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How Long Do Freshwater Aquarium Fish Live On Average

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When choosing the species of fish you want in your aquarium, an important factor to consider is the life expectancy of each species.

This will help you make the best decision on what types of fish to add to your tank. 

The life expectancy of freshwater aquarium fish varies by species and living conditions. Some smaller fish like guppies only live between 3-5 years, a goldfish can live up to 10-25 years. For the most part, we also do not know when a fish was born unless it was in our own breeding tank.

Since some fish are for a child’s first pet, or you may be planning on moving in the future, not all fish may be suitable for you based on their life expectancy.

Keep reading to learn about different species of freshwater fish and their life expectancy. 

Common Freshwater Fish and their Lifespans

The lifespan of freshwater fish will vary depending on their size. This means that smaller fish tend to have a shorter lifespan than larger fish. Also, fish that lay eggs, as opposed to livebearers, will live longer as well.

Of course, we want our fish to live as long as possible, but some species just have significantly longer lifespans.

Freshwater cichlid in aquarium

Fish also do not do well with moving, so you will want to keep this in mind prior to picking out the fish you would like to have in your tank, especially if you have any major life changes coming your way. 

Below is a list of popular freshwater fish and their typical lifespans: 

  1. Betta Fish: 2-5 years 
  2. Mollie: 4 years
  3. Zebra Danio: 5-7 years
  4. Raphael Catfish: 7-15 years
  5. Angelfish: 10+ years
  6. Goldfish: 10-25 years
  7. Bloodfin Tetras: 5-8 years
  8. Cardinal Tetra: 4 years
  9. Guppies: 3-5 years
  10. Pleco: 7-15 years

Tips for Helping Your Fish Live Longer

When getting any pet, our goal should be to keep them as healthy as possible so they can overall live as long as possible; this goes for fish as well.

While we can’t change our fish’s lifespans, we can follow these tips to ensure they have the best quality of life

Purchase a Large Enough Aquarium

We commonly mention that there is always a minimum gallon amount for each species of fish recommended.

The key word here is minimum. This is the absolute minimum amount of space that is typically required for your species of fish or community of fish.

With that being said, the more space the better! An ample amount of space will give your fish room to swim, explore, and play.

It also ensures there’s ample space to add live plants and decorations such as rocks and caves to the tank as well. This will mimic the natural habitat of fish and will provide a great environment. 

Keep Up With Partial Water Changes 

Keeping up with partial water changes is crucial to the health of your fish and the tank. These partial water changes allow you to remove toxins in the water without removing all of the beneficial bacteria in the tank. 

Partial water changes also helps to keep algae at bay and also removes fish poop, leftover food, and other waste.

Depending on the size of your tank and well as how many fish are in the tank, you should be doing partial changes weekly with at least 10% of the water being replaced.

Use a High-Quality Filter

Using a high-quality filter in your tank goes hand in hand with completing partial water changes consistently. 

Having a good filter will remove extra waste in the tank and keep your water parameters in check. This will overall keep your fish healthy!

Feed Your Fish High-Quality Food

While fish food can be found at many convenience stores, it does not mean that the quality is the best. You will want to find a high-quality flake or pellet food to feed your fish.

On top of this, you can also add supplemental vegetables to your tank for a treat. 

Supplemental vegetables will give your fish even more nutrients and will also keep them curious. For example, plecos love zucchini and the slime that comes with them!

You can also add a bit of lettuce to the tank as well. 

With that being said, it is important to remove any leftover vegetables that the fish do not eat in a short amount of time.

If the vegetables start to go bad, they will add toxins to the water and can throw off your water parameters. 

Using live feed as a treat is also an option and can add protein to the fish’s diet. Live feed includes bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. 

Do Freshwater Fish Longer than Saltwater Fish?

Every fish has a different lifespan, but records have shown that saltwater fish typically do live longer than freshwater fish if they are properly cared for.

For instance, the common clownfish has lived up to 30 years in a tank, but could also have a lifespan of only 3 years. 

Clownfish in aquarium

With that being said, saltwater fish are much more sensitive than freshwater fish when it comes to water parameters.

If the parameters are off, a saltwater fish could die fairly quickly. This is a surefire way to shorten their lifespans. 

You will want to consistently check the parameters and do research before setting up a freshwater tank. 

Common Saltwater Fish and their Lifespans

As with freshwater fish, there are also common saltwater fish in aquariums.

Again, saltwater fish do require more work and attention as they are particular about the water parameters and not as hardy as some freshwater fish. 

With that being said, below is a list of the typical lifespan affiliated with a few common species of saltwater fish. 

  1. Common Clownfish: 10-30 years
  2. Damselfish: 18-20 years
  3. Coral Beauty Angelfish: 15 years
  4. Flame Angelfish: 5-7 years
  5. Auriga Butterfly Fish: 7-10 years
  6. Cardinal Fish: 5-15 years
  7. Firefish Goby: 3 years
  8. Flame Hawkfish: 10 years
  9. Volitan Lionfish: 10-18 years
  10. Blue Tang: 8-20 years

Causes of Fish Dying Prematurely

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, at times there are causes of fish dying prematurely that we have little to no control over.

These include, but are not limited to, diseases common in fish, fish fights, equipment malfunctions, and stress. 

A few common fish diseases include ammonia poisoning, columnaris, fin rot, ich, nitrite poisoning, and viral hemorrhagic septicemia.

While some can be cured, if not treated in a timely and efficient matter, they all can lead to the death of your fish. 

At times, fish fights can also not be predicted. However, in order to combat this issue, you should always do your research on tank mates that are acceptable to each other.

For instance, you should never house a large cichlid with a small fish. 

You should also never house a male betta with other fish, nor should you place fin-nippers with long-finned fish.

Territorial fish should also not be housed with community fish. Avoiding these pairings will help minimize fish fights.

You should also always ensure there is enough food in the tank for all fish to avoid resource fighting. 

Equipment malfunctions, such as a heater suddenly not working can happen. Make sure to always quickly check your equipment daily during feeding time.

This will help you catch any malfunctions before it is too late. 

Stress can also be kept to a minimum by feeding regularly, always checking water parameters, and doing frequent partial water changes to keep the tank clean. 

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