How Long Do Goldfish Live?

Goldfish are one of the most common types of fish found in aquariums, and they are the third most popular type of pet.

These small orange beauties can be won as prizes at fairs and carnivals, or bought in fish stores.

With proper care, Goldfish can live a lot longer than you might expect. They are actually one of the longest living of all domesticated pets.



Goldfish are a member of the carp family and are native to East Asia. In the wild, goldfish can live as long as 25 years.

A pet goldfish kept in captivity has an average lifespan of about 5 to 10 years. However, they can live up to 25 years.

The oldest goldfish ever recorded lived to be a shocking 43 years old.

The lifespan of your goldfish depends completely on how you care for it. Good tank conditions and healthy nutrition are vital to giving your fish a long life. You will need to feed them a few times a week, with good quality food, and change their water a minimum of three times a month.

You also need to monitor your goldfish closely to keep an eye out for any changes in behavior or physical appearance. Goldfish, like any other fish, can become diseased and it is crucial that you recognize the signs early so that you can treat them

Tank Requirements

You have probably seen a goldfish swimming around in a tiny bowl, but this is actually the worst environment it could be living in. You will actually want to give your goldfish the largest possible tank.

You should choose a tank that is at least 20 gallons per fish to give them a quality life.

Choose a tank that has a wider surface so that they have more oxygen available.

Always cycle your tank before putting your fish in it. It is crucial to let your tank build up enough good bacteria to break down the wastes that your fish produces.  If you don’t do this your fish can get ammonia poisoning which often leads to death.

Water Requirements

It is important to thoroughly research the type of goldfish you are adding to your tank so that the water conditions are right for them. Most goldfish typically prefer colder water, but some don’t, such as Black Moors and Veil-Tails.

In general, you should keep your water temperature between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can slightly change the water temperature as the seasons change as goldfish seem to like seasonal variations. Let the water get a little bit colder in winter, and warmer in the summer, always keeping the temperature in the parameters of what they need.

Goldfish are notoriously dirty, they eat a lot and therefore produce waste in high quantities. Keeping your water clean is extremely important for their health and happiness.

Clean it once every two weeks at least, more often if you have a bigger tank.

You will want to invest in a good filter to keep the tank clean.

Don’t remove your goldfish during water changes as it will stress them out. Frequent partial water changes are better than full water changes to avoid adding stress to your fish.

You can also use a gravel vacuum to remove any debris and old food while your fish is in the tank.

It is also a good idea to add an air pump or air stone to increase oxygen levels in the water.

Tank Additions and Decorations

It is important to provide your goldfish with mental and physical stimulation so that they don’t get bored.

Adding decorations for your fish to hide in and engage with, as well as having an open area to swim around in will keep your goldfish busy.

It is also a good idea to add real plants, they will help to keep the ammonia levels down.


In the wild, goldfish eat crustaceans, insects and plant matter.

To give your fish all the nutrients they need, it is best to give them high-quality flake foods designed specifically for goldfish.

You can also give them freeze dried foods and vegetable matters.

Feed them one to two times a day. Any leftovers should be cleaned out immediately.

Overfeeding is the most common mistake that ne goldfish owners make. Too much food ends up as excess waste and quickly decomposes. This creates compounds that compromise the balance of the tank’s chemistry.

It can also be damaging to their health, often leading to blockages in their intestines.

You can tell if you are overfeeding your fish because the water will be cloudy and there will be algae growth and patches of mold or fungus.

Be Aware of Disease Risks

Although goldfish are a hardy breed, they can still contract diseases.

Poor water quality, overfeeding or overstocking the tank is usually to blame for diseases occurring.

Goldfish produce a lot of waste and stir up the substrate to search for food- this causes the tank to get extremely dirty and quickly.

Diseases in your goldfish can become fatal very quickly, so you need to always pay close attention to your fish and look for any changes in behavior or physical appearance.

There are a number of diseases that you should know about to keep your goldfish healthy:


  1. Swim Bladder Disease

This is where the fish has a problem with buoyancy due to a build-up of internal gas. Your fish will look swollen or bloated and may be swimming upside down or sideways.

The treatment for this disease is to first, test the water for cleanliness. Then, fast the goldfish for three days and feed them low protein foods and vegetables.

Swim bladder disease is caused by fish having insufficient fiber, poor water quality and overfeeding.

A tip to preventing this is to soak your floating fish food in water for a few seconds before you put it into the tank. When you feed it to your fish it will sink, decreasing the amount of the air that the fish will swallow when he eats it.

This reduces the risk of bloating and buoyancy issues.

  1. Fin Rot

Fin rot causes the fins of your fish to become torn and shredded, it can also lead to possible deterioration of body tissue.

The fins will look like they are falling or flaking off.

It is important to treat this early. You can add aquarium salt to clean the water to treat it. If that doesn’t work you can use commercial products and do weekly water changes.

Fin rot is caused by poor water quality, overcrowding, sudden temperature changes or aggressive fish.

  1. White Spot Disease


This is where ich parasites attack weak goldfish who are sick and have high stress levels.

White spots will develop all over the goldfish.

To treat this, change the water temperature to 86 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 days or so. Be sure to do this in small increments to you don’t shock your fish.

Add a tablespoon of salt for every five gallons of water.

The increase in heat will limit oxygen levels so be sure to increase the oxygen levels in the tank using air stones or an air pump.

Slowly return the water to its normal temperature.

If this doesn’t work you can also use commercial treatments.

This disease is usually caused when fish are introduced to new environments and have higher stress levels. It can be fatal so when you see the signs you need to treat the water quickly.

  1. Fungal Infection

This is when the growth of fungus in the tank leads to parasitic infections, open wounds and ulcers in your fish. It can also lead to secondary fungal infections.

Your fish will have Cotton like growths along their body.

If the infection is bad, treat it by moving the fish to a different tank and clearing the environment with methylene blue.

If it is caught at an early stage, then cleaning the tank will often clear up the fungal infection over time.

These infections are caused by dirty water.

  1. Ammonia poisoning

High levels of ammonia in the tank will poison your fish. Be sure to always be monitoring ammonia levels.

If levels get too high you can add ammonia reduction chemicals to your tank. For an emergency release of ammonia, change the water 25 percent every day.

  1. Fish Lice


These are parasites that live and move on the body of your fish.

They are visible and will look like white see-through spots.

Fish lice can have bad side effects to your fish and should be removed by using anti parasite medicine. They can be deadly if left untreated.


Unfortunately, Goldfish have earned the reputation of being an easy pet to care for and therefore people often don’t put much effort into providing them with what they need. Many people are still keeping goldfish in tiny bowls. This is cruel and can lead them to a premature death. Overfeeding is also common among new goldfish owners, and this can also have devastating effects on the fish.

It is important with any fish, not just goldfish, to thoroughly research the specific breed you plan on adding to your tank. All fish have varying water and tank requirements, temperaments, and diseases they are prone to. Knowing your fish and it’s needs before adding it to your tank it crucial in giving them a long and healthy life.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Big Can Goldfish Grow?

Goldfish have the potential to grow up to 15 inches or more!

Can I Keep My Goldfish in a Bowl?

Your goldfish probably won’t live a very long and happy life if you do. Goldfish often die prematurely because they are being kept in a tank that is too small. When they are kept in a small tank or a bowl, the exterior of the fish stops growing while the organs continue to get larger. Eventually, the organs are too big for the fish and it dies. You will want to choose a tank that is 20 gallons at least, per goldfish.

Can Goldfish Live Alone in a Tank?

Goldfish can live alone however they are happier when they have companionship. It’s a good idea to keep them at least in pairs. Solitary goldfish can become depressed and lethargic.

What Fish Can Live with Goldfish?

The best options for goldfish tank mates are:

  • Other Goldfish
  • Zebra Danios
  • Apple Snails
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows
  • Rubbernose and Bristlenose Plecos
  • Ghost and Cherry Shrimp
  • Rosy Barbs
  • Weather and Doja Loaches

What Fish Can’t Live with Goldfish?

Whether it’s because of different water requirements or because they don’t get along well, these are some specific fish to avoid putting with Goldfish:

    • Common Plecos
    • Bettas
    • Cichlids
    • Corydoras
    • Tetras
    • Mollies
  • Other Goldfish species

Are Goldfish Aggressive?

Goldfish are typically peaceful and can live in a tank with most types of community fish. In general, it’s a good idea to keep goldfish with tank mates that have similar swimming abilities. You want to ensure that there is enough food and space so that there is no need for competition which can lead to aggression. Be sure to research thoroughly your breed of goldfish, as some have more specific requirements and characteristics.

How do you Know How Old Your Goldfish Is?

Observe the scales, color, size and tail fin on your goldfish. For every year of it’s life, a goldfish develops a ring on its body. The younger goldfish are typically brown and they turn golden when they become adults. The color change happens when they are about 1 year of age or when they grow to be 5 inches in length. Maturity age depends on the type of goldfish, but they achieve adult size of about 5 inches between 10 and 36 months of age. The tail fin on young goldfish are round, but in adults they are forked and sharp. The tail fin will grow longer as the fish gets older.

Do Goldfish Have a Three Second Memory?

This is one of the many misconceptions of goldfish. Goldfish can actually remember things for at least 4 or 5 months.


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