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Old 12/25/2003, 03:50 PM
JHardman JHardman is offline
Rare Clownfish Freak
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Phoenix AZ
Posts: 6,035
Post Feeding Clownfishes

One of the most common questions I see on RC is about feeding clownfish, what, how much, how often.

First let’s get a little background knowledge in first.

Clownfish are omnivores. They require both meaty and veggie matter in their diet. Your food choices should be in the form of high quality foods that are high in HUFA(s) and vitamins.

In the wild clownfish feed pretty much whenever the opportunity presents it’s self. They feed on algae, small shrimp, copepods and zooplankton. In the summer months their diet maybe made up of nearly all meaty matter while in the winter months it will contain more veggie matter than in the summer.

Clownfish being opportunistic feeders (they can not travel far from their host anemone to hunt food so they have wait for it to come close) have the built in instinct to horde food. They also have a built in instinct to feed and protect their host anemone. Because of this clownfish will generally eat small bite sized pieces of food and bring pieces of food to large to eat in one bite back to their host anemone for later or to feed the anemone.

From this we can conclude that clownfish need a varied diet and one that is very nutritious since we can not feed them continually throughout the day. That clownfish will generally eat immediately small bite sized pieces of food and horde larger pieces.

In this post I will cover two types of feeding. The first is intended for the average hobbyist that is keeping their clownfish(es) in either a FO or reef tank. The second is intended for the breeder or hobbyist that would like to stimulate spawning in their clownfish.

First let me teach you a technique of feeding that not only feed your fish but will greatly help reduce the amount of uneaten food being “fed? to the tank which can lead to pollution problems especially in a delicate reef tank. The technique is very easy but does take more time to feed. The technique works best for frozen foods, but can be used with flake foods too with some practice.

The technique – Saturation feeding

1) Cut, grind or otherwise size the food into small bite sized pieces that your clownfish can eat in one bite. You will know it is small enough when the fish eats it instead of biting, spiting, biting and spiting.

2) Drop or hand a couple of small pieces to your clowns. Give them time to find and eat the food before offering more.

3) Continue to drop one or two pieces of food near the clownfish until the fish(es) either turn their nose up at it or just continually spit it out like they would with larger pieces. At this point the fish have been fed to “saturation?.

What to feed

Clownfish need a varied diet. If fed the same thing day in and day out you might find yourself with a clownfish that will not eat or that is malnourished. When choosing meaty foods looking for foods with high levels of HUFA(s). When looking veggie foods try to find ones that have varied algae’s in them and is supplemented with vitamins.

Here are some of the foods I regularly feed my adult clownfish.

1) PE Mysis shrimp. They have an excellent HUFA profile and most clownfish just love them.

2) Ocean Nutrition frozen formula 1, 2, and VHP

3) Cyclop-eeze

4) “Home Brew? of spirulina flake, scallops, table shrimp, clams with a lot of Selco mixed in to boot.

One of the things to avoid as a staple food for clownfish is brine shrimp. It is like cotton candy to them. They love it, go nuts for it and are hyper after eating it, but it provides virtually no nutritional value and in fact can cause them to use more energy catching and eating it than they gain from it. If you want to feed brine shrimp, make sure you fortify it with something like Selcon or Selco first. Clownfish can also become addicted to brine and refuse to eat anything else.

Feeding the average hobbyist

For the average hobbyist one feeding to saturation per day as described above is plenty to keep them in excellent health and still maintain a low pollution tank.

You should try to feed at about the same time of day each day. Clownfish are very time aware and missing a feeding can stress them somewhat.

If you are feeding in this method with high quality foods you can leave your clownfish unfed for a few days if need be, but it is not recommended. But it is nice to know for those emergencies that your clownfish is going to be OK while you are stranded out of town for a couple of days.

Feeding for breeding – Conditioning

When feeding for breeding it is important to remember what it is exactly you are doing. You are providing the very building blocks that your fish will produce offspring from, so with this in mind choose high quality foods only, no junk food.

A neighbor girl coined the term “sea pigs? after watching a pair of my clownfish during a saturation feeding session. When a pair of adult clownfish begins the process of conditioning they will eat like ravenous pigs several times a day. Do not be alarmed this is normal. Once they reach their peak condition they will regulate their food intake and I often find that a couple of months after a pair starts to spawn for me their food intake will decrease some.

For best results feed to saturation at least three times a day, four would be better. Take your time and make sure the pair is completely full before stopping.

Tips, tricks and notes:

1) Males tend to eat a lot less than the females. If you do not see the male of the pair eat a lot or even any at each feeding do not freak out. As long as they are nice and fat and healthy do not worry.

2) Keep an eye out for internal parasites. If your pair has internal parasites, the parasites will rob them of vital nutrients needed for spawning and producing viable healthy larva.

3) This type of heavy feeding is going to place a very big bio load on your tank/system. So make sure you have more bio filtration than a normal reef or FO tank of the equivalent size would have. A larger over rated skimmer will help too.

4) If your pair starts to slow down on their food intake, it could mean that they are bored with what you are feeding them and it is time for switch around or it is time to add something new to their diet. It could also mean that they have reached their peak condition, but you will not know if you do not switch up on them. I also find that a female that is going to spawn will stop or greatly reduce the amount of the food they eat that day. That might have something to do with an issue with having enough room for food.

5) Adding simulated plankton blooms to your pair’s diet can be quite helpful in stimulating spawning. There are many things that one can use from crushed flake food to BBS, to live mysis shrimp. Whatever you use, just make sure that it is of an excellent nutritional value to them. Personally I use a combination Cyclop-eeze and fortified BBS.
Old 12/25/2003, 05:34 PM
keefsama2003 keefsama2003 is offline
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john what about if you have other fish in the tank with the clowns that compete for the food just as well as the clowns if not better? are there any suggestions for those of us out there who want to make sure that our clowns are fed well but have like a tang or 2 and other fish?
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Old 12/25/2003, 06:00 PM
JHardman JHardman is offline
Rare Clownfish Freak
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Phoenix AZ
Posts: 6,035
Originally posted by keefsama2003
john what about if you have other fish in the tank with the clowns that compete for the food just as well as the clowns if not better? are there any suggestions for those of us out there who want to make sure that our clowns are fed well but have like a tang or 2 and other fish?
Try to establish feeding stations, e.g. feed the other fish from the right side and the clowns from the left side or the other fish at one end and the clowns near their host/territory. Try to feed everything else first, then feed the clowns when everything else has had it's fill.

You can also use a turkey baseter to target feed the clowns a couple of pieces at a time. But again having everyone else fed first will go a long way to insuring that the clowns get enough food.

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