The life expectancy of clownfish, or how long they live for is mainly dependent on how you look after them, with a bit of luck sprinkled in. Of course, there are other factors too that come into play, like the species of clownfish, and also the tank mates of a clownfish that can cause stress, which typically reduces a fish's life expectancy.
Let's look into how long they typically live, and also how you can help them live a longer and fuller life.
Clownfish Life Expectancy in the Wild
In the wild, most "lucky" clownfish typically live for around 10 years - we say lucky because they are clownfish that have not been either eaten by a predatory fish or caught a fish disease or parasite.
However, this is more applicable to the smaller subspecies of clownfish, such as ocellaris and true percula. When it comes to the larger species - such as maroon clownfish and tomato clownfish, many have documented that they can live up to 20 years.
From the data we have gathered on wild clownfish, the smaller subspecies live an average of 10 years in the wild, but are capable of reaching 15 and even 20 years. Whilst the larger subspecies of clownfish typically live for an average of 15 years, with the ability to reach 30 years old!
It is important to note that clownfish that are caught in the wild and put into captivity have a much shorter life expectancy due to them not being used to living in captivity and being subjected to different water parameters.
Additionally, some of the captive-bred clownfish will not live particularly long either due to being selectively bred to create clownfish with unique appearances, and not bred to have good and healthy genetics.
Clownfish Life Expectancy in Captivity
After surveying various clownfish owners, and from our own experience, the smaller clownfish species in your tank usually live up to 6 years. For the larger clownfish species, it can be up to 8 years on average.
But this is without any health issues, aggressive tank mates, and competent fish keepers that perform the clownfish tank setup correctly, constantly maintaining their water and everything else that needs maintaining for a fuller and longer life.
Something else to note is that there are many anomalies when it comes to how long clownfish live. We have heard from experienced aquarium owners that have kept the same clownfish for over 20 years and sometimes even 30, even with the smaller species!
So, if or when you do acquire a clownfish, you should never look at its life expectancy as the be-all and end-all, because it simply isn't, and your clownfish could easily live for 10's of years healthily.
This is why it is so important to ensure that you look after them as well as you would and should do with any fish, regularly feeding them a balanced diet, and maintaining their aquarium correctly and often!
How to Increase Clownfish Life Expectancy
It is pretty difficult to comprehend that your clownfish could live as long as 30 years, or as little as 2 years. However, despite some of it being down to pure luck, the majority of what goes into your clownfish's life expectancy is how you look after them.
Most clownfish are beginner-friendly (apart from the larger species), this is due to their peaceful nature and the fact that they are very hardy fish (not prone to disease). This is great, but doesn't mean you can slack off when it comes to their tank setup or maintenance.
They should be in a minimum tank size of 20 gallons (75 liters), but the larger, the better. Their tank will require a lot of maintenance too if you want to ensure they are residing in a healthy environment at all times. If you are a beginner, we recommend staying away from keeping anemones since they are not necessary for a clownfish to survive in an aquarium.
The following graphic summarizes the important steps you must take to prolong a clownfish's lifespan.
It is a nice idea, but clownfish do not need anemones to survive, and they require a lot of work and experience too. If you are going to keep them with other fish, corals, or invertebrates, you must ensure that they are both peaceful and compatible with clownfish.
And lastly, the clownfish diet is incredibly important to get right, they are hungry omnivores that enjoy a mixture of plant-based and meat-based foods to achieve a healthy and balanced diet!
When it comes to the lifespan of clownfish, there are tons of variables that go into it, and the advice we have provided here should stand you the best chance of prolonging the life of your clownfish.
Some of it just comes down to luck; however, you can create your own "luck" by following a strict care regime, which will certainly boost your clownfish's chances of living a long and healthy life. Take our advice and hopefully, you can be one of those people whose clownfish live to the ripe old age of 30. Good luck!