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What is the average lifespan of a goldfish in a fish tank

Do you want to keep goldfish as a pet? Have you, like me heard that goldfish don’t live long? Well, hear this; goldfish can outlive all the aquarium pet fishes you out there. Yes it can! Shocked by that? I suppose you’re now asking; really, what is the average lifespan of a goldfish then? Just read on to know how it can outlive your family dog or cat.

A further surprise, your goldfish can go for days without food and not die. The more the reason it’s even a better pet if you spend days away from home.

From this article, I will educate you on the important factors that increase goldfish age. Moreover, you’ll also know how to carefully align these requisite factors to give your pet fish a full life.

Basically, you’ll benefit in knowing some of the following things;

  • How many years the fish can possibly be part of your family,
  • The ideal conditions you must keep your pet fish in,
  • The threats to its life (if any) and how to mitigate against them,

To increase the life expectancy of goldfish in captivity, you’ll just have to replicate its wild habitation in the tank or the pond.

What is the average lifespan of a goldfish? Just how long do goldfish live?

Firstly, goldfish are a close relation of the common carp family. However, they are a result of selective breeding from the common wild carp overtime. Carps are very hardy giving them a long lifespan. Equally, the goldfish too can live long.

While it may not match the wild carp, the average age of goldfish in a pond is about 15 – 20 years.

However, across breeds, goldfish age will vary. Slim bodied goldfish, just like their carp relations have a longer lifespan than fancy goldfish.  

Moreover, the above stated lifespan is easily possible in the wild, than it is in captivity. This is mostly attributable to poor care practices.

Further, the selective breeding reduces resilience capabilities unlike their relations in the wild.

While common goldfish can have 6 – 12 years in captivity, their fancy counterpart species live to about 4 – 5 years or less. This is similarity in habitat conditions notwithstanding. However, with luck and exceptional care, fancy pet goldfish lifespan can get to 10 year mark.

Essentially, this is not to say that it’s impossible for goldfish in captivity to have a long life. Bottom line is; long life for your pet fish is purely hard work to provide all the right living conditions.

What is the longest living pet goldfish?

Tish, an 11.5cm oldie goldfish holds the record at 43 years in captivity. Well, Tish and Tosh joined Hilda Hand’s family in 1956. This is after they were won by their son as a prize in a fair. Funny that to-date, that’s how most young pet fish keepers start off. 

Unfortunately, at 19 years, Tosh died leaving behind Tish; later dying at 43. At that age, though still very healthy, Tish spotted a distinguished silver color. This was after fading off of the bright beautiful orange color.

Tish took away the record from Fred and George, then believed to have had lived the longest at 41years. Goldie, another oldie is alleged to have lived for 45 years. Unfortunately, the documentations and tests to collaborate the claims were somewhat not available. However, the unofficial record stood nonetheless. Was a “fishy” business I suppose, (on a lighter note).

Respectfully, Tish was “of-FISH-ially” buried in the family garden. Well, the casket was a lucky yoghurt carton.

How long do goldfish live? Well, you now have it verified and documented. I suppose you now have a hint what the average lifespan of a goldfish can be.

But remember, living conditions in captivity make all the difference.

How to increase the life expectancy of goldfish in a fish tank:

The answer “how long does a goldfish live” is basically determined by the conditions of where it is in. It is dependent on whether it is living in a healthy habitat and at optimal conditions.  As a result, failure to provide these explains why pet goldfish don’t live long.

Some of the basic but very vital conditions include but not limited to;

A clean aquarium and quality water:

An unclean tank will definitely reduce the life expectancy of any fish.

Goldfish will deposit waste and other toxins in the water. Ammonia from of its metabolism will be released in the water.

Further, ammonia will also be released in the tank on decay of the uneaten food remains and other matter sitting on the substrate.

Ammonia is particularly lethal and will cause death of fish. When it is broken down to nitrite, which is also very risky. Both Ammonia and Nitrite should be NIL (0) PPM.

Therefore, to maintain water quality, just do the following:

  • Do a 15% – 20% water change once every week,
  • Have a good filter that complements the water change,
  • Don’t overstock the tank with fish to reduce waste deposits,
  • Feed your fish with only what can be finished in about 2 minutes,
  • Once a month, clean your aquarium and also,
  • Clean the sand substrate monthly,  

Healthy and nutritional feeding:

Ensure to feed your pet goldfish on a diet that provides all the essential nutrients. Luckily, they are omnivores and will feed on practically anything that fit in their mouth.

Further, the quantity should be the size of its eye. This minimizes chances of overfeeding and its incumbent problems of overfeeding.

In addition, your kitchen vegetables are a good source of high fiber feeds. These are needed to improve digestion. For the proteins rich foods, frozen and/or freeze dried brine shrimps as well as tubifex worms are just but some of the varieties.

Moreover, the most common flakes and pellets are readily available in the pet store near you.

Additionally, the food must be properly prepared before introduction to the tank. There are feeds that need soaking, thawing, pre-boiling, and chopping down to reduce size amongst other ways.

All this is because fish don’t have an elaborate digestive system. As such, any “mis-feeding” could have a health implication and stresses on your goldfish. However, if well fed, it will show in its vibrancy and its improved and glowing coloration.

Ensure sufficient air supply to the tank:

Just like you, goldfish too need enough oxygen. Its Insufficiency will result in suffocation.

Oxygen is also vital in supporting growth of necessary algae that are also part of fish feed. This is easily possible in a pond just as in the wild. Therefore, compared to a restrictive tank, this is improves the average lifespan of a goldfish in a pond.

However, oxygen insufficiency can be overcome by introducing an air pump or air-stone into the tank. Besides, you could also add tank plants. They are a good source too.

In-case it’s too cold in the tank or pond and the water is freezing at the surface, you can make a small opening to allow air entry.

Appropriate tank size for the fish:

Stress and anxiety are some of the factors that come in the way of a comfortable stay of fish in captivity. Small fish tanks are very restrictive and stressful. Stress greatly compromises the immunity of fish. This makes it prone to falling to for any slight infection/sicknesses attacks.

Therefore, if you want to increase the life expectancy of your pet goldfish, then keep in spacious tank.

It is for this reason it’s advised not to keep your fish in a bowl. Well, you may now be asking how long a goldfish can live in a bowl. Sadly, just about 2 – 3 years. Besides a bent spine deformity exposure, it also highly contributes to stunting of growth.

However, while external growth is stunted, internal organs continue to grow. Subsequently, the organs end-up excessively squished in the restricting and un-expanding skin. This is such a health risk to the life of your goldfish which will ultimately cut on your goldfish’s age.

First, in an adequately sized tank, there is sufficiency air. Additionally, water quality deterioration is not as fast in large tank waters as in a tiny tank. Besides, you’ll need enough room for proper tank filtration to remove wastes.

A 20 gallon tank is an ideal and basic size for the double-tailed fancy goldfish. For the common goldfish however, a pond is the best habitation.

Replicate the wild ecosystem:  

If you are to increase the average lifespan of a goldfish in a fish tank, you just have to replicate its wild’s habitat in the tank.

You must provide optimal conditions for a healthy and safe ecosystem.

For a perfect micro-organic composition of aquarium water, these parameters are critical;

  • Temperature at 68°F and 74°F,
  • the pH of the water to be 6.5 – 7.4

Temperatures in particular have a direct effect on the feeding ability and immunity of the fish.

In addition, the wrong temperatures encourage growth of parasites and microorganisms. These threaten your fish’s health.

Finally, tank cycling should be done well in advance. This is to ensure building of sufficient beneficial bacteria colonies. These unseen tank “players” have a big impact on the lifespan of a goldfish.

Lifespan of goldfish in captivity; recent research findings;

If possible, the pond is the best place to rear your goldfish in. While an aquarium limits your ability to adapt it to exogenous factors; say like lighting and normal weather variations, it’s not so with ponds. 

The pictorial presentation below of a research in 2017 suggests that, most goldfish in captivity live between 1 – 5 years. While it shouldn’t be a surprise to you by now, a high number sadly don’t make a full calendar in most homes. 

I hope “how long do goldfish live?” question is now a foregone conclusion. From this article, you have especially drawn vital tips to increase the lifespan of your pet goldfish.  

Goldfish lifespans estimation by breed;

The table below is illustrative of the average lifespan of goldfish. This however varies with the habitat;

BreedCommon GFComet GFShubunkin GFFantail GFFancy GFOranda GF
Lifespan(Yrs)>2512 – 1510 – 15>156 – 1015 – 20

Additionally, I also suppose you also know that the habitation has a great influence in determining how long a goldfish can live. However, the bowl is definitely not the best environment.  

HabitationIn the wildIn the pondIn the AquariumIn a bowl
Est. Lifespan(Yrs)>25>2015 – 20<7

Est. lifespans in diverse habitations


By now, I presume you clearly now have the answers to what is the average lifespan of a goldfish.

Besides, you by now appreciate that it all boils down to the care accorded. You can now work hard and have your pet fish dethrone Tish from the record books. You can dare the record.