Monday, February 26, 2007

How Long SHOULD Aquarium Fish Live? (An expected lifespan guide for fish keepers)

-Updated Dec. 2009

Below is a list of "lifespans" of how long a fish SHOULD live instead of the other lists I've seen on how long they live on "average" or "median" lifespan, since some of these lifespan figures are skewed towards the low end due to the frequent stunting, overstocking and poor tank maintenance. This article will regularly be edited based on information provided by visitors to this blog, members of various forums and from reliable website profiles. If you have a Guiness World Record or other record reference, please provide it so I can put the "WR" age as well.

So far, this list consists of mostly "common names" but on certain species where there is some confusion about the common name being used on different species, I will try to list the scientific name... especially for Cichlids and certain Plecos/Catfish.

If you do not see your fish on this list, please leave a comment with the common name, scientific name (if known) and the age yours lived to or a reputable profile showing the age they should live to and I'll edit the list to include the updated information with credit given to you. If you search for 'lifespan (fish name)', you will find several web pages that have a purported lifespan. Use the good ones for information confirmation.

Thank you for your assistance.


(* in front means it has NOT been edited from the original "average lifespan" list so your help is needed in finding accurate "expected lifespans" for these fish)(Your "Forum Name" will be added behind the new and corrected information.)

HOW LONG A FISH SHOULD LIVE - (when reasonably cared for)

Adolfo's Cory - 5 years (GoldLenny)
*African Butterfly Fish - ??
Agassiz's Corydoras - 5 years (GoldLenny)
Amano Shrimp - 4 years (Crazygar)
Amur Sucker aka Tiger Shark/Scarlet Carp (Sarco. sinensis) - 10 years (GoldLenny)
Anableps (Four-Eyed Fish) - 6 years (GoldLenny)
Angelfish - 10 to 15 years (GoldLenny)
Angelicus Loach (Botia kubotai) - 4 years (GoldLenny)
Apistogramma - 3 to 5+ years (Some species only 1 to 2 years)(GoldLenny)
Apistogramma norberti - 7 years and still alive (Lisachromis)
Apple Snail (Pomacea canaliculata) - 3 to 10 years (depending on water temperature... see
Arched Cory - 4 years (GoldLenny)
*Archer Fish - 5 years
*Armored Catfish - 7 to 15 years
Asian Clown Catfish - 10 - 15 years (Viridari)
Bala Shark - 15+ years (GoldLenny)
Banana Loach (Acantopsis choirorhynchos) - 5 years (GoldLenny)
Banded Loach (Botia hymenophysa) - 7 years (GoldLenny)
*Bandit Cory - 5 years
Banjo Catfish - 8 to 15 years (GoldLenny)
*Banjo Catfish - 5 to 8 years
Betta Coccina (Wine Red Betta) - 3+ years (GoldLenny)
Betta Imbellis (Crescent Betta) - 4+ years (GoldLenny)
Betta Macrostoma (Brunei/Borneo Beauty) - 4+ years (GoldLenny)
Betta Splendens (Common Betta) - 5+ years... reports of 6-8 years (GoldLenny) with 10+ years in controlled laboratory conditions (Cruise/CindyWindy)
*Black Neon Tetra - 5 years
*Black Phantom Tetra - 5 years
Black Shark - 8 to 10 years (GoldLenny)
Black Skirt Tetra/Black Tetra/Black Widow Tetra - 6+ years (GoldLenny/Kelly.Belle's is nearly 10 years old as of 09/2009)(up to 10 years per Viridari)(Gymnocorymbus ternetzi)
Black Tetra/False Black Tetra - 6+ years (and living as of 03/2007)(Kelly.Belle)(Gymnocorymbus thayeri)
*Blackfin Cory - 5+ years
*Bleeding Heart Tetra - 5 years
Blind Cave Fish - 5 years (GoldLenny)
Bloodfin Tetra - 10+ years (GoldLenny)
Blue Tetra - 3 years (GoldLenny)
Blue/Three-Spot Gourami - 6 to 8 years (GoldLenny)
Boesman Rainbow - 5+ years (GoldLenny)
Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosa) - 4 years (GoldLenny)
BristleNose Catfish/Pleco (BN) - 20 years (Crazygar)
Bronze Cory - 8 to 10 years (GoldLenny)
Buenos Aires Tetra - 5 to 7 years (GoldLenny)
*Bumble Bee Catfish - 5 to 8 years
*Burmese Border Loach - ??
Candy Loach aka Zebra Loach (Botia striata) - 10 to 15+ years (Gupp)
Cardinal Tetra - 5 to 7 years (GoldLenny)
*Ceylon Combtail - Belontia signata - ??
Ceylon Puffer aka Green Puffer (Tetraodon fluviatilis) - 15 years
Cherry Barb - 5 to 7 years (GoldLenny)
Chinese Algae Eater (CAE) - 10 to 15 years (Minky_2001)
*Chocolate Gourami - 4 years
Clown Catfish (Synodontis decorus) - 15 years (GoldLenny)
Clown Loach - 20+ years (oldest known in aquaria over 50 years) (GoldLenny)
Common Pleco - 20+ years, some over 30 years (GoldLenny)(Viridari)
*Columbian Tetra - 5 years
*Congo Tetra - 5 yearsConvict - 10 to 15 years (GoldLenny)
Convict Cichlid - 10 to 15 years (GoldLenny)
Cuckoo Catfish (Synodontis multipunctatus) - 15 years (GoldLenny)
Cyrtocara moorii (Malawi Blue Dolphin) - 10 years and still alive and breeding (Lisachromis)
Diamond Tetra - 4 to 6 years (GoldLenny)
Discus - 10 to 15 years (GoldLenny)
Discus Tetra (B. orbicularis) - 5 years (GoldLenny)
Dojo Loach - 10+ years (GoldLenny)
Dwarf Gourami - 4 years (GoldLenny)
Emerald Catfish - 5 years (GoldLenny)
*Emperor Tetra - 6 years
Featherfin Squeaker Catfish – 12 to 18 years (GoldLenny)(Synodontis Eupterus)
*Festivum - 10+ years
Figure Eight/8 Puffer - 15+ years (brackish); only 5 years (freshwater)(Nusquam)
Flying Fox (False SAE) - 10+ years (8heidi) (Epalzeorhynchus kalopterus)
Firemouth - 10 to 15+ years (GoldLenny)
*Freshwater Flounder (dwarf) - ??
Frontosa - 8 to 15 years (GoldLenny)
German Blue Ram - 3 to 4 years (GoldLenny)(Mikrogeoghagus Ramirezi)
Ghost Shrimp - 2 to 3 years (GoldLenny)
Gold Nugget Pleco - 25 years (GoldLenny)
Gold Zebra Loach aka Burmese Loach (Botia histrionica) - 6 years (GoldLenny)
*Giant Danio - 5 to 7 years
*Glass Catfish - 8 years
*Glassfish - 8 years
GloFish (genetically modified glowing Zebra Danios) - See Zebra Danio
*Glowlight Tetra - 5 years
Goldfish (long bodied) - 25 to 30+ years (WR of 40+ years)(Goldlenny)
Goldfish (round bodied) - 10 to 25 years (GoldLenny)
Green Fire Tetra (A. rathbuni) - 4 years (GoldLenny)
Green Spotted Puffer aka Common Puffer (Tetradon nigroviridis) - 10 years (GoldLenny)
Guppy - 3+ years (GoldLenny)
Harlequin Rasbora - 6 years (GoldLenny)
*Hatchetfish - 5 years
Hognosed Brochis - 4 to 10 years (GoldLenny)
Honeycomb Tatia - 5 years (GoldLenny)
*Honey Gourami - 4 years
Iridescent Shark (Pangasius hypophthalmus) - 20 years (GoldLenny)(NOTE - This fish grows HUGE and should not be kept in a typical aquarium)
Jack Dempsey - 15+ years (GoldLenny)
*Jordan's Catfish - 10+ years
Jumping Characin aka Splash Tetra (Copella arnoldi) - 3 years (GoldLenny)
Killifish (Non-Annual) - 3 to 4 years (coldwater fish) (MillieFish)
Killifish (Annual) - 2 to 3 months ("puddle" fish) (MillieFish)
Kissing Gourami - 10 to 15+ years (GoldfishCrazy11)
Koi (Cyprinus carpio carpio) - 50+ years (GoldLenny)(Koi grow HUGE and should only be in a large outdoor pond)
Kuhlii Loach (Pangio kuhlii) - 11 years (GoldLenny)
Lace Catfish (Synodontis nigrita) - 11 years (GoldLenny)
*Lemon Tetra - 5 years
Leopard Corydoras - 3 years (GoldLenny)
*Leopard Ctenopoma (Bushfish) - ??
*Leopard Danio - 5 to 7 years
Leopard Pleco - 25 years (GoldLenny)
*Leporinus - 5+ years
*Livingstoni - 10+ years
Marbled Hatchetfish - 4 years (GoldLenny)
Melanochromis (johannii or cyaneorhabdos) - 11 years (Lisachromis)
Midas Cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus) - 15+ years (GoldLenny)
Molly (Poecilia sphenops) - 4 years (GoldLenny) (Also see Sailfin Molly)
Moonlight/Moonbeam Gourami - 10 years (GoldLenny)
Mystery Snails (Pomacea bridgesii) - 1 to 3+ years (depending on water temperature... see Apple Snail)
*Neon Rainbow - 3 to 4 years
Neon Tetra - 10 years (GoldLenny)
Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus) - 12 to 15+ years (GoldLenny), 17 years (Viridari)
Otocinclus - 5 years (difficult)(GoldLenny)
Pacu - 20+ years (40+ years for "Buttkiss" at Cameo's Pet Store in Queens, NY - (Pacu's grow HUGE and should not be kept in typical home aquariums)
*Pearl Danio - 5 years
*Pearl Gourami - 4 years
Pictus Catfish - 8 years (GoldLenny)
Piranha - 12 years (12 years reported by Anonymous)(
Platy - 3 to 5 years (GoldLenny); 3 years per
Pleco - (*7 to 15 years)(not accurate since there are hundreds of different Pleco's and many live for longer than 15 years)(GoldLenny)
Pristella Tetras - 4+ years (I got mine four years ago and they were adults when I got them)(_RiC_)
Queen Arabesque Pleco - 10+ years (GoldLenny)
Queen Loach (Botia Dario) - 6 years (GoldLenny)
*Rafael Catfish - 7 to 15 years (See Striped Raphael Catfish)
Rainbowfish - 3 to 8 years (GoldLenny)
Rainbow Shark - 12+ years (8heidi)(Epalzeorhynchus frenatum)
Rams - (*4 years)(Each species is now listed by their separate common/scientific names instead of grouped under one name)
Rasboras - (*5 to 10 years)(Each species is now listed by their separate common/scientific names instead of grouped under one name)
Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus) - 15+ years (GoldLenny)
*Red Eye Tetra - 5 years
*Red Rainbow - 5 years
*Red Tailed Catfish - 15 years
Redtail/Redtailed Black Shark (E. bicolor) - 6 to 10 years (GoldLenny)
Roseline Shark - 5 to 7 years (GoldLenny)
*Rosy Barb - 5 years
*Royal Pleco - 10+ years
Rubbernose Pleco - 12 years (GoldLenny)
*Rummy Nose Tetra - 5 to 10 years
Sailfin Molly (Poecilia velifera) - 3+ years (GoldLenny)
Sailfin Pleco (G. gibbiceps) - 15+ years (GoldLenny)
Salmontail Catfish (Arius leptaspis) - 15 years (GoldLenny)
Senegal (Cuvier's) Bichir - 20+ years (34 years reported)(GoldLenny)
Serpae Tetra - 5+ years (_RiC_)
Severum (Heros severus) - 10+ years (GoldLenny)
Siamese Algae Eater (SAE) - 5 to 10+ years (GoldLenny)(aka - Siamese Flying Fox - C. siamensis)
Silver Dollar - 10+ years (GoldLenny)
*Silvertip Tetra - 5 years
Skunk Loach (Yasuhikotakia morleti) - 6 years (GoldLenny)
Snails - (See Apple Snail and Mystery Snail)
Spotted Medusa Pleco - 14 years (GoldLenny)
Spotted Raphael Catfish - 9 years (GoldLenny)
Starlight Bristlenose Pleco - 14 years (GoldLenny)
Stingray Pleco (Gastromyzon borneensis) - 6 years (GoldLenny)
Striped Raphael Catfish - 17+ years (Ray W.- AquaticLife Yahoo Group)
Swordtails - 3 to 5 years (4 years per profile)
Texas Cichlid - 15+ years (GoldLenny)
Three-Spot/Blue Gourami - 4 to 8 years (GoldLenny)
Tiger Barb - 6+ years (GoldLenny)
*Tigerfish - 5 years
Tinfoild Barb - 18 years (GoldLenny)
Upsidedown Catfish (Synodontis nigriventris) - 15 years (GoldLenny)
*Weather Loach - 10 years
Whiptail Pleco - 14 years
White Cloud Mountain Minnow - 5 to 7 years (GoldLenny)
YoYo Loach - 12 to 14 years (Gupp)(Botia almorhae or lohachata)
*Zebra Cichlid - 10+ years
Zebra Danio - 5 years (GoldLenny) (also includes the newer genetically colored GloFish)
Zebra Loach aka Candy Loach - 10 to 15+ years (Gupp)(Botia Striata)
Zebra Pleco - 15 years (GoldLenny)
Zipper Loach (Acanthocobitis botia) - 5 years (GoldLenny)
Besides personal references of actual fish keepers and members from many forums that I belong to and visitors to this blog, the profiles at, and, which include the lifespan for most fish profiled, were also used to update this list. Generally, these are reliable profiles so many of the above lifespans were utilized in the above list. I also do a Google or Yahoo search "lifespan (fish name)" to see if there was a consensus on the ones that have been edited/updated... those WITH an * which still need to be verified and updated.
This revised and updated list was prompted by the original names/numbers from which have been edited, above, for the purposes of this report. Some of the unedited names with an * still in front of them were from the FreshAquarium list of "Average" lifespans.
I hope this helps you with setting goals for how long your fish should live and on planning the long term success of your aquarium.
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  1. Just some of my own notes from some long-lived pets:

    oscar - 17 years
    asian clown catfish - 14 years
    kissing gourami - 12 years
    black tetra - 10 years
    pleco - 20+ years

  2. Hi viridari,

    Thanks for your reply. What kind of Pleco did you have? Was it a big Common one or one of the hundreds of others? I do have a separate listing for Common Pleco with 15 to 20 years, some over 30 years. I also have the note about the generic listing of "Pleco"

  3. Yeah you know what I couldn't tell you. The pleco is not something I get excited about... he's just there to do a job (has to be... not much to look at LOL). So my info on that isn't going to mean much.

    The black tetras blew my mind. They were actually older than what I listed. They were in the school aquarium when I was in third grade and the teacher let me take them home at the end of the year because I basically did the most to take care of them during the school year. They stayed with me the rest of my school years on past high school before finally going belly-up.

    Amazingly (or not) the fish I had the best successes with were kept in 10 gallon tanks with air-powered box filters (used spun glass and activated carbon as filter medium). 30% water changes once a week. Since my equipment in other tanks has grown more "sophisticated" I've gotten to see the fishes grow bigger, show more colors, spawn like crazy... but like the brightest flame they burn out in a shorter time (still measured in years though).

  4. Hi again Viridari,

    I haven't changed the age for the Black Tetra yet because I have not been able to find any reference to anyone else keeping one alive that long. Are you certain it was a Black Tetra?

  5. One? There were three. :)

    They spent all year in my third grade year in my teacher's aquarium. My teacher knew I had a wet thumb so at the end of the year I got to keep the fish from the classroom aquarium.

    I kept them alive fairly well past my high school graduation. They all finally died within 6-9 months of each other about a year or so after graduation, which I think had a lot more to do with moving and the differences in where my tap water was coming from than the age of the fish (though I think their age made them more sensitive to the changes... until then they stayed in a 10 gallon tank with a primitive air powered box filter).

  6. Arrrggghhh... You missed my question about whether it was a "true" Black Tetra or "false" Black Tetra. Look up at the list for the scientific names and check them out on the web and let me know which one you had so I can update the list.

  7. Hey Lenny, this is kelly.belle and I wanted to give you an update on my Black Tetra. She is still alive but recently has been showing signs of her age. She now has white "wrinkles" around her face and what looks likes "cataracts" on her eyes. So she has a hard time finding her food and she sometimes bumps into the glass. Her swimming has gotten slower and she seems to stay near the surface a lot now. She's an old girl and I think that it is only a matter of days now. She was one of my very first fish, that I bought almost 10yrs ago, and I will be very sad when she goes.


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