Back to Back Issues Page
The Goldfish Gazette, Issue #017 -- How Long Do Goldfish Live?
May 30, 2015

Goldfish Care Tips and Guidelines

A Free Monthly Resource For Goldfish Enthusiasts
May 2015
Issue #017

In This Issue
How Long Do Goldfish Live?

What's New On The Website

The conditions Goldfish are kept in govern how long they will live.
Goldfish kept in bowls have the shortest life spans.

How Long Do Goldfish Live?

I am often asked "how long do Goldfish live?".

This is a reasonable question because, depending on your own personal experience, your expectation could range from weeks to decades.

Tropical Fish Compared To Goldfish

For those who keep or have kept tropical fish, you will have found most lifespans are fairly short, 3 years being exceptional. The reason for this is the high water temperatures they live in all year round, and with that comes a high metabolism.

Most new to goldfish keeping assume goldfish lifespans would be similar.

Goldfish are warm water fish. They can live in water just above freezing and will survive at temperatures as high as 38o C (100o F), but prefer temperatures around the low 20s Celsius.

In the wild they grow large, far bigger than you would expect looking at the small fish you see in pet shops. 18 inches (460 mm) in body length is not uncommon.

Guppies are breeding at 6 weeks old. Goldfish start to show what sex they are around 6 months, and wouldn't breed until the following spring at the earliest.

What all this points to is Goldfish are going to live a lot longer than the average tropical fish.

So the question should be, how long should goldfish live?

Goldfish are revered in China and Japan, and have been kept for centuries, so they should know how to look after them. In these countries, there have been recorded instances where Goldfish have attained the ripe old age of 40+ years.

This isn't common, but 20-30 years old is.

To put this into perspective, the average age most Goldfish die in Western countries would probably be less than a year old.

What Increases a Goldfish's Lifespan?

Water changes. Water quality is the most common reason why Goldfish die prematurely. 50% water changes need to be made regularly even if you have a filtration system in your aquarium or pond.
Use a water test kit to measure your aquarium or pond water pH, nitrate and ammonia levels. As soon as one of these moves outside the desired range, change 50% of the water.

Food. Goldfish in the wild don't eat prepared flake or pellet food, they eat insect larvae, worms, daphnia and aquatic plants. The closer you can copy this diet, the healthier your fish will be.

Environment. Goldfish kept in bowls have the shortest lifespans. Those kept in ponds have the longest.
Unless you change the water in a bowl daily, it is very hard to keep the water quality high.
Aquariums make it much easier to manage water quality using filters, but water changes still aren't done often enough.
Ponds allow Goldfish to grow large and receive natural sunlight. If Goldfish are put into a pond over the warmer months it seems to give their coloration and health a boost.

Genetics. Like all living creatures, genetics do play a part in how long goldfish live, but most die well short of their genetic time frame.

So How Long Should Goldfish Live?

In a small bowl, 5 years would be exceptional.

In an aquarium, with filtration, 10 years should be expected, longer if they spend some time each year outside in a pond.

In a pond with filtration, 15+ years wouldn't be uncommon.

To read more about how to increase your Goldfish's lifespan click here...

What's New On The Website

Goldfish Disease Medications

I have added a new page on Goldfish disease medications.

Often there are several medications that can be used effectively for the treatment of a disease.

I have grouped different treatment options that are readily available for bacterial, fungal and parasitical diseases. I have also included water treatments that either help when treating, or help avoid disease altogether.

Goldfish Pond Maintenance

As a follow up on last month's topic, I have added a page on Goldfish pond maintenance that covers the step by step process I use to make the job as simple and safe (for the fish) as possible.

Comments? Ideas? Feedback? I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this e-zine and tell me what you think, or what topics you want covered.

Next Month's Topic

Daphnia Cultures

Back to Back Issues Page