How Long Do Goldfish Live and Ways to Increase Their Lifespan

Last Updated on October 1, 2020 by Anne Thynne

There is little doubt that goldfish tops the priority list of most aquarium hobbyists, thanks to its beautiful and eye-pleasing appearance. However, many people don’t know how long do goldfish live and also keep them in poor tank condition.

Hence, it is promptly essential to know the average lifespan of goldfish and their tank management to increase the lifespan, before you actually own one.

Ideally speaking, a common goldfish will live 5-10 years with proper tank condition and also in the wilderness.

Are you surprised by the numbers?

Well, there’re conditions for this lifespan. Also, there is a big difference between how long a goldfish can live and how long actually a goldfish will live in tanks.

If you want to get answers to these questions, read on the full goldfish lifespan article. Also, you will see why goldfish lives shorter in a tank and how to increase the average lifespan of the beautiful fish in the tank with proper care.

How Long Do Goldfish Live?

How Long Do Goldfish LiveMany of us believe that long fish have a short-term memory. Well, this is as popular a misconception as to the misbelief that goldfish is a short living aquarium fish.

In fact, you will be surprised to know how long a goldfish can really live.

On average, a goldfish in the captivity will live around 5 years to 10 years.But, you can enhance the lifespan greatly in the aquarium with proper care.

You may be wondering how come a goldfish live so long. Well, it is directly linked with their species attitude.

Goldfish is a proud member of the Cyprinidae which further belong to the bigger Carp family. And carps are known for having one of the most extended lifespans in the freshwater condition. And the long life is common both in the wilderness and captivity.

In fact, the common carp, which is a close cousin of the goldfish, has an extended lifespan of 15 years to 20 years or more.

So, when you decide to own a goldfish, make sure you are committed to it. It is by no means a short-lived aquarium fish. Also, in most cases, unfortunately, the goldfish don’t live their average lifespan due to poor tank condition and improper maintenance.

But for now, leave the goldfish tank maintenance and care away and let’s focus on the lifespan of the different goldfish species. Also, we will see off the longest-lived and living goldfish in aquariums.

Common goldfish lifespan:

The common goldfish comes from the same family of the common carp. They seem to live up to ten years with all conditions perfect. However, in the wild, they often fall prey to larger predators and also, may starve to death.

Hence, in their natural habitat, a common goldfish has an average of three to five years. But the lifespan increases significantly in the captivity and can reach to an extravagant 12-15 years or more. But for this, a goldfish needs to reside in 50 gallons of tank water and proper tank maintenance, nutritious diet and close monitoring.

The lifespan of Shubunkin, Comet and Oranda Goldfish:

Shubunkin_goldfish
Shubunkin Goldfish

The three, Comet, Oranda and Shubunkin, are the three longest living subspecies of goldfish family. Crazy!

We earlier told you that a common goldfish would live for 15 years successfully in the properly maintained tank. Surprisingly, many goldfishes may live up to 25 years easily.

The comet and shubunkin goldfish have a slightly shorter lifespan compared to the common goldfish. They will live around 10 years to 15 years in the captivity.

Oranda goldfish, on the other hand, can live up to 20 years or more, but their average lifespan is anywhere between 12-15 years.

However, the secret to such a crazy lifespan of these goldfishes lies on the tank maintenance, diet and regular care. We have discussed them in the latter half of the article.

The life expectancy of fantail goldfish:

Fantail Goldfish
Fantail Goldfish

Fantail goldfish with an oval-shaped body is popular among aquarium hobbyists. So, you may want to know its lifespan.

A fantail goldfish is a hardy subspecies and can easily surpass the mark of 15+ years living span. So, they are effectively one of the longest living goldfish too.

However, the fantail goldfish are bred for specific traits. So, they have a shorter lifespan in most aquarium and tank conditions.

The lifespan of fancy goldfish:

Fancy goldfish too have been bred for some specific traits. Hence, they have a relatively shorter lifespan compared to the common goldfish.

The average lifespan of a fancy goldfish will be around eight to ten years. And with the right care, the 15 years mark is achievable too.

You will see the fancy goldfish in different displaying traits that include oval shape, rounded, bulging eyes and lastly, flowing fins. As owners bred them to achieve such highlighted display features, the lifespan becomes succinct.

Goldfish Types Lifespan in WildLifespan in Captivity
Common goldfish20+ years12-15 years
Comet15-20 years10-12 years
Oranda10-15 years10-12 years
Shubunkin10-15 years10-12 years
Fancy goldfish10-15 years10-12 years
Fantail goldfish10+ years8-10 years
Bubble RanchuN/AFive years approximately

Now that you adequately know the average lifespan of different types of goldfishes, you might wonder about the longest ever living or lived goldfish.

We are putting the next section to fulfill your thirst.

Some of the Longest Living Goldfishes

Who effectively holds the record for being the longest living goldfish?

Do, you want to know about this oldie goldie?

Let’s check the facts. Bye-Bye, misconception and assumption!

Goldie holds the record for the longest-lived goldfish ever. He lived for nearly 45 years. Insane!

That’s close to a half-century!!!

Goldie died in 2005. Unfortunately, he was disqualified for the record of longest living goldfish ever in the Guinness Book of World Record as the owner failed to provide enough documentation.

Hence, Tish, the beautiful and beloved UK goldfish, officially holds the record of longest-lived goldfish ever. He died a peaceful death at the age of 43 years.

Although Tish died, he is now getting stiff competition from the famous Fred and George pair. They, now, have lived over 40 years and still going strong.

So, they are well on the race for the championship of longest living goldfish ever.

You can find the list of longest living goldfish here.

Where Does Goldfish Stand In Terms of Lifespan Among Aquarium Fishes?

We now know that goldfish has a remarkably long lifespan.

In fact, their average lifespan and especially, longest-living lifespan may have SURPRISED many of us.

But are the only aquarium fish species that live so long? Or, which aquarium fish lives longer than the goldfish in the captivity?

We have researched the questions and found the following answers.

  • Angelfish has 10+ years of lifespan.
  • Betta lives for two to four years.
  • Different species of tetra will live for five to ten years.
  • Guppies live for five to ten years successfully.
  • Mollies will hardly pass the mark of two years.
  • Pleco can live for seven to fifteen years with proper care.
  • Tiger barb has an average lifespan of five to six years.

You can get the full list of aquarium fishes’ average lifespan here.

Why Most Goldfish Die Rather Quickly in the Aquarium?

You see that almost all goldfishes have a longer lifespan in the wild than in the aquarium. In fact, despite the shortage of useful stats, I found that the average lifespan of a goldfish in the tank is roughly between five years to ten years.

The RECORD HOLDERS are a rare EXCEPTION.

Also, goldfish surpassing the 15+ years mark is itself a SUCCESS.

So, why do goldfish has a shorter lifespan in the aquarium? What factors affect their life expectancy in the tank?

I have talked with many expert aquarists on the topic and found THREE REASONS behind the short lifespan of the goldfishes in the aquarium.

Reason #1: Breeding for different traits:

In the wilderness or natural habitat, goldfish has a streamlined body. So, they are resilient against sickness and other kinds of stuff.

Sadly, in the captivity, many owners modify the goldfish bodies in oval, round shape or elongated fins, as well as a set of the bulging eye. They do so to display the traits for FAIR.

Unfortunately, such rigorous modification made their healthy less resilient against sickness and stress. So, they will live only a few years in the captivity.

The most frustrating scene is that the owner thinks that the goldfish didn’t live so long because they can’t do it. That’s unfortunate and pathetic.

Reason #2: Inappropriate tank management and care:

The premature death of most goldfishes happens mainly because of two failures from the owners part. These are:

  • Improper tank management
  • Inaccurate care and diet

Although it may seem somewhat disrespectful, I have to be unbiased. I have seen that most buyers and even some sellers have little or no knowledge about the proper tank system and water quality for their goldfish.

What’s shocking is that the line in real for ALL FISHES.

So, the primary cause of an untimely death of the goldfish due to improper tank management includes the following.

1.      Keeping goldfish in a bowl or an unfiltered tank:

If you want to pet the goldfish in a bowl, that is a SUICIDAL DECISION for the goldfish. Mostly, the fishbowls only have a 1 gallon to five gallons of water capacity.

Whereas, a goldfish needs at least 15-20 gallons of water to thieve and live happily. So, whenever you put them in the tiny bowls, you are unknowingly constraining their lifespan.

On the other side, many fish keepers forget about the importance of tank filtration system once they place the goldfish in it. As the filters aren’t set correctly, different harmful bacteria and ammonia build at the tank bottom.

Ammonia build-up causes fish to burn their bodies, and ultimately, they experience an untimely death. Also, bacterial and fungal attacks are the reasons for many fish sickness that too causes immature death of goldfishes.

2.      Overfeeding and improper diet:

This section is linked with the goldfish care. Many owners love overfeeding their fish and think that it helps the fish grow faster.

However, the scenario is just the opposite one. When a goldfish is overfed, it hampers their intestine and proper digestive system. So, they will fall prey to a variety of sickness, including swimming sideways. An improper stomach causes it.

Most goldfish owners will prefer feeding the fish with goldfish flakes. But it comes ardently with its own set of problems. Firstly, you may overfeed the fish, and secondly, it contains a high amount of protein.

Hence, the improper diet and overfeeding are NOT GOOD for goldfish.

3.      Forget to cycle the aquarium water:

Proper and timely cycling of the aquarium water helps the build-up of the helpful bacterial colony within the tank. Yet, many goldfish owners pay little or no attention to it.

Hence, they either don’t install a filter and aerator or opt for some inferior quality filters and aerators for the fish tank.

So, the filters fail to treat the tank water and aerator won’t allow proper flow of the current. Hence, the tank water soon turns into a minefield for the goldfish.

The result?

A sick or weakened goldfish….

No, no, no, not a good sight.

Reason #3: Stress due to extensive traveling:

This reason is out of sight for most people.

And it is natural.

Did you ever think of how much distance the goldfish have made before coming to your house? The answer will be, no, you won’t have thought about it.

And that’s the mistake we do.

Often, pet shops will collect the goldfish from different breeders and transport them to the store first. And when you buy the goldfish, it is transported to your house.

During the long-distance traveling, the fish often gets stressed. Also, they are kept in smaller bags where oxygen level may not be at the standard level. All these cause the goldfish to feel anxious and may result in an untimely death.

How to Increase the Lifespan of a Goldfish?

Before you head deep into this section, first, ask yourself a question. Are you indeed committed to the goldfish? Secondly, can you really take care of the old and grown goldfish for such a long time?

Remember, we are talking about 15 years to 20 years lifespan and may be more than that. So, it is NOT going to be EASY.

When you answer a BIG YES to both questions, read our five techniques to enhance the goldfish lifespan.

  • Goldfish prefer living in a pond despite being one of the most popular aquarium mates. When they live in a pond, they can swim happily and grow to their actual size. And we all know that fish able to grow largest will also live the longest. What’s more, you can replicate the original habitat of the carp fish that keeps the goldfish healthy and happy too.
  • If you want to ardently keep the goldfish in the aquarium anyway, we recommend you to get a water tank with 50 gallons to 75 gallons water. Larger space will help the fish taste the pond environment. Also, you can mimic the natural pond environment better in a large tank than in a smaller one. And as the fish grows bigger, prepare to transfer it in an outdoor pond or large tank.
  • When you overcrowd any fish, it leads to severe stress and behavioral change. And the goldfish is no exception. When overcrowded, they will be anxious that can lead to many health complications. So, avoid overcrowding in the goldfish tank. Ideally, you should not keep more than two goldfishes in a 50-gallon aquarium.
  • One of the main reasons for the untimely death of aquarium fish is the dirty aquarium. So, it would help if you always kept the aquarium neat and clean to increase the lifespan of the goldfish. Firstly, install the right filters and aerator for the fish tank. Clean the entire tank, including the plants, decorative items and substrate in every two weeks. Also, check the pH level and water temperature regularly. You can have live plants as well which is quite beneficial for your fish.
  • Overfeeding your goldfish can be tempting. But, you have to ardently resist the temptation if you really want to increase the lifespan of the goldfish in the tank. It is better to underfeed even. Always check for the right diet for the goldfish.

When you can maintain these five tips adequately, you can expect to live your goldfish between 15 to 20 years. And if you are lucky, it will be even more.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How long can a goldfish live in a bag?

A goldfish will live approximately 8 hours to 10 hours in a regular bag. However, during shipment pet stores use unique bags with breathing enhancement. These bags are known as ‘breather bags’, and the goldfish can survive for 2 days there. Nonetheless, we recommend you to acclimatize the goldfish with the tank water and replace it in the tank as soon as possible.

  1. How long can a goldfish survive in a bowl?

We assume that the bowl is small-sized and unfiltered. So, a goldfish will hardly live for a few days to months in the bowl. Also, a bowl has only five gallons of water at the bet that limits the goldfish movement. So, you got to be lucky to see a goldfish making it to a year in the bowl.

  1. How long will a goldfish survive in the pond?

A pond features large space and replicates the natural habitat of the carp fish (goldfish falls under the carp fish family). Thereby, goldfish will live longer in the pond. If the pond is in optimal condition, we don’t see any reasons that would obstruct the fish lifespan. So, you can expect a goldfish surviving well over ten years in the pond.

  1. How long will a goldfish go without food?

If you have fed the goldfish correctly earlier, it will make up to two weeks without any food. However, their best survival chance is anywhere between seven to ten days without any physical and health issues. The longest living record for a goldfish without food is an insane 134 days.

  1. How long will a goldfish go without water?

Water is vital for every fish, and goldfish is no exception. However, if you think that the goldfish will die within minutes without water, that’s wrong. A goldfish can live up to one hour without any water. And if they get only a puddle, their survival chance may go up to a few hours.

Final Words

So, the next time you ask, how long do goldfish live, know that they have a standard life expectancy of around five years to ten years in the captivity. But their lifespan in the natural habitat is slightly longer than in the captivity.

Also, the common goldfish can often survive well over 15+ years mark. You can expand the goldfish lifespan by maintaining the tank water, stop overcrowding and serving proper diet to the goldfish. In this way, they can live over 15 years, and you can boost it further by releasing them in a pond with the resemblance to their natural habitat.

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