The Lifespan of a Goldfish

Before we talk about the goldfish life span let us first talk about some all statements that I am sure we have all heard at one time or another when we considered becoming goldfish owners.

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    “Goldfish make great starter ”
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    “They naturally have a short ”
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    Goldfish are easy to care for and can be flushed when they ”
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    They do not require very much of my attention, devotion, or loving ”

While it is true that goldfish can make a good “starter pet” it is not for lack of responsibility, attention, nor is it because they do not live very long. They make good starter pets because they demonstrate natural beauty, responsibility, and what it means to care about something other than yourself. 

how long do goldfish live

Goldfish can actually be rather high maintenance if you take proper care of them. They require a large aquarium, a filtration system, and a good diet (just to name a few). If you provide your goldfish with adequate care, then you are sure to have goldfish that live for decades!

So how long do goldfish live?

When discussing the lifespan of a goldfish, we really need to examine the question further. Is the question regarding how many years a goldfish can live? Alternatively, is the question in regards to how long goldfish live on average? Let’s dive in and discuss both sides of the coin.

The lifespan of an average goldfish:

Most people that become goldfish owners without truly thinking it through are most commonly the same people who end up flushing their goldfish a few months later. These spontaneous goldfish owners have often become such by winning them in a ring toss game at the state fair. These owners are then not prepared for their new family member and do not take the time to educate themselves on the subject. 

The goldfish that unfortunately end up in these homes do not live long and are lucky even to make it to be five years of age. The truth is that if you follow the basic goldfish care instructions and put a little effort into it, many goldfish will live at least ten years if not longer.

The lifespan a goldfish should experience:

When becoming a goldfish owner is a clearly thought out process the goldfish have a much better chance at a long and happy life with you! The owners who have planned, researched, and prepared themselves for this journey are often the same owners who end up celebrating their goldfish’s 45th birthday. 

In fact, the oldest recorded goldfish was 43 years of age. The lucky few that live to see this age only do so if their owners care about them and treat them as such. Now, do not feel as though you failed as a goldfish owner if your goldfish kicks the bucket (so to speak) after 20 years or so.

 If your goldfish does not quite reach his 40’s but has at least made it past ten years, then you are obviously doing something right. It is not uncommon for goldfish to pass away around or shortly after the first decade of their life. These goldfish are almost always properly cared for and treated as part of the family.

If your goldfish have yet to make it to their tenth birthday, then you should reexamine the way in which you care for them as well as what type of care you are giving them.

How do I help my goldfish live for a decade or more?

The first thing you should look at is the size of your aquarium. Aquariums can never be “too big” for goldfish regardless of how few you may have in a single tank. If you decide to provide your one little goldfish with a 75-gallon aquarium, then that goldfish will likely grow enormous and live his long life, happily. 

However, if you have a 10-gallon aquarium for 3 to 5 goldfish, then your goldfish will probably be flushed within a few weeks or a few months. Goldfish need a big tank to give them room to grow, room to swim, and plenty of oxygen for them to take in. So, if you have not bought an aquarium yet then consider the following rule of thumb:

A single goldfish requires at least 20-gallons of water. Each additional fish adds another 10-gallon to 20-gallons per fish (minimum).

If you already own a goldfish tank, and you follow this rule of thumb, then this may not be the reason for your short-lived goldfish. The second thing you should look at is whether or not you perform a 30% water change every two weeks.

If you do not perform a 30% water change every two weeks then this may be a contributing factor as goldfish are known to be a messy species of fish.

goldfish lifespan

They require frequent water changes in order to control the amount of waste, bacteria and fungus is in the aquarium (amongst other potentially harmful things). If you do perform regular 30% water changes then examine whether or not you are using regular tap water or if you are using treated tap water. 

Regular tap water creates a burning sensation for the goldfish and will most definitely shorten their lifespan. You should have no problem finding a water conditioner in supercenters or pet stores. 

Also, perform water tests regularly. You need to test the water’s temperature (it should fall between 62ºF and 75ºF depending on your specific breed of goldfish), you will also need to test the tank water for ammonia and nitrate (both should be zero, as well as testing the pH level (should be 7 to 7.4).

Recommended Water Test Kit : API Freshwater Master Test Kit

 Assuming you perform regular water changes with treated tap water, and regularly test your tank water with adequate results then your fish could be suffering from other issues. Did you research the specific breeds you have in your tank? Regardless of the fact that goldfish in general are very sweet and docile creatures, they are picky about who they live with. This is mainly due to competition for food. 

There are certain goldfish breeds that are much more able swimmers and therefore they can consume food before the slower fish even reach the surface. For example, do you maybe have a few Comet goldfish sharing a tank with a few Lionhead goldfish? If so, then this could be killing your Lionhead goldfish. If the tankmates do not seem to be the issue then maybe the problem is their diet. 

Goldfish are happiest and healthiest when they are being fed a variety of foods in their diet. They enjoy everything from insects and worms to vegetables and fish flakes. Keep track of how much you are feeding your goldfish and how often. Overfeeding or under feeding them could also be a contributing factor.

 Do your goldfish appear ill? Do they seem to have been rolled in sugar overnight? Are their fins disintegrating? If any of the answers to these questions was “yes” then your goldfish is likely suffering from an illness, disease or parasite of some kind. 

Do your research and do your part to help your goldfish before it is too late. If your goldfish are currently healthy, research the possible diseases and illnesses anyways. It will come in handy if you know what you are looking for. Goldfish can and should live longer than a decade

In fact, they should be with you for much of your lifetime (sometimes they live 40+ years). If you provide basic goldfish care or go above and beyond for them then you will likely have a beautiful finned friend for decades to come!