15 Aquarium Fish Species with Longest Lifespan

Aquarium fish can be a low-maintenance and fascinating addition to your home. However, some species live longer than others. In this article, we’ll explore 15 freshwater fish species with the longest lifespans to help you find the perfect, long-lasting companion for your tank.

fish species longest lifespan

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Koi Carp

Koi Carp are undoubtedly the most popular and beloved fish in outdoor ponds. Originally from Japan, these colorful creatures have been enjoyed by enthusiasts for centuries. Due to their size, they require a spacious pond or tank to thrive.

koi carp

  • Tank Size: Minimum of 1000 gallons (3785 liters) for a medium-sized pond
  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Adult Size: 20-36 inches (51-91 cm)
  • Temperature: 59-77°F (15-25°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; pellets, veggies, and live foods
  • Lifespan: 25-35 years (some reported cases up to 200 years)
  • Behavior: Peaceful and social

Koi Carp are prized for their beautiful array of colors, and their social and peaceful nature makes them a perfect addition to any large aquatic environment.

 

Goldfish

Goldfish, a classic favorite among aquarium hobbyists, are easy to care for and offer a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. Despite their reputation as short-lived creatures, goldfish can have a surprisingly long life when given proper care.

goldfish

  • Tank Size: Minimum of 20 gallons (75 liters) for the first fish, 10 gallons (38 liters) for each additional
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Adult Size: 6-12 inches (15-30 cm)
  • Temperature: 64-75°F (18-24°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; flakes, pellets, veggies, and live foods
  • Lifespan: 10-30 years (some reported cases of 40+ years)
  • Behavior: Peaceful and social

Remember that goldfish produce more waste than other fish species, so proper tank maintenance is crucial to their health and longevity. With proper care, these fascinating creatures can be a long-term addition to your aquarium.

 

Oscar Fish

Oscar Fish, native to South America, are a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts due to their intelligence and unique personalities. They are also known to recognize their owners, making them great interactive pets. 

tiger oscar fish

  • Tank Size: Minimum of 75 gallons (284 liters)
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Adult Size: 12-14 inches (30-35 cm)
  • Temperature: 74-81°F (23-27°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Carnivorous; live, frozen or pellet-based foods
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years (some reported cases of 15+ years)
  • Behavior: Predatory and territorial

Oscar Fish require regular tank maintenance and clean water to remain healthy. Due to their size and territorial nature, it’s essential to provide them with a spacious tank and carefully select tank mates to ensure a harmonious environment.

 

Plecostomus

Plecostomus, or “plecos,” are popular additions to freshwater aquariums thanks to their algae-eating habits, which help keep tanks clean. However, they can grow substantially in size and have specific care requirements. 

common pleco

  • Tank Size: Minimum 55 gallons (208 liters) for the smallest species; larger species require significantly more space
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Adult Size: 4-24 inches (10-61 cm), depending on species
  • Temperature: 72-82°F (22-28°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; algae, vegetables, and protein-rich foods
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years, some species live up to 20+ years
  • Behavior: Peaceful, nocturnal, and territorial

While plecos are generally friendly, territorial disputes may arise if there’s insufficient space or hiding spots. Ensure you have a large enough tank and provide hiding spots for your pleco to thrive and live a long, healthy life.

 

Arowana

Arowanas, also known as “dragon fish,” are fascinating predators native to South America, Asia, and Australia. They are a prized species in the aquarium hobby due to their striking appearance and swimming style.

arowana fish

  • Tank Size: Minimum 250 gallons (946 liters) for adult fish
  • Care Level: Expert
  • Adult Size: 24-30 inches (61-76 cm) for most species; some can grow up to 48 inches (122 cm)
  • Temperature: 75-86°F (24-30°C), depending on species
  • Diet & Feeding: Carnivorous; live fish, shrimp, insects and pellet-based foods
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Behavior: Predatory, aggressive, and territorial

Due to their size and specialized care requirements, Arowanas demand a large, well-maintained tank and an experienced owner committed to providing an ideal environment for a long-lasting aquatic companion.

 

Clown Loach

Clown Loaches are known for their vibrant colors and playful behavior, making them a popular choice for freshwater aquariums. Native to Indonesia, these captivating fish are active and social, best kept in groups. 

clown loach

  • Tank Size: Minimum 75 gallons (284 liters) for a group of juveniles; a larger tank is required as they grow
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Adult Size: 8-12 inches (20-30 cm)
  • Temperature: 77-86°F (25-30°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; high-quality pellets, live, and frozen foods
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years, sometimes up to 20 years
  • Behavior: Active, social, and peaceful

It’s essential to provide plenty of hiding spots and a cave-like environment for Clown Loaches to feel secure. With proper care, these delightful fish can be a lively and long-lived addition to your aquarium.

 

Bichirs

Bichirs, also known as “dinosaur eels,” are ancient, prehistoric-looking fish found in African rivers. These bottom-dwelling creatures are fascinating additions to any large aquarium due to their unique appearance and ability to breathe air. 

bichir polypterus

  • Tank Size: Minimum 90 gallons (341 liters) for adults, depending on species
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Adult Size: 10-30 inches (25-76 cm), depending on species
  • Temperature: 72-82°F (22-28°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Carnivorous; sinking pellets, live, and frozen foods
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years, some species may live up to 20 years
  • Behavior: Nocturnal, peaceful, and territorial

Due to their large size and need for ample hiding spots, Bichirs require a spacious tank with plenty of hideouts. Providing the proper environment will ensure a happy and long-lived ancient companion in your aquarium.

 

African Cichlids

Cichlids are a diverse family of fish native to Africa. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, making them popular among aquarium hobbyists. 

african cichlids

  • Tank Size: Minimum 30-50 gallons (114-189 liters) for smaller species; larger species require more space
  • Care Level: Easy to advanced, depending on species
  • Adult Size: 3-15 inches (8-38 cm), based on species
  • Temperature: 72-86°F (22-30°C), depending on species
  • Diet & Feeding: Varies by species, includes herbivorous, omnivorous, and carnivorous
  • Lifespan: 8-15 years, some species may live up to 20 years
  • Behavior: Ranges from peaceful to aggressive, based on species

African cichlids have different requirements depending on their species. Researching the specific needs of your chosen cichlid is essential to provide them with a healthy, long-lasting home in your aquarium.

 

Knifefish

Knifefish are unique, nocturnal, and captivating aquarium inhabitants that come in various species. Their unusual, elongated bodies and undulating fin movements make them truly mesmerizing to watch.

clown knifefish

  • Tank Size: Minimum 75-125 gallons (284-473 liters), depending on species
  • Care Level: Moderate to advanced, based on species
  • Adult Size: 8-20 inches (20-51 cm), depending on species
  • Temperature: 73-82°F (23-28°C), depending on species
  • Diet & Feeding: Carnivorous; live, frozen, and some sinking pellet-based foods
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years, with proper care
  • Behavior: Nocturnal, shy, and generally peaceful

Knifefish require a spacious tank with plenty of hiding spots and caves, as well as excellent water quality. Due to their shy nature, providing an environment with calm tank mates and dim lighting will ensure a comfortable, long-lasting home for your Knifefish.

 

Gourami

Gouramis, native to Southeast Asia, are a popular choice for many aquarium hobbyists due to their variety, hardiness, and beautiful colors. Available in several species and sizes, Gouramis are suitable for a range of tank sizes.

Giant Gourami

  • Tank Size: Minimum 20-30 gallons (75-114 liters) for smaller species; larger species need a bigger tank
  • Care Level: Easy to moderate, depending on species
  • Adult Size: 2-6 inches (5-15 cm), depending on species
  • Temperature: 75-82°F (24-28°C), depending on species
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; flake, pellet, live, and frozen foods
  • Lifespan: 5-10 years, sometimes up to 15 years
  • Behavior: Generally peaceful, but can be territorial with similar species

Gouramis are highly adaptable and suitable for different types of planted aquariums. Providing a well-maintained tank with balanced tank mates will ensure a healthy, long-lasting life for your Gourami.

 

Angelfish

Angelfish are elegant, graceful, and beautiful additions to any freshwater aquarium. Native to the Amazon Basin, these tall, disc-shaped fish are a longstanding favorite among enthusiasts.

zebra angelfish

  • Tank Size: Minimum 30-55 gallons (114-208 liters) for adults
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Adult Size: 6 inches (15 cm) body length, 8 inches (20 cm) fin height
  • Temperature: 75-82°F (24-28°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; high-quality flake or pellet, supplemented with live or frozen foods
  • Lifespan: 8-10 years, sometimes longer with proper care
  • Behavior: Generally peaceful, may become territorial during spawning

To keep your Angelfish happy and healthy, provide ample vertical swimming space, proper filtration, and peaceful tank mates. With the right care, these stunning fish can provide years of enjoyment in your aquarium.

 

Pacu Fish

Pacu Fish, native to the Amazon Basin, are often mistaken for piranhas due to their similar appearance. However, Pacus are primarily herbivorous, with a striking set of molar-like teeth. They require a spacious tank due to their large size.

black pacu fish

  • Tank Size: Minimum 500 gallons (1892 liters) for adults
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Adult Size: 20-30 inches (51-76 cm), depending on species
  • Temperature: 75-82°F (24-28°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Mostly herbivorous; high-quality pellet food, fruits, and vegetables
  • Lifespan: 10-20 years
  • Behavior: Generally peaceful, but could become territorial due to size

Pacu Fish need a large, well-maintained tank with ample swimming space and proper filtration. Though they can be demanding, Pacu Fish will reward their dedicated owner with years of unique companionship in a spectacular aquarium.

 

Discus Fish

Discus Fish are considered one of the most beautiful and elegant freshwater fish species in the aquarium hobby. Native to the Amazon River Basin, their vibrant colors and graceful appearance have made them highly sought-after by aquarists worldwide.

discus fish

  • Tank Size: Minimum 55-75 gallons (208-284 liters) for a pair
  • Care Level: Advanced
  • Adult Size: 5-6 inches (12-15 cm)
  • Temperature: 82-88°F (28-31°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Carnivorous; high-quality beef heart, flake, pellet, and live or frozen foods
  • Lifespan: 8-10 years, sometimes longer with proper care
  • Behavior: Peaceful and shy

Discus Fish require pristine water conditions, a balanced diet, and a calm, stable environment. Their care can be challenging, but with dedication and attention, these stunning fish will provide an amazing focal point in your aquarium for many years.

 

Convict Cichlid

Convict Cichlids are small, lively fish with striking black and white stripes, giving them the appearance of a convict in a classic prisoner’s uniform. Native to Central America, these hardy fish are great for beginner to intermediate aquarists. 

convict cichlid

  • Tank Size: Minimum 20-30 gallons (75-114 liters) for a pair
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Adult Size: 4-6 inches (10-15 cm)
  • Temperature: 74-79°F (23-26°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; high-quality flake or pellet, supplemented with live or frozen foods
  • Lifespan: 8-10 years
  • Behavior: Peaceful when young, become territorial and potentially aggressive during spawning

Ensure plenty of hiding spots and decor in your tank for Convict Cichlids to establish their territory. Providing a suitable environment for these captivating fish will ensure they flourish in your aquarium for many years.

 

Flowerhorn Cichlid

Flowerhorn Cichlids are striking, man-made hybrid fish known for their vibrant colors and distinctive, protruding foreheads. Popular in the aquarium trade for their unique appearance, these fish can be demanding but rewarding additions. 

flowerhorn cichlid

  • Tank Size: Minimum 75 gallons (284 liters) for adults
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Adult Size: 10-12 inches (25-30 cm)
  • Temperature: 80-86°F (27-30°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; high-quality pellet or flake food, live or frozen foods
  • Lifespan: 8-10 years
  • Behavior: Aggressive and territorial

Flowerhorn Cichlids require proper tank management and ample space due to their size and aggression. Providing the right environment and care for these striking fish will ensure they continue to be eye-catching additions to your aquarium for years to come.

What Factors Affect the Lifespan of Fish?

In the world of aquarium fish, several factors can impact the lifespan of a fish, such as genetics, nutrition, proper care, and water conditions. 

Genetics play an essential role in the lifespan of a fish, as certain species are simply longer-lived than others.

Additionally, nutrition is crucial for promoting health and longevity, so a balanced diet with the appropriate vitamins and minerals is key to a long life for your fish.

Proper care of your fish and their environment makes a significant difference in their lifespan. Ensuring the aquarium is clean, the water is appropriately filtered, and the temperature is stable can lead to a healthier fish. Paying attention to any signs of disease or health issues and treating them promptly can considerably extend the life of your fish.

Water conditions have a massive impact on the health and longevity of your fish. Maintaining suitable pH levels, hardness, and temperature are vital to create a comfortable environment for your fish to thrive.

Additionally, minimizing stress by providing ample space, hiding spots, and compatible tankmates can help boost a fish’s overall well-being, leading to a longer lifespan.

How to Improve the Longevity of Your Fish?

To improve the longevity of your fish, choose species with naturally long lifespans when selecting the fish for your aquarium. These long-lived species might include goldfish, betta fish, angelfish, cichlids, and koi, which, if cared for properly, can live for many years.

Maintaining proper water conditions is essential for the well-being of your fish. Keep the water clean and filtered, regularly test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, and ensure the pH, temperature, and hardness are appropriate for your specific fish species.

Provide a balanced diet for your fish by researching their specific nutritional needs and offering high-quality, species-appropriate commercial foods or, in some cases, live or frozen foods. Feeding your fish a varied diet can help meet their nutritional requirements, which in turn contributes to their overall health and longevity.

Additionally, reduce stress in your fish by creating an environment that simulates their natural habitat, with plenty of hiding spots, plants, and decorations. A stress-free environment is critical to your fish’s long-term health and can lead to a longer lifespan.

Monitor your fish’s health regularly, observing their behavior, physical appearance, and any changes that may indicate illness. Promptly treating any diseases or health issues is vital to extend the lifespan of your fish.

Lastly, ensure your aquarium is not overstocked and take note of the specific compatibility of fish species to avoid unnecessary stress. With proper care and attention to their habitat, diet, and overall well-being, you can significantly improve the lifespan of your aquarium fish.

What Fish Species Have the Shortest Lifespan?

Fish species vary greatly in their lifespans, with some living for decades and others for just a few months. In this section, we’ll explore some of the fish species with the shortest lifespans, typically less than a year or even just a few weeks.

  • Mosquito fish (Gambusia): These small, freshwater fish have a lifespan of approximately 6 months. Mosquito fish are often used as a biological control for mosquito larvae, hence their name.
  • Pygmy goby (Eviota sigillata): Known as one of the smallest fish species in the world, the pygmy goby has a very short lifespan of 2-3 weeks, the oldest on record lived just up to 59 days. They live in coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean and measure around 12 millimeters in length.
  • Turquoise killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri): This brilliantly colored fish species has a lifespan of 4 to 8 months. Native to southern Africa, they have adapted to live in temporary pools that dry up during the dry season, laying drought-resistant eggs to ensure their survival.

The shortest-living fish species include mosquito fish, pygmy goby, and turquoise killifish. These fish have limited lifespans due to their specific living environments, adaptation to temporary habitats, and mating behaviors.

Conclusion

Now that you know about these 15 long-lived aquarium fish species, you can make an informed decision when choosing a new aquatic companion. Don’t forget to share your thoughts on these fascinating fish in the comments below!

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