Baby Picassos


Premium Member
I recently sold my baby Picasso clownfish, some on this forum. Someone asked me to start a thread to show how I was able to raise these little guys but unfortunately I didn?t take pictures the first time around. So I decided to raise another clutch and this time I will be taking pictures when I can (with an iphone sorry it?s all I have). Hopefully I can show how they progress and what I do to keep them alive. As well as spread the joy of being able to raise these guys from little fry to healthy clowns. Maybe even a few of you might spot one you would like to buy in the pictures ;). Feel free to post any questions you might have or how you might have done it differently as I want to learn the best method too. I really want this thread to be very helpful so if I don't post something you want to know about please ask, or if you want more detail about something. I have been meaning to start this sooner but I've been busy so the baby clowns are actually already 8 days old today. I will start with the day they eggs were laid and catch up to where they are now.

First off some background info about me, I got my first tank five or six years ago. It was just a cheap 30 gallon and I made all the rookie mistakes but I liked it and learned a lot. I have a 150 gallon reef ready tank now. I am 22 years old, and a pre-med biology student in my final year of undergraduate college. I began raising these clowns as a way to make extra cash so I could afford more reef stuff of course. When I first started I had no idea about raising fry as I had no previous experience. I bought a book called ?Clownfishes? by Joyce Wilkerson. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to try their hand at raising clowns, it gives a good foundation. Then do tons of research online to see what other breeders have done. This will all help but the best method of learning is just doing it.

As stated the parents live in a 150 gallon tank with 3 rose anemones (approximately 3 years in our tank, started as 1 anemone), 1 blue gig (approximately 2 years in our tank), and I recently purchased a pink haddoni carpet anemone (super excited about this guy, baby clowns actually funded this purchase and I expected it to just be a faded red haddoni but it has held its color for almost 4 months now, never seen one like him, even with my crappy iphone pictures he looks pretty good, better in person though). The parents host the 3 rose anemones, occasionally venturing over to the blue gig. I raise rotifers in 2 five gallon buckets and feed them rotifer diet. I raise my brine shrimp in an inverted 2 liter sprite bottle. Will go into more detail on everything as I post pictures.

Here we go:

Full tank shot to see what we're working with
Morning just opening up
[attachment=2]Full tank morning.JPG[/attachment]

Afternoon spread out and enjoying the light
[attachment=1]Full tank.JPG[/attachment]

Rotifer Growing Setup
[attachment=0]Rotifer Setup.JPG[/attachment]
Two five gallon buckets with airstones in each to keep water moving and oxygenated. Feed a few squirts of rotifer diet twice a day. Enough to keep the water a light green color. Harvest 1/3 of the rotifers each day by filtering water through a coffee filter which catches the rotifers but lets the water from the buckets through. The blue bucket under the two white buckets in the picture is catching this water. The water is then returned to the bucket or changed out for new water. I change 1/3 of the water in the buckets once a week. To feed the rotifers I just take the coffee filter and shake into the fry tank and ocassionaly into the reef when the fry don't need anymore rotifers. The flashlight is used to shine into the bucket to judge the rotifer density to see if more or less need to be harvested.
Brine shrimp hatchery
[attachment=2]Brine hatchery.JPG[/attachment]
This is an inverted 2 liter sprite bottle with the cap on. I cut off the bottom of the bottle and ran airline down to the cap. The airline is taped on to prevent from falling out. When harvesting, I unplug the airline and allow everything to settle.Then start a siphon with the airline into a cup. This will pull unhatched eggs and live baby brine into the cup. I then let the cup settle. The unhatched eggs go to the bottom and baby brine will settle on top of the unhatched eggs allowing you to pull the brine out without putting eggs into the fry tank. Sometimes hatched eggs cases make it in as well but they usually float. The light above is used as artificial sunlight to make the eggs hatch. On the package it says it takes the brine 24 hours to hatch but it usually doesn't take that long.

Eggs day 1:
[attachment=1]Eggs day 1.JPG[/attachment]
The eggs were laid on July 8 and hatched on July 16. The eggs are laid on a tile so they can be removed on hatch day. As you can see when first laid they are bright orange.

Momma clown letting me know I was too close to her eggs
[attachment=0]Eggs day 1f.JPG[/attachment]
Eggs day 2:
[attachment=2]Eggs day 2.JPG[/attachment]

Eggs day 3:
[attachment=1]Eggs day 3.JPG[/attachment]

Eggs day 4:
[attachment=0]Eggs day 4.JPG[/attachment]

Not a whole lot to say about the eggs. As you can see they get progressively darker as the days go on.
Forgot to take pictures of the eggs on day 5.

Eggs day 6:
[attachment=2]Eggs day 6.JPG[/attachment]

Eggs day 7:
[attachment=1]Eggs day 7.JPG[/attachment]

[attachment=0]Eggs day 7c.JPG[/attachment]
In this picture one of the fry has actually began to hatch in the middle of the day. You can see his little tail hanging out of his egg case. First time I had seen this during the middle of the day. I was very worried the eggs would hatch on the 7th night. I actually put a flashlight on the eggs to help prevent hatching as they usually don't hath until the 8th night, but it is common for some to hatch on one night and the others the next night. Obviously this can make it difficult. But with the help of my trusty flashlight only the guy hanging out of his egg hatched on night 7.

On the 8th night the eggs hatched but unfortunately I forgot to take pictures until after they already hatched. But on hatch day I take the eggs out and put in a 2.5 gallon tank with the parents water in it. Put in an airstone to keep the water moving and well oxygenated then cover the sides to prevent the little guys from chasing their reflection instead of hunting. Then cover the top around time for the display lights to go out and wait for the little guys to hatch. This hatch I had a small snag. I usually set up the system described above and check in on them every 30 mins to and hour. Well somehow my air pump decided to shut off. Not sure how it was pluged in and after i wiggled it, it turned back on. Anyways this caused most of the eggs to die. I would say only about 1/3 of the eggs actually hatched the rest died during the "power outage."
Ok before I post pictures of the fry I will go into the fry tank setup.

Fry tank days 1-6:
[attachment=2]Fry tank day 1-6.JPG[/attachment]
As you can see the first 6 days the fry's eyes (say that 10 times real fast) are not developed enough to handle light from the sides. I cover the sides with black constructin paper to decrease glare in the tank. I cut a window in the side to sneak a peak when I want. Only light from the top is allowed to enter. I use the small 2.5 gallon tank because it is easier to keep the rotifer density high and less water changes as it can be difficult to not suck up the tiny fry as they zoom around the tank while your trying to clean. Inside the tank is a thermometer, a small heater, and an airstone. No filtration yet to prevent from damaging the tiny fry. I use air line to drip water back into the tank after a water change. As far as lighting goes you really have to just watch the fry. Too much light they will go to the bottom of the tank and do "head stands," not enough and they won't be able to see their food. I try to increase the light as much as possible until they do head stands then decrease a little to get them off the bottom of the tank.

Fry tank after day 6:
[attachment=1]Fry tank after day 6.JPG[/attachment]
After day 6 the fry's eyes have developed enough to accept light from the sides, so the construction paper is removed. After day 3 they can accept full light from above, that is where the light came from. Same setup as days 1-6 just no construction paper and better viewing.

Fry right after hatching:
[attachment=0]Fry after hatch.JPG[/attachment]
Looks like a lot of them but actually not as many as usual because most didn't hatch from the mess up with the airstone.
What a GREAT thread.
Thanks for creating this, and showing the entire process.

Many of us would like to raise our own clowns, but don't really know where to start. This really helps, and hopefully it will garner more interest in captive breeding.
The first night seems to be the worst for my fry. I always lose the most here. This is most likely due to weak fry from not enough food to the parents, as I only feed a little once a day. I could probably prevent this by feeding more to the parents thus creating stronger babies with larger yolk sacs but I don't lol. I assume they die from exhausting themselves from trying to get out of the egg case. This could also be because I feed the parents a lot of shrimp. I have heard that this makes the eggs shells harder, not sure if that is true or not but you might consider it. This time I lost 17 fry on night 1.

Fry day 1:
[attachment=1]Fry day 1.JPG[/attachment]
Day 1 is very important as the fry only have they yolk sac supporting them which will run out in about 48 hours or so. This means they have to learn to hunt successfully in this time or they will die. The rotifer density must be kept high enough for them to see and catch food. There is many ideas about this out there but I personally like to keep the density high enough so that at least two rotifers can be seen per lenght of each fry. This ensures that the fry will constantly see food. Also you must add the rotifer diet into the fry tank to keep the rotifers fed so they are not starving when the fry eat them. A light green tinge to the water will suffice.

Fry day 1 size reference:
[attachment=2]Fry day 1 size.JPG[/attachment]
My hand is about 3 inches above the water.

Fry day 2:
[attachment=0]Fry day 2.JPG[/attachment]
As you can see they grow fairly quickly. In this picture compared to the first you can see I need to add a little rotifer diet. The tiny specs in the water around the fry are rotifers. This is right after I added more so there is a lot. You know your fry are successfully eating the rotifers when their bellies start to turn silver instead of the begging orange/yellow of the yolk sac.

I lost 7 fry between day 1 and 2.
how long from feeding rotifers till you can feed brine?

what is next after feeding baby brine?
Fry day 3:
[attachment=1]Fry day 3.JPG[/attachment]
Still growing here and if you look very closely you can see the silver belly bulging out. This picture was taken in the morning right after I fed rotifers, so again a little more dense than 2 rotifers per length of fry but that's ok they thinned them out by about 3pm and I had to add more. They seem to congregate on the walls. I think this is because they can trap the rotifers against the wall and make it easier for them to catch, rather than attacking in open water. As the rotifer density drops I guess the rotifers don't make their way near the wall as much because then they swim out into the open water until I feed and the rotifer density goes up again.

Between day 2-3 I lost 4 fry. I have not lost any since this point. The ones lost were most likely due to them not learning to hunt well enough before their yolk sacs ran out. Hopefully I will do good during metamorphosis and not lose too many.

Fry day 4:
[attachment=0]Fry day 4.JPG[/attachment]
Still keeping rotifer density high making sure those bellies are full.

I forgot to take pictures on day 5. Day five is a big day for my fry as this is when I first introduce them to pulverized flake food and baby brine shrimp. They actually started eating both the first day which is very good especially for the flake food. I try to add about 10 baby brine per fry. Obviously this is hard to be exact but that's ok. Be careful with brine as if you fry are not big enough the brine can damage and kill your fry when they try to eat them. As far as the pulverized flake I feed it first in the morning when they are hungriest, whatever they don't eat I vacuum out with an airline hose. This is how I do water changes then drip water back in. I don't change a certain amount of water a day, just however much it takes to clean the bottom of the tank.
Actually I lied I just found a picture of the fry on day 5 sorry.
[attachment=0]Fry day five.JPG[/attachment]
This picture is in the morning before I had fed anything as you can see almost no rotifers are left. About to feed pulverized flake food here and baby brine shrimp. I also keep feeding rotifers until all fry are eating brine.

Fry day 6:
[attachment=2]Fry day 6.JPG[/attachment]
Day 6 side shot shows plump bellies starting to turn redish/pink. This lets you know they are eating the brine when it turns from silver to a redish pink. Keep feeding rotifers until you are sure all are eating the brine.

[attachment=1]Fry day 6b.JPG[/attachment]
In this one you can see the brine (larger specs) as well as the rotifers (smaller specs).
also following along. I'm sure like many people here, I have always thought it would be cool to raise clowns since I have had spawning pair before.
Fry day 7:
[attachment=2]Fry day 7.JPG[/attachment]
This is were it starts getting really fun and exciting. Around day 7-10 the clowns should begin metamorphosis. They will begin to change shape looking more like adult clowns and start getting their first stripe. As you can see in the picture above the clown circled has his first stripe coming in and it looks like a helmet to me lol. No way to be sure about markings until they completely develop but its is fun to speculate and watch as the stripes develop into all kinds of neat designs. Definately not out of the woods though. In the days leading to day 7 make sure your water quality is very good as this will determine how well your clowns do through meta. The clowns go through tremendous amount of stress in meta so good water quality will help them make it through.

[attachment=1]fry day 7b.JPG[/attachment]
As you can see still a little silver in their bellies from eat a few rotifers but mostly pink bellies. They are eating brine. You can also see they are begining to change shape into a move oval style than the streamlined fry shape. They begin to move slower and many will settle to the bottom as they start to swim with the more wiggly motion of a clown.

[attachment=0]Fry day 7c.JPG[/attachment]
Another one with his stripe coming in.
Fry day 8:
[attachment=1]Fry day 8b.JPG[/attachment]
Even more begining to get that first stripe. This guy that's circled looks to be the same one from the earlier picture. Many clowns will claim a "home" like this suction cup, thermometer, heater, or any other object they feel is safe. They usually stay here long after they are too big to "live" there anymore. Looking closely you can see several with head stripes. Still have yet to lose anymore clowns. Fingers crossed they all do well through meta.

[attachment=0]Fry day 8.JPG[/attachment]
Not a very good picture but you can see a few more with stripes.

Now that I am caught up with where they are today. First off thank you for all the kind words, I hope this is helpful. Feel free to ask any questions as I would like this to be a good begining guide to anyone trying to start breeding clowns, and I know I probably forgot to explain something. I will try to keep this updated with pictures every day of their progress. I hope you enjoy and it stirs up some excitement about breeding your own clowns.