Clownfish and Host Anemone Matches

Ocellaris Clownfish and Anemone
Photograph by Mikael Kvist/ Moment/Getty Images

In their natural habitats, Clownfish and anemones have a symbiotic relationship; both need the other to survive. Clownfish rely on anemones for protection from predators, while anemones rely on Clownfish for food. Different types of Clownfish tend to prefer living with, or hosting, different types of anemones. If you're setting up an aquarium and would like to keep Clownfish and anemones, it makes sense to try one these natural pairings, but don't be surprised if your Clownfish have different ideas. 

As with any critter in the ocean, nothing is cast in stone, and many Clownfish will not go anywhere near their "preferred" anemone. Clownfish have been known to host many things other than anemones, including feather dusters and Toadstool Corals after rejecting every anemone presented to it.

Some aquarists believe that tank-raised Clownfish do not host anemones as readily as wild-caught Clownfish after a few generations. The suggested reason is that their parents and grandparents have never seen anemones and therefore have lost the instinct or need for the protection from potential predators. 

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  • 01 of 12

    Cinnamon, Red & Black (Amphiprion melanopus) Clownfish

    Red and Black Anemonefish (Amphiprion melanopus) in anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor). Steve's Bommie, Ribbon Reefs, Great Barrier Reef
    Richard Ling/Wikimedia Commons

    Host Anemones:

  • 02 of 12

    Clark's, "Sebae", Yellowtail (Amphiprion clarkii) Clownfish

    Host Anemones:

    • Carpet Sea Anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum)
    • Bubble Tip Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)
    • Beaded (Aurora) Sea Anemone (Heteractis aurora)
    • Leathery (Sebae) Sea Anemone (Heteractis crispa)
    • Magnificent Sea Anemone (H. magnifica)
    • Sabae Sea Anemone (H. malu)
    • Corkscrew (Long Tentacle) Sea Anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis)
    • Giant Carpet Sea Anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea)
    • Haddon's (Saddleback Carpet) Sea Anemone (S. haddoni)
    • Merten's Carpet Sea Anemone (S. mertensii)
  • 03 of 12

    Maroon, Spinecheek, White-Stripe, Gold-Stripe (Premnas biaculeatus) Clownfish

    Maroon Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus). R. Tebben

    Host Anemones:

    • Bubble Tip Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)
    • Corkscrew (Long Tentacle) Sea Anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis)
  • 04 of 12

    Ocellaris, False Percula (Amphiprion ocellaris) Clownfish

    Host Anemones:

    • Magnificent Sea Anemone (Heteractis magnifica)
    • Giant Carpet Sea Anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea), Merten's Carpet Sea Anemone (S. mertensii)
    • May adapt to Bubble Tip Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor) in aquariums; also known to host the Haddon's Saddle Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni)
    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Orange Skunk (Amphiprion sandaracinos) Clownfish

    Host Anemones:

    • Leathery (Sebae) Sea Anemone (Heteractis crispa)
    • Merten's Carpet Sea Anemone (S. mertensii)
    • May adapt to other anemones in aquariums
  • 06 of 12

    Percula, True Percula, Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula) Clownfish

    Mated Pair of True Percula Clownfish
    Steve Whitt

    Host Anemones:

    • Leathery (Sebae) Sea Anemone (Heteractis crispa)
    • Magnificent Sea Anemone (H. ​magnifica)
    • Giant Carpet Sea Anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea)
    • Merten's Carpet Sea Anemone (S. mertensii)
    • May adapt to Bubble Tip Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor) and other anemones in aquariums
  • 07 of 12

    Pink Skunk Clownfish (Amphiprion perideraion) Clownfish

    Pink skunk clownfish
    Photo © Kim Yusuf / Getty Images.

    Host Anemones:

    • Magnificent Sea Anemone (Heteractis magnifica)
    • Leathery (Sebae) Sea Anemone (Heteractis crispa)
    • Corkscrew (Long Tentacle) Sea Anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis)
    • Giant Carpet Sea Anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea)
  • 08 of 12

    Red Saddleback, Fire (Amphiprion ephippium)

    Fire or Red Saddleback Clownfish - Amphiprion ephippium - Image
    Photo © Debbie and Stan Hauter

    Host Anemones:

    • Bubble Tip Anemone (Entacmaea​ quadricolor)
    • Leathery (Sebae) Sea Anemone (Heteractis crispa)
    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Saddleback (Amphiprion polymnus) Clownfish

    Saddleback Clownfish (Amphiprion polymnus). Mitchel Davis

    Host Anemones:

    • Haddon's (Saddleback Carpet) Sea Anemone (S. haddoni)
    • Leathery (Sebae) Sea Anemone (Heteractis crispa)
  • 10 of 12

    Sebae, Seba's (Amphiprion sebae) Clownfish

    Host Anemones:

    • Haddon's (Saddleback Carpet) Sea Anemone (S. haddoni)
  • 11 of 12

    Skunk (Amphiprion akallopisos) Clownfish

    Pink Anemonefish / Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA/NMFS/OPR
    Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA/NMFS/OPR

    Host Anemones:

    • Magnificent Sea Anemone (Heteractis magnifica)
    • Merten's Carpet Sea Anemone (S. mertensii)
    • May adapt to Bubble Tip Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor), and other anemones in aquariums
  • 12 of 12

    Tomato, Red (Amphiprion frenatus) Clownfish

    Tomato Clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus)
    J. Bellantoni

    Host Anemones:

    • Bubble Tip Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)
    • Leathery (Sebae) Sea Anemone (Heteractis crispa)