Having two clownfish is always better than one. It keeps the fish happy, and you get to see more baby clownfish after they pair up and lay eggs. But before you start counting how many clownfish fry they will have, you need to know how to pair clownfish.

To pair clownfish, you need to make sure you have two clownfish of the same species. One fish should be smaller than the other one. You need to keep them together in a fish tank and give them some time to bond. Soon, you will notice that they are swimming together as a pair.

That was just a summarized version of how the pairing works out. Pairing two clownfish usually take a bit more time and effort than it seems. So let’s dive a little deeper into the article and find more about clownfish pairing.

Do Clownfish Need To Be In Pairs?

Clownfish do not need to live in pairs. However, these fish are known to thrive when you keep them in pairs.

When you keep clownfish in pairs, they tend to be less aggressive towards each other. And if you want to breed clownfish, you will need a mating pair.

But is there anything wrong with keeping a clownfish alone? No, there is nothing wrong with having a single clownfish in a tank. Though some people say that a single clownfish starts losing color because of loneliness, there is no solid proof for that.

So, to answer the question, you do not need to keep clownfish in pairs. However, if you want to keep the fish more active and breed, you can add another clownfish.

How To Pair Clownfish: Explained in 5 Steps

If you think your aquarium clownfish is bored or seems lonely, adding another clownfish can be a perfect solution. You can also purchase a pair of clownfish if you are a newbie.

How To Pair Clownfish

But then comes the next issue. Will the clownfish get along? Here are a few simple things that you need to pair clownfish.

  1. Setup Your Saltwater Aquarium

You should know that clownfish are saltwater fish. So you need to set up your fish tank with everything the fish pair will need.

Though some people believe that you can have one or two clownfish in a 10 gallons tank, I strongly recommend getting a 20 gallons aquarium. It will give the fish enough space to swim around.

  1. Clownfish Gender And Species

Did you know that all clownfish are born gender-neutral? If you did not, now you know. This part makes pairing clownfish a bit easier.

Clownfish are born without any specific sex. But they change once they start growing, which is a few months. If you keep a single clownfish in the tank, it will turn into a female.

On the other hand, if you keep multiple clownfish together, the biggest and most dominating one will turn into a female. The second dominating clownfish will change into a male. The rest of the fish will remain gender-neutral unless you remove them from the tank.

Just like that, when you keep two juvenile clownfish together the large clownfish will become female, and the small clownfish will become male.

  1. Get A New Clownfish

Now that you know about clownfish sex, this part will become easier for you. If you already have a clownfish in your fish tank, purchase another clownfish of the same species.

If your clownfish is a female, make sure you purchase a male or a small juvenile clownfish. And if you are buying a pair of them, ask the shop assistant to know their gender.

  1. Keep The New Fish In Breeding Box

Your tank clownfish will not like another fish immediately. Besides, the new clownfish needs some time to adjust to the new tank environment.

First, keep the new fish in a bowl with the water it came in. Then add some more water from your clownfish tank. It will help with the change of water for the new clownfish.

Then get a hang-on breeding box and hang it inside your aquarium. Place the new clownfish in it and let it stay there for some hours.

  1. Put The Clownfish Together

Finally, transport the new clownfish to the aquarium with the other fish. This is where you need to watch out. The female clownfish of your tank may not immediately accept the new fish. In fact, it can become pretty aggressive.

Keep an eye on their behavior and see if they start swimming together. If they do, your clownfish have become a pair.

But if you see the female bullying the new clownfish and becoming aggressive, you need to remove him from the tank and try again later. It takes some time for them to pair up. Changing the aquarium landscape can also help them bond.

How Do You Know If Your Clownfish Are Paired?

The clownfish in your tank will indeed take time to accept its new mate. But how do you know if they are paired? You will not know whether your clownfish are paired if you do not recognize the signs.

  • The male clownfish will twitch near the female one.
  • They will become inseparable.
  • They will swim in the same direction, sleep at the same place, and host the same anemone.
  • The female clownfish will chase the male and nip at his fins.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can A Clownfish Live Alone?

Yes, clownfish can live alone without any tank mates. They can also live in small groups. If you would rather keep your clownfish alone, you can add anemones to keep them happy and feel safe.

How Many Clownfish Can You Keep In A Tank?

You can keep multiple clownfish in a tank. However, no matter how many clownfish you keep together, only one of them will be female and will mate with one male clownfish for the rest of its life.

How Long Does It Take For The Clownfish To Pair?

The average time clownfish take to pair is around a month. Yet, some of them can take 2-3 months to pair.

Though it does not happen immediately, the fish will become inseparable after they pair. You will always see them together, twitching and nipping at one another.

How Do I Know If A Clownfish Is Pregnant?

Once the clownfish are ready to breed, they will do the following.

  • They will chase and nip at each other.
  • The midsection of the female clownfish will start swelling.
  • They will start cleaning a particular rock or dig burrows in the gravel for laying eggs.
  • The fish will spend more time around the area they have cleared.

Will Clownfish Kill Each Other?

Though it is a rare occurrence, clownfish can harm or kill one another. It mostly happens when you do not give them enough food.

It makes them compete with one another, which leads to fighting. Clownfish can also become aggressive when they breed.


If you want to breed clownfish, it is essential to know how to pair clownfish first. The more clownfish you have, the bigger aquarium you will need. So be prepared before you add more clownfish to the tank.

The female clownfish is always the most dominating one. So keep an eye on them to make sure the small fish does not get threatened. But once they bond, you will have to start preparing as much as the clownfish for the upcoming clownfish babies.

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