Goldfish is a common and famous freshwater fish for every hobbyist, even beginners and kids. Their bright colors and personality will definitely attract everyone.
Sadly, goldfish are known as short-lived fish. But that is not necessarily true! Now you might wonder, how long do goldfish live? Until what age can they thrive and survive?
Well, the answer certainly depends on different factors like species and care. That is why every aquarist must understand what they are housing and how to care for them properly.
Today, we will discuss goldfish’s lifespan and how you can increase it. Hopefully, it will help you to keep your goldfish for the long term. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Different Types, Different Lifespan
There are hundreds of types of goldfish spread around the world. Although all of them belong to the same family, each type is unique with its own traits and characteristics.
That includes their diversity in terms of lifespan. Some types of goldfish are hardy, while some other are more fragile. Along with other factors, of course, hardiness influences the chance for goldfish to live long.
Common goldfish are more sturdy than fancy ones. Therefore, they usually live a lot longer than fancy goldfish. Now, let’s find out how long both species can actually survive.
Common goldfish, Comet, and Shubunkin are noted as the types of goldfish that live the longest.
Of course, the lifespan depends on various factors. If common goldfish are well taken care of, the average lifespan is around 10-14 years. Some even say that the common and Comet goldfish can live for 20 to 40 years! The long life expectancy is supported by healthy feeding, clean water conditions, and tank size.
In the wild, however, they would not last that long. Due to predators and possible diseases, common goldfish can stay around 4-5 years in their natural habitat.
Even though both common and fancy are goldfish, they differ from each other. Unlike common goldfish, the fancy ones have a shorter life expectancy. In most cases, they can stay around in aquariums only for about 4 or 5 years.
However, the longevity varies between different types of fancy goldfish.
Fancy goldfish like Bubble Eye and Ranchu can live up to 5 years since they are densely modified breeds.
Other types like Telescopes, Fantails, and Black Moor Goldfish can live a longer life between 12 and 15 years. It’s also possible only if they are housed in a pond. Even so, there is a risk of having an eyesight issue for the Telescopes if they reach that certain age.
Fancy goldfish are specifically bred to look aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. That includes their distinct features like long flowing fins, round bodies, and protruding eyes.
Although they look beautiful, those features make the fancy goldfish prone to health problems. For example, it is more common for fancy goldfish to catch swim bladder disease.
On top of that, fancy goldfish are also more sensitive to water quality. In poor water conditions, it is very likely for fancy goldfish to get diseases or infections. Always keep the water clean if you wish to keep them for long.
How To Increase Goldfish Lifespan?
Many people have the understanding that goldfish are short-living and not durable. But the truth is, they can live beyond your expectations. They can definitely live and thrive for many years.
If you want your goldfish to accompany you for a long time, you need to take good care of them. Provide them the best living conditions and care you can, as those are the source of longevity.
To do so, we have here some tips on how to keep your goldfish in optimum conditions.
Keep Your Goldfish In a Tank With Enough Space
The very first thing you need to provide a goldfish before keeping them is a habitat. To ensure their happiness and healthy life, a clean tank with adequate room is crucial. But how big should it be?
A 20 or 30-gallon aquarium is already a decent size for one goldfish. It provides them sufficient room to swim around, which can stimulate their happiness. But if possible, getting larger is the best option.
To optimize their development and well-living, we recommend getting a 50 gallon (or more) tank. Goldfish that reach their maximum growth have a bigger chance for longevity and live happily.
Also, bigger tanks are easier to maintain since they are usually equipped with the filtration tools you need. It makes the water more well-cycled and oxygenated.
A tip before putting your goldfish in a tank: let the water in the tank cycle for a minimum of three weeks. Why? Within that time, good bacteria will develop and help to decrease the ammonia level in the water.
Keep Them In a Pond
Housing the goldfish in an outdoor pond is the best option available. That’s because the goldfish get direct contact with natural light and seasonal variation outside, which they couldn’t get in a tank.
Ponds mimic goldfish’s natural habitat best which can affect their health and lifespan. It also gives the possibility for goldfish to feed on insects or plants that appear on the pond. They can live using their wild instinct, just like how they live in the wild.
Besides, outdoor ponds provide your goldfish all the room they need to explore and grow. Usually, goldfish in ponds will reach their optimum size.
Fun fact, fish that get into their largest size are usually the ones to live the longest. You may expect your goldfish to stay around until the age of 20 (or more!) if you keep them in a pond.
However, you don’t have to start your goldfish-keeping journey straight from a pond. First, you can keep them in a tank (preferably 50 gallons or more) before moving them to an outdoor pond.
You will need to adjust the water parameters in the pond to be the same as in the aquarium. Consider getting a heater to help to secure the water temperature of an outside pond.
Keep the Water Clean
The first thing that ensures good fish living quality is the water condition. It is not a secret that clean and sanitary water will promote fish’s health and lifespan.
Dirty and unsanitary water enhances the chance of goldfish to catch illness and shortened their life expectancy.
To prevent such unwanted situations, you can start by using a high-quality filtration system. It helps to cycle the water to remove the dirt and waste.
Even so, water filtration will not do all the job for you. You need to change the water at least every two weeks. There’s no need to wait until the water gets super cloudy and discolored before cleaning it.
Make sure to also clean the inside of the tank by scrubbing it or use a gravel vacuum. It helps to remove uneaten foods, excessive algae, and any other dirt.
On top of water hygiene, you also need to check on the water parameters regularly. Goldfish will thrive best in a water temperature between 68°F and 74°F with a pH around 6.8 to 7.6.
They are pretty sensitive to a change in the parameters. So if you keep your goldfish in a big tank or pond, consider getting an electronic tank or pond monitor. It will help you track any shift in the water quality.
Give Them Proper Diet and Feeding
Goldfish are omnivores and will gladly receive anything you feed them. You only need to make sure that all food you give can fulfill their nutritional needs.
In their natural habitat, goldfish feed on micro worms, insects, and zooplankton, along with some aquatic plants. They need a diet consist of high-protein food and vegetables.
In captivity, you can give them high-quality flakes or pellets. Goldfish also enjoy water fleas, brine shrimp, tubifex worms, and blanched vegetables. A wide range of food varieties keeps things interesting for them.
Although it may be fun to give them some snacks, you can’t overfeed them. Too much feeding will lead them to overweight which can cause some problems.
Usually, it will result in swim bladder or digestive problems. Such issues may not be disastrous, but they will disturb their swimming ability.
Don’t Overcrowd Your Goldfish
Housing too many goldfish (or any other fish) in one tank may seem interesting. A colorful and festive aquarium will definitely light up the atmosphere. However, it is never recommended to have your tank crowded.
There are a few reasons why you shouldn’t keep too many goldfish in one aquarium.
First, goldfish produce a lot of waste. With many of them together, the waste will rapidly pile up and contaminate the water.
Second, overstocking goldfish will lead to the aggressiveness that may cause injuries or shyness. That will increase stress and anxiety level of the fish.
Lastly, an overcrowded tank (or pond) will result in underdeveloped goldfish. Stunted goldfish can lead to premature death.
Frequently Asked Questions
In the previous sections, we have discussed everything about goldfish lifespan and ways to optimize it. Maybe you feel like you’ve known enough, but some additional information and fun fact wouldn’t hurt.
Here we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about goldfish lifespan.
How long can goldfish live in a bowl?
Keeping the goldfish in a bowl may be aesthetically pleasing for the eyes. Many people consider it as a mere decoration. But as much as we love to see it, we don’t recommend keeping your goldfish in a bowl. There are a few reasons why.
First, a bowl does not provide sufficient space for the fish to roam around. The very narrow habitat may cause stress and anxiety to the goldfish. It also cut the possibilities for the goldfish to thrive and can make them stunted.
Second, there is no filtration in the bowl. Goldfish produce a lot of waste. Leaving the water unfiltered with the piled-up bioloads will cause various diseases or infections. Therefore, changing the water frequently is essential.
But even if you care a lot about your goldfish, they would not last long in a bowl. The average age of goldfish kept in a bowl is two months old. Reaching the age of one to three years is also common, but you will need to spend much effort taking care of the fish. It’s best to house them in aquariums or ponds.
How long can goldfish survive without food?
With their short life expectancy, you will be amazed at how long goldfish can survive without food.
Normally, goldfish can stay around for up to two weeks with no food at all. If they have no access to food, their body will naturally decrease their metabolism speed. It means goldfish will need less food when there’s little to no food than usual.
The longest time a goldfish endure living without food was 134 days. Although not completely without food (it survived by eating algae and leftover foods), it is still remarkable.
Even with such a strong survival ability, it is not recommended to leave the goldfish for days without any nutrition supply.
Make sure to feed the goldfish daily. It’s best to give them an adequate amount of food twice a day.
How old was the oldest goldfish?
It has been mentioned earlier that some types of goldfish can live as long as 40 years. But that is uncommon and extremely rare to happen, even with a high level of care.
However, there are some outliers in that case. Some goldfish exceeded the average lifespan and set a record.
The oldest one listed by The Guinness Book of World Records is Tish, a 43-year-old goldfish in the UK. Unfortunately, Tish died in 1999.
There is actually an older fish than Tish. But due to lack of documentary record, it didn’t enter The Guinness Book of World Records. The oldest goldfish ever believed was Goldie. Goldie lived until the age of 45 years and died in 2005.
It may be difficult to answer the average lifespan of goldfish since each individual is unique and has their own conditions.
However, it’s not true that the goldfish are temporary pets. They are definitely capable of living a long life. In fact, goldfish are one of the longest-living freshwater fish in aquariums! Of course, with proper care as well as their genetic factors.
To keep goldfish in the best condition possible, you can follow the steps. Provide them a clean, healthy environment with spacious space to support their growth. Also, feed them nutritious food that comes in many forms (varieties).
If you feel like you’re well prepared, you can begin your goldfish-keeping journey. Don’t let their lifespan distract and stop you from taking care of them.