The humble goldfish is an iconic pet that’s been around since the 19th Century when the fish were first kept in ornamental ponds by the wealthy as status symbols.
Today, goldfish are still just about the most popular choice of pet fish, especially with kids, but unfortunately, they’re also often regarded as somewhat disposable and short-lived. But what is the average life expectancy of a goldfish, and how long do these beautiful creatures typically live in a fishbowl?
Keep reading to find out!
What’s The Average Life Expectancy Of A Goldfish?
Goldfish are descended from a species of wild carp and will usually have a longer lifespan when kept in a large, well-maintained pond that closely mimics the fish’s natural environment.
However, even when kept in a fish tank, your goldfish can still live for between ten and 15 years, sometimes even longer if given the correct care and a balanced, nutritious diet.
How Long Do Goldfish Live in A Fishbowl?
The lifespan of a goldfish that’s kept in a fishbowl depends on several factors, including:
- The size of the fishbowl
- The quality of care the fish receives
- The species of goldfish
- The diet the fish is given
In theory, a goldfish living in a fishbowl should achieve a similar lifespan to that of a fish that’s kept in a pond. In fact, the longest-lived pet goldfish that was kept in a fishbowl was a record-breaking 43 years of age when it died, following a short illness!
What Size Fishbowl?
Fancy goldfish species can grow to reach 8 inches in length, but long-bodied types, such as Comets, can measure up to 12 inches. So, a fancy goldfish needs a tank of at least 20 gallons, whereas a long-bodied fish needs a minimum of 50 gallons to be comfortable.
Goldfish are pretty active swimmers, so a small bowl simply doesn’t provide them with enough space to move around. Also, goldfish are gregarious creatures that do best when kept in small groups. Keeping one goldfish alone in a bowl is likely to stress the fish and shorten its lifespan.
If the fish don’t have enough swimming space, their growth will be stunted, and their life expectancy shortened.
Also, goldfish are oxygen-hungry fish. A fishbowl generally doesn’t offer much surface area for good gaseous exchange, so you’ll need to include an airstone or bubbler in the setup to oxygenate the water sufficiently.
Water Quality and Care
Goldfish are very messy fish, producing an almost constant flow of waste. That waste, uneaten food, and plant debris quickly accumulate in the substrate, where it decomposes, polluting the water and potentially poisoning the fish.
Goldfish tanks and bowls need an efficient filtration system, and you must perform partial water changes of up to 30% every week to keep the environment safe and clean. In addition, you’ll need to vacuum the substrate to remove waste before it accumulates, and the filter media must also be kept clean so that it works efficiently.
- Long-bodied, single fin types
- Round-bodied, fancy varieties
Most goldfish species are hardy creatures that are pretty disease-resistant.
However, common goldfish and long-bodied species usually live longer than very fancy types such as Telescope, Oranda, and Bubble Eye that tend to be more prone to health problems.
All goldfish species are gluttons! These fish will eat, or try to eat, almost anything that fits into their mouths. However, feeding your fish a correct and nutritious diet will help to keep your pet healthy and extend its life expectancy.
Goldfish are omnivores, enjoying a diet that includes both meaty protein, algae, and plant matter.
- High-quality goldfish pellets or flakes
- Frozen bloodworms, daphnia, and similar
- Freeze-dried bloodworms
- Live bloodworms, tubifex, daphnia, brine shrimp, etc
- Blanched veggies, such as zucchini
If you keep Fancy goldfish, it’s essential that you include regular portions of frozen or live meaty protein. That’s because a diet that consists entirely of dried food causes constipation and swim bladder problems in these round-bodied goldfish. The stress that the fish suffers as a result of those issues can weaken the immune system, leaving your pet vulnerable to attack by parasites and bacteria and potentially shortening its life expectancy.
If given the correct care and diet, it’s entirely possible that your pet goldfish can survive for between ten to 15 years in a large fishbowl that’s equipped with an efficient filtration system.
That said, to maximize your fish’s lifespan, you should transfer your pet to a large aquarium or outdoor fish pond that offers plenty of swimming space and surface area.