The Three Banded Clownfish (Amphiprion tricinctus)

The three-banded Clown, or Amphiprion tricinctus, is a real special clownfish in as much as it is not that common and is often confused with other ones. Do not confuse it with Amphiprion bicinctus . It is considered among the hardy ones but still requires great care to keep it healthy and appears to really need a host anemone.

His color is dark brown but can be so brown that you think it is black. When associated with Carpet anemones, particularly Stichodactyla mertensi.

It’s not always that there is a third band

The three bands are not always visible especially in younger ones. Even adults may only have two but wide bands. No one quite knows the reason for this. I have corresponded with a clownfish specialist about this, and she could not come up with an explanation either except for the fact that juveniles may miss the 3rd band and acquire it as they age (but not all of them do and that is what is not quite understood). The third band in grown up ones is at the beginning of the tail and is short. Sometimes it is barely visible. If you look closely though you should see it or see a semblance of it.

If only two stripes are visible the third one may appear with increasing age, but there is no guarantee

All fins are yellow to yellow-orange. This is the real characteristic of this fish. It allows for rather easy distinction from other Amphiprion types.

Female is larger than male. This is not uncommon in the fish world.

Stripes or bands are white, not blueish ( that is a trait of A. chrysopterus varieties and some other clowns at times). Light has a lot to do with how the color of the stripes are perceived, so be careful before making any conclusions.

pH and Temperature

The Tricinctus Likes pH levels around 8.2 to 8.4. This is actually good as these are the pH levels generally recommended for reef aquariums. It does not like pH variations that occur too rapidly. Make sure you do not make such variations happen or the fish will be stressed and soon break out with parasites.

Likes temps around 78 to max of 82 degrees. 79-80 is best. Higher temperatures for short periods of time are acceptable. Again do not create rapid temperature variations due to the stress that results from it.


Eats easily and will dash out of anemone to get the food. A good fish to own as it will pose no difficulty with feeding many types of food. I like to feed cooked shrimp morcels but it will eat many other foods.

Good food is shrimp meat ground up in real small chunks, but you can use scallop meat and mussel meat. Other foods are accepted too. If you use frozen foods make sure you dispose of the liquid that develops after the food thaws, because that liquid is one of the main causes of PO4 getting into your tank.


Three Stripe Clownfish (Amphiprion tricinctus)

Tank Conditions for the Amphiprion tricinctus

Keep two at a time (paired is best) but make sure you have a male and a female. It is best to start with real young ones so they do not fight and grow up together, possibly pairing off.

It lives long time if well cared for. I have encountered 9 year old ones in a tank in Berlin, Germany. Likes s.g. of around 1.023 to 1.024.

Water needs to be low in nitrates. If it is not skin deterioration may occur and eating problems may come about. 10-15 ppm total nitrate is what I recommend for this and other more sensitive fish.

Tank should be medium to large. These fish like a lot of swimming space when they venture away from their anemone.

It likes Entacmea quadricolor, Heteractics aurora and crispa as host anemones. It will not associate with other anemones however hard you try. It will also bond with carpet anemones (e.g. S. mertensi). In such cases the fish body is real dark (brown to black).

Since host anemones need lots of light, make sure you provide it. All the hosts are highly photosynthesizing so you will need metal halides or lots of VHO bulbs. I recommend 5500 or 6500 K bulbs and, if kept with corals, 10 000 Kelvin degree ones. Note that if you are going to keep anemones in a reef tank you should have a large tank and keep only one and place it by itself, at a distance from the corals. Both do not mix well when placed close together. Make sure you skim well and that you run activated carbon from time to time (see Article on Carbon).

It’s sensitive to skin infections but this can easily be treated with Vit C. It would be a real good idea to treat your tank with Vitamin C on a continuous basis at prophylactic levels of 3 to 5 ppm concentration (you will need to add the required amount daily).

This fish will pick on the rock in the tank for animalcules as well, but will only venture away from its anemone if it not threatened by other fish (aggressive fish are out of the question with the A. tricinctus.)

The 3 Banded Clown is among the more expensive clown fish. Often this fish is not available in stores but you can special order it. Paired and mated specimens are pricy but since they can be bred, those of you who are into breeding may want to take up the challenge.

Check here our article about the Misbar Clownfish