Is my clownfish too old for a mate?

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A reader is wondering if her 10-year-old clown fish will accept a new mate – Jeremy advises…

Q) I have had my female Common clownfish now for more than ten years and I wondered what the average lifespan is of these fish. Her mate died a couple of years ago and I don't know whether I should get another male or even whether she will accept him now. Any advice would be welcome.

NADINE, VIA EMAIL

Jeremy says: Clownfish only live for about six years in the wild, although they can live for over 20 years in captivity and still produce young. So, if you are very lucky you could get another ten years with yours. She should take to a new male, as this happens in the wild, albeit when one juvenile male from her own group steps up to become the breeding male. But you’ll need to start with a sub-5cm juvenile as there’s more chance that it will still be a male, although you can’t be completely sure.

Acrylic isolation boxes are available, so hang one in the tank with the new fish in it and see how they interact with each other over the next few days. If she seems peaceful, release the fish into the tank. If she attacks it, it could already be a female and you should swap the new fish for another tiny one. If, however, she attacks that one too, it might be better to leave her on her own.