How Often To Feed Clownfish? Risks Of Underfeeding!

Feb 18, 2022

How Often To Feed Clownfish

Clownfish are the unofficial poster child of the saltwater fishkeeping hobby. Therefore, they often end up in inexperienced hands – confined to small fish bowls and subjected to bad husbandry. And they’re often fed the wrong diet in the wrong frequencies. 

So, how often to feed clownfish? Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer to this question. 

I combed through at least a dozen different websites scouring for answers, and let me tell you – no two answers were the same. 

Fishkeeping is sometimes like parenting, isn’t it?

After a decade-long experience in the freshwater aquarium hobby, I dabbled in the saltwater avenue in 2018 with a pair of clownfish. They’re about 4 years old now and healthy as a horse. 

Therefore, to answer the question “how often to feed clownfish?” I’ll share tips and tricks from my own experience. 

I have also pooled together a bunch of relevant answers hobbyists left on different forums to save you the trouble of hopping from one site to another. 

Now, let’s begin without further ado! 

How Often To Feed Clownfish? 

You can feed your adult clownfish 2 meals a day at an interval of 8-10 hours. The rule of thumb is to give them an amount they can finish comfortably within 2-3 minutes. Juveniles and little fry should be fed multiple times a day (3-5) as they’re in a formative stage of their lives and are prone to starvation and stunted growth. 

The information in the paragraph above is based on my feeding style. And I haven’t run into any problem with my fish so far. Thus, I guess my feeding style is correct. 

Clownfish are clever. And they’re opportunistic. They will beg for food even when they’re full. They are known to come to the water surface and huddle when you pass by in anticipation of food. So don’t fall for this trick. 

Also, they will eat even when they’re full. In the wild, they naturally don’t have a fixed diet regime. They will eat every time they find anything they deem edible. 

So, they won’t stop eating even when full in the tank if there’s food available. You need to watch the amount you give. 

You should keep these two pointers in mind when feeding your clownfish. 

Now, let’s look at what hobbyists like you and I have to say on this matter. 

Everyone feeds their fish differently. There’s no one cardinal rule etched in stone. Thereby, brace yourself for a lot of different answers. 

How Often To Feed Clownfish? Real Answers By Real Hobbyists! 

Note: All the answers expressed below purely belong to the respective authors. 

“Fish are never satiated. In my opinion, one feeding a day is enough, but sometimes, I feed twice. Otherwise, you can run into nutrient issues.”

“I give my clowns pellets on Tuesdays and Thursdays once or twice a day. Then on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I give them mysis. Occasionally, I treat them with worms. On Saturdays and Sundays, they don’t get fed.”

“Clownfish are beggars XD I am feeding them 4 times daily, but only because they’re very young and growing like crazy! I am planning to cut back to feeding twice a day in a couple of months.”

“I think once a day is more than enough. Yes, they can go quite a while without being fed!”

“I feed my clowns around 5 times a week, skipping a day here and there. I have done so for the past 25 years, and many of my fish lived past 13 years.”

“I give them twice a day – a mixture of rotifers, mysis, squid, and brine. But If I’m in a rush or don’t feel like thawing, I just throw in some pellets.”

“Every other day.”

“Keep in mind that clownfish are omnivores and should be fed both meaty foods as well as algae. I typically feed mine every day – alternating between all sorts of food, including algae sheets.”

“Fish are like pigs; they will eat every time you feed. So I only feed mine once a day what they can finish within 2-3 minutes.”

“If my clownfish were to answer this, he’d say thrice a day. But I only offer food every other day – just a little bit.”

Boy, that segment was a patchwork quilt, wasn’t it? But I hope I got my point across. You see, there’s no one hard and fast rule on feeding clownfish or any other fish for that matter. 

It all boils down to how you have shaped your fish dietary regime from the start, the extent of naturally available food in the tank like algae, and of course, your own convenience. 

However, there’s one tip my veterinarian friend Ravi shared with me about feeding cichlids. And I wonder if it applies to clownfish too. 

He recommended breaking a big meal into several small meals and giving them throughout the day. This apparently helps curb their greed and aggression when it comes to resources.

But I’m aware that not all of us are home the entire day to plan a 6-course meal for our fish. You do you! Don’t worry. 

And by the way, as flexible as an adult clownfish’s diet regime can be, the same cannot be said about little fry. In their case, you have to go by the book.

How Often To Feed Clownfish Fry?

Clownfish fry should be fed a number of times a day at short intervals. You can give anywhere between 3 to 5 meals depending on their age. The younger they are, the more prone they’re to starvation. 

When first ‘hatched,’ all baby clownfish come equipped with a nutritious yolk sac attached to their bodies. They feed on it for the first couple of days. You don’t need to worry about feeding them right off the bat. 

Once the sac is depleted, it will get absorbed into their bodies. 

Interesting! And this is where your role begins.

Now, I’m going to answer how much to feed these little guys. Once again, the answer will be based on my own feeding experience. 

I’ll also share some answers from fellow hobbyists on the subject matter. 

How Much To Feed Clownfish? 

I stick to a simple rule. I give my clownfish food they can finish within 2-3 minutes. And if there are any leftovers after 15 minutes of offering, I scoop them out, so the water doesn’t get foul. 

I know the answer written above may not be helpful for beginners. How the heck are you supposed to know what they can eat within 2-3 minutes, right? 

Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. 

The food clownfish can finish within 2-3 minutes are 2-3 pellets, ¼ of a cube of frozen food, and 2-3 bite-sized portions of blanched veggies or live food. Not all of them together, of course! 

2-3 pellets may seem too little, but you should first see how small their stomachs are. 

Next, have a look at how much food our fellow hobbyists offer their clownfish. 

“I give ¼ of a cube of frozen food every other day. I have 2 clownfish and a royal gramma.”

“I feed my clownfish 2-3 times every week. I give a small chunk of frozen mysis and just pop in enough until they stop feeding.”

“Once a week, I add a small bit of cyclopeze and dose with phytoplankton. They will eventually get used to the feedings, and as your aquarium matures, they’ll find copepods and amphipods to eat during the day.”

“I think it boils down to how your clownfish are looking and what your system can handle. I usually try to stick to the smallest feedings possible.”

You see, just as it is with feeding frequency, there’s no one set rule carved in stone when it comes to how much food you should give your clowns. You and your fish know it the best.

How Many Pellets To Feed Clownfish?

You can give 4-6 pellets throughout the day. You can break it into two small meals of 2-3 pellets for morning and night. 

How Much Live Food And Veggies To Feed Clownfish?

First, break the live food cubes and veggies into small pieces about the same size as the pellets. And offer the same amount as you would do with the pellets. 

 Now, we’re going to have a look at what food options are available for these little omnivores. But before that, you need to understand what their diet looks like in the wild. 

Recommended Readings!

5-Gallon Clownfish Tank? Is It Even Possible?

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

What Do Clownfish Eat In The Wild?

In the wild, a clownfish’s diet primarily consists of small invertebrates, lots of algae, and some fish scraps left behind by anemones. 

As you can guess, they don’t eat at fixed intervals in the wild. Sometimes, they feast on more than they can swallow. Other times, they go for days without eating. 

That’s why clownfish, like practically every other fish, are opportunistic feeders. 

Also, they have a super interesting relationship with anemones. Their extraordinary interspecies friendship is on another level! 

When a tasty morsel passes by, clownfish darts out of the anemone as bait and returns once they’ve made their catch. And in the night, clownfish sleep safely in the swaying arms of the anemone. 

What impressed me the most is that clownfish have evolved to produce a mucus coating that protects them from an anemone’s painful stings. Oh, nature! 

What To Feed Clownfish In Captivity?

Clownfish are omnivores. Therefore, they need both meat-based and plant-based food in their diet. Choose a reliable pellet brand that doesn’t use harmful fillers for the everyday staple diet. Occasionally, you can fortify their diet with treats like blanched veggies and frozen or live food.

Let’s have a deeper look at these food options.

Pellets And Flakes 

Pellets and flakes should ideally be a part of their everyday diet. Therefore, you shouldn’t cut corners when buying these items for your clownfish. As discussed above, you can give 2-3 pellets and flakes twice a day. 

 My go-to choice for pellets is New Life Spectrum Fish Formula. 

What I like the best about this product is that it’s made with high-end ingredients like krill, squid, seaweed, and spirulina. 

And here’s the link to New Life Spectrum Optimum All-Purpose Flakes, made with the same high-quality ingredients used in their pellets. 

Frozen Foods 

You should regularly fortify your clownfish’s diet with frozen food like brine shrimp and mysis. My clowns love it.

These food choices have a high protein concentration, crucial to ensure a fish’s proper growth. They usually come in cubes and sheet forms.

Another good choice would be frozen spirulina, which comes in a mixed pack of different varieties. 

My go-to choice for frozen food is mysis shrimp cubes from Hikari. It’s gut-loaded with multi-vitamins and contains lipid and fatty acids. 

Dried Foods 

You can also feed dried foods like nori and seaweed to your clownfish. Although these foods are primarily fed to herbivore fish, I’m sure your clowns will love them too. It’ll also help you keep your diet varied. 

My choice for dried food is EasyReeds Easy Serve Masstick Fish Food. 

The food sticks to glass, corals, and rocks – thus, encouraging my clownfish’s natural foraging instincts. 

It’s made with 100% natural ingredients and contains 0 preservatives. 

Here’s a link if you’re interested 

Blanched Veggies 

My clownfish readily eat blanched veggies once or twice a week. Although vegetables are not a part of their natural diet in the wild, they will eat them without any fuss. 

You can give them blanched broccoli, zucchini, cucumber, lettuce, spinach, squash, and peas. Just make sure that you cut the food into bite-sized pieces.

Live Food 

I don’t give my clowns live food often, but my friends culture their own batch and feed them regularly. Well, live earthworms can be a hit or miss. Some will eat, and some won’t. You can also offer copepods, amphipods, and blackworms. 

How Long Can Clownfish Survive Without Food?

In the wild, clownfish regularly go without food for days. In the tank, they can safely fast for about a week. After that, their health can deteriorate with every passing day.

If you feel that your fish is bloated, constipated, or has some other digestive issues, fasting it for a couple of days can be helpful. 

Also, if you’re going to be away for the weekend or a couple of days, you don’t need to worry about your fish starving to death. 

But I’d still recommend against purposefully starving the fish – I mean, what’s the point, right?

Bigger and mature fish can usually go longer without food than juveniles and fry. 

Still, the fasting duration depends on several other factors like the fish’s size, the tank’s ecosystem, diet regime, and so on. 

Where Do Clownfish Eat? 

Clownfish fry and juveniles usually don’t go wandering around searching for food. Instead, they typically stick to one spot they deem to be safe. Therefore, while feeding them, you should disperse the food within these designated spots. 

On the other hand, adult clownfish don’t mind going out and about to feed. Since they have a pretty solid carnivore instinct, you can nurture this behavior by scattering the food across the tank’s surface. 

Auto Feeder For Clownfish 

If you’re planning to be away for a long weekend or simply don’t want to be the one to offer food every single day, luckily, there are numerous auto-feeding devices available for you to choose from. 

These devices are programmed to feed a certain amount of food throughout the day. 

Here’s a link to one by Eheim that’s super convenient and easy to use. It has an integrated fan and ventilation system that keeps the food dry for longer. 

What Are The Signs Of Overfeeding Your Clownfish? 

We’re all guilty of overfeeding our pet fish from time to time. But showering too much love is dangerous when it comes to feeding fish. Some signs that you’re overfeeding your clownfish are too much poop in the tank, deterring food, piles of leftover, algae bloom, and increased worm and snail population.

Feeding my fish is something that I look forward to every day. Therefore, I’m just as guilty of overfeeding them every once in a while. 

Here are a few telltale signs that signal that you’re overfeeding your fish.

  • A frequent spike in ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels 
  • A sudden growth in snail and worm population 
  • Fish occasionally deters food when offered 
  • Leftover food piles at the bottom 
  • Fuzzy, cotton-like growth on top of uneaten food 
  • Filter media clogs within a few days 
  • Water becomes cloudy and gives off a pungent smell

What Are The Signs Of Underfeeding Your Clownfish? 

We’re often urged to feed our fish as little as possible for the sake of maintaining the water quality for longer. However, we’re directly putting them at risk of malnourishment while doing so. 

The signs of underfeeding in clownfish are skinny bodies, sunken bellies, washed-out colors, a drab appearance, and lethargy. 

However, note that all of these symptoms could also signify an unknown secondary illness. 

So, if you’re feeding your clownfish healthy amounts and they still look malnourished, you might want to consult a vet and start antiparasitic or deworming medications. 

Here’s a table showing what a lack of different nutrients does to your clownfish’s body. 

Nutrient Deficiency Signs 
Vitamin AAnemia, kidney hemorrhage, exophthalmia 
Vitamin BLowered hemoglobin levels, suppressed appetite, stunted growth 
Vitamin CDarkened colroation, impaired collagen formation, eye lesions
Vitamin DStunted growth, softened exoskeleton, lethargy
IodineHyperplasia, thyroid
Calcium Skull deformity, scoliosis, stunted growth
ManganeseWeight loss, mortality 

Final Words: How Often To Feed Clownfish? 

Honestly, the answer to this question differs from one hobbyist to another. Unfortunately, there’s no one rule etched in stone on how often or how much to feed clownfish. 

I give my adult clownfish 2 meals a day, around 8-10 hours apart. As for the amount, I provide how much they can consume within 2-3 minutes. 

Initially, it can be pretty overwhelming if you’re new to the hobby because the feeding regime differs quite drastically depending on the individual’s choice and the fish’s need. 

But before you know, you’ll get the hang of it and figure out what’s best for your fish. 

Recommended Readings!

White Spots On Clownfish! Copper-Free Treatment?

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

Are Clownfish Aggressive? Will They Bite Your Finger?

Clownfish Lifespan | How Old Is The Oldest Clownfish?

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.