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stocking a reef tank with a resident maroon clownfish

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AreYouAShoggoth User avatar
Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 35
I have a question about how to approach stocking.

I have a 125 gallon reef tank that's been up and running for over 10 years. Corals are mushrooms, zoanthids, trumpet coral, hammer, and frogspawn. Here's the rub: it has one resident fish, a 4" maroon clownfish.

I would like to put more fish in it, and I am looking for suggestions on how to handle stocking with the clownfish already there. The fish currently hangs out only on one side of the tank, but that's no guarantee that it won't zip over to the other side if any new fish are introduced. One strategy that I was thinking of was to remove the clownfish to a different tank, stock what I want, and then reintroduce the clownfish last. Maybe this will interrupt its territorial identity. Another idea I had was to do the same, but put an anemone in the tank before reintroduction (there's no anemone now; the clownfish nestles in the trumpet coral). I'm hoping this might further scramble its territorial memory.

Fish I am thinking about stocking are:

lawnmower blenny
some kind of pygmy angel
orchid dottyback
some kind of fairy wrasse (possibly a school, depending on the species' inclinations)
royal gramma
banggai cardinal fish
maybe some kind of chromis or damselfish
maybe some kind of tang

I am open to other suggestions. I am trying, as much as possible, to stick with tank bred fish.

thanks, Kathy

Bowser Level 5 Member
Level 5 Member

Posts: 284
Location: Brooklyn Park, MN
You should be fine with moving the clown somewhere else for a while and stocking it. From what i've seen the territories of clowns are pretty big but not like a whole 125g. if you want to risk it with one of less expensive fish on the list you can throw it in there and see how the clown behaves. If it starts attacking then you can try to move it, move the rocks a little, and then move it back after a couple of days. if it's still territorial you know its going to be territorial when the other fish are introduced

AreYouAShoggoth User avatar
Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 35
Thanks Bowser. I think I might start with stocking a small shoal of chromis; hopefully their peaceful outgoingness and nonterritoriality will not provoke and will help defuse tensions with later additions.

It'll be a while anyway. First I have to set up a QT tank for any possible purchases.

joshua.jebe Level 4 Member
Level 4 Member

Posts: 243
Location: waterloo, iowa
i have added everything you have on your list to my 75 reef tank with my 4in marron fish in the tank except the pygmy angel, but i do have a hippo tang and bi color goat fish i added with no aggression issues from the clown. he has 2 nems that he feeds all day to keep him busy
Can anybody help me?

My fish mugged me and stole my wallet!!

AreYouAShoggoth User avatar
Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 35
Thanks for the input Joshua.

The more I research this stuff, the more it seems to me that individual fish personalities are a more significant factor than whole species inclinations.

jgburns Level 1 Member
Level 1 Member

Posts: 6
I would recommend rearranging your live rock if possible prior to adding new livestock. It will help with territorial issues. As far as stocking, I initially started out with a pair of clownfish. I have since added 8 fish without any problems. I personally have had success adding the less aggressive/community fish first followed by larger more aggressive fish. During the acclimation process, I only keep the actinics on. Once the fish is released into the tank I leave the lights off for the rest of the day. It greatly helps reduce stress. The next morning I resume normal lighting.

**This might be overkill, but I also dose stability by seachem with new additions to the tank for 7 days.**

jgburns Level 1 Member
Level 1 Member

Posts: 6
AreYouAShoggoth wrote:

Fish I am thinking about stocking are:

lawnmower blenny
some kind of pygmy angel
orchid dottyback
some kind of fairy wrasse (possibly a school, depending on the species' inclinations)
royal gramma
banggai cardinal fish
maybe some kind of chromis or damselfish
maybe some kind of tang

thanks, Kathy


Sorry for the double post, but I would strongly recommend against an Angel. While some sites say reef safe with caution, it would be a shame to have your corals disappear. Some people do have success but there is no guarantee. All it takes is the Angel to sample your coral once and that is the end of it.

**I would consider a school of 5-7 chromis as they look amazing. You could potentially have multiple tangs (just make sure body shape/ color are different and add them at the same time)**


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