Clownfish are one of the most commonly kept marine fish all around the world and although they have always been a popular option, the Finding Nemo movie cemented them within the top 3 most common clownfish and many people look to add a clownfish to their tank.
With clownfish being such a popular option, we do see many different questions being asked about keeping clownfish as people look to offer the best possible care for their pet and we have noticed many people mentioning that they have a clownfish losing color.
The three main reasons that a clownfish will lose color are due to nutritional problems, water temperature problems, and the natural mucous coat that clownfish create to maintain their immunity to a paired anemone in their tank.
Less common reasons that your clownfish may lose color include stress from its tank mates being aggressive and various types of infection.
Thankfully, it is usually obvious that your clownfish is losing color and it is usually an early warning sign for a potentially serious problem.
This often gives you plenty of time to try and work out why your clownfish is losing color and take the required steps to solve the problem and help your clownfish regain its color and live a long and healthy life in your aquarium.
Is Clownfish Discoloration Normal?
The only normal cause of clownfish discoloration is if the clownfish is producing a thick mucous coat when building up its immunity to an anemone in your tank that the clownfish is trying to pair with.
This is usually only temporary but if the anemone is unsuitable and you have a stubborn clownfish then it may keep trying to pair with the anemone continuously getting stung and replacing its mucous coat every few days.
If you are wanting to pair your clownfish with an anemone in your aquarium as most people who keep a clownfish do then our article going over the best anemone for clownfish may be worth reading.
If you do notice that the clownfish is constantly being stung by the anemone due to it being unable to build up an immunity to it then switching the anemone out for a fake anemone for your clownfish may be the better option to take to remove the constant mucous coat causing your clownfish to look off-color.
All of the other causes of clownfish discoloration are usually an indication of a problem in your aquarium that should be corrected as fast as possible.
Thankfully, the majority of things that can cause your clownfish to lose its color are generally really easy to fix and most people can correct the issue within a week and then have their clownfish back to its normal colors within around a month.
Why Is My Clownfish Losing Color?
Most people will find that their clownfish is losing color due to having problems with its diet or its water temperature.
If you have anemones in your tank with your clownfish then it can be common for a clownfish to create its natural mucous coat when initially building up its immunity to the anemone that can cause it to appear to lose color but it is just the pale shade of the mucous coat making the fish look like it is losing color.
Problems with a clownfish diet are very common with people new to keeping the species and we have a dedicated article going over how to get your clownfish to eat correctly that may be helpful.
Making sure that you are using a suitable clownfish food that is based around their carnivorous omnivores dietary requirements can be an easy win.
A carnivorous omnivore is technically just an omnivore that will eat both plant and animal based foods but tends to prefer animal based foods if given the choice.
Depending on your tank setup stress can cause a clownfish to lose color too. This can be due to a wide range of different reasons but water flow and aggression from other clownfish are common causes that are also usually easy to fix.
Some clownfish can be very skittish and easy to stress though so if this is the reason that your clownfish is losing color then it really can be a pain to solve.
How Can I Prevent My Clownfish Losing Color?
Double checking that your clownfish’s water temperature is within expected ranges and that it is on a suitable diet are the two easiest ways to prevent your clownfish from losing color.
If you have tank mates that are being aggressive to your clownfish and stressing it out then moving your clownfish or the aggressive tank mate to a separate tank can be another fix.
We know that not everyone has spare tanks available though so this may not be a realistic solution for some of our readers.
In addition to that, if you keep multiple clownfish in the same aquarium, it is totally normal for them to all fight each other until the dominant male is established and then it transitions into a female clownfish and chooses its mate.
At this stage, the mated pair will commonly try to attack any other clownfish in the tank that get too close to what they perceive as their territory.
This is why you may have to remove the clownfish that is losing its color from the tank as if you remove one of the two paired clownfish then the remaining clownfish will often still be aggressive towards the clownfish that was closing color.
Most clownfish species do mate for life too so it is very unlikely that the remaining clownfish will try and pair up with the remaining clownfish if you do remove its mate from the tank due to aggression.
Why Is My Clownfish Turning White?
The most common reason that your clownfish will turn white is due to an infection be it parasitic, fungal or bacterial but all three often being easy to fix if you catch them early.
In rare situations, a clownfish can sometimes turn white due to high ammonia levels in its tank so double check your water parameters and fix any problems that you find.
We have a dedicated article going into treating white spot on clownfish that you should read if you do think that your clownfish has white spot disease too.
White spot disease can be difficult to treat in marine tanks as you are often limited in your treatment options compared to a freshwater tank due to potentially sensitive corals and anemones in the tank that tend not to do well with the chemical-based treatments on the market.
As we covered earlier in the article, in some situations, your clownfish may start to turn white due to problems with water temperature, nutrition, and stress but this is not the norm.
If a clownfish is losing color due to these reasons it will usually just look much paler than it usually does rather than actually turn white so infections are usually the best thing to investigate if you do notice that the fish is slowly turning white.
Do Clownfish Turn Black When Stressed?
There are a number of posts on social media claiming that stress can cause a clownfish to turn black but a stressed or anxious clownfish will usually just start to lose its color and go pale or a shade of white rather than black.
In some situations, a clownfish may turn black when stressed but it is not considered the normal and is usually the opposite of what most people report.
We have a dedicated article going over how to treat black spots on clownfish but it can be difficult to diagnose the exact cause of the black spot.
One common cause of black spots on clownfish is due to anemone stings when the clownfish can’t produce a mucus coating that is able to reduce the effectiveness of the anemone sting.
This can be surprisingly common but often overlooked even by people who have been keeping clownfish in tanks with anemones for years.
Black spots on a clownfish can also be a sign of trauma to the fish and that area of its body starting to turn necrotic but it is unlikely that this will be the cause of your clownfish turning black without any other symptoms of injury.
That brings our article going over why your pet clownfish is losing color and how to help it to an end. Although we have had to offer generic advice, the majority of the tips and tricks covered in our article above should be enough to help the majority of people who realize that their clownfish is starting to lose its color to find the problem and fix it as fast as possible.