Perhaps the most famous and unusual relationship in the marine world is that of the clownfish and sea anemone.
Sea anemones are generally feared by most fish species as they are covered in venomous tentacles that are incredibly harmful to the majority of saltwater fish, but not clownfish!
Having said that, Clownfish do not need anemones and it is not imperative that you have an anemone in your aquarium
Over time, clownfish and anemones have formed a symbolic and unusual relationship where both parties benefit tremendously from one another.
Typically, in the wild, clownfish will live inside the sea anemone, which offers protection from predatory fish thanks to their tentacles, and in return, clownfish will lead larger fish to the anemone for them to get paralyzed and consumed by the anemone.
So, the clownfish offers food in return for a home and protection, a pretty good deal right?
Do Clownfish need Anemones to Survive?
The answer is no, clownfish do not need anemones to survive. Will the inclusion of a host anemone make them happy and healthy? Sure, but do not worry if you cannot introduce one into your clownfish tank.
In the wild, you will usually find clownfish residing in shallow reefs, accompanied by their host anemone. However, in a home aquarium, your clownfish will not need an anemone, and in some cases, it is better to avoid introducing an anemone to your tank.
Will Anemones do well in Aquariums?
Clownfish in general adapt incredibly well to home aquariums, that is, if you have the right tank setup and have a tank populated with compatible tank mates. However, most species of anemones that are suited to clownfish tend to do badly in most aquarium conditions.
Typically, anemones will require you to change the water in your tank more frequently than usual as they need very specific water parameters to survive. But not only this, they can cause plenty of disruption and destruction if they are in largely populated tanks and tanks that are quite small.
Many hobbyists have noticed their fish go missing, and whilst it is beneficial for your clownfish, it may not be worth your other fish and corals being attacked.
Moreover, anemones are known to move around in fish tanks, causing a path of destruction on the way, so, make sure to watch out for that if you do decide to introduce one.
Will Clownfish be Healthy without Anemones?
Fortunately, yes, clownfish can still live a happy and healthy life without anemones in their aquarium. There are even some occasions where hobbyists notice their clownfish taking up residence in other corals that are easier to look after and much less damaging.
However, if you are completely set on acquiring an anemone for your aquarium that is totally fine! It is strongly advised before you purchase one, to consult your fish store as to which anemone is best suited to your reef tank.
Usually, the bubble tip anemone is the most highly recommended anemone as they are much hardier than most anemone species and they also look incredible and are available in many different shades of bright and unique colors.
Why do Sea Anemones not Sting Clownfish?
This question has been circulating around for a very long time, and, whilst there are many different opinions and theories on this subject, there seems to be one definitive and scientific answer.
Clownfish are covered in mucus that aids in the protection from the sting of a sea anemone's tentacles. The mucus basically completely protects them from anemones, which is what allows them to reside within them.
We all love clownfish and are somewhat fascinated by their unique and incredible relationship with anemones. However, that doesn't mean you should simply place them both in a marine fish tank and hope for the best. Assess your situation and consider whether or not it will do more harm than good for your aquarium by introducing a sea anemone.
One thing you can be sure of is that your Clownfish does not need an anemone to survive!