‘How long do goldfish live?’ is a great question with a very surprising answer!
You see, there is a big difference between how long goldfish can live and how long most actually do live.
In this article, we explore the topic of goldfish life span. We look at how long goldfish can live, how long they usually do live, and what you can do to give your goldfish the best chance of living a long time.
We also consider how long different types of goldfish live, how long goldfish live in various scenarios (including out of water!), and reveal the results of our goldfish lifespan survey.
How long can goldfish live for?
Goldfish can live for several decades. That’s right… decades! For instance, this goldfish lived to be 45 years old.
Now, that’s a long time even for a goldfish. But with proper care, many pet goldfish can live for 5 to 10 years, or potentially even longer.
It’s important to bear this in mind when you decide to keep a goldfish as a pet. You shouldn’t assume that a goldfish is a short-term pet that won’t live very long. You could have your goldfish for many years, so you should be prepared to look after them for a long time.
How long do most goldfish live?
In order to live a long time, pet goldfish need to be cared for properly. Sadly, most goldfish are not cared for properly, and live far shorter lives.
Most pet goldfish don’t live past a few years. Many pet goldfish 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 care for goldfish properly.
To give your goldfish the best chance of living a long time, you should:
- keep your goldfish in a big tank
- use a proper filter
- make sure the tank is cycled
- keep a close eye on the water quality
- and feed your goldfish a healthy diet
But good care isn’t the only factor. The chances of your goldfish living a long life are also influenced by its genetics and its life before you bought it. This is why you should buy your goldfish from a quality independent pet shop or private breeder.
Lifespan of different goldfish types
How long do Common, Comet and Shubunkin goldfish live?
Slim-bodied goldfish, such as Common goldfish, Comets and Shubunkins, are the longest-living types of goldfish.
These goldfish have the potential to live for many years. And with the right care, potentially even decades.
How long do fancy goldfish live?
Fancy goldfish tend to live shorter lives than slim-bodied goldfish such as Common goldfish, Comets and Shubunkins.
As fancy goldfish have been selectively bred to display certain traits – such as round bodies, flowing fins and bulging eyes – they are often more susceptible to health problems. For instance, swim bladder problems are more common in fancy goldfish.
Fancy goldfish also tend to be more delicate and less hardy than common goldfish. This means that you will need to be extra careful about water quality if you want your fancy goldfish to live a long time.
Don’t be disheartened though! It is certainly still possible for fancy goldfish to live for several years. With good care, age 10 is certainly achievable, and some fancy goldfish may even make it to 15 years old.
How long do carnival goldfish live?
Carnival goldfish aren’t a distinct variety of goldfish. The type of goldfish that you win at a fair or carnival is usually a common goldfish.
This type of goldfish has the potential to live for decades. But that is far less likely for carnival goldfish than it is for fish bought at a reputable pet store or from a breeder.
There are a few reasons for this:
- Carnival goldfish are often kept in poor conditions prior to being won. For instance, they have usually spent a long time in a tank with lots of other fish, before being moved to a small bag. This is very bad and stressful for the fish.
- Carnival goldfish are unlikely to have been bought from a quality pet store. They are therefore likely to be weaker genetically than well-bred goldfish.
- As carnival goldfish are an unexpected prize, the new owner is usually unprepared for keeping goldfish. Most winners of carnival goldfish do not have a cycled tank or pond ready for the fish, and most don’t know the basics of goldfish care. By the time they learn and get a bigger tank, it is often too late for the fish.
How lifespan is affected by water volume
The larger the body of water your fish lives in, the more likely you are to be able to maintain good water quality. Larger tanks and ponds are also more likely to be well cycled and have more oxygen in the water. All of this can greatly increase your goldfish’s chance of living a long life.
How long do goldfish live in a bag?
How long goldfish can live in a bag very much depends on the type of bag.
Some goldfish are shipped from stores to new owners by mail, meaning they often have to survive in a bag for around 2 days. However, in these cases, special packaging and ‘breather bags’ are usually used.
In most types of bag, a goldfish would be likely to survive for 8 to 12 hours, but – largely due to lack of oxygen – its life would become increasingly at risk as time went on. Depending on the size of the fish and the size of the bag, many goldfish would suffocate before reaching 24 hours in a bag.
We recommend introducing your goldfish to your tank or pond as quickly as possible, minimising the amount of time spent in a bag. However, do be careful to introduce your goldfish safely and gradually.
How long do goldfish live in a bowl?
It’s very unlikely that a goldfish will live for more than a few months in a bowl. Assuming the bowl is small and unfiltered – like most goldfish bowls – a goldfish would be doing extremely well to make it to one year in such poor conditions.
This is because goldfish produce a lot of waste, which no amount of water changes are going to get rid of. The waste will therefore build up in your bowl, eventually poisoning your goldfish.
How long do goldfish live in a pond?
Due to its large water volume and surface area (which is great for getting lots of oxygen into the water), a pond is the ideal place for goldfish to live a long time.
As long as your goldfish is kept safe from predators, such as birds, and temperatures stay within an acceptable range, even in the winter, there is no reason why your goldfish shouldn’t survive for over 10 years, potentially 20 years or more, in a pond.
How long can goldfish survive without food or water?
Food and water are, of course, basic needs of goldfish. It’s obvious that goldfish that have no access to food will eventually die of starvation. While goldfish out of water will suffocate in a short space of time.
However, you may be surprised by just how long goldfish can live without food or water.
How long do goldfish live without food?
Goldfish can survive for at least two weeks without any food at all. Though this isn’t recommended.
If you’re going away on a short holiday, there is likely more risk of your goldfish being over-fed – either by yourself before you leave, automated feeders, or well-meaning pet-sitters – than there is of starvation.
This goldfish survived for 134 days without being fed, though not entirely without food. It survived on algae and scraps of leftover food still present in the tank from previous meals.
How long do goldfish live out of water?
Being a fish, water is pretty important to goldfish! And, as you would expect, a goldfish out of water will not survive very long.
However, if you’ve assumed they would die within seconds or minutes – you may be surprised.
Goldfish can actually live for up to an hour out of water.
This could be stretched even further is there is at least some water – a small puddle for example. Some goldfish that have jumped out of their tank taking some water with them having been known to survive up to three hours on the floor.
Of course, being out of water is extremely dangerous for a goldfish. You should never deliberately remove your goldfish from water and if they jump out of their tank accidentally, you should always return them to water as quickly as possible.
How long have your goldfish lived?
We ran a survey to see how long our readers have managed to keep a goldfish alive and got an incredible 20,000 responses. Here are the results:
- 20% of people said they’d never kept a goldfish alive for longer than a year
- 43% said they’d had a goldfish live for between 1 and 6 years
- 17% said 6 to 10 years
- 20% said their goldfish had lived for over 10 years
So 20% report keeping a goldfish alive for less than one year and another 20% say they have kept a goldfish alive for 10 years or more! This is the difference that good goldfish care can make.
Check out the latest results to see how long our readers have managed to keep their goldfish alive. How does this compare to your oldest goldfish?
What is the average lifespan of a goldfish?
In conclusion, the lifespan of a goldfish can vary drastically depending on a number of factors. This makes it very difficult to identify an average goldfish life span or to specify an exact goldfish life expectancy.
However, based on our survey of more than 20,000 goldfish keepers, we can say that the median average lifespan of a pet goldfish is around 4 years.
But we know that – with better care – this number could be a lot higher.