Goldfish lifespan

Goldfish lifespan

With excellent care, goldfish should live for 10 years or more. The oldest can make it well past 20-years old.

Are you surprised? People think goldfish are short-lived animals is because they obtain weak feeder goldfish from fairgrounds, and then keep them in unsuitable goldfish bowls.

These weakened fish die after a year or two, and the unsuspecting keeper thinks his or her fish has passed away from old age, when in reality it was barely a toddler in terms of its natural lifespan.

Goldfish can also have a shortened life if they’re kept in a pond and captured by predators like herons, or even your neighborhood cat. Consider netting your pond, and try to have deep enough water to put off cats and some waterlilies to offer the fish cover from birds.

Tips for prolonging goldfish lifespan

  • Keep your goldfish in a properly-sized aquarium, not a bowl.
  • Feed them a good diet, based around high-quality flake food, with variety in the form of freeze dried foods, vegetable matter, frozen coldwater fish food, and even the occasional live treat such as daphnia. (Only buy live food from fish stores or net it yourself from small pools of water that don’t contain any fishes, to avoid introducing disease).
  • Don’t overfeed.
  • Maintain good water quality with a proper filter and regular tank cleaning sessions.
  • Buy smaller, bright looking fish in the first place. Larger goldfish are likely to be older – in some shops the goldfish on sale may be a year or two old already.

More ‘natural’ goldfish such as comets tend to have a greater lifespan than the fancy varieties. I’d say 12 years is a good age for a fantail, and the really fancy twin-tail or pop-eyed varieties may do well to make it to ten.

The bottom line is that your fish will be with your for a long time, so give it the best home you can – for your viewing pleasure and for their own health.

Please do tell us the age of your oldest goldfish in the comments below.

97 Responses to “Goldfish lifespan”

  1. I have a Common Goldfish I bought 14 years ago from Walmart for 15 cents. He lives in a 75 Gal. Fishtank all by himself with two 150 Gal. Filters and one 75 Gal. Filter. He eats a varried diet of fish flakes, bloodworms, brine shrimp and various veggies.

  2. We bought our kids two goldfish (I think one of them is a fantail) when I was still pregnant with our youngest. She is now 7 years old. We love them!

  3. I feel terrible about the life my oldest fish has had. I’ll be honest, he hasn’t had the best life. He is 12 years old now and I got him from a school fair when I was 7. I swear he really must be immortal because a lot of things has happened to him in his life. My step mum ditsy left him and three others in a small room with lots of windows for a week when she went on holiday. The other three basically cooked to death, mine still swimming around happily. My brother once fed him, and another fish, to my old cat. This resulted in him loosing a few scales, but the cat mostly had the other fish before him and I was able to save him from her jaws. He has been starved (this was my fault) as I stupidly forgot I had fish and his tank was literary black, when I found the tank under my mess, I was surprised to find he was there, still happily and lively swimming about. Because I was young, I used to handle the poor thing regularly and as he gasped for breath I found it funny as he ‘sang’ songs. Oh my I was terrible to him

    This thing is immortal, the fair fish are lucky to live to two years as this article states.

    His traumatic days are over now, as I am much older now and take much better care of this fish I call Cartman. Im not perfect, but I do give my fish love (as I have well over 20 now) and they are all healthy and well and in suitable tanks. Talking about Cartman and how amazing he is as a little fish is fun though. I blame my immaturity and naivety for his younger life, but I can assure you, he is doing excellent for his age.

  4. My fish named Spike lived a day and a half

  5. My son won our goldfish at his school carnival and we have had him for 5 years npw his name is goldy

  6. I’ve come to this page looking for help to save my poor goldfish. I really didn’t know much about goldfish until I read the article in this page. I thought my goldfish was too old and it was getting slow because that same reason but I bought it a year ago as recommendation of food for another fish I had. I never thought this little fish would outlive the rest and stay alone and strong until now. I’m very worried, please any help on food or vitamin I can provide my fish. I don’t want it to die. I feel is part of me now. Its funny but i feel this fish, somehow, connects with me … I now it might sound very stupid but the fish actually watches tv with me

  7. My friend has a fantail goldfish named nemo the swimming fish that we got at the fair and is still living after 11 years 🙂

  8. I had a goldfish that was a “feeder” fish. He grew into a beautiful long-tailed beauty! He lived to be 10 years old. During his last year he had problems with his air bladder and I would hold him down in the tank. He eventually overcame it and lived another year. When he died I put him in the freezer waiting for the appropriate place to bury him. The appropriate day came when we planted a new tree in the yard. I put him in the hole dug for the tree. Every spring whe the crepe myrtle blooms I remember him!

  9. I have two Goldfish who are Around 2-3 years old and I Believe One of them is Dying. I don’t think it’s from a Disease because he still obtains his Perfect Orange Color and he Looks Fine. All of a Sudden he Just Stopped Eating and He has not ate for 5 Days Now. He also Swims to the top of my 10-gallon tank like he is trying to get “Oxygen”.. I know their is Plenty of Oxygen in my tank, for i have an Excellent Filter and the Fact that my Other Fish is Perfectly Healthy. There might be One Problem though? I think throughout his Life, I have “Overfed” him, for he is kind of Plump. but then Again if that was the Case, Why All of a Sudden would he Just Stop Eating…?

  10. Message to ” CHLOE “…
    I Know exactly what you Mean. My Goldfish has Stopped Eating for Five Days Now. Even though he is Just a Stupid Fish, I have Grown Attatched to Him and I Love him. Everyday he is Getting Weaker and Weaker and It’s Like I’m just Waiting for Him to Die. Everyday I Gotta feed my Other Fish and I see Him Just Swimming their Waiting to Die! Do Fish Suffer? and Do they Know if their about to Die ?

  11. I had common goldfish that lived for 18-19 yrs. The only reason they died is because I made the mistake of introducing diseased fish I had purchased from Petsmart, without quarantining them first. Only one of the new fish survived, and is receiving top care. I consider this a chance to do things the right way.

  12. My fish lived 7 years and died 7 years it was a black moor what is there normal life span

  13. My son won a little fish at the fair and he has been with us a year now. He has out lived all the little buddies we got for him and is huge compared to our recent additions to our 30 gallon tank, he is probably about 7 inches long. Thank you for the information though, I had no idea fish could live a long as dogs and cats!

  14. i have 2 goldgfish loinhad but i dont know wan bread my fish also 9 year’s plz help me guyzz.

  15. My 17 yr old daughter just recently brought a goldfish this past weekend. I just got a phone call from her telling me “Melvin” died : (
    She’s very sad, and I’m going to get her another goldfish today. I googled “goldfish lifespan” and came upon this website. I’ve found some very helpful tips, and yes I am surprised that goldfish can live as long as 25 years!

    Hopefully this new goldfish will live a longer life with the tips I’ve learned today : )

  16. I recently got the comet goldfish and three fantailed goldfish but they all died by the end of the week then I got 2 more fantailed and one died and now I only have the one his name is plinko im pretty sure if he’s lived for more than two months he’ll live

  17. my golfish lived for 8 yrs!!!! 🙂

  18. I have two fish both 19 year old

  19. hie guys, thanks a mill for this site, i have recently got my first fan tail..awesome little creatures they are, i hope to have a long healthy friendship with him, i have named him Tune..wooow, i didnt know they lived so long, so excited!!

  20. Hi All, great to hear some lovely goldfish stories! I just wanted to add my 2.5 cents to the topic 🙂
    Ive had 7 comets since they were around 3cm length in a 1.5m diameter outdoor pond and 6 years on theyre still going strong and have bred quite a bit! 4 have been moved to a larger pond and have grown to around 25cm total length. We have always had them with Koi and have never had problems, actually they are very robust hardy fish def. more so than the Kois.

    I have never had to use any chemicals or fancy filters, all Ive ever had is a submersible pump pumping water up to a higher fountain filled with some water plants and then the overflow just flows back into the pond, basically a natural filter and oxygen aerator combo. I have only lost 2 fish and they were Koi who jumped out of the pond as they got bigger 🙁 but no goldfish has ever been lost or sick…they really are hardy and strong with good water quality! In summer I feed them once a day and in winter I only feed them every 3rd day, Im in Perth WA, so a temperate zone.

    Hope this helps all you fellow goldfish keepers and hopefully they have a long happy life in your ponds 🙂

  21. Hi All! I was given a goldfish at a wedding back in October…She is mostly orange and her tail comes to a V in back…Not sure what kind she is…I have her in the same vase I got her in…She seems to be doing well although after reading up I know I need to get her an aquarium! I change the vase water every other day or so…Is that bad? Should I only be doing PARTIAL water changes and would that be every day or once a week? Sometimes my fish Belle’s water is very clear and other times, it’s cloudy…Does the cloudy water mean there is ammonia in the water? Also, I thought of buying a gold fish that is mostly white with orange spots but it’s three inches long…Would that be a bad idea? Would a three and a half gallon tank be sufficient for either or both these fish? PLEASE SOMEONE ADVISE ME ON THESE QUESTIONS…Thanks!

  22. A few years ago my aunt passed away and I got her 27 year old goldfish and that was five years ago and I still have sunny to this very day he lives in a bowl on the kitchen counter

    That fish is 8 years older than me

  23. See you can live in a bowl and be happy I may be 32 but my uncle koy who lives out i n the pond
    Lasted 2 months whith out being fed so in your face

    Sincerely, sunny the goldfish

  24. My goldfish Albert has outlived his 3 friends…..I got him when I was 16 …..I am now 37! So Albert is 21…….I was just trying to find out why his scales have started to stick out……..I didn’t realise he was so old…..he’s just always been here……

  25. i habe a sarasa comet named oscar hes almost 6 on may 1st and lives in a 250 litre tank with an external filter he also live with one shubumpkin named timmy a yellow goldfish another sarasa comet and a comet he is almost 7inc and i love him hes buetifull and so friendly hopefully he will live a long long time xx

  26. I have three goldfish ,feeder fish, that were quick replacements
    for our younger girls when their school fish died. They have
    had tadpoles, minnows and a couple of crabs visiting them through the years. Thats about ten years so far. They’ve become quite friendly and don’t shy away when my hand goes in to clean.

  27. We have one goldfish who lives happily in our pond and ‘he’ is at least 19 years old. He’s happy to sit in a bucket once a year when we thin out the pond plants and swims around surveying his newly expanded habitat when we put him back in.

    We run a filter throught the summer to keep the water clear. We don’t feed him as he’s never eaten the fish food offered. He likes nothing better than to sunbathe on sunny days, and he doesn’t seem at all lonely, he has newts and frogs for companionship and seems a very contented fish. He’s deep orange and about five inches long.

  28. My lovely goldfish Sammy died today, at the age of 15 and a half. I had him in a 25 gallon tank on the kitchen counter and he was a really friendly character. He always watched me preparing meals. It’s a sad feeling that I won’t need to keep checking on him any more.
    I buried him at the bottom of my

  29. Today i spent 300 dollars for platinium roulette system ,
    i hope that i will make my first cash online

  30. I’ve a comet and some sort of longer fined variety that have been with me for over five years. They are both carnival feeder goldfish. I dislike the poor treatment of carnival fish and the lack of understanding many people have about them, but it is what it is, and over the years I’ve acquired these types of fish and with proper diet, filter, environment, etcetera, they not only live long lives but they become friendly and fun members of a diverse aquarium.

  31. My longtailed goldfish lived 21 years but it had been moved to Libby, MT to my new apartment and it doesn’t live that long 9 months I think then it gave up on life swimming on it’s back for 1 day I kissed the glass of it tank. Say 21 years is a good life for a long tailed goldfish, isn’t it? I missed you Honey Dew!

  32. Had been keeping goldfish since 1989, seen many goldfish come and go, the longest lived goldfish I had was Nemo, a wakin goldfish and Whitefin, a comet long tailed goldfish both died unexpectedly after living for 10 years and 10 months with me last November. Missing both of you, Nemo and Whitefin, August 2003 – November 2014.

  33. I started with twelve feeder fish back in March 2007. It’s now June 2015, after hundreds of babies and hundreds of generations, plus giving away hundreds of goldfish, I have ten left, the results of my breeding experiments. Two original all white, and one very, very, long tailed original Comet goldfish (I call him “Flare” because of his tremendously long tail. The other seven are all white with extra long Comet tails. Soon I’ll give away the originals and hope the remaining 7 white fish with extra long tails will have a viable breeding population. Ones that will give me a continuous, and constant supply of graceful White Comets with tails longer than their bodies. They are soo cool!

  34. Oh gosh this is upsetting and very sad but I got a comet 9 months ago and she died today! I don’t know what I’ve done wrong but I’m very sad to find out how much longer she should have lived. Before I get another fish I MUST make sure I know what went wrong so no other fish will end up the same way. The last fish I had lived for 6 years. I’m not exactly sure what she was but she wasn’t a goldfish. Anyway, help?

  35. I bought 2 small comets at some point before 9/11.

    I bought them to “cure” a new tank. 🙂 Needless to say I didn’t have to buy any more fish.

    Click & Clack are still with me, so they are over 14 years of age.
    They moved with me from CA to NY and then to WY. I love my goldfish.

  36. Have a 13×16 ft pond holding exactly 5000 Gallons US. built in 1999. Stoked it originally with about 30 Feeder Goldfish (and Shubunkins?) and later with a couple of Kois. Never bought another Goldfish since they reproduce to a steady population of about 70 . The biggest ones are likely still original. Mortality is very low, yearly perhaps 3-4 fish at the most. Frogs survive really good every year, one year in the spring we counted 73 small sized-ones at the same time. The Kois only survive for a couple of years. Winter very harsh here, I keep an air supply 24/7 all year going in a small heated pump house. During winter I try to keep an air hole through the ice open if necessary almost daily. Have no filter going but a lot of plants growing in pots. Also a fair sized fountain operating occasionally. Summertime, Water lettuce and Water Hyacinths keep the algae down and proliferate so much as to cover the whole pond. By now I know the pond will need to be cleaned out but at my age (88 years) I have no more ambition to do this. Loved fishes always, they make perfect pets!

  37. Just like any other domesticated pet, you can do a lot to help improve the lifespan of your best friend.

    For starters, you need to avoid breeding the goldfish in a pond or a bowl. It’s common to see adverts, movies and cartoons where the fish are kept in tiny bowls and ponds. But these environments are NOT good for the goldfish to live a long and happy life in.

    Please look after your pets properly!

  38. Okay, so I’m considering getting a comet goldfish.
    Can someone reccomend somewhere where I can get one and supplies according to their needs? Please? I really need help. Thank you!

  39. I am hoping to buy my brother a goldfish. he is going to turn 2. Any suggestions on what type to get him?

  40. We have a koi pond with several goldfish and a koi that was — fifteen years ago — the same size as the goldfish. If anyone in the LA region wants them, get in touch. A heron caught two, but they apparently remember the first two visits and stayed out of reach on the thirs. We were cheering for the heron.

  41. i have 2 comet goldfish thats 2 and a half years old. they were feeder fish when i bought them but now they are at least 10 inches long in a 20 gal tank. I need a bigger tank but dont have the funds so i will have to find someone to adopt them. Would you please give me info on who can adopt them? They are very healthy. Or give me info on how to make a homemade tank.

  42. My goldfish died last February. He was three months away from being 13 years old. I was so sad when he died 😢
    Miss you Tarmac!

  43. I have 15 pond fish, ages range from 14 to 1 year old.
    I am on the 4th generation of feeder goldfish.
    Raccoons got the first adults but they had babies before they died, then blue herons started finding the pond.
    My pond is 4 ft deep, plants in the center, netted and a elec fence. Love my fish and will do anything for them

  44. I have comet and common feeder goldfish which were very cheap. I figured if they died, it would be no great loss. There are 8 living in a 26 gallon tank with a rosy red minnow. These fish love to eat. They get flakes, pellets, and peas. I feed them twice a day.
    Water quality is most important. I change 6 gallons of water every 2 weeks, and check ammonia levels periodically. I know they won’t grow very large in a tank this size, but I really don’t care. They seem happy, and are all very healthy.
    They share the tank with a few dozen rams horn snails that I keep for algae control. The tank is very clean. I run 2 Aquaclear filters and 2 air stones 24/7. So far, so good.

  45. Just wanted to share my positive story. In 3008 my son brought home a very tiny goldfish from the local fair. He survived the night in a fruit bowl (it’s all we had) and the next day I purchased a 12 litre tank with some stones and ornaments. There has never been a filter but ive done regular water changes and put in chemicals to make the tap water safe. We named him “Tish” and he is now nearly 9 years old, much larger and extremely healthy. His diet is flakes and pellets. I have learned he is a comet tail.

  46. That should have read 2008! I haven’t time travelled lol

  47. I just lost my goldfish. He was all white even with plants in the tank. He was translucent really. Had a very large fan like tail. I’d had him for about 12 years. The day I got him I looked around the store to find an employee to help me. I found the employee scooping up all the feeder goldfish for a guy who needed to feed his Oscar fish. I explained I wanted a pet goldfish nothing fancy and the guy said take one out and give it to her. So now that I think of it Sparky was a rescue pet.

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