How Long Do Goldfish Live? 5 Ways to Increase Their Lifespan

The Goldfish is a truly classic fish. It has been bred for fishkeeping since the 19th century, and to this day it can be found in pet shops all over the world.

There are many different varieties and breeds available, all designed to fit into just about any freshwater habitat. Unfortunately Goldfish have a poor reputation for being a disposable pet.

They are often bought for children and beginner fish keepers with the belief that they will not live for very long.

However this fish lives for much longer than most people realize, especially when they are given the correct care.

Read on to discover just how long a Goldfish can really live, and how to ensure that you give yours a long and healthy life…

How Long Do Goldfish Live?

Goldfish Tank

The misconception that Goldfish don’t live long is as common as the misconception that they have short memories.

These fish are members of the Carp family Cyprinidae, which are known for their long lifespans both in the wild and in captivity. Their close cousin the Common Carp can live up to 20 years.

Goldfish are a domesticated variant of wild Carp and they will live longer if they are housed in an outdoor pond setup that closely mimics their natural habitat.

If you are keeping them indoors, their tank should be at least 50 gallons.

Common Goldfish

Wild Carp can live up to 10 years, but are more likely to live for 4 or 5 due to the risks of predation, disease and competition with other fish.

In captivity, they can live for 10-14 years in a tank that is at least 50 gallons. Proper tank conditions, room to grow and a healthy and balanced diet make all the difference.

Fancy Goldfish

Black Telescope Goldfish

Fancy Goldfish are double tailed breeds specially bred for their decorative appearance. These include the Telescope, Fringetail, Bubble Eye and many others.

Their lifespan depends on the breed and their level of care. Some breeds will need more intensive care than others.

Heavily modified breeds like the Ranchu and the Bubble Eye may only live up to a maximum of 5 years.

Telescopes are bred to live for 12 to 14 years, but it’s possible that they may have problems with vision and coordination.

Fringetails and Fantails can live up to 12 years in a tank and 14 years in a pond.

Other Goldfish

Goldfish Type Lifespan
Comet In an outdoor habitat, they will live for a maximum of 15 years. In a tank they can live up to 12.
Oranda This breed lives for an average of 15 years, and can reach the age of 20 in a spacious outdoor setup.
Shubunkin In a tank you can expect them to live up to about 12 years. In an outdoor pond, it can reach 14 or 15 years.

5 Ways to Increase Your Goldfish’s Lifespan

Comet Goldfish

Your Goldfish’s lifespan will mainly depend on the amount of care you spend on them.

With a good understanding of the type of effort it takes to keep your fish healthy, you can help it reach a ripe old age and enjoy a healthy life.

Here are 6 different ways to increase your Goldfish’s lifespan:

Keep Them In A Pond

Although they are one of the most popular fish tank pets, these fish prefer living in a pond.

A pond provides more space to swim and allows them to reach their maximum size. Fish that are able to grow their largest are usually the ones that reach an old age.

Keeping them in a pond also allows more room for you to replicate the conditions that wild Carp are used to. They will also be exposed to natural light and seasonal variation that affects the fish’s biology and physiology.

All breeds benefit from a more natural lifestyle as it lets them use their wild instincts and live the longest possible life.

The Tank-to-Pond Method

Goldfish and Koi Pond

If you want your fish to live a long life, but still want to keep them in an indoor aquarium, this method gives you the best of both worlds.

When you first purchase your Goldfish, you can start out by raising them in a 50 or 75 gallon indoor tank.

Include freshwater plants and keep the water temperatures between 68-74°F.

Start preparing an outdoor environment for your fish as they grow larger. The pond conditions should be very similar to the tank conditions in terms of temperature, pH and flow.

You can move your fish to their new pond when they reach around 10 inches long.

Make sure to acclimate them properly to their new home.

Keep The Habitat Clean

An unclean habitat is one of the main causes of disease and infection in aquarium fish.

Goldfish lifespans are often shortened in tanks due to poor tank maintenance or unhygienic conditions.

When waste is produced in large amounts in an enclosed space like a tank, things can get dirty really quickly. Goldfish in particular are very messy fish, so they will need their tanks cleaned every 2 week.

Never wait until your water clouds up before you clean it. Dirt and grime can build up to dangerous levels long before it begins to show. Water testing kits can test for the nitrogen and ammonia buildup that indicates a dirty tank. You should use these to check your water each time you carry out a water change.

These are strictly temperate fish with a tolerance range of 68 to 74°F. In addition to temperature, these fish can be sensitive to drastic changes in pH and dissolved oxygen. They need a pH of 6.8 to 7.6.

Also make sure to choose the right filter for your tank. An external or canister filter is better for very large, very messy tanks.

Feed Them The Correct Diet

Goldfish Eating

In the wild Goldfish eat zooplankton, insects and microworms along with aquatic plants and algae. The best diet for your fish is one that meets all of their wild nutritional requirements.

Protein and vegetables are the most important part of their diet.

Any flakes or pellets that you give them should have a good balance of protein and vegetable content. You can even make homemade protein and veggie mixes for them to try.

Live prey is important to activate their prey instinct. In both tanks and ponds, feed them water fleas, brine shrimp, and tubifex worms.

Avoid Overcrowding

Overcrowding can lead to anxiety and behavior problems in fish. A crowded tank can lead to increased aggression or shyness.

It also makes it much harder to keep the tank clean.

Overstocking a pond leads to poor growth and development. Fish that are underdeveloped will die much younger than fully grown fish.

It can be tempting to fill your aquarium with as many fish as you possibly can. However, keeping it in moderation ensures that each one of your aquarium inhabitants can live their best life.

FAQs About How Long Goldfish Live

Shubunkin Goldfish

How Long Can Goldfish Live Without Food?

Usually they can go up to 2 weeks without food – the longest recorded survival is 4 and a half months.

When there is little food available, their metabolism will slow down naturally (a lower metabolism means that they won’t need to eat as much). They can regulate their food intake based on temperature, seasonality and other conditions that can make food hard to come by.

Like any other animal, they store energy in their bodies for emergency situations. However, if they go for too long without food their bodies will eventually begin to shut down.

It’s best not to let your fish go without food for too long. Remember to feed them at least twice a day.

How Long Do Goldfish Live In A Bowl

The sight of a fish in a bowl is a very common one, however a bowl is the worst possible place for it.

Goldfish that are sold in bowls are meant to be moved into a large tank or pond.

A bowl is too small for them to grow to their maximum length. Stunted, underdeveloped fish will die very young. A fish kept in a bowl will only live for 2 or 3 years.

How Old Is The Oldest Goldfish Fish?

A fish named Tish made the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest living Goldfish. She was born in 1956 and died at 43 years old. Her sibling, Tosh, lived to age 19.

Your fish is not likely to live this long, but it just goes to show how much of a difference a good environment will make.

With proper care and the right amount of effort, they can live much longer than most would ever expect.

Summary

With the correct care, your Goldfish could live even longer than your cat or dog!

They need the right food, good housing and access to veterinary care just like any other pet.

You should only bring one of these fish home if you can commit to looking after them for around ten years.

While it is not likely that your fish will reach a record-breaking age, you never know what might happen if you take very good care of them.

Have you kept Goldfish before? Let us know how long they lived in the comments section below…

Robert Woods Portrait
Robert Woods is the creator of FishKeeping World, a third generation fish keeper and a graduate in animal welfare and behavior. He is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America and the Nature Conservancy.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*