What Do Clownfish Eat? {Are They Picky Eaters?}

Are you wondering what clownfish eat in the wild and in your tank?

Are they picky eaters? Do they have something they love to eat

In this article, we’ll discuss what clownfish eat.

What Do Clownfish Eat?

Clownfish form a symbiotic relationship with anemone hosts to feed off their leftover scraps while also enjoying algae, krill, zooplankton, larvae, copepods, Mysis or brine shrimp and marine pellets or flakes in your aquarium.

What Do Clownfish Eat in the Wild?

Clownfish have adapted to living off their host anemones in open seas and oceans. They are omnivores that can enjoy bits of:

  • algae
  • invertebrates
  • zooplankton
  • copepods
  • tunicate larvae
  • fish eggs
  • anything that goes indigested from a sea anemone

Their host can be fatal to many other marine life, but the thick coating on a clownfish allows them to rest, eat and share a symbiotic relationship with anemones.

What Do Clownfish Eat in an Aquarium?

Clownfish are not picky or fussy eaters. They will take to feeding what you are offering under a comfortable tank setup and a routine feeding schedule. Offer your clownfish the following foods:

  • marine flakes and pellets
  • meaty food
  • frozen food
  • vegetables

Flakes and Pellets

Marine quality flakes and pellets offer a blended amount of supportive nutrients to balance the dietary needs of your clownfish.

Many marine animals don’t take well to pellets or flakes, but a clownfish that forms a bond with you as its keeper and ecosystem manager will trust that you are offering nutrition that is vital for a healthy life in your tank.

You can try freshwater pellets and flakes too but we tend to stick with the following brands:

  • Ultra Marine Soft Clownfish pellets
  • New Life Spectrum
  • TDO from Reed Mariculture
  • Marine A pellets from Hikari
  • Ocean Nutrition Formula Two
  • Cobalt Breeders Formula

Meaty Food

Your clownfish is going to enjoy eating live, meaty foods as well to remain entertained, active while mimicking its natural behavior in the wild. Offer your clownfish the following favorites:

  • krill
  • Mysis shrimp
  • brine shrimp

Frozen Food

It’s easy to buy frozen meals and let them thaw out before placing them in your clownfish tank. Sometimes you will need to cut these foods down to bite sizes. Here are some great frozen options:

  • Bloodworms
  • Table shrimp (peeled)
  • Cooked mussels
  • Chopped squid
  • Octopus
  • White fish
  • Cockles
  • Chicken liver


Because you are caring for omnivorous marine life, your clownfish is going to enjoy vegetables as well. Start with the following suggestions:

  • algae flakes and wafers
  • nori (seaweed)
  • spinach
  • chard
  • spirulina flakes
  • kale
  • zucchini 
YouTube video

How Often Should I Feed My Clownfish?

The feeding schedule depends on you and your relationship with your clownfish. Are you busy and need to feed only once a day? Stick around to remove leftovers before they raise ammonia levels.

Do you want to enjoy feedings and spread them out? You can feed your clownfish smaller portions 3-4 times a day. We encourage the latter option because your clownfish are constantly on the lookout to feed and remain active.

Do not skimp out on cheap meals and seek out higher quality brands or higher end grocery store options.

If you are going to breed clownfish, you will need to think carefully about the best quality foods. You can buy fresh and freeze the meals yourself. All you need is a blender or knife with an ice tray to spread out portions.

What Are Some Feeding Tips For Clownfish?

Your clownfish is going to be curious and try almost anything you are offering. We advise that you stay nearby and watch what is happening. If you introduce earthworms for example, a clownfish may eat it or swim away.

This means that you should remove the earthworms before its bio-load adds to the tank’s ammonia levels. Offer foods in smaller sizes so your clownfish will find it more appealing.

Fish tend to go for what they can fit into their mouths as they don’t intend to chew their food. Buy amphipods, larvae and copepods from your local fish shop. Your clownfish will love them.

What Is The Relationship Between A Clownfish and Anemone?

Put an anemone in your tank with your clownfish and see what happens. Clownfish interact in a special way to this host in the wild that provides food and shelter. They protect your clownfish and make them feel safe.

The anemone produces waste and leftovers for clownfish to devour. In the wild, the clownfish lures unsuspecting fish over to the anemone which can sting these potential predators and leave them available as nutrients to be absorbed.

What is left behind is food for clownfish. This is a symbiotic relationship where both species benefit. You may have to find the right anemone for your clownfish if the first option doesn’t work.

Trial and error or expert advice from your local retailer may help you find the right anemone for your tank and clownfish.

When Is The Best Time To Feed a Clownfish?

Healthy and happy clownfish like to eat more than once a day. You can feed your clownfish 2-4 times as part of a routine schedule. The expected meal duration is 3-5 minutes.

After this period, the remaining food is considered food waste and could spike ammonia levels. Remove them to keep your tank water clean.

Mornings are a great time to feed your clownfish after a long rest period during the time. They break their fast with this breakfast and may expect more meals to come throughout the day if you spread out the portions into smaller sizes.


Your clownfish will adjust to the way you wish to feed them. Place one more anemones in your tank to help replicate the symbiotic relationship and increase the comfort.

If you have multiple clownfish, you may need one anemone for each individual or bonded pair. There are so many options of foods for this non-fussy omnivore. Spread out the feedings throughout the day for a more natural approach to meals.


Thanks for visiting HelpUsfish.com for all your informational needs surrounding marine life or aquatic animals and everything else we can offer with aquarium or outdoor pond tips. We’re here to help. Bye for now! 

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.