How Long Do Clownfish Live? 5 Tips To Increase Their Lifespan

If you’re wondering how long do clownfish live, it might be longer than you expected! One of the most recognizable fish in pop culture, a Clownfish can live up to 6-10 years in its natural habitat. Some species have even been reported to live up to 20 years! 

Like many people, I fell in love with Clownfish while watching Disney’s Finding Nemo. Who didn’t want an adorable clownfish they could take care of after such a tear-jerking movie? If you felt the same way and want to add any of the known species of clownfish to your tank, read on!

This article will explore exactly what affects a Clownfish lifespan, including diet, their preferred tank mates, and ways to give them their ideal habitat. This includes everything from the tank equipment, water, their diet, and how many times to feed them.

The Clownfish.

There are over 30 different clownfish species you can buy at the pet store. They include the Percula clownfish, maroon clownfish, Ocellaris clownfish, and tomato clownfish.

Various clownfish species have different needs when it comes to aquarium care. Thanks to Disney’s Finding Nemo, the orange Percula clownfish is the most popular clownfish among its species.

These delicate creatures inhabit the Western Pacific, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean coral reefs and sea anemones.

What Shortens a Clownfish Lifespan? 

To help your clownfish live longer, you must first know what determines a clownfish longevity.

Clownfish are one of the easiest fish to take care of, but they need saltwater aquariums to survive. Poor water quality and environmental factors cause diseases that reduce a clownfish lifespan.

Infected fish don’t live long. To be on the safer side, here are symptoms you should look out for in the most common fish diseases among clown fish: 

  • Clownfish Disease (Brooklynella hostilis): This is a microscopic hair-like parasite associated with Clownfish, thus the name. It feeds on dead skin cells and can cause severe damage to a clownfish gills where they breathe. You can treat Brooklynella with Formalin.
  • Fin Rot: Fin Rot is caused by a bacterial infection, but you can prevent it with hygienic aquarium maintenance. You can identify Fin Rot if the fish has red or ragged fins. You may also observe lethargic behaviors and the fish may isolate itself and lose its appetite. Erythromycin, a broad-spectrum antibiotic, can be used to deal with fin Rot. 
  • Hole-In-The-Head (HITH): A common disease in both freshwater fish and saltwater fish. Hole-in-the-head causes erosive pits in the head and face, thus the name. It is not life-threatening but can lead to secondary infections, which could kill the clownfish. It is combated by moving the fish to a new tank, preferably where HITH has not developed. 
  • White spot (Saltwater ich): aka marine ich is caused by a fungus called Cryptocaryon. It is relatively easy to identify a clownfish afflicted with the disease. They will have 0.5-2.0 mm White Spots on their body. Difficulty swimming and losing balance are also common symptoms of white spot. The most effective treatment for saltwater ich is copper. A copper-treatment dose is one of the most effective treatments for White Spot. You can also use a salt bath to treat this fish disease.

Note: One of the best ways to help treat most fish diseases is to use a quarantine tank. This will give you time to monitor your fish and prevent the fish’s tankmates from getting infected.

5 Ways To Increase The Lifespan of a Clownfish 

Now that you know what kind of fish diseases can be expected when caring for a clownfish, you need to know how to increase their lifespan. The lifespan of a Clownfish dramatically depends on your tank setup, the tank environment, and the care you give.

Here are the specific requirements that a clownfish needs to thrive while in an aquarium:

1. Tank Size

What tank size are you getting for your clownfish? Anything less than 5 gallons of water won’t be enough. While the tank size depends on how many Clownfish you have, these creatures love their space. 

You can see below how much water you need depending on the number of clownfish you want.

15-15 Gallons
215-20 Gallons
3+20+ Gallons

While 5 gallons of water could be enough for one clownfish, you need at least a 10-gallon tank of water to be on the safe side. A large tank of 15-20 gallons is more than enough for two clownfish.

Although these beautiful fish are on the smaller side, they won’t be happy in a small tank. It’s easy for clownfish to suffer from ammonia poisoning in small spaces.

A young clownfish can grow up to 7-8cm long, with the oldest clownfish growing up to 17cm long. The best tank setup should have enough swimming and hiding spaces to entertain your clownfish. 

Note: Buy a large tank with a lid as clownfish are known to jump out of their aquarium sometimes! 

2. Water and Temperature

Clownfish are saltwater fish, so the tank’s temperature should be warmer with saline water.

Clownfish thrive in temperatures between 75°F – 80°F (24°C – 27°C). If you can’t manage this temperature naturally, you’ll need to install a water heater. Using a thermometer ensures the tank temperature is constant. 

The salinity should be between 1.020 – 1.024. You will find clear instructions on the water/salt ratio of the products you buy. 

There should be a 15% water change weekly, but smaller aquariums require more frequent changes. With a suitable cleaner and regular water changes, you can keep the water free of excess food that causes algae-related illnesses. 

If your tank’s pH level is too high or low, it will make your Clownfish sick or even kill them. An optimal pH level for your Clownfish would be between 7.8-8.4. This pH works when pairing your clownfish with other fish. 

3. Food and Diet

Clownfish are omnivores and are adaptable when it comes to their diet. They eat live food in their natural habitat like copepods, small crustaceans, algae, anemone tentacles, fish eggs, etc.

In captivity, a wide variety of food products mimic their wild diet. Foods such as Mysis shrimp and frozen brine. They will readily eat frozen and table shrimp(provided it is finely chopped).

List of good Clownfish food products:

  1. Hikari Marine-S Pellets Fish Food for Smaller Marine Fish
  2. V2O Foods New Vision Marine Krill Plus Soft and Moist Pellets (2.8oz 2.4mm)
  3. Xtreme Nano Pellets (Aquarium Co-op)

How many times to feed in a day?

You can feed your clownfish one to three times a day, depending on their size and age. Adult clownfish need to be fed twice a day, and juveniles will need to be fed 3 or 4 times daily.

Do not overfeed a clownfish. If they don’t finish their food before it drops to the bottom of the tank, you should stop feeding them. Excess food messes with the tank’s pH levels which will be unhealthy for your fish. Proper aquarium maintenance can help keep the tank clean to improve clownfish health.

4. Companionship: Compatibility tankmates for clownfish

If you want to practice selective breeding, you must get a clownfish breeding tank. If not, keeping clownfish in pairs bred from the same tank is advised.

Clownfish are aggressive. Introducing another clownfish bred from a different tank may lead to fights and cause them both stress. 

If you want to change the tank setup, you can add a coral reef and other decorations for your clownfish. 

In the wild, Clownfish have a symbiotic relationship with sea anemones (soft and brightly colored creatures that live on rocks at the bottom of the ocean). Clownfish depend on these tentacle-like creatures for food and protection from fellow fish in their natural habitat.

clownfish and sea anemone
clownfish with anemones

Tank-raised clownfish have adapted and can survive without a sea anemone. If you want them, ensure your tank is at least 6-8 months old. 

It won’t survive if it’s not, and Anemones will put a dent in your aquarium budget. A sea anemone also needs proper lighting and water conditions to survive. Be careful with Anemones because, despite their symbiotic relationship with clownfish, sea anemones’ tentacles can poison other fish.

Suitable Anemones: Bubble Tip Anemones, magnificent anemones, and Leathery Sea Anemones

List of tankmates compatible with Clownfish

Loneliness is a huge issue with most fish, especially tank-bred fish. If you have a clownfish and want them to mingle with their fellow fish, here are some friendly tank mates you can add to your tank: 

  1. Damselfish
  2. Wrasses
  3. Dartfish
  4. Butterflyfish 

Bottom dwellers such as Blennies and Gobies live at different tank levels, so they are compatible tank mates. Peppermint shrimps and harlequin Shrimps can make great additions as they are peaceful and helpful in breaking down waste food. Some non-compatible tank mates include groupers and lionfish.

If you’re just starting your saltwater aquarium hobby, taking care of one fish first will give you enough practice before adding more to the tank.

So How Long Do Clownfish Live Again?

With adequate clownfish care, your clownfish can live long, healthy lives. Even though the average lifespan of clownfish is between 6-10 years, good genetics and good living conditions in closed environments can lengthen that time.

You can control their aquarium environment and help them live a long life by providing them with proper care, friendly tank mates, and a nutritious diet.

If you want to take better care of your clownfish, ensure the water is warm enough, and they have a large tank to swim. Try some of these tips to help your clownfish stay happy and healthy! 

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