How Long Does It Take For Clownfish To Pair?

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If you recently added a new clownfish to your established tank, you probably wonder how long it takes for clownfish to pair.

If you introduce a smaller clownfish than the current you have, or two clownfish at once, a pair will form in a couple of months, usually sooner. Pairing up is not guaranteed and, in some cases, will never occur.

Before I bought my two clownfish, I did thorough research. I wanted to learn the best ways to ensure that my clowns would pair. I came across many different opinions on the internet that I will share in this post.

Of course, I will share the experience with my clowns, as well. They are still juveniles, but they are starting to show pairing behavior. 

Without furder ado, let’s get started.


Clownfish Pairing Behavior

To understand the clownfish pairing process, you first need to know some basic things about clownfish sexual development.

All clownfish are born males. Based on signals from the environment, some clownfish will become females. Once a male transforms into a female, it can’t go back. 

When a female dies, the dominant male will transform into a female, and new pair will form. In the wild, clownfish live in social groups of one dominant female, one dominant male, and many smaller males. If someone dies, there’s always a replacement.

We are advised to keep just one pair of clownfish in our aquariums because of territorial aggression. It’s probably better, even though I’ve seen several successful clownfish harem tanks.

How do I know if my clownfish are paired?

Clownfish usually hang out in the same corner of your aquarium, but it doesn’t mean they are paired. However, some signs may indicate that you have a bonded pair.

Bonded pairs usually host the same area. They sleep at the same place and protect the territory together. You’ll notice that one of them is pretty larger, suggesting that they have already chosen their roles.

Before they pair up, if you observe them regularly, you’ll notice the characteristic clownfish twitching. It’s the male shaking in front of the female accepting her dominance. 

If you ever witness that kind of behavior, you know you have a pair in the making.

How do I get my clownfish to pair?

Paring will naturally occur in your tank, but you can increase your chances of success if you use the following techniques. Remember, nothing is guaranteed, and your clownfish may never pair. 

Add two juveniles at once

This technique is probably the easiest and the best to pair up clownfish. It works most of the time. 

Purchase two small juveniles at the same time and introduce them in an empty tank. Preferably choose one that is slightly bigger than the other one. Picking two clownfish with the same size is ok too, but ideally, we want one of them to be larger.

We choose juveniles because neither of them is transformed into females yet. They are all males. If you introduce just two in a separate tank, the fish will try to establish a dominant-submissive relationship. 

After a short period of fighting and getting to know each other, the clownfish will take their roles. 

Usually, the bigger one will be the dominant fish and later on transform into a female, and the smaller one will become the male. They will bond and become a bonded pair.

Add a new smaller clownfish to the existing clownfish

The second technique is introducing a new clownfish to a tank where another clownfish already lives. This technique also works, but it’s trickier than the other one.

You need to be careful because adding a new clownfish may result in unwanted consequences.

The trick here is always to add a smaller clownfish than the existing one. Otherwise, you’ll run into some problems.

There is a big chance the clownfish you have is already a female if it’s in the tank for over a year. By adding a clownfish of the same size, you are risking introducing another female to the system. 

Will clownfish always pair?

There is no guarantee that the clownfish in your tank will pair. Most of them will pair; however, it doesn’t mean they’ll ever spawn.

Clownfish may stay bonded pair for years before they spawn for the first time. When they spawn, they will become a mated pair.

Do you like to learn more about clownfish? Check out these articles:

Final Thoughts

Now, you probably have a better understanding of the general process of pairing clownfish. Pairing clownfish should not be a difficult task and will probably naturally occur in your tank.

Getting your clownfish to spawn, however, is another thing. You will need to provide a stable and stress-free environment with an abundance of quality food. 

Even if you set up the perfect conditions, it is not guaranteed that your clownfish will start to spawn.

You can follow the techniques for pairing mentioned above, but nature should take its course in under a year. Sometimes even sooner.

Now I’d like to hear from you. What is your experience with pairing clownfish?

Let me know in the comment section below!

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