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dnalex

Goldfish Life Expectancy & Other Interesting Observations

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I originally stocked the pond with 100 feeder goldfish after a hard winter that caused a freeze out. Since there were no larger fish in the pond at the time they were able to grow up. There are about 50% or so of the original goldfish left. Because of the size and depth of the pond there is no way to get and accurate count. None of the fry have survived. At first I thought that the goldfish weren't breeding but it's more likely that the fry are getting eaten.

How can you know that with such a large number of fish?

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How big is your pond, Nick?

Your point is good, Ninzah, but Nick is probably right. In Wisconsin, fish stocked in the spring will not spawn until the following spring and perhaps not until a year after that. They are only going to grow for 6 months of the year, so it takes longer for them to mature. It's not hard to tell the difference between a fish in it's first summer and one that is two years old (or even one year old). The older the parental generation, the easier it is to spot any babies.

When you have a large number of fairly large fish spawning, the parental generation is very efficient at devouring eggs. The other fish will follow a spawning pair devouring the eggs as fast as they appear. Then all the adults will spend hours scouring the pond for any caviar they have missed. Any egg that gets tucked away someplace safe may hatch, and the fry has a reasonable chance of avoiding the parents until it is big enough to be recognized as family rather than food. But there are plenty of other things in the pond that will eat the fry, from insect larvae to frogs. In my front pond which was overstocked with little fish initially (I believed the people who claimed that most "feeders" die, so got twice as many fish as I intended to stock.), I have had exactly one fry survive in three years. His name is Wonder, LOL.

On the other hand, if you stock a large pond with just a few little goldies, you are likely to get a lot of first generation survivors, since there aren't that many adults to eat the eggs and there is plenty of space where an egg can get lost.

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How big is your pond, Nick?

The pond is around 43,000 sq feet of surface area and 25 feet deep.

I know that none of the fry survived because I have never seen any small goldfish. In addition to frogs and insect larvae which might eat a small number of fry there are also turtles, blue gills and large mouth bass that would get most to the fry and the bass could eat any goldfish under 6 inches. All the goldfish are around 15 years old and are all the same size.

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The blue gills and bass guarantee no fry have survived!

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How big is your pond, Nick?

The pond is around 43,000 sq feet of surface area and 25 feet deep.

I know that none of the fry survived because I have never seen any small goldfish. In addition to frogs and insect larvae which might eat a small number of fry there are also turtles, blue gills and large mouth bass that would get most to the fry and the bass could eat any goldfish under 6 inches. All the goldfish are around 15 years old and are all the same size.

Pond??? Back home they'd call that a lake.

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Pond??? Back home they'd call that a lake.

Minnesota is known as the land with ten thousand lakes having 11,842 lakes over 10 acres and Wisconsin has 9,037 lakes over 4 acres is size. So here this is just a little pond.

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Mine lasted me 3.5 years only died because I went away for a week and my sibling overfed it, didn't know how to clean the water and well... you can see what I mean. :/

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Where I work, some interns bought a danio and put him in what was basically a cup. They changed the water (about a pint) once a week, and fed him a tiny little piece of flake every day. Interns only stay for one semester then they go back to school. They kept passing the danio on to the next batch of interns. After two years, the company had some financial setbacks and ended the intern program temporarily. The interns asked me to watch the now two year old danio. My coworker thought he needed more water (she had a beta) so I got a one quart vase and put him in there. I changed his water on Mondays and thursdays. He ate one tiny piece of flke a day still. He didnt eat on the weekends. He lived another two years. When I told a Petsmart employee this they told me that they never heard of a danio making it more than two years in a tank. I would assume this fish had great genes.

I can still remember his little eyes looking up at me when I fed him. Tiny little black dots.....

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I have a fish I've had since it was a baby and it's now 7 years. I'm nervous after I read this especially because tonight he is acting strange. He looks like he is struggling to breathe and he has sudden movements that are similar to a seizure. Anyone have an idea why he's doing this? Could this be a sign that he is reaching the end? Scared to fall asleep do worried about him :'(

I have a fish I've had since it was a baby and it's now 7 years. I'm nervous after I read this especially because tonight he is acting strange. He looks like he is struggling to breathe and he has sudden movements that are similar to a seizure. Anyone have an idea why he's doing this? Could this be a sign that he is reaching the end? Scared to fall asleep do worried about him :'(

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Deedee, please start a thread in Disease Diagnosis, and start by filling out that form at the top of the page. We have some excellent "fish medics" here, but they need full information before they can tell you what to do.

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Interesting posts.

Statistically, I wonder if both the original claim of 10-20 years AND the more recent one of 5-8 are both correct.

I mean, it looks like the original life expectancy quote could have been when goldfish keeping wasn't as popular. Those that did it knew more about the hobby.

It could be a big chunk of novice keepers have lowered the life expectancy numbers...?

Just a thought from...well... a novice keeper that hopefully won't lower the average any more (fingers crossed).

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I bumped into some interesting comments from breeders on goldfish life span (Each comment from a different person):

I just brought in my oldest fish, 11 and 12 years old. I am told in the south 3 years of age is old. Is it heat or feed that shortens the life of the goldfish? (from Ohio)

My veils live to 6-8 years here in New Orleans, a rather warm climate. Don't believe everything your hear!

I live in one of the highest elevated areas for residential used on Oahu. We get down to the 40s at nite and 90ish on peak heat times. My ranchu lived about 3 years, 4 tops. Azumas and Veils slightly longer...maybe 6 months longer. Veils I am not certain yet as I a have a few left from Glenn that I bought in 2010, at about a year...about 4 years now.

I live in Kansas. Water changes of 80% during the summer and 60%-80% in the winter. All breeders are kept inside. My temps range from 62-82 degrees. I have been keeping mainly telescopes/ moors for some 30 years and fish tend to live 7-9 years.

Limited space has meant I tend not to keep the fish more than say 3 years, but the few I have seems to be going well at 5 - 6. Time will tell.

All my veils are outside year round. (New Orleans) Summer fed on average twice a day, high protein with alternate veg based foods. Summer water in low 80's so weekly or twice a week water changes, 70 ish %. Fall high protein, winter can go to low 50's water temp, I reduce feeding to once or twice a week, mostly earth and bloodworms with vegetable based foods. Water only changed a couple times a month at most. Don't believe in forcefeeding the veils, I don't want them to look like ryukins. By not stuffing them with food around the clock, I believe they will reach their potential better, though it might take longer and will live longer. Usually like to use 2-3 year olds (for breeding) but have used yearlings as well as 4-5 year old fish.

I know personally of many keepers with fish exceeding 10 years of age. I do agree that hardy varieties live longer; I know of keepers with singletails over 15 years. Coldwater and pond fish seem to live longest.

My friend, Janet Purdum, has a veiltail named Lucky, who is 14 1/2 years old. This variety is supposed to be fragile, so that is quite a record. Janet is absolutely devoted to her fish, and has extensive filtration(three types!) on most tanks, and is a big believer in fresh foods like earthworms and daphnia, regular water changes, and attention to detail.

Everyone above is talking about fancy goldfish, and all agree the more normal types live longer.

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Thanks, Sharon, for that. :)

I think it's safe to say that goldfish can live for very long (10-20 years), but that should not be the expectation, but the goal.

Conversely, if your goldfish are only living for 1-2 years, that should also warrant evaluation.

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I think that's a safe statement Alex. I should also point out that none of these people aren't talking about average life span. Rather they are talking about the age at which they expect (from experience) their fish to start dying off.

Edited by shakaho

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I read an article regarding the link between quantity of food and life span in people.

In a nut shell; less food = longer life...to a point.

More specificly; 25% reduction = 25% increase respectively.

Now, I take that with a grain of salt, since I don't know the details of the research.

But I wonder if there is truth to it.

Even more, I wonder if it could be applied to gold fish.

I read how many feed their fish to get them bigger/fat in a hurry.

Wonder if that is a detriment to the health, regardless of what they eat.

I have read there is a connection between high body fat and cancer/tumors.

I try to feed mine slightly less then more.

They also fast on Sundays.

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Mike,

There is a lot of truth to calorie restriction equals longer life. Quite a bit of research has been done on this, and this is particularly relevant to cold-blooded animals. It might be one of the reasons there tends to be trend that pond goldfish in the north, where there are seasons, live longer than their cousins in the south.

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Mike,

There is a lot of truth to calorie restriction equals longer life. Quite a bit of research has been done on this, and this is particularly relevant to cold-blooded animals. It might be one of the reasons there tends to be trend that pond goldfish in the north, where there are seasons, live longer than their cousins in the south.

So...I will assume you want me to throw a few ice cubes in the old tank... :rofl2

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Actually, about the only animal in which we don't know if calorie restriction in early life results in slower aging and longer life are humans. It takes a few lifetimes to do the experiments. It has been established in rodents for a long time, with the first reports in the 1930s. It also works in yeast, fish, insects, worms. It's interesting that the goldfish that have lived for record-worthy decades are typically small, and their owners say that they were very careful not to overfeed, giving only a small pinch of flakes daily, a near starvation level diet.

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Actually, about the only animal in which we don't know if calorie restriction in early life results in slower aging and longer life are humans. It takes a few lifetimes to do the experiments. It has been established in rodents for a long time, with the first reports in the 1930s. It also works in yeast, fish, insects, worms. It's interesting that the goldfish that have lived for record-worthy decades are typically small, and their owners say that they were very careful not to overfeed, giving only a small pinch of flakes daily, a near starvation level diet.

I think people believe affection = food.

In a pond/wild, the food availability may not be as much as in a tank.

Could that not be the real reason fish are more long-lived in ponds?

Edited by Mr. Hyde

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Actually, most pond fish nibble all day long on natural food and get fed by their owners as well (often way too much). I do think fry in a pond eat fewer calories than those being coddled in tanks or tubs do. I'm trying hard not to find fry, but some of the fancy fry survive in the parental tank and every time I put plants from a pond into a plant tank or dump used water into a duckweed tank, I find fry in those tanks. They are just too adorable to dispose of. I let them feed themselves until they are big enough to eat small pellets, and then give them a few pellets once a day. These are cast-iron fish. All of the fancy fry I found last year are still alive and thriving -- except for two I gave away to someone whose pond wasn't covered well enough. They were eaten by a raccoon.

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This is all pretty interesting.

I always thought that colder climates that have true winters were at a disadvantage, when it came to keeping ponds.

I guess it is best for the fish to have exposure to all four seasons.

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Interesting re: calorie restriction. I believe in it for humans--makes sense for fish. I went from once a day feeding (sometimes skipping a day) to twice a day mostly b/c everyone here feeds multiple times a day. But my big common Georgia got to age 6 on my former feeding regimen, so while I think I'll keep feeding twice a day, I'm going to back off amounts considerably. I am already feeding less than most people here, I believe, but more than I used to.

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Interesting re: calorie restriction. I believe in it for humans--makes sense for fish. I went from once a day feeding (sometimes skipping a day) to twice a day mostly b/c everyone here feeds multiple times a day. But my big common Georgia got to age 6 on my former feeding regimen, so while I think I'll keep feeding twice a day, I'm going to back off amounts considerably. I am already feeding less than most people here, I believe, but more than I used to.

Elizabeth, that's the thing, my actual recommendation about feeding is actually this:

Plan the amount of food you want to feed for the entire day, based on whether you want to have a lot of weight gain, some weight gain, or no weight gain. Then, divide that food into as many meals as you can a day. The idea is small to very small amounts of food at any one time but to spread it out over the course of the day. Goldfish have no true stomach, and are grazers. They are not meant to eat a huge chunk of food at any one time.

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Elizabeth, that's the thing, my actual recommendation about feeding is actually this:

Plan the amount of food you want to feed for the entire day, based on whether you want to have a lot of weight gain, some weight gain, or no weight gain. Then, divide that food into as many meals as you can a day. The idea is small to very small amounts of food at any one time but to spread it out over the course of the day. Goldfish have no true stomach, and are grazers. They are not meant to eat a huge chunk of food at any one time.

That's easier to do w/ pellets than w/ frozen food/peas/Repashy! But I'll drop down the amounts. I like feeding them twice a day b/c I can see how they're doing twice a day--healthy fish want to eat so when they come tearing over to the feeding corner I know we're all good! But it's easy to fall into feeding more when you feed more often. I can't see feeding more often than twice a day--I leave the house at 5:30-6 a.m. and get back at 5 p.m. (and then I go ride, or whatever). But we'll see what I can do. :)

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