Fish is always regarded as a short-term investment. We don’t really concern about the life expectancy of aquarium fish. But if your goal is to make a lifelong pet buddy, you have to consider the pet fish who lives longer.
In general, the life expectancy of freshwater fish starts from one year and can extend to 25 years. Among freshwater species, koi fish is the longest-living aquarium fish, while goldfish is the close second. On the flip side, saltwater fish species generally have a life expectancy from two years to 12 years in captivity.
In this article, I have made a list of the pet fish, both freshwater and saltwater, that can live the longest within a suitable environment so that you can choose your lifelong pet buddy.
5 Most Long-Living Freshwater Fish
If you are a newbie in the aquarist world, your safest choice will always be freshwater fish since they are easy to maintain and needs very little care to live and thrive. If you maintain them well and keep them In an apt environment, they can behold their life from one generation to another. Usually, freshwater fish take the edge off while they are kept in captivity but not so much if cared for well. So, let us know about the top five longer-living freshwater aquarium fishes.
Koi Fish – 25-35 Years
Koi fish has successfully astonished the aquarist community with its long life expectancy. If we talk about koi fish from Western Hemisphere, the average life expectancy is 15 years on average and onward. However, Japanese koi fish has created wonder by their longevity exceeding 40 years. But such longevity can never be achieved without proper care and maintenance.
Many external factors impact the longevity of koi fish, especially in captivity. As aquarium fish, koi fish are longer in size, reading at 24 to 36 inches. A single mature koi fish with a size of 36 inches will require 200 gallons of water in the aquarium just for a stable ambiance. Since koi fish is playful and energetic in nature, they are prone to swim abruptly all around the tank.
Japanese koi fish, till now, holds the title of longest recorded lifespan. Their genes and captors’ unique technique for maintenance has proclaimed their life expectancy to 40 years on average. Another reason for such longevity is the suitable temperature that the Japanese atmosphere provides. Temperature plays a big role in the account of the longevity of koi fish.
Goldfish – 15-25 Years
Goldfish are undoubtedly the most popular aquarium fish around the globe. One of the common reasons for such popularity is their long lifespan which can exceed 25 years. However, there are certain conditions, precedent and subsequent, that will deter such longevity of goldfish.
In the aquarium world, goldfish are categorized into two types. We can call them common goldfish and fancy goldfish. Fancy goldfish Are less durable and sturdy than common goldfish. They are flimsy, delicate, and short-lived, even with proper care and maintenance.
Fancy goldfish usually live only five to six years in the aquarium. Their fins are very long flowing, and sometimes they have double fins, which hinders them from swimming freely and candidly. Compared to that, common goldfish live 15 to 25 years under proper care and high water condition.
But as the reality dictates, common goldfish can hardly celebrate their 15th birthday as they expire within 12 to 14 years. However, the reason for such contradiction lies in the carelessness and remissness of the caregiver of the tank. The most prime reason for poor lifespan is that goldfish are usually kept in a bowl instead of a proper tank.
Plecostomus – 12-15 Years
Plecostomus is an Amazonian brackish water fish that has a higher adaptability rate. due to their adoptive nature and flexible mindset, they have become ideal pet fish all around the world. This species is associated with the suckermouth catfish genre and is abundantly available in South Africa and the Amazon zone.
As aquarium fish, their size is quite monumental, counting 24 inches on average. Even with such a big body, their adaptability from brackish water to freshwater has impressed aquarist and aquarium enthusiasts like me. With proper maintenance and care, their lifespan can rotate from 12-15 years.
The only issue with adopting Plecostomus is the requirement of a big tank. For an adult Plecostomus, you have to acquire a 66-gallon tank. Because of their adaptive nature, water parameter is really not a big issue, but it is important that the water be pure and fresh. Except for the height issue, they are an extremely ideal pet that lives long.
Angelfish – 8-10 Years
You cannot pass by a pet fish store without noticing angelfish. They are so vibrant, and their colorful nature has made them fan favorites in the aquarist world. Luckily, their lifespan does not disappoint as well. Angelfish who are kept in captivity can live through their 10th birthday. But the surprising fact is that angelfish, in the wild, can live more than 15 years.
It is not totally rare to breed angelfish in tanks that can live for 15 years. However, it remains mostly unattainable without expert experience and total dedication to maintenance and care. The demise comes earlier for the tank residents due to poor water quality and improper size of the aquarium.
Angelfish are normally very small in size and rarely exceed 6 inches. So generally, 20 gallons of water for a single angelfish would suffice. What matters for the longevity of angelfish is a steady and ideal temperature with little to no fluctuation. The range of water temperature for angelfish is 76° Fahrenheit to 82° Fahrenheit. With a balanced and poised water parameters level, You can stretch out your angelfish’s lifespan very far.
Neon Tetra – 5-8 Years
This name, neon Tetra, implies a funky and cool personality fish. Am I right? Well, these fish have done justice to their name. They are vibrant, cool tones of bluish color spread over their body and just the perfect size for an aquarium. Surprisingly, even with such petite bodies, their life cycle runs longer than most aquarium fishes.
In captivity, neon Tetra can carry on their life for five to eight years. However, in the wild, they can easily surpass 10 years, living a healthy and happy life. It is not unusual for the captive bred to outpace the wildlife tenure, but like other freshwater fishes, they require proper maintenance and care, which are hardly provided to them.
If you want to increase the life expectancy of your neon tetras, firstly, you have to consider procuring quality fish with good genetics. That is why you must choose experienced and top-notch breeders to fetch your fish from. With good genetics, neon tetras increase the chance of longevity by multiple times.
5 Most Long-Living Saltwater Fish
Saltwater fish are not so easy to bring to your home and breed in captivity. Their life cycle significantly reduces by bringing them to an aquarium environment. The main reason behind such reduction is maintaining saltwater parameters correctly is not a job for a newbie. However, there are some Hardy and sturdy saltwater fish that can maintain their longevity for quite a few years, even in captivity.
Eels – 15-30 Years
Eels are elongated, commonly-found aquarium fish that has retained their prolonged lifespan title for a very long time. It is not a usual scene for a saltwater fish to survive that long in captivity. Eels have converted this impossible possible. However, there are some specific species of eels that can stretch their lifespan so much.
Usually, American eels live up to 5-9 years in captivity. But on the other hand, European eels live up to 80 years, even in captivity. In the wild, this number exceeds by 155 years. In the wild, eels shift from saltwater to freshwater during the adolescent period and remain in such arrangement until attaining adulthood. But in the aquarium, they prefer their life cycle in saltwater form.
Triggerfish – 8-20 Years
I don’t know who gave such a puffy, fluffy, pretty fish such a name, but he really didn’t do justice to them. Their colorful and oval-shaped outlook have snatched the heart of millions of aquarist enthusiasts. Their life cycle doesn’t disappoint, either. In the wild, triggerfish live more or less 8 years. However, in captivity, they can prolong their lifespan by 20 years. On average, they can happily lead their life till their 13th birthday.
They are usually very secluded and prefer serenity and loneliness until the breeding period. They are not the most amiable fish in nature, almost too aggressive. But triggerfish living inside the aquarium have corrected their behavior quite a lot. Stress-free ambiance and abundance of foods are reasons for such lengthy lifespans. They are extremely protective of their fries and territory, so choose their tank mate wisely.
Blue Tang – 8-20 Years
If you close your eyes and try to think about aquarium fish, I am sure a vague image of blue tang will appear, even though you have never heard of this name. That is why the outlook, color, and vibrancy are mostly associated with saltwater or aquarium, and their pictures are widespread vastly to define the aquarium world. Even with such popular images, you can hardly spot them in real life.
Adopting blue tang for your aquarium is not a job for novices or even intermittences. Their longevity can easily surpass 20 years. But this can’t be achieved without proper care and maintenance. Blue tang, while in captivity, prefers to live within a colony with 10-12 members of the same genus. You would have to procure at least a 120-gallon tank to accommodate such a big family. But if you have the wills and means to do so, the blue tang is the perfect candidate for your aquarium.
Lionfish – 8-10 Years
Lionfish has spread its acclaim through its unique outlook and outstanding persona. In the wild, they can easily survive from 10 to 16 years on average. However, their lifespan significantly reduces by five to six years when they are born and brought up in captivity inside a tank. In general, lionfish can live up to 10 years in the aquarium if you can properly take care of them.
The most important issue about raising lionfish is to correct the salinity level in the water. As saltwater fish, a proper salinity level can ensure good health and a lengthy lifespan. Lionfish are very particular about their tankmates, and unwanted mates in the tank can lift up their stress levels. Stress and anxiety are the silent killers of any fish, be it freshwater or saltwater.
Pufferfish – 8-10 Years
Pufferfish are only known in the aquarist community for the toxin they carry. But their longevity in the wild and captivity is another wonder as well. There have been reports that they could extend their lifetime to 20 years without any physical issues. If you are adventurous and expert enough to deal with such sensitive and delicate seawater fish in captivity, pufferfish can be your ideal pet fish since their longevity is certainly unparallel.
You need to maintain a highly secure arrangement if you decide to adopt pufferfish for your aquarium. The first thing you need to remember is that in no way you can elevate their stress level. Their toxin diffusion is collaterally related to their stress and anxiety level. Just to be safe, keep them in a secluded and separate tank so that they can’t attack or be attacked by predators. And always remember to switch on safety gear while feeding them.
In the pet world, fish, be they freshwater or saltwater, are not known to be permanent or long-lasting partners like dogs, cats, or rabbits. But there are many species and genera of fish that are there to prove the statement wrong. If you have the means and desire to adopt a pet that can last for generations, you can find your ideal pet fish from the above list.