Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion percula): Ultimate Care Guide


Percula Clownfish are a popular choice for marine aquarium hobbyists. Their orange bodies feature three vertical white stripes bordered with black. Perculas have a symbiotic relationship with anemones and is often paired with this marine species. While this pairing isn’t a requirement, especially with captive-bred specimens, it does allow the territorial Percula to claim a place as their own.

Percula Clownfish vs Ocellaris Clownfish

Percula Clownfish look similar to somewhat smaller Ocellaris Clownfish and have thicker black bands separating white from orange. Ocellaris Clownfish have many color patterns due to the large number of different varieties achieved by selective breeding. A good example of an Ocellaris Clownfish is Nemo, in the film “Finding Nemo.” The two species can be kept together in one tank and aren’t prone to inter-species aggression.

Percula Clownfish Care

Percula Clownfish can be easier to care for than some other marine species. If you’re new to saltwater aquariums, Perculas are a hardy and eye-catching fish which can be a great starter species. This fish has specific food and water requirements which must be provided to ensure the greatest health and longevity.

Are Percula Clownfish easy to care for?

Percula Clownfish are easy to care for and can be a great introduction to marine aquariums. However this fish is often paired with anemones or corals and these can have more intensive care requirements. When planning on keeping a Percula Clownfish always take into consideration the care needs of any tank mates.

Percula Clownfish
Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion percula)

Temperature

Percula Clownfish prefer water temperatures between 74 – 82 °F.

Water pH

Percula Clownfish accept water pH between 8.1 and 8.4.

Percula Clownfish Size

While Percula Clownfish only grow to between 2.5 to 3 inches they can be very territorial and need larger tanks to reduce aggression.

Food & Diet

In nature, the Percula Clownfish mainly consumes zooplankton and copepods. Often, captive bred specimens have been raised to eat high-protein pellet and flake food. It can be difficult to get a wild caught Percula to eat prepared foods but it is possible. Providing live food can be especially important with wild-caught Percula as these fish will take a while to become accustomed to prepared foods.

Percula Clownfish Lifespan

Percula Clownfish have been knows to live up to 10 years in captivity, but 8 years is more common. To get the longest lifespan from your fish be sure to provide a healthy and varied diet of high protein foods.

Percula Clownfish Tank Size

While Percula Clownfish are a smaller species they can be territorial so it’s best to provide a larger tank than their size indicates. 30 gallons is the smallest tank you should use. If you’re planning on breeding this species or want multiple specimens, a larger tank will be needed. Keeping 3 to 4 Percula Clownfish will require a tank size of around 100 gallons. While it is possible to use smaller tanks, this can lead to aggression between Perculas, and towards other tank mates.

Percula Clownfish pair
Percula Clownfish pair

Tank Setup

Percula Clownfish have simple tank requirements but they are often kept along with other species which need more specific setups. Anemones are a common tank mate as Percula Clownfish like to live around their tentacles. If an anemone isn’t available, this fish will often settle for an LPS coral. Anemones are the best choice since they have a symbiotic relationship with Percula Clownfish in nature. Your fish will be happier and show less aggression towards other tank mates if they have an anemone or LPS coral to claim as their own territory. This is particularly important if you are planning on having multiple Perculas in one tank. Anemones and corals are more choosy about certain tank setups, particularly lighting. You will often need much stronger lights to raise either of these species. While tank setup for anemones and corals is beyond the scope of this article, it will often require more planning than the setup for your Perculas. Generally, as long as your tank supports healthy anemones or corals, it will be a great environment for a Percula Clownfish.

Water filtration is important as is access to quality food. A sump filter can be converted to a refugium for growing copepods and other zooplankton. While captive bread Percula Clownfish and anemones will eat both prepared and live food, wild caught Perculas may have difficulty recognizing anything that isn’t alive as food. Being able to grow your own microfauna in a refugium can improve the health and lifespan of most fish, and may even reduce the need for water changes.

If you choose to avoid a sump filter, a canister filter is another good option to keep your tank water pure. Canister filters are more beginner friendly than sump filters as there is less to install and maintain. Make sure you buy a quality canister filter which is appropriately sized for your aquarium. Canister filters are a quick and simple way to keep your tank water clean and are a good choice for hobbyists who don’t want the added complications of a sump filter or refugium.

Make sure you tank has adequate current flow. If you are feeding live food, flow inside your tank can help your fish find food without venturing away from their chosen territory. When pairing Percula Clownfish with anemones or corals, having enough current can help keep debris suspended and ease removal by filtration. Powerheads and filter outputs can be adjusted to provide currents inside of your tank but might not be enough. Wavemakers are a common way to add additional water flow when needed. These small devices resemble small electric fans which can be positioned and directed to add flow where it is needed.

Percula Clownfish and Anemone
Percula Clownfish and Anemone

Percula Clownfish Breeding

Breeding Percula Clownfish is easiest to breed when starting with a mated pair. If you haven’t bred marine fish before, Perculas may be more of a challenge than you expect.

How do Percula Clownfish breed?

The first step to successfully breeding Percula Clownfish is obtaining a mated pair. You can buy one or obtain a few specimens and see which ones form pairs. Prepare to move the un-paired fish to another tank so they aren’t bullied by the others. Increase you tank’s temperature to between 79 – 83 °F. Begin feeding your fish high-protein and live foods. The warmer temperatures and higher protein diet will encourage mating. Having an anemone present can also increase the chances of mating, but it isn’t a requirement. This is where the male will clean a spot where the female will lay eggs. If an anemone isn’t available the pair will use a pot or tile. The female lays eggs which have filaments that stick them to the surface. The male will follow behind and fertilize these eggs. Egg laying will continue for 2 to 3 hours, and the resulting eggs hatch in 6 to 7 days. Provide the eggs with enough current to keep them aerated.

When the eggs get closer to hatching, you’ll need to move them to a tank which provides very dim light. You can do this by covering the surface with black construction paper. Move the container or anemone containing eggs to this tank. Position a bubbler to aerate the eggs and add a sponge filter. Darken the room and check every 12 hours to see if the eggs have hatched. Do this with a very dim light as the fry are sensitive to sudden light changes. These fry should be fed rotifers and their water should be changed regularly to keep ammonia levels low. Around 10 days after hatching, the larva will begin changing into recognizable fry, after which you can begin increasing the light levels. In 20 days the fry are big enough to be moved to a larger tank where they can begin maturing.

Percula Clownfish Male or Female

The largest Percula Clownfish in a group will be the female. If this fish dies, the next largest fish will switch from male to female. Females have more girth, especially when they are getting ready to lay eggs.

Percula Clownfish Disease

Percula Clownfish are hardy and disease resistant as long as water purity and chemistry is kept in check. They can contract some diseases such as Brooklynella, and saltwater Ich. Brooklynella is also known as “clownfish disease.” Brooklynella appears as swollen gills and lesions on the body. This disease is often treated with Formalin. Saltwater Ich is a common marine disease which effects more than just Clownfish. It is treatable but many common treatments contain copper which can harm anemone and corals. If your tank contains more species than just Clownfish, it is a good idea to maintain a separate quarantine tank (QT). A QT allows you to apply medicines only to infected fish. More importantly, a QT lets you quarantine new tank additions for 6 to 8 weeks before adding to your community tank. Proper quarantine procedures can save hobbyists lots of grief by helping you catch diseased fish before they can infect your main tank.

Percula Clownfish Tank Mates

Percula Clownfish can get along with many fish including damselfish, tangs, blennies, corals and of course, anemones. They can fight among their own kind, so if you are keeping more than one you should provide a larger tank along with other anemones which lone Perculas can claim as their territory.

Where can I find Percula Clownfish for sale?

Percula Clownfish are often available from local fish stores or online sources. Prices vary by size and can range from $30 to $120 USD. Make sure you are getting a genuine Amphiprion percula as “false Perculas” are very common.

What is a true Percula Clownfish?

A true Percula Clownfish has an orange body with three white vertical lines outlined in black. The black outlines on a Percula Clownfish are much thicker and darker than the “false Percula.”

What is a false Percula Clownfish?

A false Percula Clownfish appears similar to a true Percula, but their white sections have thinner black outlines. They are also somewhat larger than true Perculas.

Percula Clownfish Types

Selective breeding has produced many different varieties of the Percula Clownfish. Differences range from subtle to extreme. Here are some of the most popular captive bred varieties:

Platinum Percula Clownfish

Platinum Percula Clownfish are the result of selective breeding and appear white from head to tail without the striping of a natural Percula Clownfish. When mature this variety develops black fins.

Picasso Percula Clownfish

Picasso Percula Clownfish have thicker white center stripes. This variety is present in the wild but is extremely rare. Most fish of this type have been bred in captivity.

Misbar Percula Clownfish

Misbar Percula Clownfish is a variety which is either missing the center stripe or their center stripe is incomplete and don’t encircle the entire body. They develop black coloration in their mid sections when mature.

Super Yellow Percula Clownfish

Super Yellow Percula Clownfish is a new variety which is being produced by SFC in Thailand. It is an attempt to create a solid yellow Percula Clownfish inspired by a solid yellow specimen caught in 2014. While they aren’t finished producing this variety, it should be available for purchase in the future.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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