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Old 03-16-2004, 04:03 PM   #1
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Clownfish Bobbing Behavior Question..

I recently posted about a Specific Gravity and Nitrates issue relating to my tank because we're getting it ready for some "beginner's" soft corals (it's my family's first saltwater tank). Thanks to you guys and a chat I had with a trusted LFS owner I'm getting them to what I need for the introduction of some mushrooms, star polyps, etc.

My question now is about my clownfish. I'm pretty sure it's a false percula, and it is a few years old (we adopted it). It has a semicircular cut out of the front part of its dorsal fin that is not diseased and simply never has healed for whatever reason. I noticed the cut several months ago when it was in a 55g tank, so I know it did not acquire it when we moved it to ours.

However, the question actually relates to its behavior. All it does all day is bob up and down at one side of the tank, right at the surface. It does not turn vertically and "gasp for air," and the tank's other inhabitant (an unidentified marine snail) is not showing any signs of illness. I don't think it's a DO level problem because this clownfish has done this at least since last summer even in a 55g. Here are the stats for the tank it is in now:

Running: ~1 month
Penguin 170 Biowheel Filter
ThermalCompact 100 watt Heater
"Sea Gravel" substrate (white)
~15 lbs live rock
1 ~8lb red rock (volcanic rock?)

pH: 8.2
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: less than 10 ppm (to be lowered to 0, hopefully :))
SG: 1.027 (to be lowered to 1.025-1.023)
Temp: 81 degrees F

Brine shrimp (thawed), Nature's Delica Bloodworms, flake

The tank is bare right now except for the rocks I mentioned. Sometimes when no one is around the tank it seems like the clown will wiggle down toward the bottom, and it will also go down to pick up food. Otherwise it stays at the very top (its dorsal fin actually protrudes from the surface of the water) or at the mid-top level, and I have yet to see it leave one side of the tank. The snail, on the other hand, goes wherever it feels like.

The clownfish's side of the tank has the large red rock with two cave-like holes in it, but the clown never goes in there. The other side has two pieces of live rock, and there is an open sandy area in-between. Any ideas on why it refuses to go anywhere? I was looking at some orange skunk clownfish at the LFS and they swam everywhere. Is it because I don't have any coral/anemones in the tank yet or because there isn't another clown in there?

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Old 03-16-2004, 10:56 PM   #2
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I had a clown that did almost the same thing. It seemed to like one top corner of the tank and didn't swim around much. One thing I noticed...is there much flow in your tank? A powerhead or 2 would create some water movement and may entice the clown to swim around. Or perhaps he is old and lazy and would rather sit and look out the window all day rather than waste all that energy swimming.

Brad C.
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Old 03-17-2004, 01:03 AM   #3
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Huh. I'll see about that powerhead. I thought it was some kind of swim bladder problem until I saw that it could indeed swim up and down. I just wish it (I guess it would be a male if it's the only clownfish? Or would it revert back to a girl?) would swim around. People walk in and look at the tank and say "Hey, that snail is really cool! But you should get some fish!"
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Old 05-15-2004, 10:31 AM   #4
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I had a clown fish that did the exact thing for a while when I added it to my tank. It still exhibits strange behaviour and bobbing up and down and sometimes it would just stop swimming and then "float" vertically...other than that, its perfectly healthy and has grown alot since I got him/her.
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Old 05-15-2004, 11:18 AM   #5
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Does it need an anemone..
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Old 05-15-2004, 12:04 PM   #6
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Clownfish don't need anemones as far as I know-- from what I have read and from what I have seen posted on this board and others.

This topic is old (March 16th)-- said clown still bobs around at the surface but also swims around normally sometimes too, so I'm not really worried about it anymore. =)

55g freshwater - tetras, catfish, loaches
10g freshwater - firebelly newts
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