How Long Do Aquarium Fish Live (If You Take Good Care Of Them)

The estimated lifespan of aquarium fish is not something that comes to mind when I first keep aquarium fish. Instead, it was something random that popped up one day and I don't know the answer.
How Long Do Aquarium Fish Live (If You Take Good Care Of Them)

I asked other aquarists about their experiences and did some research online to find the exact answer.

The average lifespan of small tropical fish is 4 to 6 years. Larger fish like cichlids or goldfish are older than smaller fish like tetras or barbs. A varied and balanced diet as well as a maintained charging environment allow the fish to live longer.

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There are things we as aquarists can do to keep our fish as healthy as possible. In this article, I will give you the average age of some of the most popular aquarium fish. I will also cover how you can ensure your fish live as long and as healthy as possible.

Lifespan of small fish in the tank

Most of us would be interested in keeping the smaller fish in tropical tanks. These fish, although small, have the ability to live quite a long time. I remember my grandfather proudly telling me that some of the neon tetra lights in his tank are over 6 years old. I bet that's not what you would expect from such small fish.

The size of the tank often affects the lifespan of the fish, as small tanks are harder to keep in balance. Low water levels make the aquarium susceptible to fluctuating parameters that can be stressful for the fish.

When kept in a healthy tank, the size of the tank does not matter. As long as the aquarium provides enough for the fish species.

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The species of fish is really important in trying to predict how long they will live. Fish like guppies usually live from 3 to 5 years old. Other fish such as bettas live about 3 years before dying. Killifish are an exception because they usually don't live longer than 1 or 2 years. This has to do with the nature of the fish.

Which aquarium fish live the longest?

Goldfish are often one of the longest-living aquarium fish of all the fish that we can keep in our hobby. With proper care and enough space, they can grow very large and live a very long time.

The average goldfish lives 10 to 25 years! There are even examples of how goldfish live longer than 25 years. A great example is a goldfish named Tish, which lived long enough to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records. Tish lived to be 43 years old.

There is another remarkable record listed in the Guinness Book as "Oldest fish ever in captivity". This record belongs to a Swedish public aquarium because they had a female European Eel that lived to be 88 years old. Although this fish is not really the kind of fish you and I would keep in our tank, I would still consider it an aquarium fish.

I asked a group of enthusiastic aquarists about their oldest pet, and many had fish over 10 years old. What really hit me is that Candy Striped Pleco is at least 15 years old! How wonderful that is!

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Average lifespan of popular aquarium fish

If you already know the type of fish you're interested in, you'll probably find the longevity in the large table below. I compiled this list from data shared here on The Spruce Pets. I merged some entries so as not to repeat myself and keep the table short.

NameAverage life expectancy
Angelfish10 years
Betta2-4 years
Corydoras5 - 8 years
Discus10 - 18 years
Dwarf Gourami4 years
Goldfish10 - 25 years
Gourami4-6 years
Guppies3-5 years
Ax fish5 years
Killifish12 years
Kribensis5 years
Mollie2-4 years
Neon Tetra5 - 10 years
Oscar10 - 18 years
Otocinclus5 years
Piranha10 years
Platy3-5 years
Pleco7 - 15 years
Swordtail    3-5 years
Tiger Barb6 years
Zebra Cichlid10 years

Refer: Male and Female Betta Fish: Differences in Appearance and Behavior

How to make your fish live longerWe always want the best for our fish, but there are some things you can do to help your fish live longer. Providing emotional support may not help, so what can you do to help?

Give your fish enough space for a fun swim. You don't need a pond or an ocean, but one bowl won't be enough. Especially if you are keeping a goldfish, you really need to figure out how much space your fish needs and try to accommodate those needs. If a fish has more space, it will be healthier and the environment will be more stable.

Feed a varied and complete diet . Just giving fish flakes or pellets is enough, but regularly mixing the fish's diet will provide many benefits. I won't directly compare always feeding dry food with only pasta, but there are similarities. If you regularly supplement dry feed with frozen food or even live food, your fish will become healthier.

Grasp some basic knowledge about common diseases for quick detection and treatment. There are some diseases or health problems that can happen to your fish/tank that you can easily recognize. A great example is Ich or white spot disease.

Provide plenty of oxygen Let your fish breathe. There are several easy ways to improve the flow and oxygen levels in your tank that will improve the overall condition of your fish in no time. As you can read here on my website, it's really not that difficult to quickly add more oxygen to your tank and set you up for the long term.

There is even one last thing you can do if you are really serious and are keeping more sensitive fish. Some people quarantine all newly purchased fish for at least a month before adding them to their existing aquarium. These 30 days give them the opportunity to check on new fish and closely monitor for any health problems developing.
Personally, I don't do this as it requires an isolation tank, for which I don't have the space. Just know that every time you add new fish to a group of fish, you run the risk of developing new diseases.

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