warring clowns

Sep 5, 2011
89
0
0
New Jersey
#1
so I've had this 15 gallon reef setup for quite awhile now. in it i have 2 ocellaris clowns, one orange one black, a forktail blenny and some inverts plus some coral pieces. when i out the clowns in i purposefully staggered the size so they wouldnt fight and id get a male and a female from the outset. my orange clown is larger and has always been so. they were buddies from when they went in until a month or two after, and now my female just constantly keeps my male hiding in my live rock. they both eat, as does the blenny, but the female just attacks my male non stop.

should i be worried? will they return to normal? should i pull one and just stick to one clown?
thanks
 

Feb 27, 2009
4,395
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#2
when i out the clowns in i purposefully staggered the size so they wouldnt fight and id get a male and a female from the outset.
Not sure what is meant by 'staggered the size so they wouldnt fight.' If they were different sizes, there is no way to ensure one is a male and one a female, unless they grew up together, and the dominant (and largest) one of the group would become female.

my orange clown is larger and has always been so. they were buddies from when they went in until a month or two after, and now my female just constantly keeps my male hiding in my live rock.
the female just attacks my male non stop.

should i be worried? will they return to normal? should i pull one and just stick to one clown?
thanks
I personally don't think two clowns would work in that small of a space.
 

Feb 27, 2009
4,395
0
36
#4
i bought one larger than the other. basically i picked which one i wanted to become my female.
The group of fish will 'decide' who will become the leader and female of the shoal. There is nothing anyone can do to 'pick' which will be the female.

It sounds like they came from different sources, since one is the the black 'morph' that is captive bred now. If the black one was the dominant one of its original group, he would have become the female. Just because the two you chose to put together were different sizes when you put them in the 15 gallon tank, does not mean one is male and one is female.

The only way to ensure a male/female pair is to raise juvies together as a pair or a group. The dominant one will become the female as they grow up.

If you want to try for a pair from adult fish, you can pick the largest/dominant one from one group, and a subservant one from another.

Either you have two females, or there is territory issues due to the small size.

Long ago, I bred these fish, and would always give them at least 20 or better 30 gallons for a pair or trio. If other fish were in the tank, the size was increased again.
 

Last edited:

CAPSLOCK

Elite Fish
Jul 19, 2004
3,682
33
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Cape Cod
#5
Since the orange female is being aggressive, I would remove the small black (or remove the orange, either way works) and give it to someone, trade it in, whichever. Otherwise the black is going to be killed, or jump. A female clown will not allow another clown in the tank unless it is her bonded partner (and that is not bonding behavior by any means).

Like OC said, if the black was alone or over an inch or so, there is a chance it had started to become female. Or, it's possible the female just doesn't like that male, and she will kill him. Could be due to her personality or the size of the tank.
 

Sep 5, 2011
89
0
0
New Jersey
#6
like i said they were buddies originally then the black gained size and she probably felt threatened. Buying different sized clowns works however as long as you do it correctly. I've seen tons of cases where its worked. neither of these fish are large by any means. i think i am going to have to catch one or the other out, just not sure exactly how to go about doing it. thanks again
 

Feb 27, 2009
4,395
0
36
#7
like i said they were buddies originally
Can you house them again in the tank that they were 'buddies' in? If they then get along, you'd know its a space issue.

Buying different sized clowns works however as long as you do it correctly. I've seen tons of cases where its worked. neither of these fish are large by any means.
I've housed countless 'rescued' female clowns that were being picked on by larger or more aggressive females in HUGE tanks (mostly 220gallons or larger - display tanks in offices I maintained), so have seen tons of cases that it did not work. In every case, the client had added a new clown (or clowns) after the original group was established. One of the new additions had already become female and the resident original female would have none of it. In most cases, she'd accept the other males, as they can live in groups with all males and one female, if given enough space.

How large is the one being bullied? I've had them begin to change gender and and then lay eggs at just over 1.5 inches in length.

i think i am going to have to catch one or the other out, just not sure exactly how to go about doing it. thanks again
Good luck!
 

Last edited:

CAPSLOCK

Elite Fish
Jul 19, 2004
3,682
33
48
36
Cape Cod
#9
If the black is hiding in the rocks all the time, it is not a food issue. But if she is acting aggressively towards him(her?), that will continue until she has removed him (death or jumping, or you removing one).