Maroon Clownfish: Care, Diet, Tank Size & More
Posted by Miles Harrison on 11/21/2022
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If you’re new to clown fishkeeping, then you may not have heard about the maroon clownfish. This saltwater fish has a commanding appearance and a personality to match.
Luckily, caring for this species isn’t too difficult, but you’ll want to be well aware of the limitations that come with owning this fascinating species.
In this guide, we’re going to cover everything there is to know about the Maroon Clownfish. We’re going to discuss the size of these fish, the appropriate tank size, overall care, and much more. After reading this guide, you’ll be well prepared to care for this species, and you should have enough information to determine whether or not this fish should be the next addition to your saltwater aquarium.
The Maroon Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus) was first scientifically classified by french zoologist Georges Cuvier in 1816, and has been capturing the interest of aquarists and naturalists ever since. These fish have earned quite a few different names over the years, with some hobbyists referring to them as the spine-cheeked anemonefish, due to, as you might have guessed, the small spine that protrudes from the fish’s cheek.
These fish can be found swimming all over the Indo-Pacific, where they can be found living amongst reefs below the ocean surface.
Although these fish are not the most beginner-friendly, anyone can provide for this species if they are well-equipped with the right knowledge.
It’s easy to see why the maroon clownfish’s appearance is a favorite among saltwater aquarium hobbyists. These fish appear much different than the more common ocellaris clownfish and pink skunk anemonefish. These fish have maroon bodies separated by vertical thick white bands. As these they age, their stripes will take on a goldish hue. The tips of this fish’s pelvic fins are translucent black, while the dorsal, anal, and tail fins showcase a unique color transition from maroon, to black, to white.
The maroon clownfish has a relatively narrow body, and a red ring surrounds its pupil, which it uses to scan for new food sources.
Take one glance at a snow white cichlid, and It’s quite obvious that this is not your average fish. These pattern-less fish have bodies, fins, and mouths that are all completely white in color. Their pectoral, dorsal, caudal, and anal fins all feature a translucent white coloration. Their unique coloration is the result of cells that are unable to produce melanin, the substance responsible for determining color.
The maroon clownfish is the largest clownfish species, and adults will grow to reach 6 inches in length. This is similar to what you’ll see in the wild with these fish. Juveniles will typically be much smaller until they reach their adult size at the 2-3 year mark.
Providing the maroon clownfish with a well-balanced diet and plenty of nutritious food sources will improve your chances that your fish will reach its proper size.
Having an aquarium that’s large enough to house this species, and maintaining optimal water quality for the duration of the fish’s life will also be beneficial to their growth rate.
Maroon Clownfish Care
One of the best parts about maroon clownfish is that they’re relatively easy to care for in a home aquarium. Many aquarists new to clownfish keeping often choose the maroon clownfish to be their first anemonefish.
Their ease of care lends to their popularity, as the maroon clownfish is one of the most common in the hobby.
If you’re considering the maroon clownfish as the next potential addition to your saltwater aquarium or reef tank, you’ll still want to be well-versed in caring for this species, as there are a few traits unique to this fish that you should be aware of.
Maroon clownfish are a long-lived species and can have a lifespan of 25 years. In rare cases, aquarists have documented their maroon clownfish living for a whopping 30 years! If you’re debating acquiring one of these fish, you’ll be in it for the long haul, as they are some of the longest-lived types of anemonefish.
You’ll want to maintain pristine water conditions for the duration of a maroon clownfish’s life. This, combined with a nutrient-rich diet, will give you the best chances of keeping your maroon clownfish for a very long time.
Maroon clownfish should be kept in an aquarium that’s at least 40 gallons in size. These fish are much larger than other types of clownfish and will require a slightly larger aquarium.
If you plan on keeping an additional maroon clownfish, or are considering adding additional tank mates, you’ll want to consider anything over 50 gallons.ant to go even bigger, many hobbyists will house cichlid groups in aquariums over 100 gallons in size.
In the wild, the maroon clownfish can be found in the Indo-Pacific, in warm-watered archipelagos at depths of up to 50 feet. While it may seem intimidating to re-create these environments in a home aquarium, with the proper knowledge, it can be accomplished.
Aim for the following water conditions if you plan on housing a maroon clownfish
Temperature Range: 72°F-78°F
KH: 8-12 dKH
Specific Gravity: 1.020-1.025
Luckily, these fish are known to be quite hardy and are more tolerant to subtle changes in water chemistry. Purchasing a reliable saltwater aquarium test kit will allow you to periodically test and monitor for any abnormal changes in water chemistry. A reliable aquarium heater should be used, which will allow you to dial in the correct temperatures.
Clownfish, including the maroon clownfish, form a symbiotic relationship with sea anemones. Although adding an anemone to your saltwater aquarium isn’t a requirement for keeping clownfish, they are incredibly rewarding to keep and will be appreciated by your clownfish inhabitants. However, keeping anemones and corals isn’t as straightforward as caring for a maroon clownfish. If you’re up for the challenge of housing your maroon clownfish in a reef tank, here are some compatible sea anemones:
Bubble Tip Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)
Ritteri Anemone (Heteractis magnifica)
Carpet Anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum)
In the wild, Entacmaea quadricolor is the most common anemone to be paired with a maroon clownfish. Regardless of which anemone you choose, you’ll want to purchase an anemone that’s at least 3 times the size of your maroon clownfish. Having a large anemone host can improve the chances that you’ll get a successful pair-up if you choose to breed this species.
In their natural habitat, there are plenty of available rock formations for maroon clownfish to swim near and inspect, so you’ll want to add plenty of live rock to your saltwater aquarium. This rock, made up of dead coral skeletons, serves as a host for waste-processing beneficial bacteria. You can position your live rock in unique ways, creating plenty of small caverns and caves for fish and invertebrates that prefer to stay out of the spotlight.
You won’t need to add any additional powerheads, as maroon clownfish tend to avoid areas of high flow. If you plan on keeping other tank mates that require a lot of flow, you won’t need to worry about your maroons, as they’ll tend to hang outside of the current.
You’ll also want to have plenty of open space for your maroon clownfish to swim. Maroon clownfish are most active during the day time, allowing for plenty of open space throughout the tank will give them plenty of room to swim.
An appropriately rated aquarium filter is an absolute must, otherwise, you’d have to perform frequent water changes, which can be quite cumbersome. As we previously mentioned, a reliable heater is also a requirement when housing maroon clownfish, as they prefer much warmer temperatures. You can monitor water temperatures by purchasing an aquarium thermometer .
Maroon clownfish prefer a crushed coral or sand substrate, which you’ll want to be about 2 inches deep. Unless you plan on breeding the maroon clownfish, avoid having a bare-bottomed tank.
When it comes to lighting, they aren’t very picky when it comes to requirements. In fact, there have been studies on similar clownfish species, that indicate lower light levels bring out the best coloration. If you plan on adding corals or types of anemones, we recommend basing your lighting requirements on the demand of these species.
Maroon clownfish are susceptible to most saltwater diseases, and one of the most common is known as Brooklynella. This disease attacks the gills of the fish, ultimately rendering them unable to breathe.
While frustrating, it is possible to cure this lethal parasite. Typically, symptoms of this disease include lethargy and small lesions that appear on the fish’s skin.
While more common in wild-caught fish, it usually enters the aquarium through infected fish that have recently been introduced. Other species, such as surgeonfish, angelfish, tangs, and wrasses are all capable of carrying this disease. Always inspect any new tank inhabitants for diseases before introducing them into an aquarium.
Treatment for Brooklynella involves giving the fish a 45-minute formalin bath. After the formalin bath, you can transfer your maroon clownfish to a quarantine tank, where you can dose metronidazole every 48 hours over 2 weeks. After the 2 weeks, your fish should be cured of the disease and can transition back to your main display tank. Other treatment options include Ruby Reef's Rally Pro.
Saltwater Ich, also known as Marine White Spot Disease, is also common in maroon clownfish. Symptoms of this disease include small white dots that initially form on the pectoral fins. Other symptoms also include loss of appetite and rapid breathing.
Poor water conditions, a low-quality diet, and stress are the most common causes of saltwater ich, and treatment typically involves copper-based medication, such as Seachem’s Cupramine.
Food & Diet
Maroon clownfish should be fed nutrient-rich marine pellets and flake foods. Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, krill, and spirulina can also be supplemented to boost your fish’s immune system. Feed maroon clownfish 1-2 times a day, with only enough that they can consume over a 2-3 minute period.
Avoid overfeeding your fish, if you suspect bloating, consider adding 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt for every 5 gallons of tank size. This natural laxative can reduce bloating in clownfish. Overfeeding can also lead to algae issues. Luckily, maroon clownfish are omnivores and will pick at available algae.
Behavior and Temperament
The maroon clownfish is the most aggressive clownfish species. They’ll nip and fight any other clownfish that get introduced into the aquarium. Besides adding other clownfish, for the most part, these fish are quite peaceful.
If you add a compatible anemone, you may even notice your maroon clownfish lounging among the tips of the anemone’s tentacles. This symbiotic relationship is an absolute joy to see in a home aquarium. When they’re outside of their host anemone, they’re constant explorers, and they’ll frequently look for algae and other food sources that may be present throughout the aquarium.
Maroon clownfish are active swimmers, they swim somewhat erratically, and tend to hang out near the substrate and toward the middle of the tank. Occasionally they’ll dart around in short bursts throughout the tank.
If you notice your fish lounging near the substrate, it may be concerning, as they’ll appear quite lifeless. But rest assured, they’re probably just resting, and will perk right up after some time has passed.
In the wild, maroon clownfish live in social groups, where a dominant female presides over males that are much smaller in size. These fish are also capable of producing a clicking or popping noise, so don’t be surprised if you hear some interesting noises emanating from your fish tank.
Interestingly, all clownfish are born males, over time, the most dominant male in a group of clownfish will transition to female. Once the female dies, the next most dominant male will transition and take its place as the female in the group.
You’ll want to take great caution if you plan on adding other tank inhabitants. Although some aquarists have had success keeping maroons with more peaceful types of clownfish, such as the Pink Skunk Clownfish, they’ve only done this by introducing the fish at the same time and providing them with over 200 gallons of space. It’s a risky maneuver, so if you want to add additional clownfish, we recommend only keeping maroon clownfish with other maroon clownfish.
That being said, other types of peaceful aquarium fish can coexist comfortably with these fish. Some of our favorites include:
Invertebrates such as Japanese snapping shrimp and cleaner shrimp may also be added, and are excellent tank mate options.
You’ll want to avoid adding other clownfish, or more aggressive species like eels.
Stay clear of the following:
It’s never a good feeling to have to re-home a fish, always try your best to plan for future tank inhabitants.
If you’re interested in breeding maroon clownfish, you’re in luck, because this species has successfully bred in captivity. Best of all, the breeding process is relatively straightforward, and there’s plenty of information online discussing this fascinating and rewarding topic. Fortunately for hobbyists, breeding maroon clownfish is no different than breeding other types of clownfish.
The first step to breeding involves establishing a pair. If you acquire multiple juvenile maroon clownfish, you have a better chance for these fish to partner up as opposed to introducing two adult fish. Males will appear a bit smaller and have a redder coloration compared to their female counterparts. Since maroon clownfish are capable of changing gender, you only have to have two fish to form a successful pairing.
Providing pristine water conditions, and a low-stress environment is a must when it comes to breeding. You can provide a flat surface, such as a ceramic tile or flowerpot, for the female to lay her eggs. These fish can spawn every 10-14 days, and if fertilized and properly cared for by the male, the eggs will hatch after about 8 days.
Before the eggs hatch, you’ll want to transfer the eggs into an established hatching tank, which you’ll use to raise the fry. Raising the fry is the most difficult part of breeding, as most will not survive to reach their juvenile form. You’ll need to perform frequent water changes. You'll also want to add an air stone, heater, thermometer, and a light source that is adjustable in intensity. Fry are extremely delicate life forms and can die from the stress caused by high-intensity lighting.
Feed the fry rotifers and liquid algae. Perform daily 10% water changes to reduce any waste. Over the next few days, you can begin feeding crushed flakes and pellets. If you’ve successfully kept the maroon clownfish fry for around 3 weeks, you’re out of what’s known as the danger zone and can pat yourself on the back, as you’ve successfully bred the maroon clownfish! You can now transfer your juvenile clownfish into a larger, established aquarium.
Maroon clownfish are some of the most interesting clownfish species available. Their large size and magnificent coloration make them a unique stocking choice for a saltwater or reef aquarium. Now that you’ve learned the ins and outs of caring for this species, will the maroon clownfish be your next favorite fish?
We’d love to hear your thoughts, and we welcome discussion about this species on our community forum, where we discuss saltwater aquariums, freshwater aquariums, and general aquarium maintenance and tips