes to changing the salinity levels of your clownfish tank.
Even if the salinity levels of the tank are outside of recommended parameters, most people will usually find that it is better to slowly change the salinity levels of your tank rather than to correct the issue all at once.
This is due to taking it slowly allowing you to test, observe, and adjust how your tank reacts to the changing salinity levels.
If you are a beginner, then there are two main mistakes that people make when tweaking the salinity levels of their tanks.
The first mistake is that they will take an incorrect salinity reading of their tank making them think that their tank is out of the salinity requirements for a clownfish when it actually isn’t.
The second mistake is that they will add too much of their salting agent when trying to tweak their clownfish tanks’ salinity levels.
Taking the process slow and steady helps to counter both of these by letting you re-check your salinity levels as you go while also allowing your clownfish time to acclimatize to the change.
Use A Suitable Product!
There are a large number of salting agents on the market these days with some being considerably better than others.
Price is not everything when it comes to salting agents too and there are plenty of budget friendly options on the market.
Always do your research on the specific salting agent that you plan to use to tweak the salnity levels of your clownfish tank as some can have impurities in them that may cause issues at a later date.
Most local fish stores will be happy to offer advice and recommendations on the various salting agents that they sell to make sure that you get the perfect product for your tank’s requirements.
It is important to track everything when you are trying to tweak the salinity levels of your clownfish tank to get them back within the acceptable range for your type of clownfish.
The importance of this is often overlooked and this can end up causing problems later in the process.
For example, say you choose to span your salinity increase over the course of three days to make sure you take it slow.
This will usually require you to break down the overall dosing amounts of your salting agent into three or six servings depending on exactly what you choose to do.
Taking notes of the doses of your salting agent that you have already added to your clownfish tank as well as the times you added them can help you keep everything on schedule.
Monitor Your Clownfish!
It is important that you monitor the behavior of your clownfish and its tank mates when changing the salinity level in their tank even if the change is just to get their salinity level back within normal requirements after a water change.
As we touched on earlier, there are some common mistakes that we see people make and some salting agents can have issues too.
If you do notice any potential problems with your pet clownfish during the salinity change then be sure to stop the process and double check everything to see if there is any obvious problems.
How To Plan Out Your Salinity levels For A Clownfish Aquarium Tank!
If you are brand new to the fish keeping hobby and you are still in the planning stages for your clownfish tank then you can actually take some time to plan out your tank setup to make sure that everything can thrive in the same salinity levels as your clownfish.
Here are the main four things that you should consider but we will cover them all in more detail below:-
- Clownfish Suitable Range!
- Tank Mates!
Clownfish Suitable Range!
As we touched on earlier in the article, the standard salinity range for clownfish is between 1.020 – 1.024 but some types of clownfish do prefer a salinity level of 1.025 in their tank.
The first thing that you need to work out before you can plan anything out is the exact salinity requirements of the type of clownfish that you plan to keep.
We know that this information can be difficult to find online so if you are in any doubt then just go with the range of 1.020 – 1.024 and in many cases, you will be fine and not end up having problems.
Depending on your tank size, you may actually want to add some tank mates to your clownfish tank too.
We have a dedicated article going over the minimum tank size requirements for different types of clownfish that you may find helpful.
Once you know the salinity requirements from the previous step as well as the tank size that you plan to use for your clownfish, you can look at suitable tank mates for your tank too.
If you are a beginner, we would always recommend that you just stick to a clownfish only tank if possible.
Clownfish can be aggressive in small or overstocked tanks making them problematic for community tanks if you are new to the fish keeping hobby or specifically keeping clownfish.
Not only do you have to make sure that any potential tank mate in your clownfish tank is suitable and won’t be aggressive but you also have to make sure that they require a similar salinity level to your clownfish too.
Thankfully, there are a huge number of marine fish that can work well in tanks with a salinity level of 1.020 – 1.024 so you shouldn’t struggle to find tank mates for your clownfish if you want them.
Many people who keep clownfish like to keep coral in the tank too and coral tends to have a slightly different salinity range than clownfish with coral being able to range from 1.023 to 1.028 where as clownfish prefer 1.020 – 1.024.
There is some cross-over in there so you are able to keep some types of coral but in all honesty, if you are going with the 1.020 – 1.024 for your clownfish, we would only ever recommend that you go with coral that fits within that salinity range if possible.
Coral is far more sensitive than most beginners initially realize and it is highly likely that you will end up having problems with your coral anyway without having to throw the issue if the salinity level of the tank into the mix too.
If you are brand new to keeping marine tanks or the fish keeping hobby, it is probably best you just avoid adding coral to the tank until you have a minimum of around six months of experience in the hobby.
The vast majority of people who keep clownfish also want to try and keep an anemone in the tank too with the hope that their clownfish will pair with the anemone and host it.
Although anemones can be sensitive, they are not usually as sensitive as corals so it is usually much easier for beginners to keep an anemone in their clownfish tank happy.
There are also a large number of suitable anemones that share the same salinity requirements as clownfish too and our article on the best anemone for clownfish can help with this.
If you have your heart set on an anemone that does not share the same salinity requirements as your clownfish then all is not lost as you can usually find a fake anemone to use with your clownfish modeled after most of the popular anemones anyway.
If you do want to keep a real anemone in your tank then you should look for one with the same 1.020 – 1.024 salinity range as your clownfish thought to help keep the anemone happy and reduce the potential for problems with it.