How Long Do Goldfish Live? Tips to Improve Goldfish Lifespan

I remember as a kid heading to the local carnival and being so excited to bring home a real, live goldfish of my very own!

In its tiny plastic bag, my parents told me not to get too attached, since they “knew” the typical goldfish only lived a few days, weeks at most.

Little did they know I’d be able to keep my little Seymour around for a full 3 years before finally saying goodbye.

Goldfish Lifespan

Like my parents, most people assume that goldfish will not have a long lifespan.

However, with proper care these hardy little fish can live for several years or more.

If you’ve ever asked the question “How long do goldfish live?” read on to find out the answer to this and many more questions regarding the lifespan of all kinds of pet goldfish.

Some Goldfish Background

Goldfish in an Aquarium
Goldfish in an Aquarium

Today’s goldfish, also known as Carassius auratus originated as the wild Prussian Carp of Southeast Asia.

These wild carp were originally bred for their quick generation times and larger size.

These fish were gradually appreciated more for their beauty and coloration by collectors and breeders alike, and the lifespan of the goldfish increased with this attention from a few years to upwards of 10.

Road to Western Market

Making their way into the imperial courts of Japan, the bland, brownish Prussian Carp were eventually bred into the more recognizable koi fish, meant for display in ponds and outdoor facilities.

Western merchants noticed the popularity of the non-commercial aquarium and brought them back along trade routes and into the domestic market.

After many years of careful and selective breeding, the art of keeping goldfish was born and we were introduced to the fancy goldfish with a longer average lifespan that we know and love today.

NOTE

The bright reds, oranges, and whites that we see in the modern pet goldfish come from their distant relations to koi fish, and can still be seen in many different varieties today!

Goldfish Maximum Lifespan

How long do goldfish live? Given adequate conditions, the average lifespan of a common goldfish is between 10 and 15 years.

That being said, the world record for oldest goldfish is held by a common goldfish named Tish from North Yorkshire, UK. This venerable goldfish lived to the age of 43! She wasn’t even from a pet store, but was won much like my Seymour from a local fair competition.

NOTE

This is not to say that every feeder goldfish will live to be 43 years old, but rather to give some insight into how long goldfish can live when well taken care of.

Although it’s not the ideal answer to “how long can goldfish live?”. It goes to show that when it comes to pet goldfish lifespans it doesn’t matter as much whether you have a common or comet goldfish, or any of the fancy goldfish varieties out there.

What’s most important is that we as goldfish owners provide good quality, consistent care for our aquarium fish and give them what they need to live to a ripe old age.

How Long Do Goldfish Live?

Goldfish Swimming in a Tank
Goldfish Swimming in a Tank

Far from the lifespan of the oldest goldfish. A typical common goldfish will see a life expectancy of anywhere from a few years to upwards of 10-15 if conditions are right.

Goldfish live their best fish lives when given plenty of room with low amounts of stress, along with a varied diet and clean water.

How Long Do Goldfish Live In A Tank

In a properly set up goldfish tank, you should see a life expectancy of around 10-15 years for the average healthy fish.

In a small tank, you may see a lifespan that is more like that of a fish bowl and a bit shorter. When it comes to fish tank or aquarium size, a large tank will always be the better option in keeping your fish healthy and providing a longer life expectancy.

How Long Do Goldfish Live In A Bowl

Goldfish in a Bowl
Goldfish in a Bowl

It’s the usual goldfish home but is it ideal?

Goldfish survive in bowls, but will likely not make it as long as they would in larger goldfish tanks.

Common and comet goldfish will see longer lifespans than other fish in a small bowl, as they tend to be a bit hardier and able to stand up to the increased amount of potential health problems from a cramped environment.

Tank Conditions

In short, if conditions within the bowl are adequate for what goldfish require, then a goldfish bowl can work just fine for maximizing life expectancy.

Keeping goldfish in a bowl is not animal cruelty by any means, but if there is poor water quality, inadequate surface area for gas exchange, and little water movement, the goldfish will not be able to live a long and healthy life.

Can Goldfish Live in a Bowl Without a Filter?

Keeping a goldfish in most goldfish bowls without a filter will not work.

The aquarium water quality will drop rapidly as the fish waste piles up, and you’ll see your sick fish deteriorate and suffer as a result.

In terms of how long can goldfish survive without a filter, it can be as little as 24 hours before they suffocate.

This is drastically lower than the typical goldfish life expectancy. But an early goldfish death can be easily prevented with proper setup and maintenance.

Average Lifespan of a Goldfish Species

Fantail Goldfish
Fantail Goldfish

If you’re wondering how long most goldfish varieties live, I’ve created a handy table to let you see their comparative lifespans in an indoor aquarium versus a freshwater pond.

Whether in a tank or pond, again the water conditions and continued care you provide your fish will make all the difference in keeping your goldfish alive for years to come.

Goldfish Types Average Lifespan

In general, slim-bodied goldfish are likely to have a slightly higher average than the typical fancy goldfish lifespan.

This is not to say that there’s anything innately wrong with them, but rather that delicate fancy goldfish breeds such as fan-tails and Oranda tend to have been bred more for their round bodies and beauty than for hardiness or longevity.

Goldfish VarietyGoldfish TypeLifespan in a TankLifespan in an Outdoor Pond
Common GoldfishSlim Bodied Goldfish10-15 Years10-25 Years
Comet GoldfishSlim Bodied Goldfish5-15 Years10-25 Years
Fan-Tailed GoldfishFancy Goldfish5-8 Years12-20 Years
Oranda GoldfishFancy Goldfish5-10 Years12-20 Years

As you can see, goldfish kept in ponds will generally have a longer average lifespan than those in goldfish bowls or tanks.

The primary reason for this is that the lifespan of a goldfish increases dramatically with the increased availability of oxygen and lower amount of dissolved chemicals such as ammonia and nitrates in an outdoor setting.

Ways To Increase Goldfish Lifespan

The best way to increase how long your goldfish can live is by creating and maintaining a fish tank that allows for the best goldfish care.

Your goal here is to create as close to a natural habitat as possible, which greatly affects how long goldfish live.

A large tank or pond with enough room, natural light, proper care and a good diet go a long way towards establishing long lifespans for a single goldfish or a setup with many goldfish.

Fish Tank Size

A minimum of 20 gallons for 1-2 fish, with an additional 10 gallons of tap water per other goldfish after that is a great place to start. You can never go too large for a goldfish tank, but you still need to make sure that there is enough water movement so that they can breathe air and stay healthy.

NOTE

When keeping goldfish in a bowl, remember that these minimum surface area requirements will determine not only the happiness but the health and overall lifespan of your fish. Goldfish live much longer lives in larger spaces.

Filters for Goldfish

Proper filtration is critical when setting up a tank for goldfish! They produce quite a bit of waste in your fresh water, especially if your fish live in a bowl.

This can add up quickly and can overwhelm your filtration system, resulting in a dirty tank and causing serious health problems.

Air Pump

An air pump or air stones are needed to get things moving so that the filter can actually remove the waste, but keep an eye on the filter itself and clean it regularly along with regular water changes.

Here’s an informative video about air pumps for goldfish tanks.

Do Goldfish Need An Air Pump

The good bacteria in your tank play a major role in helping the fish in the cycle of nitrogen.

These form the basis of biological filtration present in the natural environment and work to fix nitrogen into nitrates and nitrites, which are further reduced by other bacteria that grow on the substrate within your goldfish tank.

Do Fancy Goldfish Need A Heater?

The short answer to this is that some, but not all goldfish will need a heater to reach the right temperature for them.

It’s therefore important to know which variety you have in order to best meet their needs regarding the use of a heating element.

Ideal Water Temperature

In general, goldfish thrive with warm water temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, including seasonal variations.

Anywhere above or below this desired range can lead to potential problems, depending on the breed.

Water Parameters for Goldfish

When designing a fish bowl for your goldfish, it’s important to keep in mind that they are known to be messy fish.

Goldfish produce much more waste than many species of fish, meaning that the danger of toxic shock from ammonia poisoning is of great concern.

TIP

Using a test kit is a great way to keep an eye on the pH, salinity, and ammonia content of the tank. Frequent water changes, along with sufficient testing, are necessary for long term fish keeping.

Ideally, levels of harmful chemicals such as ammonia and nitrates should be zero parts per million within your tank, but after a heavy feeding this can shift.

The key is to make sure that the beneficial bacteria in your tank, along with your tank’s filtration system, are adequate enough to keep your goldfish alive and healthy.

Goldfish Diet

Goldfish Feeding on Pellets
Goldfish Feeding on Pellets

There is a variety of food that works for goldfish.

Appropriate fish food that you can feed goldfish with can include fish flakes or pellets from the pet store (make sure that these are specifically designed for goldfish!) brine shrimp, worms species such as blood or tubifex worms and properly cut bits of certain fruits and veggies such as carrots or apples.

TIP
When feeding your goldfish, be sure to stick around for at least 30 minutes after feeding. Remove any leftover food, as this can decay if left alone and lead to toxic ammonia levels in the tank water.

When determining the adequate diet for your goldfish, a good place to start is by checking in with your local fish or pet stores, breeders, and guidebooks.

Knowing the background for the specific breed of goldfish that you have will give you a good insight into their specific nutritional needs.

Tank Mates for Goldfish

There are a wide variety of other fish and live plants that make great neighbors for goldfish, including plecos and cherry shrimp!

Make sure that you know the specific needs of each new fish that you add and take this into consideration in the overall tank, as some may have different preferences than your goldfish.

Tankmates to avoid

Betta Fish
Betta Fish

Something like the betta fish may not be the best choice, as they are an aggressive fish known for being territorial. These fish will likely try to physically dominate your goldfish if they feel threatened, and may be better off in their own separate tank.

Conclusion

Throughout today’s article, we’ve answered the question “How long do goldfish live?”

While the answer varies largely based on the care you take in raising your fish, the average for how long goldfish can live is anywhere between 10 and 15 years of age.

Ensuring that your goldfish has adequate space, an adequate diet, and clean water will go a long way towards helping it reach its maximum potential lifespan.

Feel Free To Share!

As always we hope that you’ve found the information in this post helpful, and that it brought you some much-needed answers regarding just how long these flashy fish can live.

Feel free to share this with any fish fanatics you may know, and I wish you the best of luck on your continued aquarium adventures!

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Mollie Newton
Mollie Newton
Founder of PetMeTwice. I love all types of animals from fish to fluff-balls! I also enjoy writing short stories and helping train animals 🤩