Image Credit: Gdiggers (CC License)
I am embarrassed to share this, but I thought corals were plants for the longest time. Only when I started dabbling in saltwater fishkeeping hobby in 2018, I came to know what they really are.
I was obviously filled with amazement to know that corals are living, breathing, somewhat mobile, and potentially poisonous marine invertebrates.
Much has been said and celebrated about a clownfish’s symbiotic relationship with anemones. But do you know it’s not at all uncommon for a clownfish to choose a coral as its host?
So, what are the best corals for clownfish? In this blog, I’ll tell you about the 7 best coral options to pair up with your clownfish.
I’ll also share the real answers and recommendations hobbyists shared on different platforms.
But before that, let’s see what’s the major difference between corals and anemones. Let’s just look at the main points and not dive into details.
What’s The Difference Between Corals And Anemones?
Corals and anemones are collectively known as anthozoans. And although they look identical and their names are used interchangeably, they are different from each other.
Corals have a hard skeleton of sorts with branches and mounds – all made with calcium carbonate.
On the other hand, anemones are filled with water and don’t possess skeletons as corals do. Instead, they’re soft and even squishy.
Now let’s look at the roundup of best corals for clownfish.
7 Best Corals For Clownfish
There are thousands of coral species to choose from. However, the ones we have shortlisted are the hardiest, withstand lots of stress, and offer plenty of room for beginner’s mistakes. They are duncan corals, hammer corals, torch corals, toadstool corals, zoanthids corals, green star polyp, and frogspawn coral.
Let’s have a deeper look at these selections.
Duncan coral, also known as whisker or disc coral, is undoubtedly the most popular type of coral for reef tanks. It comes in beautiful pink, white, and green shades and grows to be quite large.
Originating from Australia, duncan corals are characterized by their disc-shaped bodies and green/purple tentacles that can swiftly retract into their calciferous tube home.
What makes duncans an excellent choice for clownfish is the fact that these corals don’t have natural defenses that can harm fish. But it also means you should not pair duncans with aggressive clownfish species that will nibble on your coral.
Owing to their delicate nature, duncan colors favor areas with low to moderate water movement. Therefore, areas in the lower or middle parts of the tank, away from peaks with higher water flow, are better suited for these corals.
Since duncan corals can spread quickly throughout the tank, they’re not really suitable for nano tanks. But most big tanks can accommodate their spread.
Hammer coral is a large polyp stony (LPS) coral. It is often called anchor coral or euphyllia hammer coral. The name ‘hammer’ comes from its hammer-like appearance due to anchor-shaped tentacles.
All in all, hammer corals look incredibly unique with their T-shaped tops and puffy tube-like tentacles that may remind you of mushrooms.
The polyps are visible all the time and effectively hide the coral’s skeleton base.
It may come in shades of green, brown, or tan. The lime green or yellow tips on the end of the tentacles grow under actinic lighting.
It’s important to note that hammer corals are known to sting neighboring corals due to their aggressive nature.
While true percula clownfish are known to choose hammer corals as hosts, the corals themselves may give the percs the cold shoulder.
Therefore, it’s best to experiment and test it out before making any strong commitments with hammer corals.
Torch coral is a large polyp stony coral that also goes by the names like pompom and trumpet. It is definitely one of the most interesting-looking corals, thanks to its thick and long polyps that emerge from the base of calcified stone.
This coral is aptly named torch due to its torch-like appearance as the water flows above it. If you place it fairly low down in the tank, its long and fleshy fingers will easily stretch and move around – offering a mesmerizing sight.
Since torch coral doesn’t demand a high level of special care, it can be a great addition to your saltwater tank. It is highly adaptable and will fare well in both clear and murky water conditions.
In terms of behavior and temperament, these corals are known to be highly mobile and aggressive. Therefore, you will often find them moving around in the tank, depending on the prevalent conditions.
They are highly territorial creatures who protect their territory by killing any other coral that tries to encroach into its space. However, ocellaris clownfish are known to select torch corals as their hosts without any qualms.
Toadstool coral is an excellent choice for newbies in the saltwater aquarium hobby since it’s robust and easy to look after.
Small toadstool leather corals are shaped like mushrooms, but they take on a unique folded appearance as they grow bigger. When completely open, the tops of these corals are covered with hundreds of polyps that are about 1 cm in length.
These corals come in various shades and often sport interesting spongy designs on the surface. They somewhat resemble a mushroom and are often called mushroom corals as well.
Short polyps, long polyps, green polyps, and yellow Fiji leather are the 4 commonly available varieties of toadstool coral.
Unlike the aforementioned two corals, this one is exceptionally peaceful. So, they’re known to house ocellaris and percula clownfish without any problem.
There are different kinds of zoanthid corals, but the most popular ones are purple heart zoas, todo zoas, paradise zoas, and blue hornet zoas. All of them are equally vibrant and beautiful.
They are also all equally popular since they’re easy to grow, frag, and available in brilliant fluorescent colors.
Unlike some other colonizing soft corals or anthozoans, zoanthid corals create their intricate structure with small pieces of surrounding materials.
This technique helps them strengthen their bond and sturdiness to environmental influences.
These corals grow quite large and offer plenty of coverage for clownfish as well as other fish in the tank. Percula and ocellaris clownfish are mostly known to adopt zoanthids as hosts.
What sets these corals apart from the rest is their quick ability to regenerate lost tissue, making them a favorite choice among many reef owners.
Green Star Polyp
Green star polyps are simply stunning to look at. They have small, green, or yellow tentacles attached to a deep purplish-red mat. There are 8 smooth and thin tentacles per polyp surrounding a star-shaped opening.
These corals are excellent for beginners as they grow fast and are incredibly hardy. But note that these corals do the best in strong flow as their base often attracts algae growth.
Green star polyp is a good choice for clownfish because its structure naturally allows plenty of hiding places for the fish.
However, note that these are one of the more aggressive coral species available to us. They don’t depend on chemical warfare as toadstools do or release far-reaching sweeping tentacles in the dark as torch corals.
Instead, they depend on the ‘expand and overwhelm’ strategy. They quickly grow on top of other corals.
But don’t worry. They don’t have any stinging tentacles. So, your fish are completely safe.
Frogspawn coral is an extremely famous option for reef aquariums, and it’s not hard to see why. This large polyp stony coral variety is simply stunning to look at.
This coral is known by different other names like honey coral, octopus coral, and grape coral.
I know several hobbyists who swear by frogspawn as the best coral for clownfish since it is easy to look after and generously offers plenty of food and shelter for the fish.
But the real standout feature of this invertebrate is its colors. Some of the most noticeable colors that stand out are yellow and green. Even more, adding to its beauty are the colors of its tentacles.
The tentacles sport either a light color like white or pink.
Unlike most coral species, frogspawn polyps stay out all the time, making it a treat for viewing in the home tank.
It is a reasonably hardy species that can withstand a varied range of water conditions and parameters. However, that being said, hobbyists often overestimate it when it comes to caring, and this can lead to grim consequences.
The above list is based on my individual research. But to help you make an informed decision, I skimmed through dozens of different forums to look for real answers.
Below, I have pooled all the relevant answers for you to see. Let’s roll!
Best Corals For Clownfish |Real Answers By Real People
“I think it’s few and far between for clownfish to host anything but anemones. However, you can find threads with all the strange stuff they choose as hosts.”
“I used to have a true percula that used frogspawn as host for a while. And I have seen a number of clowns like maroons and ocellaris hosting toadstools in person.”
“I have seen plenty of clowns hosting large polyp stony corals.”
“Large green hairy mushroom coral.”
“I have heard that the frogspawns are good ones for clowns. So I think I’ll give it a shot.”
“My perculas lounge in toadstool leather.”
“I have a pair of saddlebacks that host a toadstool leather, GSP, xenia, large feather duster, and a bubble tip anemone.”
“My tomato clowns hosted long tentacle plate coral for a couple of days before I realized they were getting stunned.”
“My clownfish loves hairy shrooms. He hangs around them all day long and sleeps in them at night.”
“One of my clowns has decided to host pom pom xenia. I bought a frogspawn about 6 months back in hopes the fish would take to that, but it didn’t happen.”
“My ocellaris clownfish loved tyree leather. Pretty much slept in it every night.”
“I recommend hybrid frogspawn, which is more durable and grows faster than the regular ones.”
“My clowns found elegance clownfish to be an excellent choice. But there are also duncans, leathers, and euphyllia to choose from.”
“My clowns hang around torch coral, hammer coral, and frogspawn all day long.”
“My clownfish love the toadstool leather. They also play around the duncan sometimes, but they mostly hang around the leather. Even when I had a bubble tip anemone, they still chose the leather.”
“My clowns chose a finger leather as their host until I got around putting an anemone in the tank.”
“Toadstool leather makes an excellent choice. Especially the big ones – they look pretty too.”
Here’s a list of beginner corals for clownfish based on the aforementioned quotes.
Beginner Corals For Clownfish
- Frogspawn coral
- Large polyp stony corals
- Large green hairy mushroom coral
- Toadstool leather
- Xenia coral
- Feather duster coral
- Pom pom xenia coral
- Tyree leather coral
- Duncan coral
- Euphyllia coral
- Finger leather coral
Best Anemone For Clownfish
There’s no one definitive answer to this question. There are at least 30 different clownfish species, and the answer differs depending on the species.
So let’s dive slightly deeper.
What Are The Best Anemones For Cinnamon, Black, And Red Clownfish (Amphiprion melanopus)?
The best host anemones for cinnamon, black, and red clownfish are bubble tip and leathery sea anemones.
What Are The Best Anemones For Clark’s Yellowtail Clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii)?
The best host anemones for clark’s yellowtail clownfish are:
- Carpet sea anemone.
- Bubble tip anemone.
- Magnificent sea anemone.
- Leathery sea anemone.
- Beaded sea anemone.
- Corkscrew sea anemone.
- Merten’s carpet sea anemone.
- Giant carpet sea anemone.
- Saddleback’s carpet sea anemone.
- Mali anemone.
What Are The Best Anemones For Maroon, White-Stripe, Gold-Stripe, and Spinecheek (Premnas biaculeatus) Clownfish?
The best host anemones for maroon, white-stripe, gold-stripe, and spinecheek clownfish are corkscrew sea anemone and bubble tip anemone.
What Are The Best Anemones For Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)?
The best host anemones for ocellaris clownfish are magnificent sea anemone, merten’s carpet sea anemone, giant carpet sea anemone. The fish may also adapt to bubble tip anemone and haddon’s saddle carpet anemone.
What Are The Best Anemones For Orange Skunk (Amphiprion sandaracinos) Clownfish?
The best host anemones for orange skunk clownfish are leathery sea anemone and merten’s carpet sea anemone.
What Are The Best Anemones For Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion percula)?
The best host anemones for percula clownfish are:
- Merten’s carpet sea anemone.
- Giant carpet sea anemone.
- Leathery sea anemone.
- Magnificent sea anemone.
Perculas also may adapt to bubble tips and other anemones present in the tank.
What Are The Best Anemones For Pink Skunk Clownfish?
The best anemones for pink skunk clownfish (Amphiprion perideraion)?
The best anemones for pink skunk clownfish are leathery sea anemone, giant carpet sea anemone, corkscrew sea anemone, and magnificent sea anemone.
What Are The Best Anemones For Red Saddleback (Amphiprion ephippium) Clownfish?
The best anemones for red saddleback clownfish are leathery sea anemone and bubble tip anemone.
What Are The Best Anemones For Saddleback Clownfish (Amphiprion polymnus)?
The best anemones for saddleback clownfish are leathery sea anemone and haddon’s sea anemone.
What Are The Best Anemones For Sebae Clownfish?
The best anemone for sebae clownfish is haddon’s sea anemone.
What Are The Best Clownfish For Skunk Clownfish (Amphiprion akallopisos)?
The best anemone for skunk clownfish are merten’s carpet sea anemone, magnificent sea anemone, and bubble tip anemone.
What Are The Best Anemones For Tomato Clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus)?
The best anemone for tomato clownfish are leathery sea anemone and bubble tip anemone.
Once again, here’s a quick roundup of the best corals for your clownfish:
- Duncan coral
- Hammer coral
- Torch coral
- Toadstool coral
- Zoanthids coral
- Green star polyp coral
- Frogspawn coral
I’ve also deduced a list of best corals for clownfish based on the recommendations from hobbyists like you and I. Don’t forget to check it out!