Most people know that dogs live between 8 and 12 years old and cats live between 12 and 14 years old. But what about fish? When most people decide to add fish to their homes, life expectancy is usually not considered. Although not much is known about the life expectancy of wild fish, with proper care captive fish can live for several years. These life expectancies are averages and with proper aquarium care some fish can live much longer.
|Ornamental Fish Lifespan: Types Of Ornamental Fish That Live Long|
Ornamental fish are excellent pets and, depending on the species, can become a friendly companion for a long time. Compared to a dog, a cat or even a lizard, the fish requires much less attention. An aquarium can add a calming feeling to any home, but still requires constant cleaning and maintenance. A good fish owner can sustain their pet for years, with some species able to live for decades.
This is an informative article. Nodisk One is not permitted to make a diagnosis or recommend any form of veterinary care. If your pet is in pain or ill, we recommend that you take him to the vet.
Ornamental Fish Species With The Longest Lifespan
Here are some fish species with the longest lifespans that are also well liked as pets. Different species have different needs, so learning how to properly care for your fish can drastically extend its lifespan.
1. Koi Fish (20 To 25 Years)
Koi fish are a popular carp species with an easy maintenance routine. Native to the Black, Caspian, and Aral Seas, they have been domesticated and introduced to regions around the world. Their gentle nature, beautiful colors, and simple maintenance routine make them one of the most popular species of fish to keep as pets. Native to China, they were brought to Japan as a food gift and slowly became a popular species in the culture.
|1. Koi Fish (20 to 25 years)|
It weighs about 35 pounds and ranges in length from 24 to 36 inches. Jumbo Koi have also been bred, with the largest weighing up to 91 pounds. Some of the common brightly colored varieties include bright orange, white, black yellow, and red. In the wild, this coloration makes them more susceptible to predators like cats, birds, and raccoons. When given the correct care, this species can survive up to 25 years on average.
2. Goldfish (10 To 25 Years)
The goldfish is one of the most popular and well loved fish kept as pets. Found all over the world, this species is native to East Asia and is part of the carp family. Kept in captivity and in local ponds, the goldfish was first kept in Imperial China and selectively bred for its bright colors. Today, they are still selectively bred and come in many different variations. Here are some of the types of goldfish found today:
- common goldfish.
- telescope goldfish.
- Heavenly Eye.
- comettail goldfish.
When kept in small tanks, goldfish stay small, never larger than 6 inches. They grow to a maximum length of two feet in the wild in slow-moving freshwater habitats. Keeping a clean tank, proper feeding, and an interactive environment can help keep this species alive for up to 25 years. The maximum lifespan of this fish is 45 years. Here are some tips to ensure a long and healthy life for your common goldfish:
- The Right Size Aquarium: Common goldfish need at least 20 gallons or 75 liters per fish. This is due to their ability to grow up to 7 inches and more.
- Good Filtration And Maintenance: As common goldfish create a lot of waste, it is advisable to provide a filtration greater than the needs of your aquarium. Maintenance is also imperative with a gravel vacuum and 15% water changes done weekly.
- A Balanced And Nutritious Diet: Simply providing your goldfish with a flake or pellet may not be enough to ensure a long and healthy life. Additional nutrients such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, shelled peas and boiled vegetables are also advised.
- Provide The Right Temperature: Although there is much debate about whether or not common goldfish can thrive in tropical aquariums as well as cold water, it is best to keep them at their proper temperature optimal. It is around 23℃ or 74℉.
3. Discus (10 To 18 Years)
Found in lakes and rivers native to South America, the discus fish is a popular species kept as a pet. They are less often possessed due to their diet and habitat requirements. Discus need warmer water which must be changed weekly. They can grow tall and need a tank of at least 75 gallons. They are calm in nature but can be aggressive as they are also cichlids. High temperatures and low pH are needed as the preferred water type.
|3. Discus (10 to 18 years)|
The discus is a trophy fish and comes in a variety of bright colors like orange, blue-yellow and red. Patterns vary as some may be solid color and others will be painted with a striped pattern. These fish are notoriously difficult to keep, but if cared for properly can live up to 18 years. Here are some tips to ensure a long and healthy life for your Discus:
- Buy From Healthy Stock: It is imperative that you do not buy Discus on impulse, but rather shop around. You should always ask your dealer what their water parameters are so you can mimic them when setting up your Discus aquarium.
- Keep Discus In Schools: Discus are a true schooling species and should be kept in groups of preferably 8 or more. Only one species will be stressed, directly affecting its lifespan.
- Perform 25% Water Changes Weekly: Whether wild caught or captive bred, Discus need water as close to source state as possible. To facilitate this, it is best to keep Discus aquariums bare-bottomed, which makes them easier to clean.
- Give Tour Discus A Healthy Diet: Discus eat a lot and will benefit from a balanced diet. Tropical, colored, and spirulina flakes are all recommended as a base, while live and frozen foods should be offered as treats.
4. Oscar Fish (10 To 18 Years)
The Oscar fish is a member of the cichlid family and is a popular pet kept in freshwater aquariums. They were native to South America, found in the Amazon River. Today, they inhabit many aquariums around the world and are able to live for up to two decades. Since they are sometimes released from aquariums into the wild, they have become invasive in some areas.
|4. Oscar Fish (10 to 18 years)|
Their diet may consist of meat as in nature they are a predatory species. Vitamin C is needed to keep them healthy, as in the wild they feed on fruit that has fallen into water. Oscar fish have a stocky, oval-shaped body. They are black with orange or red coloration on them. Oscar fish are prized for their intelligence, but you should be wary of keeping them with other fish due to their aggressive nature.
5. Figure 8 Puffer Fish (15+ years)
The figure 8 pufferfish (Tetraodon biocellatus) is perfect for beginners and can live for over 15 years if properly cared for. Native to Southeast Asia, they live in brackish water like rivers near coastal areas. Since this species cannot be bred in captivity, the majority of these pets will be imported from countries like Malaysia or Thailand. Figure 8 Pufferfish can live in fresh water but will have a longer lifespan when placed in a brackish water tank.
|5. Figure 8 puffer fish (15+ years)|
About 3 inches (8 cm) long when mature, they are greenish-yellow in color with brown spots covering their backs. In the wild, pufferfish pursue and consume creatures including mussels, cockles, oysters, and krill. A diet of flakes is not advised because feeding them frozen meats and other fresh foods will extend their lifespan.
6. Clown Loach (15+ Years)
The clown loach is a popular fish among fish owners and is valued for its bright colors and long lifespan, sometimes living for over 15 years. This calm fish has red fins and a body that is orange with black stripes. When mature, they are about 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) long. Indonesia's Sumatra and Borneo islands are where they can be found in their natural habitat.
|6. Clown Loach (15+ years)|
They live in fresh water but can also inhabit brackish water. Worms, born shrimp and snails make excellent food, better several small meals a day. The clown loach is active day and night, unlike other loach species which are primarily nocturnal. Keeping their tank clean and properly filtered will help this species thrive and live long. Here are some tips to ensure a long and healthy life for your Clown Loach:
- Excellent Water Quality: Clean, aerated and warm water is essential to the life expectancy of Clown Loaches. Frequent water changes and maintenance are not only advised, they are imperative.
- A Large Aquarium: more than 100 gallons are needed for this growing catfish which requires a lot of space to swim. They also need lots of hiding places such as caves, tubes and other hiding places to relax.
- Neat Snaffle: In addition to their whisker-like barbels, Clown Loaches also have a sharp spine under each eye. These are used as a weapon by this friendly fish when it needs to defend itself. These spines, however, can be caught and damaged when this species is captured, so care must be taken. After all, an injured fish is a sick fish that may not reach its life expectancy.
- Be Prepared For Ich: The Clown Loach is prone to Ich disease, so care should be taken when adding new fish or plants to their tank. This is imperative advice as Clown Loaches can be sensitive to medication. This makes them difficult to deal with if they need to.
7. Catfish (15 Years)
|7. Catfish (15 years)|
Catfish in the wild can be extremely long-lived, but not everyone is suited to aquarium life. There are over 3,000 species of catfish classified into 36 families. Here are some of the best and longest-living catfish pets:
- Redtail catfish (15 years).
- Armored catfish (15 years).
- Rafael Catfish (7 to 15 years).
- Jordan's Catfish (10+ years).
- Banjo catfish (12 years).
Catfish frequently don't have scales and it has barbs that resemble whiskers around their mouth region. The catfish species above are all small and can fit in a house-sized aquarium. Daily filtered fresh water is best to keep them alive longer. Most catfish are scavengers and eat plant life or meat. Fresh meat like worms, prawns and cut fish are best.
8. Firemouth (10 To 15 Years)
Firemouth cichlids are a perfect freshwater species for beginner fish keepers. Like other species of cichlids, this fish is long-lived, capable of living up to 15 years. Bright colors and easy maintenance routines make them a popular species to keep as pets. Originally they come from Central America and inhabit the rivers of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. In the United States, they are considered invasive and can be found in Hawaii, Arizona, and Florida.
|8. Firemouth (10 to 15 years)|
This species grows to around 7 inches (17 cm) and needs a tank size of around 15 gallons, more if not left alone. Like all cichlid species, they are territorial and will become aggressive with other fish if they don't have enough space. Infections like ICH disease are common in this species but are easily treated. Here are some tips to ensure a long and healthy life for your Firemouth cichlids:
- Give Them Plenty Of Space: Simply put, the more space you give a Firemouth cichlid, the more it will be willing to share its tank with others. This means he won't get stressed or fight, which could shorten his lifespan.
- Allow Them To Be A Predator: Feed your Firemouth cichlids live food along with a diet of high quality cichlid pellets. This will allow them to hunt as they naturally would keeping them healthy and happy.
- Choose Your Mates Carefully: Due to the tendency of firemouth cichlids to eat fish smaller than themselves, they only need large companions. However, these should be passive species that won't bother your firemouth cichlids, but can still defend themselves.
- Think Twice Before Attempting To Breed: from selecting a mate to caring for their young, the entire breeding process can be violent for Firemouth cichlids. It could hurt you and maybe even kill you if you don't know what you're doing.
9. Frontosa (8 To 15 Years)
The frontosa is a type of cichlid that is unique to Lake Tanganyika in East Africa. Most of the day, this fish lays at the bottom of its water source, rising each morning to feed on vegetation. They can reach a size of up to 1 foot (30 cm) and a large bump sits on top of their head. The coloration includes a black or white body with dark vertical bars running vertically across it.
|9. Frontosa (8 to 15 years)|
Only larger species should be kept in aquariums with frontosa because of their aggressive nature. Regular filtering and at least 70 gallons of tank volume are required. They make excellent show fish due to their vivid coloring and large size. When kept in a large tank and cared for properly, they can live for up to 15 years.
10. Midas Cichlid (10 To 12 Years)
The Midas cichlid is native to Central America, most abundant in lakes and large bodies of water in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. They are large fish that can grow to around 10 to 14 inches (25 to 35 cm). Brown, gray, and black are the colors, and there is a bar pattern. The bar pattern disappears when in aquarium habitat, and they are mostly solid color in captivity. A variety of color morphs also exist of this species due to selective breeding.
|10. Midas Cichlid (10 to 12 years)|
Easily kept as a pet, it can live up to 12 years if properly cared for. They are omnivorous and need to feed in several small amounts per day. This species is very sensitive to toxins in the water, so its tank needs to circulate about 20-35% of its water per week. Midas cichlids should be kept alone due to their aggressive nature, but can also be kept in pairs. Around 200 gallons or larger tanks are best for this species.
11. Neon Tetra (5 To 10 Years)
So far, the longest-lived pet fish have all been big hitters in size and personality. However, there are also smaller species considered by some to be merely aquarium fillers which also reach old age.
|11. Neon Tetra (5 to 10 years)|
One of them is the magnificent Neon Tetra which, surprisingly to many, is able to live between 5 and 10 years. They are definitely one of the most popular aquarium inhabitants with over two million sold monthly in the United States alone. Here are some tips for a long and healthy life for your Neon Tetras:
- Keep Water Parameters Stable: Although the Neon Tetra is a hardy and easy to care for fish, it is sensitive to any changes in its water. Failure to do so could result in your Tetra developing Neon Tetra disease for which there is no cure.
- Keep Them In A Large Group: The more Neon Tetras you have in your tank, the safer and less stressed they feel. A minimum of 15-20 is recommended to keep them happy.
- Give Them Lots of Room: Although Neon Tetras are no taller than 1 ½ inches, they still need plenty of swimming room to be active, happy, and healthy themselves. 20 gallons is recommended for a school of 20 but as always, when it comes to keeping fish, bigger is better!
- Feed A Variety Of Foods: As simple "aquarium fillers", it's very easy to just throw some flakes for your Neon Tetras and leave it that way. However, they are omnivores that require a varied diet to reach their maximum lifespan and their diet should take this into account. Bloodworms, daphnia and brine shrimp are great options.
What Are Some Factors That Have An Impact On An Ornamental Fish's Lifespan?
Many factors play a role in the lifespan of an ornamental fish. Among the most crucial factors are temperature, light, CO2, water quality, and food. A fish with good living conditions is more likely to live longer than one without it.
The temperature of the aquarium determines whether a fish is healthy or not. If it is too cold, it has an effect on the service life. In general, most aquatic animals thrive in water temperatures between 78 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 28 degrees Celsius). Diarrhea is one of the many issues that can result from lower than average temperatures. Water temperature has a major effect on lifespan as some fish need warm water to stay healthy, while others prefer it cold.
Light is one of those factors that seems to be random. One species of fish may prefer bright light, while another prefers natural sunlight from above the tank. Their lifespan is also influenced by the duration and intensity of this light.
3. CO2 Level
The CO2 level is also a very important factor. When an aquarium starts growing plants, there will be more CO2 available in the water due to the process of photosynthesis performed by all those plants. If you increase the viewing of your aquarium and the selection of live plants to help reduce this problem, it can make a big difference in the lifespan of the fish.
The water level and filtration system will also help maintain or increase CO2 levels, but they require frequent maintenance and it is not possible to establish an ideal ratio between plants and their survival systems.
4. Water Quality Or Nitrate Levels
When attempting to establish wholesome fish populations, there are various types of water quality to take into consideration. Oxygen level, pH balance, hardness and nitrates are most important today for community aquaculture tanks larger than 1 gallon, as these factors contribute to many biological processes.
Some water quality parameters, such as pH and oxygen level balance, have a direct effect on the lifespan of fish, while others are highly dependent on environmental conditions which are not predictable. . Nitrates also indirectly affect longevity through the plants that remove them from the reservoir.
In Conclusion: Which Pet Fish Has The Longest Lifespan?
Even though the aforementioned species have incredible long lifespans, they are not even close to taking the title of longest-living "pet" fish. That honor belongs to Hanako, a magnificent Koi carp.
Dr. Komei Koshihara's pet, Hanako, lived her entire life in a pond at the foot of Mount Ontake in Gifu, Japan. She received daily hand feedings and affection there, and upon being called, she would even swim to the edge of her pond. Hanako grew to an amazing 70 centimeters in length, weighed 7.5 kg, and lived to be 226 years!
Only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, are used by Nodisk One to substantiate the information in our articles.