The lifespan of a goldfish can vary more than almost anything else in the aquarium scene. For such a common fish, the answer to «how long do goldfish live» is quite complicated.
But this guide will clear everything up.
You’ll be able to quickly find out how long goldfish live (in case you’re just curious), but you’ll also learn what factors influence their lifespan!
You see, it’s important to know why some goldfish live longer than others if you want to provide them with the best possible care. This is a situation where the solution to the puzzle is also your roadmap to success.
Let us begin.
What is the maximum half life of a goldfish?
Goldfish have the potential to live a long time in the right conditions. There is no exact maximum life expectancy as it varies between different species of goldfish.
That said, we can use the history of this fish to get a better idea of its potential lifespan.
Goldfish are one of the oldest domesticated fish species in history. Records of its existence go back more than 1000 years! More modern accounts show that breeders created new species as early as the 17th century.
Historians believe that the Goldfish was created through selective breeding of wild carp. Goldfish are part of the carp family and are closely related to common carp (which have a very long lifespan).
As a result, the maximum lifespan of Goldfish can be up to 20 years when kept in the right conditions.
Of course, there are always outliers. The oldest goldfish ever recorded has died at the age of 43!
So while it’s rare for a goldfish to live past 20 years, it’s certainly possible. If you take good care of them and keep them in excellent condition, you’ll probably have them for quite some time!
How long do they usually live in your place?
If you’re surprised to find out that Goldfish can live for two decades, you’re not alone. Most people assume that these fish are temporary pets with a short life expectancy.
With their wide availability, low cost, and history of use as carnival prizes, there is a lot of misinformation about how long goldfish live.
While we’d like to say that most goldfish can reach that 20-year lifespan without a problem, most don’t. The vast majority of goldfish in captivity do not even come close to the 20 year mark.
Author’s Note: This is due to the prevalence of poor breeding practices and insufficient care by many of the people who buy them.
In fact, the average life expectancy of a common goldfish tends to be closer to four or five years. Some can live up to ten years, but that is only possible with optimal living conditions.
Common Goldfish vs. Fancy Goldfish Lifetime
While Common Goldfish and Fancy Goldfish still belong to the same family, they are very different.
And this also affects its lifespan.
Fancy goldfish species are known for their long, flowing fins. Many of them have double fins, which hampers their ability to swim fast like a common goldfish.
Not only that, many species have bulkier bodies. Due to so much selective breeding, these fish have developed round bodies that are more prone to disease (such as dropsy).
Under poor living conditions, Fancy Goldfish are at much higher risk of disease. For super modified species, such as Bubble Eye and Ranchu, health problems are widespread.
Often those species only live for about five years.
In general, Fancy Goldfish are much less hardy than Common Goldfish. They are more sensitive to changes in water quality, which can lead to a number of problems for those not dedicated to maintaining the tank.
Common goldfish are bred to live between 12 and 14 years. But that can only be achieved with impeccable care.
Ways to increase its lifespan
Just because goldfish have a reputation for living shorter lives doesn’t mean you have to treat them as temporary pets. Goldfish are fully capable of living a long life.
Like any other captive fish, its lifespan depends on the quality of care you provide. Under optimal living conditions, your Goldfish can thrive for many years.
Here are some ways you can help your Goldfish live as long as possible.
1. Don’t keep them in a bowl
The first thing to do is keep them out of a fish tank!
There is nothing more iconic than images of a single goldfish in a glass container. Unfortunately, that little confined space isn’t doing your fish any favors.
For one thing, a fish tank doesn’t hold much water. Most only hold about three gallons. Goldfish need a lot more space than that. Some types of goldfish can reach lengths of around 10 inches.
When they are kept in a small bowl, their growth and development are stunted.
In addition, the lack of space to swim can cause stress and anxiety. Goldfish need open water to swim. Even those who are not powerful swimmers need ample room to move.
Without it, fish stress levels can skyrocket. This opens a Pandora’s box of possible diseases and health problems.
The second major problem with fish tanks is the lack of proper filtration. Goldfish are messy creatures that produce a considerable amount of waste.
Without the proper filtration that comes with an established tank, ammonia and nitrate levels can rise dramatically. This can lead to ammonia poisoning, even more stress, and early death.
Author’s note: A goldfish that lives in a container is lucky to live to a year. Even if you do things right and do frequent water changes, the average lifespan on a container is only two or three years.
2. Keep them in a big enough tank
We know that fish tanks are bad, so how big a tank does a goldfish really need? At the very least, you should keep this fish in aquariums that can hold 20 gallons to maximize their lifespan.
A tank of 20 gallons or more provides a number of benefits. For one, your fish will have plenty of room to swim and explore. The extra space can go a long way in keeping your Goldfish stimulated and happy.
Second, larger tanks are easier to maintain water conditions. Even with standard filtration equipment, the water is more likely to be well cycled and highly oxygenated.
Author’s Note: Goldfish perform best when added to a tank that has been cycling for at least three weeks. During that time, colonies of beneficial bacteria can grow and flourish.
Those bacteria are responsible for breaking down waste and keeping ammonia levels low. When you have to constantly replace the water in a small fish tank, those bacteria can’t get a foothold in the tank. Therefore, ammonia problems are common.
It is still possible to have quality problems in a tank. But, larger aquariums have the tools you need to keep things more stable for the long haul.
3. Stay on top of water quality and parameters
Good water quality is essential for any fish that lives in an aquarium. You must be proactive in maintaining the tank and keeping the parameters stable.
Start by investing in a premium filtration system.
Hanging external filters or basic canister filters are more than capable of keeping your tank running. They will remove excess debris and keep the water moving.
While filters do a lot of the work for you, they won’t take care of everything. It is important to clean the tank every two weeks.
This means doing partial water changes and getting rid of any algae buildup. You should not wait until the water looks discolored or cloudy to act.
As we mentioned earlier, Goldfish are messy. If you have a group of them, it won’t take long for the debris to accumulate. Scrub the inside of the glass, use a gravel vacuum and remove any food debris.
Test the water regularly to ensure ammonia and nitrate levels are not detectable.
In addition to the cleanliness of the tank, you need to pay attention to the parameters of the water. Conditions can fluctuate several times throughout the day.
Fortunately, Goldfish are hardy enough to tolerate subtle changes. Actually, it’s the bigger changes you need to worry about.
Water temperature should be kept between 68°F and 74°F (these are good cold water fish). pH levels can range from 6.8 to 7.6.
Author’s Note: Again, testing is key here. Check those parameters regularly and make any necessary adjustments!
4. Feed them a healthy diet
Goldfish are omnivores that eat pretty much anything you feed them. The food of choice for inexperienced fish farmers is cheap flake food. Commercial feeds are great, but you need to make sure your Goldfish is getting all the nutrients and vitamins it needs.
Stick to a high-quality nutritionally balanced flake or pellet food as the staple of your diet. Then provide some supplements to improve their diet.
Goldfish do very well when fed high-protein snacks like brine shrimp, water fleas, and tubifex worms. They also enjoy plant-based foods like blanched vegetables.
Try to have some variety when feeding goldfish. This will improve their overall health and provide them with some enrichment.
A good diet can even make them more colorful and vibrant than they were before!
5. Consider keeping them in a pond
The best thing you can do for your Goldfish is to house them in a large pond. Creating a goldfish pond allows you to closely replicate their natural habitat, which will have a huge impact on their lifespan.
Author’s Note: We realize that this may not be a viable option for everyone depending on your life situation. However, we feel it is still important to understand why this is so beneficial.
No matter how hard you try, there is simply no way to perfectly replicate natural light and seasonal variations in an indoor aquarium. With a large outdoor pond, you can.
The largest ponds hold hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water. Therefore, your Goldfish is not confined. They have all the space they would need!
Most goldfish that live in ponds will grow to massive sizes. Instead of staying a measly two or three inches, some species can reach their full potential in a pond.
The natural environment of a pond can dramatically extend the lifespan of a goldfish. It is not uncommon to see these fish reach 20 years of age in such a large habitat.
You do not need to start your Goldfish in a pond. You can raise them in a standard 20 gallon tank to enjoy their company indoors. Once they reach adulthood, you can transition to the pond where they can live for the rest of their lives.
As you can see, the typical lifespan of Goldfish varies quite a bit. Depending on the care they receive and the breeding practices of the seller, you are looking at a difference of up to 15 years!
But at the end of the day, if you want to keep these fish as pets, their lifespan shouldn’t deter you.
Goldfish have the ability to live for a long time when kept in the right conditions. As long as you’re prepared to do whatever you can to keep them healthy, you’ll be fine!