We answer the common question of how long does a Goldfish live for? it actually depends on a few factors, and we cover them all in detail to answer your questions.
The goldfish is a staple in the aquarium world. They are truly beautiful fish that come in many hues of dark yellow and light orange, hence the name goldfish. They are fish that children everywhere have, they make for great starter pets, and they are beautiful too.
Quick Answer: Goldfish Lifespan
- Common life span = 5 to 10 years
- Uncommon life span = 10 to 20 years +
- Current world record = 43 years
These things are available in pretty much every fish store around the world. The question to be answered here is: how long does a goldfish live for? Well, the answer does depend on how well you take care of that goldfish.
The Typical Goldfish Life
The first thing that needs to be said is that the lifespan of your average goldfish can vary quite greatly. The average lifespan of a regular goldfish is anywhere from 5 to 10 years, with some lasting as long as 20 years. The current world record for the oldest goldfish is actually 43 years.
All this even makes them one of the longest living domesticated pets we have! This means that your goldfish could potentially outlive your cat, dog, or turtle when it is properly cared for, and the conditions are just right. However, this is truer of the slim-bodied goldfish − you know, the ones that are given away as a prize at the fair or carnival.
In reality, we find that many goldfish die off rather quickly, especially when they are in captivity. Fancy Goldfish can reach 5 to 10 years in captivity with proper care; however, these fish also have modified bodies which offers them much less resilience than the slim-bodied goldfish.
High death rates for goldfish can most often be attributed to poor water quality and an improper diet. We will take a closer look at these below.
As you can see, the life of your goldfish can be very long indeed. However, the lifespan of your goldfish will depend on several factors such as the size of the tank they are in, how clean and well maintained the water is water temperature, how often they are fed, and what they are fed.
Let’s go over some of the most important details so you can keep your goldfish alive for as long as possible.
We have put together an epic guide here on how to take care of a goldfish, it covers everything you need to know.
First off, to keep your goldfish alive for as long as possible, the temperature of the water they live in needs to be just right. Goldfish are generally cool water fish, and they need the water to be between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. There are some tropical goldfish species that like warmer waters, but those are quite rare.
Generally speaking, goldfish require a low water temperature because it allows them to easily access oxygen, moreover cold water usually has a good oxygenation level, something that goldfish require. Goldfish can be sensitive to limited oxygen levels caused by overheated water, which is something that will shorten their lifespan considerably.
A Good Sized Tank
Something else that helps keep your goldfish alive for as long as possible is a fairly good-sized tank. Goldfish will grow according to the space in which they are allotted to live in. A small tank will restrict their growth, but that is not all.
A small fish tank increases the chances of the water being dirty or being contaminated. Therefore, it also increases the chances of the goldfish becoming ill and dying.
The best way to solve this problem is to have a large tank. This is because as there are more fish in the tank, a small tank, the amount of dissolved organic matter increases, and that can cause spikes in ammonia and nitrate levels (more here on Ammonia levels), both things which are quite deadly to fish.
It is recommended to have at least a 20 gallon tank for around 35 ounces’ worth of goldfish.
The Goldfish Diet
Another important part of keeping your goldfish alive is feeding it a good diet. The goldfish is an omnivore, and that means eating virtually anything under the stars.
Goldfish do not require very much protein to survive, actually much less than many other fish. Goldfish like a well-balanced diet that is very high in fiber, has lots of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients, and consists of between 20 to 30 percent protein.
Generally, typical goldfish flakes will be more than enough to keep them satisfied and healthy, plus you can substitute some freeze-dried foods like daphnia and some vegetables on occasion. Now, what you feed them is just as important as how much you feed them (we have covered our favorite food picks here).
A goldfish loves to eat, but it will get full quickly. Overfeeding them will leave you with uneaten food floating around in the fish tank, food that will decompose and change the water chemistry in the tank. If you are overfeeding your goldfish, you may notice excessive algae growth, cloudy water , very small worms, fungus, and very low dissolved oxygen levels, all of which can be harmful to your goldfish.
Goldfish flake food has also been known to sometimes cause constipation, and the uneaten flakes from overfeeding can cause the biological balance of the tank to become thrown off, and this results in everything mentioned above.
You can actually make your own fish food, check out our home made fish food guide here.
Common Goldfish Tank Mistakes
Not Cycling the Aquarium
An aquarium is a closed environment, and because of this, it needs proper filtration. Without proper filtration, you will find that the environment becomes overrun with bacteria.
The cycling process, however, provides us the good kind of bacteria the aquarium and the fish need to survive.
So, don't dump your goldfish directly into the tank when you get home from the pet store. The water needs to be balanced, and the aquarium needs to be cycled before you introduce the goldfish. The new tank needs good bacteria and live plants.
Unfiltered Bowls and Tanks
Your goldfish will die quickly if you put them in an unfiltered fish bowl or tank. This is a bad environment because there is absolutely nothing there to remove the waste. This causes toxin levels to increase and can lead to sickness or fungal infection.
Common Goldfish Myths
When it comes to goldfish, we are sure you have heard your fair share of rumors about them. But if you are in the market for your own goldfish and you want them to thrive in their new environment, it is time to dispel those myths and get to the truth about your goldfish
Myth Number One: Strictly Plant Eaters
Wrong. Goldfish are actually considered omnivores, which means they live on a diet that includes both aquatic plants and animals.
Yes, they eat protein. Want another surprising fact? Goldfish even have teeth to chew their food! No, we cannot see them, but they are definitely there.
Myth Number Two: Goldfish Can't Grow Bigger Than Their Tank
This myth holds a tiny amount of truth to it. Goldfish technically do not have a growth limit, which means that they will continue to grow until they die.
However, if they are improperly cared for, neglected, and forced to live in poor conditions, then they won't live very long. The tank needs to be the right size to meet all of their needs. For example, a single goldfish that is 2 to 3 inches in length should really have a 30-gallon aquarium.
Myth Number Three: Goldfish Have Short Lifespans
As we have already covered extensively, the lifespan of a goldfish varies greatly depending on a number of factors.
The goldfish don't typically die because of a short lifespan; instead, they are dying due to improper living conditions and care. So, while they can live for decades, you need to show care and attention as a goldfish owner for this to happen.
As you can see, as long as you take good care of your goldfish, you should have no problem with having them survive for a minimum of 5 years, and anywhere up to 10 years. If you take exceptional care of your goldfish they may even live longer than that. You might also like this post that explains why your Goldfish is swimming upside down.