Lifespans of Aquarium Fish

Species and Water Conditions are Both Factors

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Few reference books include one of the most common questions asked by fish owners. How long should my fish live? The answer varies greatly depending on the species of fish. However, in general, smaller fish have a shorter lifespan than larger fish, and fish that lay eggs live longer than those that give birth to live young.

The two most popular species of fish, Bettas and Goldfish, are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Bettas on average live little more than two years, while Goldfish live for decades.

Short Lifespans

Killifish are among the aquarium fish with the shortest lifespan. They generally only live a year or two. Bettas are not far behind, averaging only about 2 years. There have been documented cases of Bettas living 5 years or more, but that is not the norm. Livebearing fish such as Mollies, Platys, and Swordtails, generally live less than 5 years.​

Long ​Lifepsans

On the other end of the lifespan spectrum, are Goldfish. There are many documented cases of Goldfish living a quarter of a century. They are perhaps the best example of how poor habitat and care shortens the lifespan of aquarium fish. The majority of Goldfish are not properly cared for and as a result, live only a few years.

Other fish that live longer include loaches, such as the Clown Loach and Weather Loach, which often life 10 to 15 years.

Silver Dollars and Pacus also live 10 years or more, and the ever popular Convict cichlid can live 20 years.​

Reference List

Here is a reference with the expected lifespan of popular aquarium fish. These figures are simply an average. Keep in mind that with good care fish can live much longer. Likewise, fish that are not kept in the proper habitat and are not cared for properly will have a shorter lifespan.

Click on the fish name for a photo and additional information. If you cannot find your fish listed here, check the Fish Library.

A

  • Adolfos Cory - 5 years
  • Angelfish - 10+ years
  • Apistogramma - 3 to 5 years
  • Archer Fish - 5 years
  • Armored Catfish - 7 to 15 years
  • Axelrods Rainbowfish - 5 years

B

C

D

  • Debauwi Catfish - 8 years
  • Diamond Tetra - 5 years
  • Discus - 10 to 18 years
  • Dojo Loach - 10 years
  • Dwarf Gourami - 4 years

F

  • Firemouth - 10 to 15 years
  • Frontosa - 8 to 15 years

G

H

  • Harlequin - 6 years
  • Hatchetfish - 5 years
  • Hog Nose Brochis - 10 years
  • Honey Gourami - 4 years

J

  • Jack Dempsey - 10 to 18 years
  • Jordan's Catfish - 10+ years

K

L

  • Lake Kutubu Rainbow - 5 years
  • Lake Madagascar Rainbow - 5 years
  • Lake Wanam Rainbow - 5 years
  • Lemon Cichlid - 8 years
  • Lemon Tetra - 5 years
  • Leopard Danio - 5 to 7 years
  • Leporinus - 5+ years

L

  • Livingstoni - 10+ years
  • Marigold Swordtail - 4 years
  • Midas Cichlid - 15+ years
  • Mollie - 4 years
  • Moonlight Gourami - 4 years

N

  • Neon Rainbow - 3 to 4 years
  • Neon Tetra - 5 to 10 years

O

  • Oscar - 10 to 18 years
  • Otocinclus - 5 years

P

  • Pacu - 10 years
  • Pearl Danio - 5 years
  • Pearl Gourami - 4 years
  • Pictus Catfish - 8 years
  • Piranha - 10 years
  • Platy - 3 to 5 years
  • Pleco - 7 to 15 years
  • Powder Blue Gourami - 4 years

R

  • Rafael Catfish - 7 to 15 years
  • Rainbow Shark - 4 to 10 years
  • Rams - 4 years
  • Rasboras - 5 to 10 years
  • Red Bellied Piranha - 10 years
  • Red Eye Tetra - 5 years
  • Red Fin Shark - 8 years
  • Red Hook Silver Dollar - 10+ years
  • Red Rainbow - 5 years
  • Red Tailed Catfish - 15 years
  • Red Tuxedo Platy - 4 years
  • Red Wagtail Platy - 4 years
  • Rosy Barb - 5 years
  • Royal Pleco - 10+ years
  • Rummy Nose Tetra - 5+ years

S

  • Sailfin Molly - 3 years
  • Severum - 10+ years
  • Silver Pacu - 10 years
  • Silvertip Tetra - 5 years
  • Swordtails - 3 to 5 years

T

  • Texas Cichlid - 10+ years
  • Tiger Barb - 6 years
  • Tinfoild Barb - 10 years

U

W

Y

  • Yellow Tetra - 5 years​

Z