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What Happens When a Clownfish Mother Dies?

What Happens When a Clownfish Mother Dies?

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Having breeding clownfish in your tank will be interesting. You can potentially get more clownfish for your fish tank if you can get a male and a female clownfish to spawn.

Female clownfish are bigger than male clownfish. They’re the dominant fish, and the alpha female of a clownfish group is going to be in charge.

You know that female clownfish mate with a submissive male clownfish, but you might be wondering what will happen if the clownfish mother dies. If the alpha female is no longer around, then what will the male clownfish do?

Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know about this topic. It’ll help you to have a deeper understanding of clownfish and how things work with their mating rituals.

Understanding Clownfish and Gender Changing

To understand the answer to the question posed in this article, it’s going to be important to know about how clownfish can change gender. You see, clownfish are all born male.

Juvenile clownfish will all be male, and then the largest and most aggressive clownfish in a group will wind up becoming the dominant female. A clownfish is capable of changing its gender to female once, but it cannot go back to being a male.

So, once the alpha female in the group has been decided, that is going to be that. The dominant female is going to choose the largest male clownfish in the group as a mating partner.

Assuming there are other males in the group, they will be left in a sexually immature state while the chosen male will be paired with the female. The male clownfish winds up being responsible for taking care of the eggs and protecting them.

Female clownfish will lay eggs on the flat surfaces of rocks or somewhere near the anemone that the fish are hosting. The male clownfish then passes over these eggs to fertilize them and make them viable.

This is how clownfish reproduce, and you should know that a female clownfish will lay between 100 and 1,000 eggs at once. Not all of those eggs will hatch, but a portion of them will if the male is able to protect them properly.

What Do Clownfish Do When Their Mate Dies?

Group of Clownfish

Since you know that the female clownfish is the dominant force in a group of clownfish, you might be wondering what will happen when one of the mates dies. There are a few different scenarios that will play out depending on which mate dies.

If the male mate winds up dying, then the female will simply wind up choosing the next largest male clownfish in the group as its new mating partner. This should happen fairly fast overall assuming that there is another male clownfish around for the female to choose.

What if the female clownfish is the one that dies, though? Well, the breeding male clownfish will wind up changing into a female clownfish over the course of a few weeks.

Male clownfish can change to become female clownfish. If the former breeding male is now the largest clownfish in the group, then it’s going to become the new female.

It will then start mating with the largest non-breeding male in the group. So, one of the formerly non-breeding males will become the new breeding male.

Even if it sounds a little complicated at first, it’s actually fairly simple to understand. The clownfish keep moving forward and they just replace the clownfish that died with the most suitable replacement in the group.

Clownfish Are Monogamous

It’s interesting to note that clownfish are monogamous. Technically, you might think that the female would be the only one that would truly matter since it’d be the one that would be producing the eggs.

However, the female isn’t going to accept any of the smaller males fertilizing its eggs. It only mates with the largest male that it has chosen as a breeding partner.

This is likely some sort of natural mechanism so that the clownfish can try to produce the strongest offspring possible. It’s an interesting thing to think about, but it probably doesn’t make much of a difference in terms of how you go about caring for clownfish.

It’s simply nice to learn about how clownfish live in the wild. You might not keep a small group of clownfish in your fish tank, but the hierarchy of a group of clownfish is certainly a fascinating concept.

What If You Only Own Two Clownfish?

Two Clownfish in Anemone

One thing that some people might not think about is what will happen if the only available clownfish mate dies in a fish tank. If you only have one pair of clownfish in the fish tank, then there won’t be another clownfish in the tank for the other to breed with.

This can be a problem because you likely know that clownfish are aggressive. Generally, it’s not recommended to try to introduce new clownfish to a tank.

Clownfish can be very territorial, and they will try to fight to protect their territory. Knowing this, you might think that it means that the now single clownfish won’t be able to get a new mate.

This isn’t the case, but you’ll need to be careful with how you go about doing things. It’s recommended to go out and buy a small clownfish of the same species.

Introduce the new clownfish to the fish tank carefully. See how the original clownfish responds to this new fish.

In some cases, the two clownfish will wind up getting along together right away. The success of this might depend on the personality of the fish and just how aggressive it happens to be.

If things go really well, then the original fish will eventually accept this new clownfish as its new mating partner. It might take some time for this to occur, though.

Many people recommend introducing the new fish to the tank at night to reduce the likelihood of an incident. You could also keep the new fish in a breeder net so that the original clownfish has a chance to get used to the new addition without being able to harm it.

Tips for Breeding Clownfish

It’s possible that you might have two clownfish in your tank and they won’t form a mating pair. There are times when this happens, and it might simply be that you don’t have a good environment for the fish.

If the fish are stressed, then they might not even think about spawning. You should check your tank to ensure that you’re getting the basics right before going any further.

Remember that you want to keep the water parameters in the right range so that the fish can stay healthy. Clownfish want the temperature of the water to stay between 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 78 degrees Fahrenheit on average.

You’ll want the pH balance of the water to stay between 7.8 and 8.4. The salinity of the water should remain between 1.021 and 1.026.

Measuring the pH in a Fish Tank

It’s also going to be imperative to give the clownfish enough space so that they can thrive. Putting them in small fish tanks will cause them to feel stressed, and they’re not going to be as likely to mate in captivity when they’re forced to live like this.

You should also know that there could be issues if the fish feel threatened or if they’re being harassed by other fish. Clownfish will lay eggs in a community tank setting, but things might not go well if you put them in an aquarium with incompatible fish.

For example, you could put clownfish in a fish tank with predatory fish such as lionfish. This puts the very life of the clownfish in danger, and it’s something that you’re absolutely not supposed to do.

Ensure that you thoroughly research the compatibility of all of the fish before setting up a community aquarium. This ensures the safety of all of the fish that you want to buy.

If all of these issues are taken care of and you’re still not seeing the clownfish lay any eggs, then you might need to provide them with a good spot to lay eggs. As mentioned earlier, clownfish will generally lay eggs on the flat surfaces of rocks.

Should you not have any rocks with flat surfaces in your tank, then the clownfish simply might not feel that there is a viable spot for them to lay eggs. If you add some appropriate rocks or some type of breeding slates, then you might see that the clownfish will start spawning.

The presence of an anemone might make the clownfish feel more comfortable as well. Clownfish can live in a fish tank without an anemone, but they love bonding with anemones.

Anemones and clownfish have a symbiotic relationship. The clownfish are immune to the stings of the anemone because of the thick mucus layer that they possess.

These two creatures have formed a bond where they help each other to thrive. In the wild, clownfish host anemones, and they never stray far from the anemone that they call home.

If your clownfish host an anemone in your aquarium, then they might feel safer when it comes to mating. You can introduce an anemone after the clownfish have already been in the tank, but it’s likely easier to already have an anemone in the fish tank when you bring the clownfish in.

How Long Do Clownfish Live?

Lone Clownfish

Since you’re learning about what happens when a clownfish mother (or the breeding male) dies, you might be curious about the overall longevity of clownfish. Are these fish supposed to live for a long time or do they normally have short lives?

Oddly, there are many different answers to this question. How long a clownfish will live is directly impacted by how well you care for it.

In some cases, clownfish might only live between three and six years. The clownfish could easily die earlier than that if you make many mistakes and don’t do a good job of meeting its basic care needs.

If you do an excellent job caring for a clownfish, then it might be able to live for up to 15 years. Many people say that clownfish that are being cared for expertly will be capable of living between 10 and 15 years.

There are some reports that aquarium enthusiasts have been able to get clownfish to live as long as 20 years in some situations. Of course, you also need to consider the fact that different species of clownfish might live longer or shorter lives, too.

It’s likely going to be best to start by looking up specific information about the type of clownfish that you have. Then you can get a general idea of how long the fish might live if you do a great job of taking care of it.

So long as you’re doing your job as a fish owner, the clownfish in your tank will be able to live for many years. Do your best to give the clownfish an environment where they can thrive and you’ll be enjoying them for a long time.

Final Thoughts

After learning more about this topic, it should be easier for you to understand what to do when one of your clownfish happens to pass away. Clownfish will be able to move on and find another mate after their original mate dies.

In fact, if it’s the alpha female that dies, the breeding male will wind up changing its gender to become a female. This new dominant female clownfish will then pick the largest available male in the fish tank to act as its new breeding partner.

Generally, the gender transformation will take a few weeks. It’s very interesting that clownfish are capable of doing this.

Introducing a new clownfish into a tank can sometimes be a bit of a pain. Clownfish are fairly aggressive fish, and they sometimes get very aggressive toward new clownfish that enter their territory.

If you want to give your current clownfish a new mate, then it’s best to buy a small clownfish of the same species. Try to introduce this fish to the tank at night, and keep an eye on things to see how they go.

In some cases, the two clownfish might hit it off very easily. Hopefully, it’ll go well in your case if you ever need to do this.

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