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How Long Do Goldfish Live if You Take Good Care of Them?

Owning a pet fish is normal nowadays, and many people consider them part of the family. However, it may be challenging to keep some fish alive for long periods if you are not attentive. How long do goldfish live if you take good care of them? 

Goldfish can live 20+ years if you take good care of them. To properly care for your goldfish, use a large tank (75-100 gallons), install a heater and filter, add artificial plants and stones, and feed your fish a proper diet. Goldfish need a high carb and protein diet. 

So many people love to have pet fish on their bed stands, desks, or tables. Waking up every day to see your little guy roaming around the tank is so rewarding, but that will soon be over if you do not take good care of them. This article will describe how long goldfish live if you take proper care of them and give a few pointers on how to be an attentive fish owner. 

Goldfish Can Live Up to 20 Years Old in Optimal Housing Conditions

Even though many sources claim that goldfish can only live anywhere from 5-15 years, household goldfish can live up to 20 years in optimal conditions. There have even been some cases where household goldfish have lived for over 40 years. However, it is worth noting that a certain breed called the fancy goldfish can only live up to 10 years in good conditions.  

Even though many goldfish breeds can live up to 20 years, most goldfish in captivity live 5-10 years at the most. Unfortunately, the low lifespan of goldfish is usually due to poor care conditions. Many owners are unaware of everything a goldfish needs to survive, and they end up neglecting them.

Let’s take a look at what factors contribute to proper care. 

Do Not Use a Fish Bowl

Even though thousands of people keep their fish in glass desk bowls, they are not good environments. Fishbowls are often way too small and do not provide optimal water conditions. One of the biggest problems with fishbowls is that they are too small for water filters. Water filters are essential to any fish’s survival since they oxygenate the water and filter any potentially toxic waste. 

Furthermore, fishbowls do not have many hiding places for your fish. Little fish tend to scare easily, and they like to have multiple hiding spots to relax in. Even with a few plants, there will only be one or two spaces for the fish to hide. Lastly, the fishbowl’s curved glass distorts the outside world; this could stress the fish out. 

Use a 75-100 Gallon Tank

Even though the smallest tank that will be healthy for your goldfish is 20 gallons, there are a few more benefits to using a 75-100 gallon tank. When taking care of a young goldfish, 20 gallons will be suitable. However, depending on the breed you purchase, your goldfish may start to grow. Some breeds can grow to be over one foot long, so purchasing a larger tank right off the bat could save you money. 

Not only could your goldfish grow, but using a larger tank will provide a cleaner environment for your fish. Goldfish tend to poop a lot; this waste can break down oxygen and create toxic chemicals such as ammonia. Since larger tanks will dilute the waste, you will be cleaning the tankless ones. Bigger tanks can also handle larger filtration systems. 

Use a Heater for the Tank

Another factor that will contribute to healthy housing conditions is a heater. Even though goldfish can survive in a large range of temperatures for the short-term, they need a stable temperature in their day to day water. Set the heater to 68℉ to give your goldfish the perfect temperature. 

Another benefit of using a larger tank is that it will be easier for the water to stay stable temperature-wise. It will be possible for smaller tanks to undergo drastic temperature changes since there is a smaller water volume. Large temperature changes will not be good for your fish. 

How Do I Take Good Care of My Goldfish?

Now that we know the basics of creating a good home environment for your little buddy, let’s look at a few other tips to encourage long life. 

Purchase a Water Filter

As mentioned previously, installing a water filter is essential for a fish’s survival. Water filters provide oxygen for the fish and clean waste and toxins from the water. Since goldfish produce much more waste than other fish, you will need a strong filtration system. 

If you have a larger tank such as a 100 gallon, check out the Marineland Magnum Polishing Filter. On the other hand, the Penn-Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter will be more suitable for smaller tanks. 

The last thing you should note about how to keep the water is the pH level. You should be keeping the pH around 7.0-7.4, which means that the alkalinity will be higher than the acidity, which is the perfect environment for goldfish. 

Add Some Decorations to the Tank

You may think that adding decorations to fishtanks is for purely aesthetic reasons. However, decorative items such as artificial plants and stones will allow the fish to hide behind something if they are spooked. In terms of the sand or gravel, make sure to use pea gravel. Since the stones are a bit bigger, it will be harder for the fish to accidentally inhale while eating food from the bottom. 

Feed Your Goldfish a High Carb and Protein Diet

Now that you have the tank handled, the next most important thing is the goldfish’s diet. A goldfish should be eating a high carb and protein diet. Even though the fish will eat just about anything, make sure to stick to a healthy and regular diet to ensure a long life. 

Another thing to keep in mind about goldfish is that they will overeat. Goldfish will keep eating until it harms itself. You should only be feeding your fish enough food that will last 2-3 minutes of eating during mealtime. Feed them that exact amount once or twice a day. 

The last thing to note about feeding your little buddy is to wet the food beforehand if you are feeding it dry flakes. Goldfish are bottom feeders and are not used to gulping up food from the top of the water. If they gulp, they could upset their swim bladder, which would, in turn, affect their equilibrium. If their equilibrium is affected, the fish will end up floating upside down. Avoid this by putting the flakes in a cup of water and then pouring them into the tank.

If you are looking for a more extensive overview of how to properly care for your goldfish, check out the video below. Not only does it cover all of the points listed and more, but it also touches on how many gallons of water you need for multiple goldfish: 


Contrary to popular belief, the goldfish is the longest-lived aquarium fish. Goldfish can live 20+ years with proper care. Make sure to purchase a tank ranging from 20 to 100 gallons, depending on the breed you get. You will also need to install a heater and a filter. Lastly, add some decorations to the tank. 

Regarding feeding habits, make sure to wet any dry food beforehand and feed your fish one to two times a day. Be careful not to over-feed it, as the fish will keep eating without guidance.


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