Can Banggai Cardinal Fish Live with Clownfish?

Keeping a saltwater aquarium is a super exciting hobby that allows you to have some super pretty fish on display for you and your guests to see. When you are setting up your aquarium, you want to make sure that you have fish that get along with each other to avoid any unnecessary conflict.

It can be hard to tell which fish will react well with each other and which ones will reject and fight each other. One combination that people frequently ask about is the Banggai Cardinal Fish and the Clownfish. Are these fish a good pair for each other? Keep reading to find out.

What is a Banggai Cardinal Fish?

The Banggai Cardinal Fish is an attractive tropical fish that is very popular to keep in an aquarium. They grow to about 3 inches in length and are best known for their unique dorsal fins and color patterns. These fish have three black stripes along their head and body with anterior edges on their dorsal fins.

Banggai Cardinal Fish typically live among coral reefs and beds of seagrass. They have a typical life span of around three years with a maximum life span of five years. Like other breeds of cardinalfish, males are responsible for providing parenting to babies and they hatch them in their mouths.

In their natural habitat, the Banggai Cardinal Fish lives in the reefs near Indonesia. They are considered to be threatened and are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. Luckily, these fish are still readily available to put in your aquarium.

These fish are considered to be reef safe, so they can be placed in a reef aquarium. They will not try to eat any coral and they usually leave small invertebrates alone. They are known to get along well with other fish species that are not aggressive.

What is a Clownfish?

The Clownfish is an extremely popular aquarium fish, quite possibly due to the movie Finding Nemo. These cute fish are bright orange with three very distinct white stripes around their body. They live in sea anemones and are known to live in a reef.

These fish only grow to about 4 inches in length, so they are not very large. An interesting thing about them is that they are all born male. These fish have the ability to change their sex to become the dominant female of the group. Once the change has been made, they can’t change back.

Clownfish can be found in the coral reefs outside of Australia and Southeast Asia. They are mostly found in soft corals or anemones that have stinging cells which release toxins when a predator or prey touches them. Clownfish have an immunity to these toxins because they touch the anemone with different parts of their body.

When they touch the anemone, they develop a kind of mucus on their body that protects them from the toxin. Clownfish are not considered to be endangered even though their habitat is starting to deplete. The depletion comes from fisherman trying to catch these fish to sell as pets.

Will the Clownfish and Banggai Cardinal Fish Live Well Together?

When it comes down to whether or not these two types of fish will live well together in the same tank, it comes down to the individual fish. If you have a territorial, dominant female clownfish you might have problems with her accepting new tank mates. 

In the wild, clownfish known to be very territorial over their space. However, clownfish that has been raised in a tank will not need to protect themselves and are usually way less aggressive. Banggai Cardinal Fish are also known to protect their territories aggressively in the wild.

If you are going to have these two breeds of fish paired together in the same tank, you should consider having single fish and not pairs. When these fish are paired up with mates, they tend to be slightly more territorial of their space. 

Creating the Right Habitat 

Both of these breeds of fish live in a similar habitat, so it will be pretty easy to create a habitat that they would both be happy in. You can recreate a reef in an aquarium for your fish to inhabit. The first thing you will need to do is spread sand across the bottom of the tank.

Since these fish are saltwater fish, you will need to prep a saltwater mixture that has the proper gravity measurement for the fish. Fill your tank with the saltwater, leaving a little bit in a bucket so you can rinse live rock in it to remove any unwanted debris from them. You can then place the rock however you please.

You will also need to install all of the aquarium equipment following the instructions of the manufacturer. Over the following four weeks, you will need to change out 50% of the water to cure your live rock properly.

After the fourth week, you can start to add a kind of algae like sea lettuce. After the sixth week, you can start adding corals. On week eight, you can add corals that are already aquacultured. Finally, on week 12 you can add your fish. You should have a total of six fish, but for the best results of your Clownfish and Banggai Cardinal Fish living well together, you should have one of each.


If you are trying to figure out what kind of fish to put into your aquarium, a Clownfish and Banggai Cardinal Fish might have crossed your mind. These fish are both really cute and have fun personalities. When it comes to whether or not they will live well together in the same tank, it might be hit or miss.

To get the best chance for these two fish to live in harmony in a tank, you should only have one of each. When you have two of the same type of these fish, they are likely to become more aggressive towards other fish close to their habitat.