Can You Extend the Lifespan of a Goldfish?

lifespan of a goldfish

Did your child come running up to you, excited that they just won a goldfish at the fair? Or maybe you bought them a goldfish because you thought it would be a good first pet, only to discover that you needed to discuss death with them much sooner than anticipated.

It seems like every kid gets a goldfish that ends up dying a few months or even weeks later. But is the lifespan of a goldfish really that short?

Surprisingly, the answer is no. The average goldfish can actually live for 5-10 years, with the oldest goldfish on record living to see its 45th birthday!

So, what can you do to ensure your new pet lives a long and happy life? Keep reading to learn how you can extend the lifespan of your goldfish.

The Tank

The first thing you need is a home for your new fish. Many pet stores sell small fish bowls, ranging from 1 to 5 gallons. To many, that seems plenty big for one tiny goldfish.

However, goldfish keep growing and require at least a 20-gallon tank. If they’re placed in a small bowl, they’ll experience stunted growth which can be harmful.

That 20-gallon tank may seem huge, but it’s only appropriate for one fish. If you decide to add more goldfish, you’ll need to increase your tank by 15 gallons for each fish to ensure they all have enough room to grow and thrive.

The Gravel

Once you’ve picked a tank out, your next step will be to find some gravel. You’ll likely notice many different shapes and sizes of gravel at your local pet store. However, they aren’t all appropriate for your new fish.

Goldfish love to dig around the gravel and look for extra food. This means that small pieces of gravel can easily get caught in their mouth, so opt for larger gravel to avoid this. Smooth stones and glass pebbles are both great options as they’re too large to be swallowed and won’t hurt your fish if they graze against it.

Whatever gravel you choose, make sure you rinse it thoroughly before putting it in the tank. If you have time, consider soaking them in water for a day to remove any dirt and impurities.

The Decorations

Tank decorations are a great way to show off your personality and really have fun with your fish.

The best way to decorate your aquarium is to choose one large centerpiece and a few pieces of artificial greenery. This gives your fish some areas to explore in their tank without it becoming too crowded and difficult to swim in. Just make sure the decorations you choose aren’t sharp, or your goldfish may get injured if they swim into it.

You’ll also want to find a good lighting system by buying a tank hood with attached aquarium lights. Fish are active during the day, so be sure to turn this light on when you wake up and turn it off before going to sleep.

The Filter

Forgoing a filter is one of the biggest reasons why pet goldfish don’t live up to their average lifespan. Goldfish produce a lot of waste which can turn their water poisonous if not properly filtered.

For the best results, look for one that filters 5-10 times the water in your tank per hour. For example, a 20-gallon tank should have a filter than can clean 100-200 gallons of water per hour.

The Water

If you had goldfish before, you likely filled the tank up with tap water and plopped them in. However, goldfish are very sensitive. In order for them to thrive, you’ll need to cycle their water.

Fill up your tank, use an aquarium water conditioner, and turn on your filter. Then, buy an API test kit at your local pet store and test your water. Both ammonia and nitrite should be at 0ppm as these are poisonous to goldfish.

Your water may take as long as a week to achieve the appropriate levels. But it’s vital that you do not introduce your goldfish the water is safe for them.


Many fish owners end up overfeeding their fish. But this can contaminate the tank and cause indigestion.

Only feed your fish 1-2 times a day. You should only give them a pinch of fish food about the size of their eye. Another way to measure food is to only feed them what they can eat in under 2 minutes.

Goldfish flakes and granules are both great for their main diet. However, to really help your goldfish live a healthy life, consider supplementing their diet with live or frozen brine shrimp.


Even with the best filter in the world, you’ll still need to clean your tank once a week. However, this doesn’t mean you have to (or should) remove your fish, dump all the water and start over.

Instead, leave the fish in the tank and use a special aquarium vacuum to clean debris building up in the gravel. Keep going until one-third of the water has been removed.

Then, fill up a clean bucket with water and treat it with an aquarium water conditioner. Once it’s safe for your goldfish, slowly pour it into the tank until it’s full.

Your Guide to Extending the Lifespan of a Goldfish

Don’t let your goldfish die just a few weeks after bringing it home! Instead, follow the guide above to learn how you can extend the lifespan of a goldfish. From buying the right tank to cleaning it regularly, there are many ways you can keep your scaly friend happy and healthy.

Are you considering a more colorful fish instead? Then check out the most beautiful types of betta fish today!

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