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The Goldfish – scientifically known as the Carassius auratus – is one of the most beautiful fish species that is common everywhere in the world. It has been a common choice for fish keepers since the 1900s. Even if you are new to fish keeping you might have seen it somewhere in someone’s house. A lot of people keep them in small bowls (which is not an ideal condition) for educational purposes. It is one of those fish species that has multiple variants and genetically modified sub-species. All of its variants are popular and are loved by the fish keepers.

IssamBarhoumi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people who buy this fish do not provide it with a proper environment and keep it inside a bowl, or a small container. This type of environment is not suitable for the Goldfish and they die within a few months. That is why this fish has developed a wrong reputation for having a short lifespan. A lot of people think that this fish only lives for a month or two. But this is not true, with proper care this fish can last for years. This article contains information about the Goldfish lifespan and how you can increase their lifespan. Read below to know more.

Species Overview:

Souravgg8, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Carassius auratus or Goldfish is a very common fish species that are kept as a pet. This fish species is native to East Asia, including Japan, China. It is one of those fish species that were selectively bred in Imperial China about 1000 years ago. Because of this selective breeding, this fish species developed several genetic modifications. It is very common in different parts of the world as a pet fish species. This species is also known as the invasive fish species in various regions of the United State.

It is known for its beautiful body shape, bright color patterns, and long fins. When this fish moves inside the water using its long fins it feels like it is dancing in the water. This is one of the reasons why this fish became so popular among the fish keepers and the general public. The common variant of this fish has a bright pinkish-yellow color, (some variants have different colors). The edges of its fins are covered in part white and transparent coloring. The middle part of their bodies is wide and high.

It is a small fish species and has an average size of about 1.5 inches. But some of its variants are either small (about 1 inch) or large (more than 12 inches). The smallest variety of the Goldfish is about 0.8 inches while the largest one is about 14 inches. But this type of growth is only seen in those variants that are kept inside a pool or in a wild environment. Members of this species that are kept in tanks or bowls can only grow up to three or four inches if the conditions favor their growth.

What is the Maximum Lifespan of Goldfish?

The maximum lifespan of a Goldfish is more than 20 years. If it is given the right conditions to live and grow it can live for more than 20 years. The oldest Goldfish was 43 years old at the time of its death, but this is an extremely rare phenomenon. This is only possible if everything regarding their habitat, food, and health is kept perfect. Any mistakes in food or habitat conditions can shorten their lifespan. The lifespan of Goldfish also depends on the type of fish or variety of Goldfish that you have.

For example, there are species of Goldfish that only live for a few years. But some variants live longer as compared to others. So, before buying any type of Goldfish, it is better to know about the lifespan of that variant because if you brought a wrong variant to your aquarium, it would not live as long as those who have a longer lifespan. In its natural habitat, this fish can live for more than 20 years if it is not hunted by a predator. But due to water pollution, and the presence of predators, the lifespan of the wild Goldfish is also cut short to about 4 to 5 years.

But if you create a large tank, and create a perfect environment and living conditions for the Goldfish, without the presence of predators, it can live for 10 to 20 years. These four years of extension come from extra care and the absence of predators. Also, you will have to keep more than 6 individuals inside a tank. The size of the tank impacts their overall lifespan, so make sure that you select a large 50 gallons tank for a healthy population of Goldfish. There are also a lot of genetically modified breeds and selectively bred subspecies of the Goldfish that can also live for 12 to 14 years.

This is because of the genetic modification that helps them live through the changes in the environment (meaning that the Goldfish becomes hardy). But you will have to provide them with a perfect habitat, clean water, controlled temperature, and a perfect diet to make sure that they live long enough.

What is the Average Lifespan of Goldfish?

The average lifespan of Goldfish depends on the variety of fish or type of Goldfish you have. Most of the Goldfish can live for up to 6 years in captivity. This lifespan is much shorter as compared to the maximum lifespan of the Goldfish. Its lifespan is shortened because of various reasons. For example, if the water parameters are not according to the recommendations, your fish would die sooner. Any changes in pH, temperature, hardness, diet, filtration, and water quality can kill your fish. That is why if you want your fish to live longer, you will have to make sure that the conditions are kept perfect and unchanged.

If you are not a fish keeper or have never kept a fish pet, the chances are your fish would die within two to three months. This is because fish in captivity require proper care which is difficult if you are not aware of the fish care guidelines. Also, a lot of people do not even keep the Goldfish inside a tank, instead, they put them inside a bowl. Bowls are small and can only contain a small amount of water. Also, you cannot keep multiple Goldfish inside the bowl. So, loneliness, and a small space to explore and swim would impact negatively on the health of your fish and would kill it. Apart from this, you cannot put a filter, heater inside the bowl to maintain the parameters.

Because of all of the reasons above, the lifespan of the Goldfish is cut short and they only live for a few months to a few years.

Goldfish Lifespan According To Living Conditions

Here is a comparison table for the lifespan according to the living conditions of the Goldfish.

Living ConditionLifespan
In a bowl, no careA few days to 3 weeks.
In a bowl, minimum careLess than 2 months.
Small tank, minimum careUp to 6 months
Small tank, proper care.Up to 2 years.
Medium tank, minim care2 to 3 years.
Medium tank, proper care.2 to 5 years.
Large tank, poor care.2 to 5 years.
Large tank, proper care.Up to 8 years.
Large tank excellent careMore than 10 years.
Large tank, excellent care, long-living variety15 years or more.

What Factors Make Goldfish Lifespan Short?

From the table above, you can see that there are three main factors here that are impacting the lifespan of the Goldfish. Each of these factors can help increase the lifespan of your fish if you use it to your advantage. Here are the important factors that impact the lifespan of the Goldfish.

Genetics: As mentioned above, the Goldfish has multiple genetic variants. Each of these variants has a different lifespan. Some genetically modified or selectively bred subspecies can live longer as compared to others. So, when selecting a Goldfish for your aquarium, make sure that you select the ones that live longer and have genetic modifications to support a longer lifespan. This will significantly improve your chances of keeping your fish alive for a long time.

Tank/Habitat Conditions: Second most important factor that impacts the lifespan of Goldfish is the tank or habitat conditions. There are certain conditions inside the tank that need to be met to keep your fish healthy. If these conditions are not met your fish would die quickly. These include the temperature, pH, hardness, cleanliness, and environment inside the tank. You cannot put your fish in a tank that contains nothing else, if the tank is empty and only contains water, it would not be an ideal habitat for your fish to live. This would kill them in a few months. That is why, it is advised to create a proper environment or habitat inside the tank using sand, substrate, stones, plants, and driftwood. All of these will keep your fish busy and would reduce the stress of being in captivity. Also, the size of your tank matters a lot. If you want your fish to live longer, it is recommended that you keep your fish in a larger tank.

Proper Care: If you are taking proper care of your fish inside the tank, it would live longer. But if the fish inside the tank is not being properly taken care of, they would start to die. Proper care includes maintaining certain levels, and parameters, and feeding your Goldfish a healthy diet. You will have to work on cleaning, and watching out for diseases that can kill your fish to make sure that your fish live longer. The diseases are a huge problem and you can only protect your fish from diseases if you are taking proper care of them. Diet, protection from diseases, treating the diseases, and keeping the environment intact and clean are a few care guidelines that you will have to follow to make sure that your fish lives longer.

What Are Different Types of Goldfish And Their Lifespans?

Goldfish is one of those fish species that have been through genetic modifications and selective breeding for generations. That is why there are a lot of varieties and subspecies of Goldfish that you can buy for your aquarium. Five main subspecies are very common among fish keepers. Here is a list of these species and their lifespan.

●     Common Goldfish Lifespan

This is one of the most beautiful fish subspecies of the Goldfish. It is known as the Common Goldfish because it has almost no genetic mutations and looks similar to its ancestors. This fish has golden-orange colors spread all over its body. Its fins are short (similar to ancestors) and it has a more streamlined body. It has one long fin at the back and two on the sides, while a tail fin that is transparent towards the end.

The Common Goldfish can live for more than 10 years in captivity if the conditions are perfect. But that rarely happens. The average lifespan of this species is about 6 to 7 years. If you want to enhance this lifespan, you will have to provide them with perfect living conditions and proper care.

●     Fancy Goldfish Lifespan

This one is known as the Fancy Goldfish because it has a unique appearance as compared to the Common Goldfish. Fancy Goldfish have a golden color in their body and have two tails. The size of other fins of this fish is longer than the Common Goldfish. Its fins create a dancing appearance when this fish swims inside the tank. That is one of the reasons for its popularity among the fish keepers who like to see this fish swimming.

There are some genetically modified versions of this fish that give other colors, such as completely black, golden, black, white-black, brown, and more colors. It is one of those variants that have a longer lifespan as compared to the Common Goldfish. The three most popular variants of the Goldfish are Telescope, Fringetail, and Bubble Eye. The Fringe Tail can live for 5 years, and the telescope can live for up to 12 years, while the bubble eye variant has a 10 to 12 years lifespan.  You can enhance the lifespan of this species with proper care.

●     Comet Goldfish Lifespan

The Comet Goldfish can grow up to 12 inches and can live for up to 15 years in a pond with proper care. It is one of the largest Goldfish varieties available in the market. But if it is kept inside a tank, it can live for more than 10 years with good care. It is known as the Comet Goldfish because of its unique appearance. It has a long body and its tail fins are also very long.

●     Oranda Goldfish Lifespan

The Oranda Goldfish is a variety of the Goldfish known for its unusual shape. It has multiple genetic variants and each variant has a different color. The head of this fish variety has a bubble-like hood. It can live for more than 20 years in the wild but in captivity, it can live for more than 15 years.

How You Can Increase Goldfish Lifespan?

As you know, certain factors impact the health and lifespan of your Goldfish. So, if you control those factors in a way that favors the health and growth of your Goldfish, you will be able to significantly increase the lifespan of your Goldfish. Below are a few tips that can help you increase the lifespan of your Goldfish.

●     Never Put Them In Bowl

A lot of people make this mistake. It is a common misconception that you can keep the Goldfish inside a bowl of water. You can do that but it will kill your fish within a few days. This is because if you are keeping your fish inside a bowl of water, that water may not be suitable for the health of your fish. For example, tap water contains a lot of additives and chlorine to make it drinkable. So, if you used a small bowl and unfiltered tap water. It would impact the health of your fish negatively.  According to estimates, 80% of the Goldfish kept in a bowl of water dies in the first 2 months. So, if you have a Goldfish or want a Goldfish, create a proper aquarium and use a tank.

●     Use Large Tank To Keep Them

The size of the tank matters a lot as it can help you provide more space for your fish for swimming and exploring. So, if you are selecting a tank, make sure you select a large tank of the appropriate size. The perfect size of the tank will be the one that is not too big or too small. To select the tank of the right size, you need to know how many fish you want to keep in that aquarium and what is the ratio of gallons of water per fish. So, if you want 10 Goldfish, and the ratio is 1 fish per gallon, you can keep 10 fish in a 10 gallons tank. But it is recommended that you should use a larger tank that has further scalability. For large subspecies of Goldfish use an even larger tank of 20 to 50 gallons.

●     Keep Them In A Pond

If you want your fish to live long, provide them with natural habitat. You can do this by putting your Goldfish inside a pond. If you have a pond inside your house, it will be an excellent choice for the Goldfish. Make sure that your pond has everything that the fish needs, including river-like bedding and plants. A large tank and a pond will have a similar impact on their growth and health and would help them increase their lifespan. But the pond is a more natural choice. There are a lot of instances where a lot of expert fish keepers have created small ponds for this fish and they thrived and multiplied in numbers. 

●     Keep Their Habitat Clean

Cleanliness is very important for any aquatic species. If the habitat is not clean, it would give rise to bacteria and parasite populations. These will infect your fish and would wipe out your tank. To prevent this and increase the lifespan of your fish, make sure that their habitat is clean all the time. If you have kept your fish in the tank, use an active filtration system to filter the water. Also, you should regularly cycle the water. Also, if you have kept them inside a pond, make sure to use a filtration system to clean the tank. If their environment is clean, it would reduce the risks of diseases and outbreaks, hence improving the lifespan of your fish.

●     Prevent Overcrowding

A lot of people make this mistake. They put a lot of Goldfish in the same small tank. If the fish and water ratio is maintained it would not affect the health of the fish that much. But if you put more fish in the tank than there should be, it would create overcrowding issues inside your tank. Overcrowding is dangerous because it gives rise to clashes inside the tank. This negatively impacts the health of your entire population and it would kill your fish very soon. If you want to prevent this, make sure that you maintain a fish per gallon ratio for the Goldfish.

●     Control Water Parameters and Quality

Certain water parameters need to be maintained if you want your fish to live long and stay healthy. These parameters include temperature, pH, and hardness of the water. Any change in temperature such as lowering from the recommended range, or increasing from the recommended range would kill your fish instantly. This is because the Goldfish is a coldblooded invertebrate that needs its habitat to maintain internal temperature. Extreme cold or extremely hot temperatures of the water would change the internal temperature of your fish and that would kill it.

Similarly, the pH and hardness of the water help the fish maintain its internal pH and level of minerals inside its body. Any drastic changes in these two would also kill your fish. So, you will have to make sure that these parameters are according to recommendations all the time. You will also have to make sure that the quality of the water inside the tank is good and it is safe for your fish. To improve the water quality, you can clean your tank every once in a while. You can also cycle the water inside the tank to keep the quality high.

●     Feed Goldfish The Right Food

The diet of the fish also impacts its health and lifespan. So, make sure that you know what type of food your fish eats and likes. The diet Goldfish is an omnivore, meaning that it eats a variety of foods. So, you can feed it the food flakes and pellets of different fish foods. You can also feed it live worms, invertebrates, and insects. Apart from this, you can also feed them some vegetables (powdered). Also, you can feed them frozen meat and algae flakes. The algae flakes make up a large portion of their food. So, make sure that you feed it to them daily. The live worms should be fed to the Goldfish every once in a while. This type of diet will help you keep your fish healthy and will increase the overall lifespan of your fish inside the tank or pond.

●     Protect Them From Diseases:

There are a lot of fish diseases that can attack the Goldfish populations inside the tanks and ponds. Most of these diseases come from contaminated water or food. So, make sure that your tank is clean and there is no contamination. Test and filter the water before putting it inside the tank. If you see any signs of disease in your fish, start by quarantining the ones that are sick or infected. After that, feed them medicines that are recommended for those diseases. These measures will help you keep your fish healthy.


The Goldfish is one of the most beautiful fish species and it is a very common indoor pet all over the world. A lot of people keep it inside the water bowls and small containers to decorate their place. Most people think that this fish species only lives for a few months because, in small containers and bowls, this fish dies within two to three months. But that is not true, this fish can live for 10 to 20 years. According to records, the longest living Goldfish died at the age of 43 years. These arguments make it clear that this species has a long lifespan. This gives rise to the question that if this species has a long lifespan why do they die so quickly. It is because this fish has specific living conditions and requirements. If these are fulfilled, your fish would stay healthy and live longer.


Question: How long do Goldfish live in a small tank?

Answer: This depends on how many fish are kept inside a small tank. If the number of fish is according to the fish/gallon ratio, your fish would live longer than 8 to 10 years. But if the tank is overcrowded, your fish would die within two to four years.

Question: How long is the lifespan of Comet Goldfish?

Answer: In the wild, the Comet Goldfish can live for up to 12 years (it is usually killed by predators). But inside a tank, if the conditions are perfect and there are no predators, this fish can live for more than 15 years.

Question: How big can a Goldfish get?

Answer: This depends on the genetic variant of the goldfish. Some smaller variants only grow up to 2 inches but some genetic variants can grow up to 14 inches. Its size depends on genetics, care, nourishment, and tank size.

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