You’ve probably had a great time taking care of clownfish if you’ve recently bought some. Overall, these saltwater fish are some of the best options for beginners.
They’re hardy enough that newcomers to saltwater tanks will have a fairly easy time getting used to things. It’s also true that these fish are very fun to look at and that they have great personalities.
If you’re loving your clownfish so far, then you surely want them to be able to stick around for as long as possible. That might cause you to wonder about the lifespan of these amazing fish.
How long do clownfish live? Are they fish that will only have a short lifespan or can they live for a long time with proper care?
Continue reading to get all of the information that you need. You’ll learn about how long clownfish generally live while also learning about what you can do to ensure that the fish live for as long as possible under your care.
How Long Do Clownfish Live in the Wild?
Clownfish in the wild actually live shorter lives than captive clownfish. This is because they generally have a lot more to worry about.
It’s said that a wild clownfish will typically live between 6 and 10 years if they’re lucky. However, it isn’t unusual for a clownfish to die earlier than this due to being eaten.
As you might expect, clownfish in the wild are going to have to worry about predators that will try to eat them. Thankfully, they have ways that they can protect themselves.
One way that clownfish protect themselves from predators involves forming symbiotic relationships with anemones. Anemones can sting fish and kill them, but clownfish are immune to the stings of the anemones.
This is because clownfish possess a thick mucus layer that protects them from the stings. They can host anemones, and this helps them to stay safe from predators.
Clownfish wind up helping the anemones that they host out in many ways. They keep the anemone clean and protect it from fast fish that try to bother it.
You’ll find that clownfish will aggressively protect the anemone that they’re hosting. Anemones protect the clownfish by stinging and killing any predators that would try to get too close.
This doesn’t mean that the clownfish can’t be killed, though. It’s just that clownfish are safer when they’re being protected by an anemone.
How Long Do Clownfish Live in a Tank?
In a fish tank, clownfish have the potential to live for a very long time. It’s said that captive clownfish can live between 10 and 15 years if they’re being cared for properly.
Some people say that clownfish will only live around six years in captivity, but this is likely when someone isn’t providing the fish with optimal care. Generally, clownfish will be able to live for a long time in a fish tank setting so long as you’re doing your best to care for them.
Keeping this in mind, you’ll just want to focus on doing the basics very well. Keep an eye on the condition of the tank and you should be able to enjoy keeping clownfish in your fish tank for a long time to come.
The fact that clownfish can live for so long will be a very neat aspect of owning them. You could care for the same clownfish for over a decade depending on how well things go for you.
Granted, you could also kill the clownfish within a year of purchasing it if you do a very bad job. How long the clownfish will live in your fish tank will be directly impacted by your actions.
However, you should know that clownfish are generally considered to be hardy. These fish aren’t so delicate that they will die right away if you make a mistake or two.
This is why they’re considered to be excellent beginner fish for those who are just getting into taking care of saltwater fish tanks. If you’re looking for a fish that is straightforward to care for in a saltwater tank, then you can’t go wrong with clownfish.
How Long Do Captive-Bred Clownfish Live?
You could be specifically wondering how long captive-bred clownfish will live. Depending on how much knowledge you have, you might even be wondering what the difference between a captive-bred clownfish is compared to a different type of clownfish.
Captive-bred is just a term that indicates that the clownfish was bred in captivity. If a clownfish is captive-bred, then that means that it wasn’t born in the wild.
Wild clownfish will sometimes be caught and sold in pet stores. These fish are generally going to be more aggressive than clownfish that are bred in captivity.
If you’re looking for clownfish that will be less aggressive and somewhat friendlier, then it’s highly recommended to buy captive-bred clownfish. Many pet stores only sell fish that were born in captivity.
As far as the lifespan of the fish goes, it shouldn’t differ much at all from the information above. On average, a clownfish that is kept in a fish tank can live between 10 and 15 years with the right care.
If you don’t do as good of a job caring for it, then it might only live for six years. It could even die earlier than that if you make many mistakes and don’t correct them.
As usual, the important consideration is the care. Do your best to care for the fish and the clownfish will be more likely to live until it’s 10 years old or even longer than that.
Do the Lifespans Differ Based on the Species of the Clownfish?
You likely already know that there are different types of clownfish that you can purchase. When you go to the pet store to check out clownfish, you’re going to see various different types available.
There are Ocellaris clownfish, Percula clownfish, Maroon clownfish, Tomato clownfish, and more. Each of these clownfish will be similar in certain ways, but they also have differences.
Some of them are going to be larger in size, and they’ll have various visual differences as well. Depending on your sensibilities, you might gravitate toward one species or another.
Will the lifespans of the clownfish differ when you look at the different species? Thus far, you’ve been given general information about clownfish, but will things change when you look at the average lifespan of each individual species?
Yes, different clownfish might be capable of living longer than usual. Some might live slightly shorter lives than the general average listed earlier, too.
Below, you’ll get some information about each of the popular clownfish species so that you can know what to expect. This should make it easier to decide which clownfish to purchase if you’re mostly interested in a fish that has the chance to live for a long time.
The information on how long an Ocellaris clownfish, also known as a false percula clownfish, will live most closely matches up with the general information given earlier. These fish are capable of living 10 years or longer in captivity under the right conditions.
However, people often wind up having the fish die after three to five years in an aquarium setting. This is due to mistakes that are being made in the fish tank.
If you have some experience caring for fish and you’re careful about providing these fish with the best care, then they might live 10 years or longer. Otherwise, you can expect the fish to live for three to five years.
Do your best to keep an eye on water parameters and feed the fish well. You should be able to keep the fish healthy and happy for a long time if you’re doing your best.
Percula clownfish are very similar to Ocellaris clownfish in many ways. You’ll find that these fish will be capable of living 10 years or longer under optimal conditions.
These are among the most popular types of clownfish along with Ocellaris clownfish. Many people get them because they resemble the fish from the popular children’s CG cartoon movie about clownfish that caused these fish to become so sought-after.
Many of those who buy Percula clownfish aren’t prepared for the responsibility. This causes the fish to not live as long as they possibly can due to issues with the quality of the care that they’re receiving.
In many cases, these fish will only live between three and six years. However, you’re going to be able to see the fish live for much longer if you’re doing a great job.
There are even reports of Percula clownfish that have lived to be older than 20 years old. If you’re good at taking care of these fish, then they can have long lives in your fish tank.
Maroon clownfish are among the biggest types of clownfish that you can buy. They can be as large as six and a half inches or sometimes even close to seven inches.
They’re also very aggressive overall. All clownfish are considered to be aggressive, but Maroon clownfish are even more aggressive than normal.
This doesn’t mean that they can’t be great fish, though. They even do well in community tanks if you pick their tank mates carefully.
A Maroon clownfish is said to have an average lifespan of between three and seven years in a fish tank. However, it can live a lot longer if you care for it really well.
There are reported instances of Maroon clownfish living until they’re between 17 and 20 years old. It really might come down to the quality of care that you’re able to provide the fish.
Tomato clownfish are another aggressive type of clownfish that has become popular. These are good fish that should bring a lot of joy to your fish tank even if their aggression can sometimes be problematic.
Sadly, many say that Tomato clownfish live lives that are on the shorter side when compared to many other clownfish. In some cases, these clownfish might only live for two or three years.
As usual, these fish have the potential to live much longer with good care. If you’re caring for them well, then they can live as long as 15 years if things go very well.
There have been reports of them living longer than 15 years, too. It’s just not guaranteed that these clownfish will live for a very long time since many people note that their fish died after two or three years in a fish tank setting.
Cinnamon clownfish are excellent fish to purchase if you want to own clownfish that will survive for a long time. These are among the hardiest types of clownfish that you can buy.
They also look really cool despite having a sort of different coloration than many of the traditional clownfish that you’re used to seeing. It’s well-worth looking into these fish if you want to have an easy time caring for clownfish.
It’s said that they can easily live to be 17 years old. A cinnamon clownfish might even live longer than that if you’re doing a great job of taking care of it.
These are long-lived clownfish that do well so long as you’re meeting their basic care needs. If you can do your best to keep these fish in an appropriate environment, then you should have a good experience.
Clarkii clownfish will be another option when you’re looking for fish that should do well in an aquarium setting. These fish are hardy and they’re not too hard to take care of overall.
You should be able to get Clarkii clownfish to live for up to 14 years in an aquarium. This is assuming that you’re taking care of the needs of the fish very well.
If you’re doing a poor job, then it won’t live quite so long. These fish are pretty easy to get used to taking care of, though.
Even if they aren’t as long-lived as some clownfish, they’re still a great choice for many clownfish enthusiasts. These are very neat-looking clownfish that you’re sure to be pleased with.
Pink Skunk Clownfish
Pink skunk clownfish are very popular and they’re considered to be long-lived clownfish. Therefore, this will be a fantastic fish to choose if you want to own a clownfish that will live for many years.
It’s well-known that these clownfish can live for up to 21 years in a fish tank. They’re among the easiest clownfish to take care of in certain ways.
If you simply want to own a clownfish that has the greatest chance of living for decades, then this might be the best fish to choose. The pink look of this fish makes it a very aesthetically beautiful choice for your aquarium, too.
Don’t hesitate to get a pink skunk clownfish if you’re interested. Just make sure that you have enough space for this fish and that you’re able to provide them with the right type of care.
Saddleback clownfish should be capable of living up to 12 years in an aquarium setting. There are also reports of these fish living longer than that.
With very good care, a saddleback clownfish could wind up living 15 years. It all depends on how well you do with caring for the fish.
These clownfish are interesting because they have a very different stripe pattern than most of the other clownfish. There are also some differences that will be more surprising than just looks.
In almost all clownfish, the largest fish is going to be the dominant female. With saddleback clownfish, the males are basically the same size as the females.
What Factors Affect the Lifespan of Clownfish?
There are a ton of factors that can have an impact on the lifespan of your clownfish. You know that some fish are going to be more likely to live longer than others based on the species of the fish already.
It’s also important to recognize that environmental factors can play a huge role in how long the fish will stay alive. If you’re not providing the fish with the right environment, then it will be less likely to remain healthy.
Below, you’re going to get specific information about the factors that can alter the lifespan of a clownfish. Knowing this information might help you to do a better job of keeping the clownfish alive for as long as possible.
Once you’ve read everything, you’ll be able to figure out if you’re making any mistakes with your clownfish. If you can correct things, then you might be able to help your clownfish to live that much longer.
It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that water parameters will play a role in how long the fish lives. Water parameters cannot be ignored if you’re going to keep the fish healthy.
You should already know that you need to monitor various aspects of the fish tank. If you’re not doing this, then your fish will surely die due to being in water that isn’t appropriate for their needs.
Clownfish generally like the temperature of the water to remain between 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. You’re also going to want to keep the pH balance of the water between 7.8 and 8.4.
If the pH balance of the water is off, then you’ll need to adjust things using chemicals. This isn’t difficult to do, but you do need to test the water regularly to see where things are at.
The salinity of the water needs to stay in the right range as well. You should keep the specific gravity of the water between 1.021 and 1.026 to keep the clownfish as healthy as possible.
It’s also imperative to keep the water clean for the sake of the fish. Dirty water is going to make your fish sick, and sick fish are going to be more likely to succumb to illnesses.
Knowing this, it’s going to be important to do weekly water changes for the clownfish. Many enthusiasts recommend changing out 15% of the water on a weekly basis.
Do your best to keep the tank clean and remove organic debris. Keeping organic debris in the fish tank can wind up causing the water parameters to get thrown off.
Of course, the nutritional needs of the clownfish need to be met as well. If you aren’t feeding the clownfish the right food, then you can’t very well expect them to live for a long time.
If you’re not feeding the clownfish good food that gives them enough nutrients, then they might have growth issues. This could even cause the fish to experience stress.
Stressed fish will develop compromised immune systems, and they’ll wind up getting sick. Many things can stress a fish besides improper nutrition.
Generally, you should be feeding the clownfish marine flakes or spirulina flakes. These fish flakes should have the protein and nutrients that the fish need to thrive.
It’s also likely good to mix things up and give the clownfish shrimp pellets from time to time. They’ll really enjoy this and it’ll be good for them.
There are nutrition pellets that you can give to the clownfish as well. Try to work out a balanced diet that will meet all of the nutritional needs of the fish.
If you’re having a hard time, then you could ask for specific recommendations from your local pet store owner. An exotic veterinarian could also suggest food that would help your fish to thrive.
When feeding clownfish, it’s imperative not to feed them too much. Overfeeding the fish can cause issues with constipation, and that could cause the fish to develop a swim bladder problem.
Only feed the clownfish as much as it can eat within two minutes. If the fish is taking longer to eat than that, then you’re giving it too much food at once.
You should be feeding the clownfish twice per day to get the best results. If you stick to this advice, then it should be more likely that your clownfish will live a long and healthy life.
Overcrowding the Fish Tank
Overcrowding the fish tank will stress your fish and make it tough for them to live. You don’t want to put clownfish in a tank that is too small.
It’s also not right to put clownfish in a tank that has way too many fish in it. Some new fish tank owners get overzealous and choose to put more fish in the tank than they should.
This winds up stressing the fish, and it makes it more likely that the fish will get sick. Always consider the amount of available space when adding fish to a community tank.
If you’re going to just keep two clownfish in a fish tank, then you’ll need at least a 20-gallon fish tank. Otherwise, you’d be keeping the fish in a tank that is too small for them.
Be sure that you have the room in your home for a fish tank that is the right size. Otherwise, you should wait to get clownfish until you have a better spot for them.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.