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Goldfish are one of the most popular fish to keep as pets.
These hardy fish can live for over ten years in an indoor aquarium, but how long do goldfish live in a pond?
Let's take a closer look at the average life expectancy of goldfish in an outdoor pond setting. Plus, cover a few tips to improve their lifespan.
Let's jump right in!
How Long Can Goldfish Live In a Pond?
While it largely depends on the type, genetics, pond water quality, and care, goldfish can live between 5 to 25 years in a pond. Common goldfish can live in a pond for 15 to 25 years, while fancy goldfish have an average lifespan of 5 to 10 years.
Did you know...
The oldest known living goldfish lived in the UK and was named Goldie, who lived to be 45 years old! Goldie was won at a fair in 1960 and died in 2005.
Common goldfish varieties, along with Shubunkin and Comet goldfish, are incredibly hardy, being able to withstand cold winters, cloudy and muddy water, and low levels of dissolved oxygen. And while these conditions are not optimal, their hardiness helps these types of goldfish live longer.
On the other hand, most fancy goldfish species are more delicate and sensitive to water quality (though Fantail goldfish, a type of fancy goldfish, are considered reasonably hardy). They are selectively bred to have rounder bodies, long, flowing fins, and even big telescoping eyes. And while these traits may be aesthetically pleasing to breeders and pet fish owners, they can cause health issues and swimming problems.
For example, some fancy goldfish types like the Ranchu or Oranda are susceptible to buoyancy issues because their swim bladder is deformed and may retain too much air.
Furthermore, the heads of Ranchu's, Oranda's, and even the appropriately named Lionhead goldfish grow so large they can impair eyesight and develop deadly infections.
So, again type and genetics will play a massive role in the lifespan of pet goldfish, just as they do with koi carp and other pond fish.
Related: How Long Do Koi Live in a Pond?
But, you can't dismiss the importance of a high-quality, well-maintained environment. Whether your goldfish lives indoors in a small 10-gallon tank (fish bowls are never recommended) or outdoors in a pond, to get the most life out of your fish, you need to provide the proper ecosystem, which brings us to...
How to Improve Pond Goldfish Lifespan
While genetics and type, as we discussed, play a large part in the lifespan of your pet goldfish, you can help extend their life with proper care.
Maintain Pond Water Quality
It's critical to keep track of water quality in your pond with a water test kit for the health of your fish and the entire pond ecosystem.
More specifically, regularly check the pond's ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, all of which should be zero (or close to it). And keep pH levels between 7 and 8 for best results. Even the hardiest common goldfish will suffer if these levels get too out of range.
But, what causes these levels to get out of whack?
The main culprits are fertilizers and pesticides from rainwater run-off, decaying plant matter, fish waste, and uneaten fish food.
So, if you notice high levels of these compounds in your pond, be sure to:
- Divert any rainwater run-off away from your pond. Ideally, your pond will be on level ground to prevent this from happening, but that isn't always the case.
- Remove any dead or decaying plant material as soon as possible.
- Feed your fish high-quality food and only what they'll eat in one sitting (usually what they'll eat in a few minutes).
- For best results, use a pond filtration system that has both biological and mechanical filters. Though as long as your pond is heavily planted with oxygenating plants, is regularly maintained, and isn't overcrowded with fish, a pump and filtration may not be necessary. See our guide titled Can Goldfish Survive in a Pond Without a Pump? for more information.
Goldfish (all pond fish, really) need plenty of oxygen to live long, healthy lives. The same methods we outlined above to reduce nitrogen compounds can also improve pond dissolved oxygen levels.
You can also add aeration systems, such as fountains, bubblers, waterfalls, and air pumps to boost the amount of oxygen available in the water.
The use of aeration equipment in garden ponds will help oxygenate water directly while also preventing stagnation, which can fuel harmful bacteria, mosquitoes, and algae growth.
Feed Goldfish Healthy Food
Goldfish are omnivores that, in the wild, consume mainly aquatic plants, insects, some fish, and crustaceans.
While they will still eat some of these in your backyard pond, goldfish lifespan can be improved with a routine diet of high-quality fish food high in protein and contains all the essential nutrients required for optimal health.
Protection From Predators
Whenever you introduce fish or any other life to your pond, there's going to be a threat from predators (unless you introduce crocodiles to your pond, which I don't recommend). That's just how nature works. And goldfish are no different.
So, what kills goldfish in a pond? In other words, what are their main predators, and how do you stop them from turning your fish into a snack?
The most common predators of goldfish are herons and other birds, cats, and raccoons. Other smaller garden animals such as frogs, snakes, and certain salamanders can also be dangerous. Adult goldfish can even be a threat to fry and smaller goldfish!
Pond netting is the best piece of equipment you can use to protect your goldfish from predators. A fish cave or shelter in your pond can also provide a hiding spot for your fish.
You can also deter predators with motion-activated sprinkler systems or scarecrow tactics (using a fake owl or alligator head in your goldfish pond).
To protect your young fry, you may want to remove them from the pond for the first month or so and reintegrate them when they are better able to defend themselves.
Meeting all of the above conditions will help your goldfish grow in your pond (some goldfish will get as big as 15") and live a long and healthy life.