Your One-Stop Care Guide To Frostbite Clownfish

Apr 18, 2022

Frostbite Clownfish Care Guide

Finding Nemo first came out in 2003 and catapulted unassuming little clownfish into a life-changing spotlight overnight. 

A decade after we first came to know and raise clownfish, in 2013, Sustainable Aquatics introduced ‘Frostbite Clownfish’ – a designer ocellaris clownfish – dubbed as the first of its kind – a crossing of two different mutations. 

Down the road, other reputable breeders came forward with their unique iterations of frostbite clownfish as well. We’ll discuss them below. 

In this comprehensive care guide, I’ll let you in on pretty much everything you need to know to successfully raise these unique specimens.

So, let’s begin without further ado! 

Frostbite Clownfish At A Glance 

NameFrostbite clownfish
Scientific NameAmphiprion ocellaris 
FamilyPomacentridae
OriginIndo-Pacific Region
Lifespan10-20 Years
Diet Omnivore
TemperamentSemi-aggressive
Breeding Egg-layer
Temperature 74.0 to 82.0° F (23.3 to 27.8° C)
pH7.8-8.4
Specific Gravity1.023-1.025
Carbonate Hardness8-12 dKH
Tank Size 20 Gallons 

Frostbite Clownfish Origin 

As you already know by now, frostbite clownfish aren’t a naturally-occurring fish. Instead, they’re a result of years of selective breeding. 

The first-ever frostbite clownfish was introduced in 2013 by Sustainable Aquatics. 

Their version of frostbite clownfish is a cross between two different mutations – the white (presumably Wyoming White or Fancy White) and Snow (presumably Snowflake) versions of the false percula AKA ocellaris clownfish. 

Oceans, Reefs & Aquariums (ORA) Farm has also come up with its own exclusive variation of frostbite clownfish. This one is reported to be created by blending the best traits of captive-bred snowflake clownfish and captive-bred gladiator fish. 

The appearance of your frostbite clownfish differs slightly depending on who you bought it from. 

We’ll discuss more of that later. 

Frostbite Clownfish Price | How Much Do They Cost?

On average, frostbite clownfish cost anywhere between $89 to $120. The price the fish fetches varies depending on its size, appearance, and lineage. 

Frostbite clownfish is definitely one of the most expensive designer ocellaris clownfish available to us. 

Frostbite Clownfish Lifespan 

Frostbite clownfish live for 10-20 years usually. Their lifespan is comparable to that of their forebears, ocellaris clownfish. 

However, note that it is not uncommon for these fish to die untimely deaths due to poor husbandry practice. Many times, hobbyists have failed to raise these unique fish past 5 or 6 years. 

But on the bright side, when I scoured through the forums to find out their average lifespan, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many hobbyists reporting their fish lived past a decade or two!

So naturally, how long they can live boils down to the effort you are willing to put into their care and diet. 

Related: Clownfish Lifespan | How Old Is The Oldest Clownfish?

Frostbite Clownfish Appearance 

Sustainable Aquatics, the OG breeders of first-ever frostbite clownfish, share that the fish has a predominantly white body like a Wyoming White clownfish, accentuated by a series of spots across the body. As the fish gets older, these dalmatian-like spots turn darker and more pronounced.

The fish also sports an intense black outline on the preoperculum and opercular gill covering and a serrated transition from the milky white body to the black-orange coloration of the fins. 

These fish will definitely steal the spotlight in any given aquarium, thanks to their one-of-a-kind patterns.

ORA Farm’s variation of frostbite clownfish is made by breeding snowflake and gladiator clownfish. And the fish undeniably inherits beautiful and distinct features from both parents. 

The fish has a dark black trim around peppy orange faces and tails. The body is white. And as they grow, they develop a frosty blue hue around the borders of the white flanks. 

Some varieties come with several dark spots, while others may have none. 

All in all, no two fish look alike. 

Body structure-wise, frostbite clownfish can be described as deep-bodied, medium-sized clownfish with stout and oval bodies. The tail fin is rounded and thus prevents the fish from being prolific swimmers.

Frostbite Clownfish Size 

Frostbite clownfish don’t grow too big. At max, they can reach around 3.5 inches long. That’s about 9 cm. As it’s the case with all clownfish species, the females are significantly bigger than their male counterparts. 

Frostbite clownfish is slightly bigger than designer fish created from percula clownfish. 

Providing a healthy diet, ample room for exercise and a stress-free environment ensures the fish grows to its full-size potential. 

If the tank is too small, the fish can suffer from muscle atrophy due to a lack of exercise. And this will naturally stunt their growth. 

That’s not all. 

Since smaller tanks get polluted more easily and often lead the way for territorial aggression, they contribute to excess production of a stress hormone called cortisol. 

And excess secretion of cortisol is linked with lowered appetite and weakened immunity. 

Both of these factors are punchy enough to negatively impact your fish’s development. 

Frostbite Clownfish Types 

I researched for an hour or so but could only come across 2 variations of frostbite clownfish. They are mocha frostbite and black frostbite clownfish.

Mocha Frostbite Clownfish 

Mocha frost clownfish have the characteristic dark patterns over a milky white body. But this time, the dark patterns have a beautiful mocha coloration instead of black. 

The spots’ brown colors are described as a beautiful blend of orange glow and freshly brewed coffee. 

Black Frostbite Clownfish 

Result of a genetic combination of black snowflake and mocha gladiator clownfish, black frostbite clownfish come with 3 desirable traits: buckshot pattern throughout the white flanks, hints of icy blue here and there, and black face & fins. 

Frostbite Clownfish Male VS Female 

There’s no clear distinction between male and female frostbite clownfish at first glance except for their size. The female is considerably bigger than the males. And that’s pretty much the only point of dimorphism they show. 

During the breeding season, the ovipositor of both male and female descends. A female’s is broad and blunt, while a male’s is long and pointed. 

You can observe the ovipositors if you have really keen eyes and some time to squander. 

Frostbite Clownfish Temperament And Behavior 

If you are really up to understanding a frostbite clownfish’s temperament and quirks, you can look up the information available on a standard ocellaris clownfish. They’re pretty much identical. 

They’re Peaceful Fish 

So, frostbite clownfish are just as peaceful as their ancestors. However, when under stress, they can turn hostile and become semi-aggressive. Hobbyists reported that their aggression was only palpable during the breeding season. 

Even then, they’re nowhere near as mean as tomato clownfish and maroon clownfish. 

But if there’s not enough space to swim freely or food to snack on, these fish do show their mean sides. But I wouldn’t blame them. That’s an entirely natural reaction that any fish would have shown. 

Related: Are Clownfish Aggressive? Will They Bite Your Finger?

They Have A Funny Swimming Style 

Staying true to its roots and ancestors, Frostbite clownfish have a somewhat clownish swimming style. I like to think that this is the reason they were named clownfish. Haha! 

So, what they do is they row their pectoral fins instead of flapping them like other fish do to swim agilely. This results in a gawky yet cute swimming style unique to just clownfish. 

They Have A Symbiotic Relationship With Anemones

Even though frostbite clownfish are born and bred in captivity, they still share a symbiotic relationship with anemones if given the opportunity. 

You don’t absolutely need to have an anemone alongside your frostbite clownfish. But if you do, the fish will eventually choose the anemone as its host and stick with it – rarely straying away. 

This special interspecies friendship between clownfish and anemones offers certain perks for both parties.

The fish is protected against other big and giant fish. On the other hand, the anemone receives free cleaning sessions and occasional food scraps from the fish. 

They Have A Complex Social System 

In the wild, clownfish live in small groups of 5-6 fish that comprise 1 female, 1 breeding male, and 3 to 4 sexually immature males. They share a single anemone as their host. 

Although frostbite clownfish don’t come from the wild, their brains are hardwired to live in a system like this. 

The female is the alpha member of the gang and is always the biggest fish in the tank. The breeding male is the second biggest fish. The pair have a monogamous relationship.

The female is the first in the pecking order, and the breeding male comes second. After that, the pecking order descends according to their size. 

One exciting piece of research showed an average difference of 10mm in size as the pecking order descends. 

It may be hard to comprehend and may even sound far-fetched at some point, but these fish adhere quite strictly to their size-based hierarchy. 

If one of the sexually immature males grows too fast or poses any kind of threat to the ruling couple, he is banished from the anemone if not killed! 

Yep, it really do be like that sometimes. 

The Winner Becomes The Female

One interesting research led by marine scientists revealed that when you keep two sexually immature males in the same environment, the duo will fight each other until there’s one clear winner. 

What happens next is amazing! 

The winning fish transforms into a female. The physical transition of testes being absorbed and ovaries growing prominent may take up to several weeks to manifest, but the psychological change happens within a few hours. 

The female has an assertive and almost assaultive personality. On the other hand, the male(s) behave as appeasers. 

How Many Frostbite Clownfish Should You Keep?

After reading all the antics and quirks these fish share above, I’m sure you are tempted to witness their behavior firsthand. However, it takes a lot to house a group of clownfish. 

I know it’s obvious, but you’ll need a super big tank, to begin with. But that’s not all. You have to dedicate a good amount of time, energy, and resources daily or at least weekly to ensure everything is alright. 

If you keep a mated pair and a lonesome male together, the couple will make his life downright miserable. 

So, the best way forward is to house a single frostbite clownfish or a pair at max. 

Frostbite Clownfish Tankmates 

Frostbite clownfish are well-mannered fish. They keep to themselves and seldom pick fights with anyone unless they’re pushed to. Owing to their calm and submissive nature, they should not be housed with aggressive clownfish species like tomato and maroon clownfish. 

There’s no cardinal rule to determine who makes a good fit and who doesn’t. 

But the rule of thumb backed by most experienced hobbyists is that if the tank is 55 gallons or smaller and doesn’t house an anemone, you can’t pair your frostbite clownfish with aggressive or even semi-aggressive fish. 

But if the tank is big enough and there’s an anemone present to protect the fish, frostbite clownfish can easily hold their ground against aggressive fish. 

Having said that, don’t pair the fish with any tankmate that’s big enough to swallow it. 

Now, let’s look at suitable and unsuitable tankmates for your frostbite clownfish quickly! 

Suitable Tankmates For Frostbite Clownfish 

  • Gobies 
  • Angelfish 
  • Tang 
  • Mandarin dragonet 
  • Dartfish 
  • Blennies 
  • Puffers 
  • Dottybacks 
  • Basslets 
  • Dwarf angels 
  • Firefish
  • Flame hawkfish
  • Butterflyfish 
  • Chromis damselfish 
  • Red coris wrasse 
  • Blood red fire shrimps
  • Hermit crabs

Tankmates To Avoid For Frostbite Clownfish

  • Clark’s clownfish 
  • Tomato clownfish 
  • Maroon clownfish 
  • Pink skunk clownfish 
  • Red and black clownfish 

Frostbite Clownfish And Anemone Tank Setup 

Although frostbite clownfish aren’t a naturally-occurring variant, they can still hold a meaningful relationship with anemones. 

Based on the preference of an ocellaris clownfish, we can safely assume that the following anemones would make perfect hosts for your frostbite clownfish:

  • Bubble-tip anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)
  • Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea)
  • Magnificent sea anemone (Heteractis magnifica)
  • Merten’s carpet anemone (Stichodactyla mertensii)

When pairing clownfish and anemone, you cannot go around choosing just about any anemone. You first need to clearly research the anemone’s needs and temperaments and see if they are compatible with the frostbite clownfish’s. 

For example, condy anemone (Condylactis gigantea) is an actively mobile anemone with a strong carnivore instinct. 

On top of that, their sting is far too potent than what you poor frostbite clownfish can endure. 

It’s Not Compulsory To Add Anemones 

If it weren’t for the anemones, your clownfish would have a tough time not getting eaten by a bigger fish in the wild.

Like all clownfish, frostbite possesses all the qualities to be the ultimate snack – they’re small, swim clumsily, and have bright colors. 

However, in captivity, anemones are not indispensable. Your clownfish sure would have appreciated it if there was one, but it’s not a requisite. 

Anemones Are High-Maintenance 

Frostbite clownfish are hardy fish that don’t require special care as long as the food is good and the water is clean. However, anemones are high-maintenance creatures. 

For starters, they need a pretty big tank, to begin with. So the minimum tank size increases from 20 gallons to 55 gallons to house a single anemone. 

Besides that, they have pretty specific requirements about the lighting and supplements in the water. 

Thus, I wouldn’t suggest raising an anemone if you’re a beginner testing waters in the saltwater hobby for the first time. Once you have gained enough confidence and experience, there’s always room to level up. 

Adding Multiple Clownfish And Anemone Pairs In The Tank 

If you’ve garnered a fair share of skill and confidence required to care for multiple anemone-clownfish pairs, it will definitely be a super gratifying experience. 

Once the frostbite clownfish has chosen its host anemone, it won’t stray any farther than 12 inches from its host. 

Thus, it’s possible to house multiple clownfish and anemones in the same tank as long as a distance of at least 2 feet is maintained between them. 

My Clownfish And Anemone Relationship 

I have a pair of ocellaris clownfish, a hermit crab, and a bubble tip anemone in a 75-gallon tank in my office. 

Whenever I offer food to my clownfish, they grab some and deliver it to their host anemone. It’s so endearing to witness.

The hermit crab is an expert at snatching food from the anemone and gobbling it up. And when that happens, I offer my clownfish some more food, which they once again lovingly provide to their host. 

Can Frostbite Clownfish Live In Reef Tank? 

Absolutely! Although frostbite clownfish have no previous experience of living in a natural reef environment, that’s where their heart belongs. 

They will not wreck your corals and sponges. As a matter of fact, the fish will gently scrape algae off them and keep them clean. 

Interestingly, clownfish have adopted hairy mushroom corals and large polyp stony corals as their hosts when there were no anemones present in the tank. 

Frostbite Clownfish Diet 

Frostbite clownfish are no fussy eaters. Instead, like the OG ocellaris clownfish, these fish are omnivores that accept a wide variety of foods.

If you had brought home a wild-caught specimen, it would have been troublesome to get it used to processed foods like pellets and flakes. After all, it was snacking on planktonic fish eggs, isopods, zooplankton, fish larvae, polychaete worms, and grazing on algae to its fill just a couple of days ago. 

But you don’t have to worry about that with these designer fish. 

Here’s a list of food you can give your frostbite clownfish:

  • Pellets 
  • Flakes 
  • Chopped fish 
  • Chipped mussels 
  • Spirulina
  • Brine shrimp
  • Mysis shrimp 
  • Algae wafers 
  • Seaweed 
  • Squid 
  • Amphipods 
  • Copepods 
  • Earthworms 
  • Mosquito larvae 
  • Blanched veggies 

That was quite a comprehensive list, wasn’t it? Yes, your frostbite clownfish can chomp down on pretty much any food under the sun, from processed pellets and flakes to live worms and larvae. 

Sourcing Food Locally At Home 

I once endeavored to culture brine and mysis shrimp at home to save a couple of bucks, but I failed badly. Therefore, these days I rely on a reliable local fish store to supply me with these delicacies. 

I also occasionally buy copepods and amphipods. 

If you have a thing for DIYs and are actually good at it, you can culture or grow certain foods in your own home. 

These days, I occasionally give my clownfish live earthworms readily available throughout the garden. Just look around, and you’ll come across one or two in no time. 

But make sure the worm is washed and squeaky clean. 

Choose The Flakes Brand Wisely 

While it’s imperative to feed clownfish a varied, well-rounded diet, let’s admit that flakes will form a major portion of their diet in captivity. 

That’s why you must put in some thought and effort while selecting the flakes brand for your frostbite clownfish. 

Here’s a link to NutriDiet’s Marine Flakes by Seachem I give my clownfish:

By the way, do you know clownfish play a crucial role in maintaining the health and longevity of corals in the wild by gently scraping algae off them? 

In the wild, they’re constantly nibbling on algae. 

And although born and raised in captivity, frostbite clownfish still have the innate need to eat some greens once in a while. 

That’s why I am also leaving a link to Zoo Med’s Spirulina Food Flakes below. Check out once on Amazon. These flakes enjoy pretty rave reviews. 

How Often Should You Feed Frostbite Clownfish? 

There’s no brassbound rule dictating the ‘right’ frequency and amount to feed your frostbite clownfish – or any other fish for that matter. It boils down to the fish’s health and your convenience. 

That being said, the general practice in the hobby is to feed adult fish twice a day. However, younglings and juveniles are prone to starvation and stunted growth early on. Therefore, they should be fed 4-5 times a day. 

My good friend and veterinarian, Ravi, suggested that I break the 2 big meals into several small meals and feed my mbuna cichlids throughout the day to curb their resource-related aggression. 

As far as I know and believe, you don’t have to resort to this technique with your frostbites since they’re docile fish, to begin with. But what’s the harm in knowing, right?

Related: How Often To Feed Clownfish? Risks Of Underfeeding!

Water Parameters For Frostbite Clownfish 

Temperature 74.0 to 82.0° F (23.3 to 27.8° C)
pH7.8-8.4
Specific Gravity1.023-1.025
Carbonate Hardness8-12 dKH
Water FlowModerate
Tank Size 20 Gallons 
Tank RegionAll
Ammonia 0 PPM
Nitrite 0 PPM
NitrateBelow 20 PPM

Related: What Water Temperature For Clownfish? What Happens If It’s Too Cold?

Tank Maintenance For Frostbite Clownfish 

As I said above, frostbite clownfish are no high-maintenance fish. However, let that be no excuse for keeping them in subpar environments. If consistently exposed to a poor environment, they’ll contract a deadly disease sooner or later. And by then, it will be a day late and a dollar short. 

Maintain Stable Temperatures At All Times 

Frostbite clownfish are tropical fish. Therefore, aim to keep the temperature stable between 74-82 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. 

Remember, sudden fluctuations in temperature are more detrimental to fish than being subjected to the wrong temperatures. 

Thus, you mustn’t skimp when getting a safe and reliable heater for your fish. 

Shuffle through a few fish forums once, and you will come across one too many horror stories of fish being boiled or electrocuted to death due to a malfunctioning heater. 

If the heater malfunctions, even you’re exposed to the risk of being electrocuted. 

Getting Alkalinity, Carbonate Hardness, And Specific Gravity Right 

Like all saltwater fish, frostbite clownfish require alkaline waters. The best way to ensure alkalinity is to use a calcium carbonate-based substrate. But remember, you shouldn’t be using pure calcium carbonate. 

One more technique to achieve the desired alkalinity is to fill a mesh bag with crushed coral or dolomite gravel and place it in the filter. 

And lastly, as evident from the table above, water’s specific gravity should be maintained between 1.023-1.025, whereas carbonate hardness should clock in somewhere between 8-12 dKH. 

Perform Regular Water Changes 

If you don’t perform proper water changes at regular intervals, nothing else you do to keep the tank clean and pristine will work. There’s no substitute for performing water changes. 

Once again, there’s no rule carved in stone or a secret formula to ascertain how often or how much you should change the water. But deriving from the general practice in the hobby, it goes something like this:

For smaller tanks up to 40 gallons, you should perform a 15% water change every two weeks. 

For tanks sized 40 to 90 gallons, you should perform a 20-30% water change every month. 

For tanks sized 100 gallons or bigger, you should perform a 20-30% water change once every 6 weeks. 

Remember, these are just loose guidelines. The frequency and extent boil down to the size and state of your tank, the stocking number, the kind of fish you have, and so on. 

And by the way, if you overdo water changes, this will eradicate the tank’s good bacteria colony – backfiring in the worst possible ways. 

Test The Water Parameters Routinely

If the toxicity in the water increases above the safety limits, the fish will die a slow yet painful death. 

For instance, if ammonia levels increase, your frostbite clownfish will suffocate to death as its bodily functions shut down one by one. 

Likewise, if there’s excess nitrate buildup, the fish will experience signs like lethargy, lowered appetite, erratic swimming, and rapid gill movement. 

We use and recommend using the API’s Saltwater Master Test Kit to measure the water parameters once every week. This product here helps measure 4 different parameters: ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and high pH range. 

Apparently, liquid-based tests like this from API are far more accurate and reliable than strip tests. So, always make a point to buy liquid-based test kits. 

Minimum Recommended Tank Size For Frostbite Clownfish 

The minimum recommended tank size for frostbite clownfish is 10 gallons. However, I’d recommend allocating at least 20 gallons for a single frostbite clownfish. You can then allocate additional 10 gallons for every additional fish.

And if you plan to also add an anemone to the tank, the required tank size increases to 55 gallons.

I am aware that clownfish are often subjected to nano tanks. Unfortunately, they’re branded as fish suitable for smaller tanks. And what’s even worse is that small tanks are marketed to be ‘easy’ and ‘beginner-friendly.’

But let me tell you, small tanks are as treacherous as they come. They’re volatile, dangerous, and unreliable. 

First, it is tough to get the parameters right and stable if the water volume is too small. Also, a small fluctuation in one corner of the tank can be felt throughout the entire tank in no time. 

As a result of frequent shocks, the fish will become highly stressed. And before you know it, their health will be compromised. 

Second, small tanks mean a lack of exercise. Your fish will simply not have enough room to swim around and stretch its muscles. As I have already mentioned above, this could lead to grim health conditions like muscular atrophy. 

And lastly, small tanks mean sudden and frequent spikes in ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. The same amount of ammonia can create havoc in a small tank, while it may dilute without any problem in a big tank. 

My point here is that small tanks will constantly keep you on your toes. It will make both you and your frostbite clownfish anxious and stressed. 

So, get the biggest tank possible. 

Related Articles! 

What’s The Ideal Clownfish Tank Size? 5, 10, Or 20 Gallons?

5-Gallon Clownfish Tank? Is It Even Possible?

Substrate And Decor For Frostbite Clownfish 

Like their original counterparts, frostbite clownfish don’t really make great swimmers. As a matter of fact, they’re somewhat clumsy. Therefore, this trait should be considered when decorating the tank. 

The fish should be well protected from the water current. However, that doesn’t mean you should cut corners when it comes to aesthetics. 

I firmly believe that aquascaping is a beautiful outlet to channel your creativity and personality, don’t you think? So, therefore, pull all the spots and let your personality shine through the tank. 

Like any clownfish, frostbite clownfish do the best in reef tanks, but they can also be easily kept in fish-only or FOWLR tanks without any problem. 

Since the water needs to be alkaline for these fish, I recommend choosing a calcium carbonate-based substrate. You can use dolomite gravel, crushed coral, or aragonite sand. 

I use aragonite sand in both of my reef tanks since it is teeming with millions of good bacteria that amp up the tank’s biological filtration. And by the way, it is quite easy to siphon too. 

Here’s a quick link to Carib Sea’s Special Grade Reef Sand that ticks all the right boxes. 

For decorations, you can choose between live rocks and base rocks. Both come with a set of pros and cons. 

While live rocks are teeming with good bacteria that enhance the tank’s biological filtration, they also lead the way for unwanted hitchhikers, aka parasites and pathogens, into the tank. 

On the other hand, base rocks don’t host any kind of living organisms. Therefore, no good bacteria and no harmful parasites either. 

I keep both kinds of rocks in my tanks. 

If you plan on adding driftwood, use artificial ones. The real ones leach tannins into the water and make it acidic. 

While aquascaping, you should strive to strike the perfect balance between enough hiding places and open swimming areas. And this can be achieved by strategically placing the caves, rocks, and reef inserts. 

And before we end this segment, here are a couple of handy tips for the next time you aquascape. 

Leave ample space between the decors and the glass so an algae scraper can slide by on all sides of the tank. 

The decors and rocks should be pressed firmly into the sand, so they touch the tank’s base. 

The decors shouldn’t be positioned too tightly. There should be enough space for water to flow freely to keep debris from settling. 

Related Reading: Best Corals For Clownfish | 7 Best Choices 

Recommended Equipment For Frostbite Clownfish 

We scoured through at least a dozen different forums and scrolled through countless comments and threads to come up with two recommendations for a filter and a heater.

I know the saltwater aquarium hobby can be quite expensive. Therefore, the products we recommend are affordable yet don’t cut corners when it comes to essential features. 

Have a look! 

Fluval External Heater 

Why We Love It!

  • Made with patented Aquastop valve 
  • 3-year warranty period 
  • Sound-dampening impeller design 
  • Multi-stage filtration 
  • Instant prime without manual siphoning 

Eheim Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater 

Why We Love It! 

  • A German-made product 
  • Precise temperature regulation
  • Made with shatter-proof and shock-resistant glass 
  • Automatically turns off if the water level dips too low 

Breeding Frostbite Clownfish 

Breeding frostbite clownfish requires no special attention or effort if you get the basics right. Born and bred in captivity, these fish have no qualms about breeding in your tank if the environment is favorable. However, if you’re serious about breeding them, it’s best to set up a separate breeding tank and a fry tank. 

Choosing Your Frostbite Clownfish Pair 

There are at least 4 different ways of choosing your frostbite clownfish pair.

The first method is to buy a juvenile pair. If you choose this route, you have to be more patient. That’s because female clownfish take around 2 years minimum to be sexually mature, while males are ready to fertilize eggs by the time they are 6 months old. However, this is the most affordable method. 

The second method is to buy a big female and a small male. Chances are that the pair will hit it off sooner or later and yield you a batch of healthy little fry. But there’s also every chance that things won’t work out. There’s no way of guaranteeing the female will accept the male. 

The third method is to buy a bonded pair. It will be costly, but the couple will start breeding as soon as the parameters are right. The only problem here is how to figure out if the pair is bonded or not. A 20-second clip or taking someone’s word for it isn’t what I’d want for the price I’ll be paying. 

The fourth method is to buy a breeding pair. This is hands down the most expensive way out there, but if you are bent over backward to breed frostbite clownfish, this is the route to go. When you purchase a breeding pair, you can be well assured that the pair is bonded and even has previous breeding experience. 

Note: Irrespective of what method you select, it’s absolutely crucial that you add the male into the tank first. This way, the chances of him being bullied by the female reduce dramatically. 

Setting Up The Breeding Tank 

The breeding tank doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A 10 or 20-gallon tank would do perfectly fine since once the pair set their heart on a specific breeding spot, they would hardly move from there. 

Equip the tank with proper heating and filtration mechanism and fully cycle it. There’s no need to put any decors or anemones. However, you must place several clay pots and tiles that will serve as breeding spots. 

Conditioning Frostbite Pair To Breed 

There’s not much one can do if the pair chooses not to bond. You can’t really forcibly get them to breed. However, if luck is on your side and your frostbites decide to pair up, you can pull a few tricks to get them in the mood. 

You should give a protein-rich diet enriched with live food a few times a day. If you want them to breed, giving one big meal every day isn’t going to work. 

Next, increase the water temperature gradually over a period of a couple of days. Don’t make any drastic changes suddenly. The temperature in my breeding tank is usually maintained at around 83 degrees F. 

Now lastly, perform regular water changes. It won’t just keep the water quality good but also encourage the fish to spawn. 

Frostbite Clownfish’s Courtship And Mating Ritual 

Once your female frostbite clownfish is gravid, you can tell by the distended appearance of her belly. Since the belly now houses hundreds of tiny, spherical eggs, she’s bound to look as if she has put on some weight. 

The male has 2 critical things to do for successful breeding. 

First, he is tasked with selecting a breeding spot and cleaning it spotless. He will painstakingly remove algae, rocks, and debris from the chosen spot. 

Second, he needs to woo the female. He will perform headstands, flaunt his fins, and put on quite a show. 

Once the female is happy with the courtship and the chosen spot, on the big day, she will hover around the selected site and drag her ovipositor over the surface in a zigzag manner, and lay up to 1,000 eggs. 

The tiny eggs are adhesive and will adhere to the pots quite firmly. The male will then fertilize the eggs. 

They should hatch within the next 6-7 days. 

Related: What Do Clownfish Eggs Look Like? Sushi Roe? Picture Guide

Preparing Frostbite Clownfish Fry Tank 

If you leave the eggs to hatch in the breeding tank, the larvae may get killed by the powerheads or pulled into the filtration system. Therefore, there’s no excuse for not setting up a designated fry tank. 

Equip a 10-gallon tank with a good heater, LED lights, sponge filter, and air stone. Next, cover the tank’s top with a cardboard or a reflective wrap to adjust the amount of light the tank receives. 

Fill it with the water from the breeding tank. 

Once the tank is fully equipped and cycled, remove the pot/tile containing the eggs from the breeding tank and place it inside the fry tank. Once this step is carried out, set up the air bubbler to run over the eggs. 

The final step now is to wait. Check every day to see if the eggs have hatched. But don’t go barging into the room and turn on all the lights. You may scare the larvae to death. 

Finally, you will be welcomed by tiny little fry swimming in all directions on the big day. 

Caring For The Fry 

Frostbite fry hatch with a nutritious yolk sac attached to their body and rely on it for nutrition for the first couple of days. 

Day 3 to Day 5 is the period with the highest mortality rate. The fry are very much prone to starvation at this point. Therefore, you need to fortify their diet with utmost care. 

First, tint the tank green using liquid algae. Next, add rotifers to it. 

You can give baby brine shrimp and pulverized flake food from the fifth day onwards. 

Metamorphosis happens on the 10th day. Therefore, you need to perform a big water change by the 8th or 9th day. 

By the 20th day of hatching, the frostbite fry are big enough to be transferred into the grow-out tank. 

Frostbite Clownfish Disease 

Frostbite clownfish are just as hardy as any other designer clownfish. However, if you keep them in a dirty, polluted environment and skimp on feeding nutritious meals, they can contract diseases like brooklynella and marine ich quite easily. 

So, the 5 most common clownfish diseases that your frostbites are susceptible to are:

  • Marine Ich 
  • Brooklynella 
  • Uroema Marinum
  • Marine Velvet 
  • Swim Bladder Disease 

Let’s touch upon these diseases briefly. 

Marine Ich

Marine ich is caused by ciliated protozoan parasites called cryptocaryon irritans. The main characteristic sign of the disease is the presence of tiny white dots across the body.

Besides that, the fish will display signs like panting, scratching, flashing, and twitching. 

Since this parasite has a particularly long and complex life cycle, it’s pretty hard to eradicate it right away – often resulting in the fish’s death. 

Copper-based treatments are known to work the best against this parasite. However, it means saying goodbye to your inverts and corals. 

Here’s an in-depth article covering both copper-based and copper-free treatments for treating marine ich. 

Related: White Spots On Clownfish! Copper-Free Treatment?

Brooklynella 

The disease brooklynella is so rampant among clownfish that it is now unofficially monikered clownfish disease. It is characterized by an infestation of a ciliated protozoan called brooklynella hostilis. 

The parasite directly attacks the fish’s gills – impacting its breathing as the mucus clogs the gills. In the later stages, the entire body is covered with thick white mucus. 

Brooklynella can cause a fish’s demise in just a few days since the parasite that causes it can grow and multiply at an astonishing rate. 

Formaldehyde is known to be the most effective treatment against brooklynella. 

Uronema Marinum 

Uronema marinum is caused by a ciliate parasite and manifests as red sores across the body. This baneful parasite lives, feeds, and reproduces directly on the fish. 

Unfortunately, since this disease has no fallow period, once the tank has been infected with uronema, it should be assumed that the disease can survive there almost indefinitely. 

The treatment of choice is a 45-minute formalin bath, followed by the transfer into a new/sterile quarantine tank. 

Next, the tank should be dosed with metronidazole for 10-14 days to completely eliminate the parasite. 

Marine Velvet 

Marine velvet has a significantly higher mortality rate than any diseases mentioned above. It’s caused by a parasite called Amyloodinium ocellatum, which has a very long and complex life cycle.

Therefore, it’s quite a challenge to eliminate the parasite entirely. 

The gill is the most common site of infection. Therefore, the fish will display signs like scraping and labored breathing – resulting in excess mucus production. 

As the disease advances to the later stages, the fish will develop golden-colored, velvet-like film all over the body. 

Freshwater dips and copper-based treatments work the best against this baneful disease. 

Swim Bladder Disease 

Like the moniker gives it away, this disease is characterized by malfunctioning of the swim bladder due to disease, injury, or an abnormality. 

A frostbite clownfish suffering from swim bladder disease will swim in erratic patterns, float to the top, and also sink to the bottom involuntarily. 

If the disease is caused by digestive issues, fasting the fish and then feeding a fibrous meal would cure it. 

However, if it is due to an injury or an abnormality, your fish needs immediate medical attention. 

Final Words: Frostbite Clownfish Careguide 

Frostbite clownfish may not have real-life experience of living among colorful reefs and endless choppy waters of the seas and oceans. But that doesn’t mean we have the right to subject them to tiny tanks or bowls with no proper filtration or heating mechanism. 

As I said above, under proper care, these fish can lead a pretty long life. And this care guide includes basically everything you need to know on the subject. 

We hope you find it helpful! 

Recommended Readings!

Can Clownfish Live Alone? Real Answers Only!

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Can Clownfish Live Alone? Real Answers Only!

Do Clownfish Have Teeth? They Talk With Their Teeth! 

Black Ice Clownfish Care Guide | Everything You Should Know

Should You Get A Black Storm Clownfish? | Care Guide

rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.