How Long Do Clownfish Live? (Clownfish Lifespan)


How Long Do Clownfish Live? (Clownfish Lifespan)

Bold and beautiful, clownfish are some of the most popular marine aquarium fish in the hobby! Their wobbling swimming habits and vibrant colors are a treat to watch. But many folks might be wondering just how long do clownfish live before they go out and buy some of these fish for the first time.

Will you be able to enjoy these fish for several years? Or do they just live for a year or two before passing on? In this post I will be discussing clownfish lifespans and other important care tips!

How Long Do Clownfish Live?

3 to 6 years is a typical lifespan for clownfish living in a home aquarium. Larger species, like the Maroon Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus) will live 5 to 7 years. Smaller varieties like the Percula clownfish (Amphiprion percula) are shorter lived.

The best way to maximize your clownfish lifespan is to provide it with a rich diet, spacious settings, and pristine water conditions. Clownfish thrive in typical reef conditions, which means the chemistry should fall between a pH of 8.1-8.5.

Temperatures of 73-80℉ are ideal for clownfish; much colder or hotter is actively stressful for them. Most clownfish, especially tank bred fish, are more resistant to ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate than other saltwater fish.

This resistance is no reason to slack on doing water changes, however. Especially if you want to keep a sea anemone with your clownfish (see below).

What Tank Size Do Clownfish Need?

If you’re wonder how long do clownfish live, you may be surprised that tank size is a factor. The tank size for clownfish species depends on the type of clownfish you are interested in. Smaller species (i.e. Percula, Skunk, Pink Skunk, etc) can be kept in aquariums as small as 20 to 30 gallons.

Larger Maroon, Clarkii, and Cinnamon Clownfish should be kept in 40 to 55 gallon aquariums or larger.

Another consideration is the temperament of your clownfish. Percula and Ocellaris Clownfish are the two most popular types for home aquariums. Peaceful and sociable, they are able to coexist with most marine community fish.

Most species of clownfish are just as easygoing. But be aware that a few of them can be aggressive. Maroon Clownfish can be mean to the point of killing other fish. A large dominant female may even bite your hand when you start cleaning the insides of the glass!


Proper Clownfish Care for Longevity

A varied diet is just as important as water quality when it comes to ensuring your fish live for a long time. Clownfish are omnivorous fish, eating a mixture of algae, zooplankton, and leftovers from their host anemone.

Even tank raised clownfish should be offered a diverse diet. Many frozen food blends cater to this need by offering a selection of marine algae, plankton, mysis or brine shrimp, and other food, all at the same time.

A pellet or flake based formula can also be kept on hand to feed clownfish. Just make sure the ingredients list includes a wide range of whole foods like spirulina, krill, and squid meal. All of which form a natural part of the diet of wild clownfish.

Fillers like potato starch, wheat, corn, and soy are not only bad for your fish. They can even decrease the lifespan of your clownfish if fed exclusively.

Do Clownfish Need a Sea Anemone?

Watching clownfish dart in and out of a gently wafting sea anemone is one of the peak pleasures of owning a marine aquarium. Most of us are already familiar with the mutualistic relationship that clownfish have with their anemone homes.

The clownfish gains a home covered in stinging tentacles. As rather poor swimmers these little fish spend most of their time watching the world float by from safety.

But fewer people are aware that the sea anemone also benefits. Fish that prey on them, like angelfish and butterfly fish, find themselves chased off by aggressive clownfish.

The clownfish also drops bits of food and even poop onto the sea anemone’s mouth. This added food helps the anemone grow larger and faster.

But do clownfish need a sea anemone to survive? Not at all; all species of clownfish can live as free swimming pets in a fish-only aquarium. Not providing an anemone will not impact their lifespan.

I don’t recommend sea anemones for beginner aquarists, anyway. Anemones require intense lighting to drive their photosynthetic processes. They are also very sensitive to poor water conditions. Even the low levels of ammonia and nitrite found in newly set up aquariums can be fatal to them.


Clownfish live anywhere from 3 to 7 years in home aquariums. Larger species tend to live just a year or two longer than smaller varieties.

While sea anemones are nice to have, owning one will not impact the lifespan of your clownfish. So long as you offer them a diverse diet and clean living conditions you will be doing all you can to maximize how long clownfish live!


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