You might be surprised to learn that the common goldfish is quite a hearty pet — with a long lifespan too! Here's what you need to know if you're setting up your first aquarium or adding a goldie to your existing school of fish.
How Long Do Goldfish Live?
Some varieties of goldfish can live as long as a pet cat or dog, or even longer!
The popular comet goldfish often lives into their 20s, with some robust fellows managing to celebrate birthdays into their 30s and 40s, according to Dr. Jessie Sanders at Aquatic Veterinary Services.
If you're eyeing a fancy goldfish — like an ornada, black moor, lionhead, or ryukin — expect the fish to live into their 20s if purchased from a respected goldfish breeder or aquatics pet retailer. Lower-quality goldies will live approximately 10 to 15 years.
A goldfish's longevity depends on a healthy pedigree, its aquarium quality, and how you care for the pet. Of course, like any pet, goldfish are susceptible to illness and genetic health conditions, which may lead to a shorter-than-expected lifespan.
How To Keep Your Goldfish Healthy
A happy, healthy goldfish has the best chance of living to the double digits. You can poise your pet for success by setting up the aquarium properly, feeding a quality diet, and offering social stimulation.
First, let's chat about your goldfish's home. Your pet needs a proper fish tank setup with ample living space, filtration, balanced water, and lighting. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Australia suggests a minimum of approximately 13 gallons (or more!) of aquarium space per adult-size goldfish. The stereotypical goldfish bowl is not ideal.
Tip: Check out this fishkeeping guide for more helpful aquarium setup tips.
When it comes to meals, goldfish enjoy a variety of foods. Goldfish need a daily diet of high-quality flake food or sinking pellets with about 30% protein. Want to make those yellow and gold scales extra vibrant? Experiment with color-enhancing foods, like the sinking Color Enhancing Goldfish Granules. Goldfish are omnivores and will enjoy some raw vegetables like peas, green beans, or romaine lettuce in their diet as well.
Finally, goldfish are pets! They enjoy mental stimulation just like our other animal friends. Add artificial aquarium plants to the tank for them to explore. You can hand feed your goldfish by holding pellets in your fingers at the water surface. Goldfish don't have sharp teeth and won't harm you when you feed them this way. Or, add roommates to the tank. Goldfish enjoy the company of other similar-sized goldfish, snails, and ornamental minnows.
How long do goldfish live? Expect to have a goldie in your household for ten or more years. They are a commitment, like any other finned, furred, or feathered friend. Whether you just adopted your first goldfish pet or are planning on getting one soon, you've got this! Learn more about goldfish care, behavior, nutrition, and breeding in our Goldfish Care Guide.