The person who christened this cute little fish Clownfish, knew early on that they would live up to that name. Each new day at GARF brings forth many learning experiences, and I treasure each and every one of them. Over the years each of my captive systems has been a home to these remarkable fish that always do everything possible to bring a smile to my day. Once I take an animal into GARF's care I begin to research their needs, compatibility, long term stability, and husbandry.
I first look to the Worlds best teacher (our wild reefs), and then follow that research to what has been shared in the hobby. These fish are in high demand, they are being bred very successfully in captivity, and they just seem to have a perfect fit to the home reef aquarium. It is so easy to fall in love with a Clownfish for they love to pester others; they even nibble on my finger and do a little dance when they see I have the food can in my hand.
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Sally Jo's Sarcophyton clownfish with host
|What I have found troubling over the years of working with the Clownfish is the demand for the host these fish have a symbiotic relationship with. In the wild the Clownfish lives with the wild anemone, so many of these wild anemones are being brought into our home aquarium to be the host for these captive Clownfish. The wild anemone can live for many years in the wild, help bring forth many new generations of Clownfish and new baby hosts for the maturing Clownfish. As with everything we do in this hobby we must always think about our involvement with the ocean for we should not risk doing anything that would place the already struggling reef into even further decline. Anemones for the Clownfish are not being propagated or mass-produced in captivity, so the demand on the wild anemone has remained unrelenting for many years. I have yet to walk into a pet store and not see another wild anemone for sale that the Clownfish already has developed a bond for. ||
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Sally Jo's clownfish pair in a Sarcophyton
What is sad is that the Clownfish will find a friendly host to many of our propagated animals that we grow and care for in our captive reef systems. The wild anemone can live for many years left undisturbed in the wild, at this time we do not know how old a wild anemone has to be to reach maturity to spawn on their own in the wild. We should not risk loosing further generations of this animal in the wild without further study. Another thing to keep in mind is that when the anemone dies in your home aquarium it can release toxins that can kill so much life in such little time. The wild anemone grows big and can sting many of its neighbors. The anemone's are notorious for moving around in the tank, and often are picking spots in your reef that are undisierable.
This animal's common name is Toadstool or Gold Crown. It is best known as a leather coral. We have spent many years collecting as many types of this animal as possible. GARF has been donating them for on-going cancer research. At present we have at least 30 distinct types of this animal, some grow fast, some grow slow, some have green tints, some have yellow. Some have long polyps; some have short stubby polyps. Some grow into large single specimens. Colonial Sarcophytons develop several babies growing from the one stock.
|It is the mission at GARF to help the individual hobbyist seek and find answers to some of the ethical questions we all must ask ourselves when caring for another life form. I am hoping that by sharing the years of research that GARF has done we will help bring years of joy for many Clownfish in home aquariums. Our research helps answer the troubling question you may have when you are looking for a perfect alternative host. Over the years we have watched these fish develop relationships with many of our captive animals. If you would have asked me a couple of years ago what was my favorite host for the Clownfish I would have spoke up and declared the large hairy mushroom as the winner. However over time we have noticed that the Clownfish plays with the mushroom and distracts the mushrooms so much that over time the mushroom declines. I have watched the Clownfish play with Brain Corals, Elegance Corals, Xenia, Sinularia, Flower Pot Corals, Rock Flower Anemones, but no host has made the near perfect friendship that the Sarcophyton has.
When looking into buying a Sarcophyton for your Clownfish I would stress propagated over wild. As the same goes for wild Clownfish over captive raised ones. The captive raised Clownfish are friendly, brilliantly colored and you know they where not caught with the poison or a fishhook as many of the wild fish are. You may pay more for captive but you will enjoy them for years to come. As with the Sarcophytons the wild ones are bigger, and they transport quite well however can come in with worms as well as nudibranch that can be passed unto to many of your already healthy established soft corals. If a big wild Sarcophyton starts to die in your tank it can also pose toxic problems for other fish as well as other tank mates. I would never ever place a wild coral into an already healthy thriving reef system. A small quarantine tank can save you tons of heartache and safeguard the rest of the animals. The captive raised Sarcophytons however smaller, grow faster, live better, ship better and one can purchased more than one kind. They will give you years of enjoyment and soon you can pass them onto your friends for their new Clownfish.
|All of these are easy to propagated and seem to even grow faster with the Clownfish playing amongst the polyps. Looking at the pictures you can see this particular pair of Clownfish has made the four stocked Sarcophyton their home. This relationship has been on-going for a little over a year, and if anything the Sarcophytons seem to love the attention it gets from these two Clownfish. It is growing much faster by utilizing the waste produced by the fish. We often glue several Sarcophytons together on one rock and the fish seem to play with one or more of the individual stocks. By having several corals to play in they put less stress on each individual colony. They absolutely love their host, and I am certain it won't be long before I am writing about the next generation of Clownfish born in one of our GARF tanks, for the match has been made these fish are a definite pair. This makes my Mothers Day just a little more special, walking into my office knowing that I have created a home for these new lovers and soon I am hoping to witness the seeds of their love. ||
No animal has made my Clownfish this happy for this long, and I go to sleep every night knowing that we can make a difference for the sustainability of our wild reefs. The captive raised Clownfish and the captive raised host makes me proud to be a part of a hobby that really does care and is really making a BIG impact around the World.
|Sarcophytons are easy to propagate and after they grow they should be propagated to reduce the biomass.
One does not need to be an expert to care for this animal. Sarcophytons can be placed in a reef tank as soon as it is stable. They can be grown under 40 watt lights and they can adjust to higher output lighting such as VHO's or Metal Halide lights. They do better with good water movement, and they need room to grow. Hermit crabs also add to their long term well being because they clean the algae off the area where the polyps are formed. Without the constant cleaning and good water flow a film starts to develop and the polyps can not come out for feeding.
I have not witnessed them stinging other animals however they will shade light from other animals so you must consider making room for them up front. I use the SeaChem supplement recipe that is found listed throughout our web site and have had tremendous success with propagation.
We have had many of our local customers give us a call because they are afraid to propagate their own Sarcophytons. They bring them over and we propagate them. We give them a baby and some other animals that they want in trade for the many cuttings we make from the mature adult they shared with us.