How long do goldfish live?

How long do goldfish live?

Read on to find out how long goldfish live. Then find out how to make your goldfish live a long time, with our guide to goldfish care.

“How long do goldfish live?” is an interesting question, but there’s no one correct answer. Due to differences in quality of care…

There is a big difference between how long goldfish can live and how long most goldfish actually do live.

With proper care, goldfish can live for an incredibly long time. A goldfish that died in 2005 was reported to be 45 years old! 

That’s a long time even for a goldfish, but many goldfish have lived into their teens and twenties, so you should be prepared to look after a goldfish for a long time if you decide to keep one as a pet.

Unfortunately, the answer to the question “how long do goldfish live?” is very different. Most goldfish don’t make it past a few years and many die within a matter of months or even weeks. This is because a lot of people don’t take the time to learn how to look after goldfish properly or lose interest and start neglecting them.

To give your goldfish the best chance of living a long time, you should keep it in a big tank, with a proper filter, make sure the tank is cycled, keep a close eye on the water quality, and feed your goldfish the right type and amount of food.

The chances of your goldfish living a long time are also greatly affected by its genetics and how it was treated before you bought it. You should buy your new goldfish from a quality independent pet shop or private breeder to ensure that it is healthy when you buy it and has been treated well.

Got a question or comment? Visit our official forum now!

Find out how to make your goldfish live a long time with our Goldfish Care series of articles.

How long has your oldest goldfish lived?

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  • Anonymous

    Mine died at 11 and was 12 inches long.. :(

    • Anonymous 2

      mine died at 12 and was 11 inches long…wierd

  • Karen Gaither

    My last gold fish just died at 20 years old. For some reason he flipped out of his tank. I found him on the floor, his fins and tail was dried out. I saw his mouth move a little bit. I put him back in his tank and held him upright. He began breathing and swimmimg slowly. I thought he was going to make it. The next morning he was dead. It broke my heart. In 1993 I bought a bag of 100 small goldfish at Walmart. Over the years, they slowly died off. This was the very last one. I just wonder how much longer he would have lived if he hadn’t flipped out of his tank. He had never done that before. I should have closed his lid. Sometimes I’d just leave it open. I feel so bad. I really do miss him because I fed him everyday for 20 years. :(

    • TheGoldfishTank

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for your comment and really sorry to hear about your goldfish! :(

      Well done for keeping him alive so long. While, as we’re sure you know, goldfish can live a very long time, 20 years in a lot longer than most live. You must have done a good job of looking after him!

      Are you planning on getting a new goldfish?

      TGT

      • Kitty

        I just got a few weeks ago 2 fantail goldfish, I am experienced fish owner of course. But do you have any tips on making them longer? I am not sure if this is a short life span for fish but, my last 2 fish a lion head and a black moor only live 17 years.

    • TheGoldfishTank

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for your comment and really sorry to hear about your goldfish! :(

      Well done for keeping him alive so long. While, as we’re sure you know, goldfish can live a very long time, 20 years in a lot longer than most live. You must have done a good job of looking after him!

      Are you planning on getting a new goldfish?

      TGT

    • Bleddyn

      Very good job at keeping him alive for so long. That can only be accomplished by following the rules for keeping him healthy. That is horrible news to put so much into him and then have him flip out of the tank. I have had mine make quite the splash during feeding so I know they are capable of generating enough power to accidentally flip out of the tank. I finally gave in and put a flip top on my tank after I lost a couple during my learning phase. One of them I will never know what happened because he was simply gone. I imagine some day when I move I am going to find his mummified corpse under the TV stand or somewhere near. Oh wait, I just re-read your statement. You did have a lid. Don’t feel bad, my wife leaves it open sometimes because she thinks it helps humidify the house (face palms). Sounds like you started with feeders too. Well now you have the process down, so go treat yourself to a Koi or some other fish and lets get another 20 + years.

  • PumpkinMuffinCream

    My goldfish was my first few fish to die at an old age 2008 – 2013 he was 5 years old and my fish lolo is 3 years old a typical fish lives a few months how sad :(

  • Steve Thompson

    My fish died yesterday at the ripe old age of 18. Totally heartbroken. I remember getting him during the Euro ’96 football tournament when I was 11 years old and he has pretty much been the only constant throughout my life since then. R.I.P 5Bellies

  • Gnostic Gnosis

    I have three Goldfishes and bought all three from Wal-Mart.
    One is a Fan-Tail that is a seven 1/2 year old named Mike. I named him something different at first but when I bought him he was black and changed to a white and finally gold. So I named him after Michael Jackson … lol.
    The other two came a year later (six 1/2 years old) their named Tia and Noah.
    Lengthwise they are seven inches long but Tia and Noah have more girth so they are both bigger than Mike.
    It is true that goldfish do live a long time with proper care. (That can get pricy at times! – Especially when facing illnesses.) I have only the three fish in a 55 gallon tank. (I did have a BIG-LONG algae eater (Bookman – named after the janitor on ‘Good-Times’.) but he died at four years old because I made the fatal mistake of adding too much algae control. I hope to have them for an additional ten+ years and will try my best to give them the proper care so to live a long and happy life.

  • LAbradford

    Fishstick is six years old and I’m hoping he lives longer.

  • Amanda Ellis

    I just moved my 20+ year old common goldfish from a ten to twenty gallon tank, he seems happy to have more room again after 10yr in 10 gal. He’s 8 inches long and is almost totally white (was orange when young). His name started as Golson Twin (had another that looked the same, when we got five “feeder fish” from a pet shop that’s been closed for ages now… ) then we changed his name to Sushi during the Olympic games in Nagano, Japan, but now I just call him Old Fish or Dusty Bones. I love him dearly! He is the last of the original five (his last tank mate, the blind Splash died a few years ago) and outlived all the other fancy goldfish we had over the years. He has survived us doing everything “wrong” with care, many moves and phases of neglect, and even the tank freezing once when the heat went out, and living in a pickle jar when we left him with grandma while we were on vacation! I am shy about getting him a new tank mate for fear of him catching something from a new fish! Also difficult to find a goldfish at least half his size….

  • Jim McCall

    Hi I had 2. One still living but the other one past away yesterday and is swimming towards Rainbow Bridge. He was 15 years old as is the one that is still living.

  • Drew

    Bought a couple of goldfish for kids but after a week the novelty wore off so it was left to me good ole daddy I’ve become really attached to fish as I feed and clean tank would be sad to lose her hope she’s out lives me couldn’t dream of flushing poor goldie down loo hahahah

  • Bleddyn

    I just can’t believe that for years I have seen (and still do) people keeping their goldfish in these little so called goldfish bowls and are surprised when they die in a matter of days or weeks. It has been a long struggle for me to learn the proper care and conditions. I have a 20 gallon tank with 2 gold fish and yes I did sneak a little minnow into the tank and the little guy has survived for more than two years and as I understand it, his days are numbered. All three of my fish started their life as feeders. They were cheap and the losses were heavy at first. Too many fish in a 10 gallon tank, but I learned and 3 of the feeders survived my learning process and are now thriving. I upgraded to a 20 gallon tank, keep the filters changed regularly, monitor the chemical levels and treat as needed, about once a month or so I completely clean the tank but hold about 5 gallons with the old water for the fish to live in while I clean the tank.and return that water into the freshly cleaned tank. Keeps the bio balance and the water is sparkling clean.