Clownfish symbiotically living amongst the swaying tentacles of an anemone is probably the most iconic scene on a wild reef and recreating this habitat in your aquarium is easier than you might think. So long as you are confident in caring for the clownfish and anemones, there isn't a whole lot else that goes into it. You can also source a captive-bred clownfish and anemones that are propagated in captivity which means your new aquatic pets will be even better suited for life inside an aquarium making your job as a caretaker much easier.  

What is even cooler about a clownfish and anemone combo is the iconic duo can survive in a relatively small aquarium so long as you choose the right species and put forth the effort to maintain stability. For this build, we are using the Innovative Marine 14 Gallon NUVO Peninsula tank and are making livestock recommendations based on that tank size.  If you would like to learn more about this aquarium, check out the product spotlight and setup video linked below.

Livestock

Bubble Tip Anemones - Entacmaea quadricolor

One of the best anemones for any saltwater aquarium, the Bubble Tip Anemones or BTA is a very hardy anemone that can sport some seriously outrageous colors. They are commonly sold as either red or green but there are also a few exotic multi-color varieties with various shades of red, green, yellow, and orange on a single specimen. Once acclimated into an aquarium, A BTA can be quite prolific which as a result means they are readily available across the US. For the most part, they are affordable and adapt very well to life in an aquarium. 

They get their name from the token bulbous tentacles they often form but these bubbly tentacles are not always present, especially on larger aneomes that have become well-established in the aquarium. They are photosynthetic, meaning they will require high-output lighting along with very stable water chemistry in order to thrive in the aquarium.

It should also be noted that it is best to wait at least 6-12 months before an anemone to a new aquarium, especially if you are a beginner. In a 14-gallon aquarium, stocking 2-3 Bubble Tips Anemones will get the job done. You can add more or start with just one, bear in mind they do have the ability to split (reproduce) and move around so it is best to keep the tank dedicated to only the anemone and clownfish if that is your goal (meaning don't add any coral). 

  • Flow: Low to moderate indirect water flow. Random or pulsing flow is ideal and you want to create gentle movement among the tentacles without pinning the tentacles in one direction. 
  • Lighting: 150-200 PAR (medium to high light levels)
  • Diet: Anemones do benefit from feeding 1-2 times per week with small meaty bits of food; mysis shrimp, chopped shrimp/squid/clams/silverside etc Be mindful of food waste.
  • Placement: Anemones have a foot and will move about the rocks until they find a suitable location. They prefer rock crevices to anchor and protect their foot. 
  • Aggression: While they shouldn't harm other BTA nems in the tank, they will sting corals and even fish if given the opportunity.
  • Growth Rate: BTAs can grow fast and will proliferate when settled in the aquarium.  Once established, it's not uncommon for the anemone to split and take over the aquascape.
  • Water Chemistry: BTA will require stable water chemistry to survive.  They will be very sensitive to any swings in temperature, salinity, and pH. They are not stony corals and will not consume calcium and alkalinity but should receive the same general parameters just as you would maintain in any mixed reef aquarium. 

Clownfish - Amphiprion ocellaris or Amphiprion percula

Clownfish (sometimes called "anemonefish") naturally make their home amongst the deadly tentacles of an unsuspecting anemone. Clownfish have evolved with immunities to the stinging nematocysts of anemones which is how they can survive the stings and the resulting symbiotic relationship between the hosting anemone and clownfish is quite fascinating. The anemone provides protection from predators for the small reef fish in exchange for the occasional bite of food and housekeeping. The clownfish consume algae, zooplankton, and microorganisms that may settle on the anemone and also ward off polyp-consuming fish. 

While you can choose from a variety of different clownfish species that will take residence in an anemone, Ocellaris and Percula species are the most widely available and best choices for small aquariums. Not to mention the captive breeding efforts have resulted in a pretty incredible selection. 

  • Size: Clownfish are generally made available at about 1.5" in total length and grow to a maximum of 4". They are small reef fish. 
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive, very territorial towards other clownfish and damsels.
  • Diet: Omnivore, natural prey upon small invertebrates, algae, and zooplankton. A nutrient-dense pellet food with the occasional offering of mixed ingredient frozen foods is ideal. 
  • Water Chemistry: Clownfish are generally very hardy and will adapt to a variety of tank conditions.  Stable temperature, salinity, and pH are the most important factors and so long as you maintain things suitable for the anemones, the clownfish will thrive. 

A pair (x2) of clownfish is the best choice for this nano tank because they are semi-aggressive and will be territorial when kept in odd numbers in a small aquarium.  While you cannot force the anemone to host your clownfish, keep your fingers crossed that the natural instinct or inclination for this symbiotic relationship takes precedence.

Aquascape

You will be supplying some extra water flow so you want to avoid fine grain sand that will easily blow around the tank. A sand bed depth of 1-2" is ideal. 

As for the rocks, the anemones like holes and crevices to anchor their foot and the fish will likely live amongst the tentacles of the anemone. There is no need to overload the tank with rock structures, just provide a good foundation for the anemones. You probably will not need any super glue or epoxy to build the small rock structures, just stack them securely together.

Being a peninsula, the rock can be stacked directly in the center, up against the back wall, extending forward with plenty of room on all three sides for water flow. Over time, the anemones will spread out and cover the entire rock structure in the aquarium, at least that is the goal, so allow plenty of room for those anemones to expand and wave about in the flow. 

Equipment & Gear

 

Design Your Aquarium

SAVE over $125 with a complete kit

1 $0.00
2 $0.00
3 $0.00
4 $0.00
Prime 16 LED Fuge...

Aquarium Kit Contents

Prime 16 LED Fuge...

Innovative Marine Nuvo 20 Bundle

View Details
Prime 16 LED Fuge...
Bulk Reef Supply

Innovative Marine Nuvo 20 Bundle

The IM Nuvo 20 Tank Wizard Bundle has everything you need to start a successful 20 gallon reef tank:

  • 1x Innovative Marine 20 Gallon NUVO Fusion PRO 2 AIO Aquarium Bundle
  • 1x MightyJet 326 GPH Return Pump w/ Controller
  • 1x Removable 200 Micron Filter Sock
  • 1x Desktop CustomCaddy Media Basket w/ PurityPack Filter Media Including:
  • 1x Mechanical Fiber Ball
  • 1x Premium 0.8 ROX Carbon Pack
  • 1x High Capacity Coarse GFO Pack
  • 1x Preinstalled Rubber Leveling Mat
  • 1x Pre-Assembled SafeScreen Mesh Screen Lid
  • 1x MicroMag Glass Cleaner
  • 2x Nuvo Return Nozzles
  • 2x High Tide Water Risers
  • 1x Black IM Nuvo Fusin 20 APS Cabinet Aquarium Stand
  • 1x 100W AquaEL Ultra Heater
  • 1x Refractometer with Calibration Fluid
  • 55 Gallons RedSea Aquarium Salt Mix
View all product details
$907.48
JBJ RF-25 Tank Wizard Bundle

JBJ RF-25 Bundle

View Details
JBJ RF-25 Tank Wizard Bundle
Bulk Reef Supply

JBJ RF-25 Tank Wizard Bundle

The JBJ RF-25 Tank Wizard Bundle provides the perfect foundation for a simple & elegant reef system:

  • JBJ RF-25 Flat Panel 25 Gallon AIO Aquarium
  • 1x Return 198 GPH Pump
  • 1x 4" Micron Filter Sock w/ Removable Cradle
  • 1x Flare Return Nozzle
  • 1x Black JBJ RF-25 Aquarium Stand
  • 1x 100W AquaEL Ultra Heater
  • 1x Refractometer with Calibration Fluid
  • 55 Gallons RedSea Aquarium Salt Mix
View all product details
$1070.48
Innovative Marine Nuvo 20 Peninsula Bundle

Innovative Marine Nuvo 20 Peninsula Bundle

View Details
Innovative Marine Nuvo 20 Peninsula Bundle
Bulk Reef Supply

Innovative Marine Nuvo 20 Peninsula Bundle

The IM Nuvo 20 Peninsula Tank Wizard Bundle has everything you need to start a successful 20 gallon reef tank:

  • 1x Innovative Marine 20 Gallon Peninusula NUVO Fusion PRO 2 AIO Aquarium Bundle
  • 1x MightyJet 326 GPH Return Pump w/ Controller
  • 1x Removable 200 Micron Filter Sock
  • 1x Desktop CustomCaddy Media Basket w/ PurityPack Filter Media Including:
  • 1x Mechanical Fiber Ball
  • 1x Premium 0.8 ROX Carbon Pack
  • 1x High Capacity Coarse GFO Pack
  • 1x Preinstalled Rubber Leveling Mat
  • 1x Pre-Assembled SafeScreen Mesh Screen Lid
  • 1x MicroMag Glass Cleaner
  • 2x Nuvo Return Nozzles
  • 2x High Tide Water Risers
  • 1x Black IM Nuvo Fusin 20 Peninsula APS Cabinet Aquarium Stand
  • 1x 100W AquaEL Ultra Heater
  • 1x Refractometer with Calibration Fluid
  • 55 Gallons RedSea Aquarium Salt Mix
View all product details
$907.48

Lights

AI Prime w/ Gooseneck Bundle

AI Prime w/ Gooseneck Bundle

View Details
AI Prime w/ Gooseneck Bundle
Bulk Reef Supply

AI Prime w/ Gooseneck Tank Wizard Bundle

The World’s Most Popular Reef LED

The newest innovation in the Prime line from AquaIllumination, the Prime 16 HD Series brings more power and color where you want it, plus the freedom to use your smartphone as a controller. No longer are you limited to using a fixed amount of power per channel, the Prime 16HD dynamically adjusts power available to each color, borrowing power from the colors you’re not utilizing. Giving you the most vivid spectrum your tank has ever seen. The Prime 16 HD Series is capable of producing a limitless number of spectral combinations to fit your tank’s exacting needs.

View all product details
$290.42
Prism II LED Light Fixture 12-20 Inch - Marine

Prism II LED Light Fixture 12-20 Inch - Marine

View Details
Prism II LED Light Fixture 12-20 Inch - Marine
AquaMaxx

Prism II LED Light Fixture 12-20 Inch - Marine

Thinner. Lighter. Smarter.

The new thinner and lighter AquaMaxx Prism II controllable full HD spectrum LED fixture is created from 100% recycled aluminum. Its brushed silver, ultra-slim profile design gives it an aesthetic edge over the competition, and its updated external smart controller includes 6 customizable set points of light intensity and can be used to control additional devices such as pumps, skimmers, cooling fans, and more!

View all product details
$119.99
Kessil A160 w/ Gooseneck

Kessil A160 w/ Gooseneck

View Details
Kessil A160 w/ Gooseneck
Bulk Reef Supply

Kessil A160 w/ Gooseneck Bundle

The Kessil A160WE Tuna Blue is perfect for nano and pico saltwater aquariums. Emitting a spectrum range of 10,000K to 20,000K, it's the perfect light for fast growth and coloration of corals. Pair the A160WE up with a Kessil A-series gooseneck for an easy and quick mounting solution.

View all product details
$338.00

Rocks

Reef Saver Aquarium Dry Live Rock

Reef Saver Aquarium Dry Live Rock

View Details
Reef Saver Aquarium Dry Live Rock
MarcoRocks

Reef Saver Aquarium Dry Live Rock

MarcoRocks Reef Saver Live Rock is one of the most unique rocks that are available on the market today. Reef Saver is a sustainable product since it is not taken directly from the ocean and does not impact living coral reef structures in any form. Combined with their chemical-free cleaning process MarcoRocks is always 100% free of nuisance algae or any type of pests.

View all product details
$44.85
LifeRock Nano Reef Kit

LifeRock Nano Reef Kit

View Details
LifeRock Nano Reef Kit
CaribSea

LifeRock Nano Reef Kit

CaribSea's Nano Reef Kit includes 2 LifeRock Nano Arches plus 1 small Original LifeRock dry rock piece.

LifeRock is infused with spored bacteria to aid in biological performance, along with millions of micro and macro passage ways CaribSea's LifeRock Dry Rock is perfect for the environmentally friendly aquarist.

  • Creates a mature looking reef instantly
  • 100% safe for all marine animals
  • Unique pieces
  • Environmentally friendly
View all product details
$79.00
Nano LifeRock Dry Live Rock - 10 lbs

Nano LifeRock Dry Live Rock - 10 lbs

View Details
Nano LifeRock Dry Live Rock - 10 lbs
CaribSea

Nano LifeRock Dry Live Rock - 10 lbs

LifeRock is infused with spored bacteria to aid in biological performance, along with millions of micro and macro passage ways CaribSea's LifeRock Dry Rock is perfect for the environmentally friendly aquarist.

  • Creates a mature looking reef instantly
  • 100% safe for all marine animals
  • Unique pieces
  • Environmentally friendly
View all product details
$65.00

Sand

20 lb. Hawaiian Black Arag-Alive! Reef Sand

20 lb. Hawaiian Black Arag-Alive! Reef Sand

View Details
20 lb. Hawaiian Black Arag-Alive! Reef Sand
CaribSea

Hawaiian Black Arag-Alive! Live Reef Sand

Caribsea's Hawaiian Black Arag-Alive! Live Reef Sand is a great choice for new aquarists and new reef tank setups. Arag-Alive sands clear quickly and contain millions of live bacteria, speeding up your tanks cycle and leading to less nuisance algae.

Features

  • Contains live bacteria to assist with a faster cycle
  • Grain size: 0.25 - 3.5mm
  • High Surface Area for Bacteria

View all product details
$38.99
20 lb. Hawaiian Black Arag-Alive! Reef Sand

20 lb. Special Grade Arag-Alive! Reef Sand

View Details
20 lb. Hawaiian Black Arag-Alive! Reef Sand
CaribSea

20 lb. Special Grade Arag-Alive! Reef Sand

Why does BRS recommend this?

When we at Bulk Reef Supply set up a tank that we know will have large amounts of flow our instant choice for sand is the Arag-Alive Special Grade Sand from CaribSea. With its larger particle size, it does not get pushed around like most other smaller grain sand sizes available and is great for all tanks especially those with a lot of water movement.

Special Grage Arag-Alive! Live Aragonite Reef Sand contains millions of live bacteria to create a natural biological balance in your reef tank.

  • Contains live bacteria to assist with a faster cycle
  • Grain size: 1-2mm
  • High Surface Area for Bacteria
View all product details
$38.99
20 lb. Fiji Pink Arag-Alive! Reef Sand

Fiji Pink Arag-Alive! Live Reef Sand

View Details
20 lb. Fiji Pink Arag-Alive! Reef Sand
CaribSea

Fiji Pink Arag-Alive! Live Reef Sand

Why does BRS recommend this?

If we had to choose a single type of sand for any tank, it would be the Arag-Alive Fiji Pink sand. It is by far the most popular sand for its medium to large grain size, high amount of total available surface area, as well as just its overall beauty.

Caribsea's Arag-Alive! Live Reef Sand is a great choice for new aquarists and new reef tank setups. Arag-Alive sands clear quickly and contain millions of live bacteria, speeding up your tanks cycle and leading to less nuisance algae.

Features

  • live bacteria to assist with a faster cycle
  • Grain size: 0.5-1.5mm
  • Most popular size for reef sand
  • High Surface Area for Bacteria
View all product details
$38.99

Subtotal

$0.00

Discount applied in cart

×
Name SKU