How Much Does A Clownfish Cost?
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Are you trying to build a clownfish aquarium but don’t know how to budget your money? If this is your first tank, the process can be overwhelming.
Many things go into setting up a tank, so you must keep multiple figures in mind. But don’t worry! In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to prepare, together with price approximates.
We’ll go over all the important details, including the fish, the tank, the equipment, food, and other miscellanea. It’s a lot, so buckle up for the ride.
Let’s start with the most important question— how much do the fish cost? After all, there’s no fish tank without fish.
So, let’s see!
How Much do Clownfish Cost?
Clownfish can be quite affordable pets. Depending on where you shop, a clownfish specimen might cost as little as $10.
This might still seem a bit pricy compared to small freshwater fish. But luckily, clownfish can live happily alone or as a pair. So, you don’t need to buy a group.
Clownfish can also be super expensive, costing up to $120+ per specimen. It all depends on the fish morph (appearance), age, sex, and the supplier where you shop.
Here’s a list of the most common morphs and general price estimates so you get a better idea:
|Clownfish Type||Price Range|
|Ocellaris (False Percula) Clownfish||$10-$25|
|Common (Percula) Clownfish||$15-$30|
|Snow Storm Clownfish||$68-$120|
|Black Ice Clownfish||$70-$120|
|Wyoming White Clownfish||$89-$145|
|Black And White Clownfish||$88-$125|
Multiple factors can bump up the price of a clownfish, sometimes reaching double the price.
Rare morphs like the Wyoming White or the Frostbite Clownfish will cost more than a plain old clownfish you find in regular aquarium stores.
But irrespective of their appearance, all Clownfish morphs are equally fascinating and lovely pets.
How Much Does It Cost to Keep Clownfish?
Besides the clownfish itself, you’ll also need to make some additional upfront and long-term investments.
Your clownfish also need a place to live, food, and regular care. Below are the setup and maintenance costs for keeping clownfish.
– Cost of Tank Setup ($623-$2,200)
The tank setup is the most difficult and costly part. You need various pieces of equipment, and purchasing everything will take time and research.
But it’s worth it in the end when you get to admire your beautiful setup.
Below is a list of everything you’ll need with the price estimates. You don’t have to go over the top and buy the most expensive things.
But I’ve included the lowest and highest prices to give you a more comprehensive picture.
Here’s what you’ll need to pay:
- The aquarium: $150-$240+
You need to provide at least 20 gallons for the first clownfish and an additional 10 gallons per extra fish. These fish are very territorial and won’t get along well if there’s too little room in the aquarium.
I recommend an aquarium of at least 50 gallons for this species. This is enough room to fit two to three clownfish.
Anemones, an important part of clownfish enrichment, also require a tank of at least 50 gallons. Most new 50-gallon aquariums cost at least $200 and up, but you can find cheaper ones at Petco and similar stores.
Keep in mind these price ranges are for glass tanks. Acrylic aquariums are a lot pricier.
- Aquarium stand: $89-$300+
You’ll need a dedicated aquarium stand for any tank 25 gallons and up. The stand ensures even water pressure distribution, keeping your aquarium stable and safe.
Without proper level support, heavy aquariums are prone to fissures, cracks, and water leaks.
There’s a huge price range here. The smaller the tank, the cheaper the stand. The furniture design also matters.
Some more affordable stands can be as simple as a metal table. Other stands are encased and come with hidden doors and additional storage space for aquarium equipment.
- Filter + media: $130-$500+
The most common filter option for marine aquariums is the sump. This is a simple glass container separated into three large compartments.
The price varies from $30-$200, depending on what model and size you choose.
The sump also needs a return pump and plumbing to work. That’s an additional $80-$300, depending on your desired output and performance. Finally, no filter is complete without a media kit.
You need to include a least a pre-sump filter sock, biological media, and physical media. Such a kit is $20 on average.
It could be more or less, depending on the packaging size.
- Protein skimmer: $70-$250+
Protein skimmers are crucial if you plan to add corals or invertebrates to your aquarium.
While clownfish can withstand a little bit of nitrates, live rocks and other marine animals don’t.
A protein skimmer will help you prevent nitrate buildup by boosting the physical filtration in the tank.
The price for a protein skimmer varies a lot. Models for smaller tanks can be as cheap as $70. But for higher output and superior filtration, most reef aquarists pay $200 and up.
Note that you won’t need a protein skimmer if you only keep fish and no corals.
- Powerhead: $25-$100+
Powerheads create additional water current, which is important if you keep corals or use a sump filter. The additional water movement helps the water reach the sump’s overflow box easier.
Water movement is also crucial for maintaining a stable oxygen concentration in the tank.
Oxygen levels are crucial for the health of your fish and corals. More water current is also a good thing for your clownfish.
This species is a powerful swimmer and loves swimming against the flow. The powerhead will keep them entertained.
- Heater and thermometer: $24-$80+
Clownfish are tropical saltwater fish. They thrive in temperatures between 72-82°F. They need constant heat exposure, as they’re sensitive to rapid fluctuations in temperature.
The best way to ensure the appropriate water temperature is by using an aquarium heater.
For a 50-gallon aquarium, you can find heaters ranging from $21-$80 and more. A simple aquarium thermometer will cost you $3 or less.
Some aquarium heaters even come with a thermometer included.
- Salinity refractometer: $5-$30
A salinity refractometer is a handheld device you use to monitor the salt concentration in the water. This is an indispensable tool in a marine aquarium. Remember, clownfish are a saltwater species.
These fish need a water salinity level of 1.020-1.024 to be healthy and happy. You need to monitor salinity levels regularly to ensure appropriate levels.
The salt concentration in the water can go up or down after you top up the aquarium or the water evaporates.
- Lighting: $30-$300+
Lights are very important for the health of your fish, live plants, and corals. Clownfish, in particular, use light as a cue to distinguish between day and nighttime.
This fish species is diurnal, so it needs light to maintain its energy levels throughout the day.
Without proper light exposure, clownfish will be lethargic and disoriented. Besides, lights allow you to see your fish and make the aquarium stand out.
Unless you have plants in the tank, the light setup doesn’t need to be anything special. Just a cheap $30 fixture with an LED bulb is enough.
- Substrate: $70-$90
The ideal substrate for clownfish is sand. Sand is light, soft, and perfect for curious fish that love digging and searching for food.
You’ll need roughly 75 pounds of sand to reach the ideal substrate depth in a 50-gallon aquarium.
The type of sand you choose doesn’t matter. You can buy cheap inert aquarium sand for $8.99 a bag (10 pounds each). You will also find more expensive, mineral-rich sand substrates suited for aquarium plants and live rocks.
- Decorations: $30-$300+
This is where you get the most freedom. You can fit a lot of colorful and interesting décor in a 50-gallon aquarium. It’s pretty hard to overcrowd this aquarium size. You also don’t have to spend a fortune on aquarium ornaments.
You can find plenty of cheap plastic and polyresin decorations for $3-$17 apiece. These decorative pieces are affordable, they keep well, and are unlikely to carry bacteria and other contaminants.
If you’re into a more natural look, you can also look into live rock, which sells for $5-$15 per pound.
- Miscellanea: $35
These are small, one-time purchases that you’ll need to maintain your tank. This category includes things like a gravel siphon to vacuum the sand ($15), an aquarium fish net to catch uneaten food ($5), a large bucket for water changes ($10), and a gravel rake to loosen trapped debris ($5).
– Cost of Feeding (~$20+/month)
Clownfish are omnivorous, so they eat a combination of meaty and vegetable foods. This means you’ll have to stock up on a few different things when your first start.
You should have various foods on a rotation, including fish flakes ($10 for a 2.2-ounce pack), algae wafers ($6 for a 1.4-ounce pack), and some freeze-dried meats ($5 for a 3.25-ounce pack of shrimp pellets).
This is the bare minimum, but you can also buy different and more expensive products. Many aquarists also purchase live bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp.
– Cost of Maintenance ($35-$45/month)
There are a few things that go into maintaining a marine aquarium. This figure might seem a bit high, but know this is just an estimate. There are a few tools and water treatments you may not have to use often if you don’t keep live rock in the tank.
That being said, here’s everything you’ll have to stock on to maintain your clownfish aquarium:
- Water for water changes: $0.03/month (if using tap water)
You’re supposed to complete a 33% water change each month. This helps keep the aquarium clean and prevents nitrate buildup.
For a 50-gallon aquarium, a 33% water change rounds up to 17 gallons of fresh water a month.
You can get new water for your aquarium from various sources. But the cheapest and most accessible is tap water, which is roughly $0.0015 per gallon. For a 17-gallon water change, all that tap water would cost you $0.0255 per month.
But aquarium water also evaporates, so you must top up every once in a while. So, I’ve rounded this figure to $0.03/month.
- Sea salt mix: $7-$10/month
Saltwater fish need a salinity level of 1.020-1.024 ppm. Since tap water has no salt, you must add some marine aquarium salt. You add salt once when setting up the aquarium and every time you complete a water change.
For a 50-gallon tank, you’ll need roughly 15 lbs of aquarium salt, plus an additional 4.7 oz per gallon every time you do a large water change.
After setting up your tank, you’ll need at least 5 pounds of aquarium salt per month for a 33% water change. A 15-lbs bag is roughly $20-$30 and should last you for three months.
- Water treatments: $5/month
You need water treatments to eliminate chlorine from tap water. Any amount of chlorine is toxic to fish and corals. Furthermore, you need a marine aquarium buffer to achieve suitable water pH and hardness for your fish and live rocks.
Clownfish require a pH of 8.0-8.4 and a water hardness of 8-12 dGH. If tap water doesn’t meet these requirements, you need to add more minerals to increase the hardness and pH.
A small 1.7-oz bottle of saltwater conditioner is $7; it can last you for up to 4-5 months. For a reef buffer, you’ll pay an average of $10 for an 8.5-ounce bottle, which will last three months.
- Electricity: $9.72+/month
It costs money to run all that aquarium equipment. The heater and filter in a 50-gallon aquarium consume 210 watts per month minimum.
Then there are the lights and powerhead, which consume an additional 107 watts or more.
Adding everything up, you should expect to pay at least $9.72 per month. But you might pay slightly more if you use more than one powerhead or run a high-output filtration system.
- Test kits: $13-$20/month
Finally, we have the testing strips. These are small paper sheets you dip into the water to test various parameters like pH, hardness, ammonia, and more.
You need these to monitor the water quality in the aquarium. You’ll also use these before and after completing water changes.
A box of saltwater aquarium testing strips is between $13-$20, depending on the number of strips and how many tests you can run.
You’ll use these a lot in your first few months as an aquarist. But as you get a better feel for it, you won’t have to test as often, so one kit will last you longer.
– Cost of Medication ($0-$40+/year)
Like all pets, fish can also get sick from time to time. There are several common diseases in marine aquariums, including marine velvet, saltwater ich, flukes, Brooklynella, and other infectious diseases.
There’s no guarantee that your clownfish will get ill, but it’s a good idea to have some medication on hand.
Multiple treatments are available. The medication you may need differs depending on the root cause of the issue.
You’ll need different medications to treat internal parasites, bacterial infections, or fungal infections. So, the prices in this category vary a lot.
Commonly-used treatments like copper powder are as cheap as $5 a pack. Broad-spectrum antibiotics for bacterial and fungal infections are very pricy, costing $40+ for a 3.5-ounce bottle.
If you’re lucky, your fish will stay healthy, and you won’t have to spend a dime.
Where to Buy Clownfish?
You can buy clownfish from various sellers, both online and at physical locations. Buying clownfish at a physical location is best because you can observe the fish up close.
You can choose the largest and healthiest-looking fish on the spot. Check general pet stores in your area. Finding a dedicated aquarium store is even better, as these carry more fish species.
If you can’t find clownfish at local stores, the next best option is shopping online. Most online fish sellers have strict shipping times and protocols.
If you buy from a reputable source, you’re guaranteed that your clownfish will arrive healthy. Here are some online options worth trying:
– Petco and PetSmart
Petco and PetSmart are the biggest pet specialty chains in the US. If there are no physical stores in your area, you can still place an online order on the official websites. Petco, in particular, carries various clownfish morphs for affordable prices.
– Specialized Online Stores
Some of the best live fish stores only exist online. Whether you’re looking for a common clownfish or a rare morph, you’ll find them here.
Some popular and well-rated stores include LiveAquaria.com, TSM Aquatics, and Saltwaterfish.com. These online shops are all based in the US and carry an array of beautiful saltwater fish.
– eBay Private Sellers
You can find quite a few offers for clownfish on eBay. Some even include rare morphs like the snowflake or the frostbite clownfish. The prices vary greatly, from as little as $16 to over $300.
So, whether you’re looking for a bargain or the fanciest clownfish with a matching price, you’ll find it here.
The service you’ll get depends on the seller. Not all eBay sellers are experienced with packaging and securing live pet deliveries. Many sellers are casual aquarists who are just trying to declutter their tanks.
But you can also find experienced breeders who do this for a living. It’s best to discuss shipping details and live arrival guarantees with the seller before placing an order.
– AquaBid Auctions
AquaBid is a US-based site that specializes in aquarium-related auctions. You can make a free account and become a seller or bid on any of the offers on the site.
You can find almost anything selling here, including second-hand tanks, aquarium equipment, aquatic plants, and live fish.
Most of the sellers on the website list one-time offers. Clownfish listings come and go, so you need to monitor the lists regularly. Who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky.
The magic of AquaBid is that you can get good deals if nobody else outbids your offer. As with eBay, all the sellers on AquaBid are private.
Many are amateurs, so the safety of clownfish during delivery is not guaranteed.
What is the Most Expensive Clownfish?
The price of clownfish morphs varies a lot. Rare morphs that are hard to breed cost more.
The most expensive morph to date was a $9,000 Peacekeeper Maroon Clownfish, sold on eBay in 2016.
It’s a coveted designer morph and pretty hard to achieve. This fish has the signature deep red body coloration of a regular maroon clownfish. But it also has thick, irregular white stripes with perfectly delineated borders.
This is a very rare trait in maroon clownfish and requires a lot of selective breeding. It’s not hard to see why this morph is so expensive.
The common clownfish can be an affordable, beginner-friendly fish. You can buy one for $10-$30.
Luckily, clownfish aren’t a schooling species, so just one fish will suffice. If you plan to buy more than one, know that each fish needs at least 20 gallons of aquarium space.
Besides the clownfish, there are some additional costs to cover. If this is your first aquarium, you’ll need at least $623 for a setup.
This is a lot of money, but it includes multiple things (a glass tank, a stand, a filter, a heater, decorations, etc.).
There are also monthly feeding and maintenance costs. You’ll need to set aside $20 for fish food and $35 for running the tank.
Note that these figures are all approximates based on a 50-gallon aquarium. If you plan to keep only one clownfish, a 20-30-gallon tank is enough and will cost less.