“How long do goldfish live?” is a question that many fish owners are surprised to hear the answer to. Some of our clients will tell us their fish has died and say, “well, he was already 3 years old; he lived a good long life.” Sorry to say, but for most common goldfish, he was barely out of their “teenage years.” Unless they were an inbred fancy goldfish, 3-year old is a very young fish to die of “old age.”
How long do goldfish live typically?
Most long-bodied variety goldfish can live well into their 20’s, some even into their 30’s and 40’s. The oldest living goldfish was from the UK and lived to the ripe old age of 44! It is hard to verify some of these “oldest fish” records, but many famous fish lived well into their 40’s. Most of the goldfish we see in their “geriatric” life stage are usually in their late 20’s to early 30’s.
Fancy goldfish, usually inbred, are expected to have a slightly shorter lifespan, usually living into their 20’s. This will depend significantly on their breeding. Some fish, no matter what their owners do, are not equipped to live more than a few years.
Meet Some of Our Oldest Goldfish Patients
Mr. Fish – 20 years old
One of our most memorable elderly patients was the goldfish Mr. Fish. He and his fish friend lived unremarkably for many years, but one day, a sudden ammonia spike resulted in Mr. Fish having severe neurologic disease. Resulting in swimming and eating difficulties, Mr. Fish had one of the most dedicated owners who was determined to bring him back to health. Once the water chemistry had been addressed, our veterinary staff recommended a temporary stability float to help Mr. Fish swim and a hand-fed diet.
Within a few months, Mr. Fish was back to his old self. However, a secondary buoyancy disorder put him back in our care a few years later. After years of great care, Mr. Fish passed away just after his 20th birthday. We greatly miss our patient.
Zippy – 27 years old
We met Zippy several years ago when he was stuck in a tiny bowl. His owner wanted to do everything she could for him, so we recommended a new tank upgrade with a filter and better diet. Zippy has done amazingly well since then and is a feisty 27-years old! He has some neurologic issues we are managing (see video below), but has a great owner who is taking the best possible care of him.
How can I get my goldfish to 20 years old or more?
Now that you know how long do goldfish live, you can plan on giving them a great long life! The most important part in ensuring goldfish longevity is to give them lots of space, feed them a high quality diet and be sure to get them regular checkups! Just like veterinary care for your fuzzy animals, preventative checkups can help catch issues early and ensure your fish has a swift recovery. This can become more difficult as they get older, just like healing in other animals. Here are some tips and tricks to get your goldfish to at least their 10th birthday.
Do not dismiss a death of a young fish so quickly. Now you can answer the question “how long do goldfish live?” with confidence and take strides to get them to their 10th, 15th or even 20th birthday. With proper care, your goldfish can live a long, healthy life. Read here for our preventative health recommendations, get your fish out of their bowl and educate yourself on proper fish care.