What Do Clownfish Eat? Food & Diet

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The clownfish is one of the most beloved saltwater tank fish you can get. This is mostly due to the fish’s easy-going attitude and ease of care since this species has adapted to live in captivity better than any other.

The Nemo fish is a great beginner species with moderate maintenance requirements and a great temperament, qualifying it for both single species and community tank setups.

As you may know, much of a fish’s life quality depends on its diet. When it comes to a fish tank like the clownfish, the goal is to provide it with a familiar diet, similar to the fish’s natural one. Today, we will discuss what the clownfish eats and how you should feed it in captivity.

What do Clownfish Eat in the Ocean?

In one word – anything. Clownfish are omnivorous and opportunistic eaters, so they’re unlikely to starve in the wild anytime soon.

They will eat whatever contains nutrients that they can process. This includes brine shrimp, blood worms, insect larvae and eggs, algae, plant matter, etc.

They will also eat often and in small portions, making sure they have a constant influx of nutrients. This dietary flexibility is responsible for the clownfish’s impressive adaptability to aquarium life.

It’s also one of the reasons why they are excellent picks for aquaculture, especially thanks to their ease of reproduction.

What do Clownfish Eat in Aquarium?

Clownfish will do just fine with any fish food, provided it contains the nutrients they need. However, the keyword here is diversity.

You want your clownfish to have a diverse diet, including both animal and plant-sourced nutrients. Otherwise, the fish may experience vitamin or mineral deficiencies that could prove deadly in the long run.

For a handful of food options, I recommend various shrimp species like Krill and Brine, spirulina, veggies, bloodworms, etc. You can even prepare homemade fish food by combining several ingredients.

Here are some fish food recipes you can try for your clownfish:

  • Fresh and frozen mixed paste – The ingredients to use are optional. I recommend mixing veggies and meat for a more nutritious and well-rounded meal. Consider adding cucumber, spinach, peas for some fiber, some brine shrimp, fish meat, and gelatin to keep everything together. You don’t need any type of cooking. Just turn everything together into a fresh paste, mix everything with gelatin, and place everything in the freezer. You can use the paste over several days or even weeks if you have enough available. Just remember to portion the paste (use an ice cube tray, for instance) for easier serving.
  • Meaty paste – As the name suggests, this one contains more animal protein, but it still has some veggies thrown into the mix. Even carnivorous fish species occasionally need some added plant-based nutrients, let alone clownfish. The main ingredients should consist of shrimp and white fish meat, along with some veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. Gelatin is also a must since it will keep everything together. You can either keep the food fresh or boil it. The storage process is similar to the frozen mixed paste.
  • Protein-rich fish food – This one contains a lot more ingredients, like spinach, salmon, shrimp meat, carrots, garlic, peas, and gelatin. You can add more veggies, including spirulina, seafood, and even extra vitamins and minerals if your clownfish need them. Boil the veggies after cutting them into smaller pieces and mix them with the raw, mashed-up shrimp and fish meat. Add the gelatin, allow the food to cool off, and then store in the freezer.

These recipes are just some examples of what you can do with homemade veggies and some shrimp and fish meat.

But you can find many other recipes, depending on what your fish like to eat.

How Often to Feed Clownfish?

Adult clownfish will do just fine with 2 meals per day. The fry and juvenile fish will require 3-4 meals daily due to their accelerated growth rate and accelerated metabolism.

The goal here is to provide your fish with a balanced and nutritious diet without overfeeding them. This is easier said than done since inexperienced aquarists tend to allow the fish to set up the feeding pattern.

In reality, it should be the other way around. You should determine how often your clownfish likes to eat based on their size, age, appetite, and food type.

Feeding clownfish too often will lead to problems like:

  • Digestive issues – Constipation is common in overfed fish due to them not being able to digest the food fast enough. Most fish can’t really appreciate when they should stop eating since their instincts tell them to ingest as much food as possible. This instinctual behavior will increase the fish’s chances of survival in the wild but will cause problems in captivity, where food is abundant.
  • Fouling the tank water – The excess food will sink to the tank’s bed and begin to decay. Some of it will even go through the substrate particles if you have rocks or gravel. The uneaten food residues will quickly rot away, releasing ammonia and nitrites past the filter’s ability to clean them off. As you may know, ammonia is deadly to all tank fish, including clownfish.
  • Algae bloom – Food leftovers accumulating in the tank will feed the algae population, leading to algae bloom that will take over the environment. The decaying food matter will also cause bacteria overgrowth, creating an unsafe environment for your clownfish.

To summarize overfeeding is always bad. Only feed your clownfish 2 times per day unless you have a lot of them or the fish are large enough to require more frequent feeding.

Even so, you should never feed your clownfish more than 3 times per day, always in small portions that they can eat in 2-3 minutes tops.

How do You Feed Clownfish?

Just sprinkle their food on the water’s surface, and they will collect it immediately. Clownfish will generally grab their food from the water’s surface but will also collect sinking food particles; they’re not really pretentious in this sense. If you have several clownfish in the tank, you may want to spread out the food over the water’s surface to make sure all fish get to eat.

Clownfish aren’t really aggressive, but they will fight over their right to eat, especially since they follow a specific hierarchy.

Since we’re here, I would also like to talk about the food quality. Clownfish can be sensitive to bad or improper food. They will either reject it or eat it and experience health problems afterwards. To prevent both of these situations, I recommend avoiding:

  • Expired or inadequate food – If the food is expired, it may have developed bacteria that could kill your clownfish. Throw away the food if the expiry date is in the past. You should do the same if the food looks or smells abnormally, which may suggest it’s unfit for consumption.
  • Wild-caught life food – This is a common problem I’m seeing among inexperienced aquarists who think natural also means beneficial. This is obviously a fallacy. There are a lot of natural things that are harmful to us, and the same goes for the fish. Feeding your clownfish various worms, insects, or even shrimp and fish caught in the wild can backfire fast. Most wild fish, worms, and insects have parasites and bacterial infections that will quickly move over to your clownfish.
  • Food extra rich in protein – Clownfish are omnivorous, so they won’t eat too much animal protein. Only feed them protein-rich treats 2-3 times per week. An excess of protein will constipate them, and then you’ll have your hands full for a while. You can provide your clownfish with animal protein daily, just keep it in small portions and always mixed with veggies.
  • Non-fish food – Many novice aquarists like to test their clownfish’ taste buds and provide them with non-fish foods. This is a bad idea. Just because the food is good for you doesn’t mean it’s good for the fish. Only feed your fish foods that are free of additives and artificial colorants that could hurt them.

Can Clownfish Eat Eggs?

Yes, catfish will eat eggs, but I don’t recommend them. Eggs are known to foul the tank water fast, especially in larger quantities in case you have multiple fish.

Eggs seem more appropriate for clownfish fry since these could always use the additional protein.

When it comes to adult clownfish, I suggest skipping eggs altogether. Or, if you insist, since eggs are rich in nutrients, you can mix one boiled egg in their homemade paste.

Given that you will feed them the paste over the course of several days, the actual egg content will be low.

But try not to feed your clownfish raw, boiled, or cooked egg directly. It has too much protein for them, and the residues will increase water ammonia fast.

Can Clownfish Eat Meat?

Yes, clownfish can and will eat meat. In good measure and a certain type of meat only. Don’t feed your clownfish pork or beef since these are harder to digest and contain too much fat.

At best, you can provide the clownfish fry with some meat heart mixed with veggies during their first several weeks of life.

They could use the extra protein and fat to support their faster metabolic rates. Adults, however, should stick to the standard white fish, bloodworms, and shrimp meat.

Can Clownfish Eat Vegetables?

Yes, clownfish will eat veggies. I already recommended several during the recipes mentioned previously, but feel free to experiment with others as well.

Clownfish require a variety of veggies to provide them with several plant-based vitamins and minerals.

Just keep in mind that not all clownfish will prefer the same products. If you notice your clownfish don’t like a specific veggie, remove it from the nutritional plan.

Otherwise, the fish will just ignore it, increasing the amount of food leftovers accumulating in the water.

Do Clownfish Eat Seaweed?

Yes, clownfish eat seaweed. We can even go so far as to claim that they actually love it. Seaweed is highly nutritious, containing a variety of protein, vitamins, and minerals that your clownfish could use.

I recommend using a feeding clip to mold the seaweed into a more compact form.

This will maintain its integrity, allowing the fish to consume it gradually and prevent water contamination at the same time.

Do Clownfish Eat Corals?

No, clownfish won’t typically eat live corals. However, they will feed on dying corals that peel off easily.

These provide them with important nutritional value but don’t rely on them to keep your fish full or nutritionally satisfied.

Especially since clownfish won’t consume live corals, to begin with.


Clownfish are extremely easy to maintain, care for, and feed.

They will eat mostly anything, so long as it meets their nutritional requirements and, of course, taste preferences.

If you like a joyful, active, friendly, and hardy tank fish, Nemo is the perfect choice for you.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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