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9 Oldest Goldfish in the World Have 4 Weird Things in Common

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By Lindsey Stanton

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These oldie goldies all lived to be over 2 decades years old. Some more than double that. Wow! As goldfish owners, can we find interesting secrets to goldfish keeping here? While many people struggle to have their fish live past a few months (if that), long-lived goldfish are proof that their owners are doing something right. Let’s start with Bob!

The 9 Oldest Goldfish in the World With 4 Commonalities

1. Bob

Image Credit: Toll Barn Veterinary Centre. All rights reserved to the copyright owners.

Age: 20

This little old guy’s a fighter! Bob made headlines across the world when he survived tumor removal surgery in 2017. The owners paid $250 to have the procedure done on their beloved fish.

2. Byker Family’s Goldfish

Image Credit: Photo taken by Coreena Ford, property of Reach PLC. All rights reserved to the copyright owners.

Age: 21

One of the oldest goldfish in the UK, this fish was never given a name. Owner Samantha speculates not overfeeding (and sometimes missing meals) contributed to his longevity.

3. Sally

Age: 23

Sally made her great debut on Youtube after her owner designed a harness out of an old swimsuit and a cork to fix her swim bladder problem.

4. Tom & Jerry

Image Credit: Photo taken by Coreena Ford, property of Reach PLC. All rights reserved to the copyright owners.

Age 23 and 21 (as of 2011.)

Possibly the oldest goldfish in North America, Tom & Jerry were funfair goldfish who live a simple life.

Janice said:

“We’re not doing anything in particular to keep them going. They just have a simple tank with a pump and we give them ordinary fish food.”

It appears one was recovered from “rockitis…”

“One of the fish almost died a while back after swallowing a stone. I heard a strange gurgling sound, so I took it out and gently squeezed the top of its mouth and the stone popped out . . I saved its life!

5. Sharky

Image Credit: Paul Palmer – All rights reserved to the copyright owners.

Age: 24

Another wizened funfair goldfish makes the list! Little Sharky has even survived being flushed down the toilet (he swam back up).

6. Splish & Splash

Splish & Splash
Image Credit: Richard Wright – All rights reserved to the copyright owners.

Ages: 38 and 36

These two fair fish shared a 9.35-gallon tank for over 30 years together until Splish passed away. Their parents placed the new arrivals into a bowl before acquiring a second-hand plastic tank from a friend.

“The fish stayed in the plastic tank until 2004 when I bought a tank with a filter system,” said Mr Wright.

“It was luxury compared to their last tank. It’s about 18 inches long, 10 inches deep and a foot high. I call it their retirement home.”

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1298936/Meet-Splish-Splash-33-year-old-goldfish-old-gone-grey.html

7. Fred & George

Fred and George goldfish
Image Credit: Keith and Mary Allies – All rights reserved to the copyright owners.

Ages: 40 & 40

Fred and George are a couple of funfair goldfish who recently overtook the world’s oldest living goldfish.

Fish lovers around the world can sympathize with their attachment:

“We go on holiday to Devon a lot but I can never be away from my babies for too long.”

8. Tish

Image Credit: Guinness World Records – All rights reserved to the copyright owners.

Age: 43

Fair fish Tish clocked in at about 4.5″ nose to tail. He overtook the record-holding goldfish Fred who died at age 41 in 1980.

Owners believe:

“…the secret of his long life was not being overfed, and being put in the sun occasionally.”

He had a habit of jumping out of his bowl until they added a protective net over the top.

9. Goldie

Goldie the oldest goldfish
Image Credit: Pauline and Tom Evans – All rights reserved to the copyright owners.

Age: 45

Goldie was housed in an 18-inch (smaller than 10 gallons) aquarium with a few aquatic snails, some plants, and shells. The fish was even the star of his own movie!

However, Tish remains the officially longest-lived goldfish, as further documentation was needed for Goldie. A scale sample could have been taken, but the owner was not willing to have the fish subjected to the stress.


Observations on These Record Holders

Look carefully and you’ll notice all these long-lived goldfish have these surprising things in common.

1. All Were Stunted

These fish would all be considered “undersized.” No 12″ common or comet goldfish here!

This is one more argument to show that stunting is not bad for goldfish. If it was, none of these would have survived decades beyond the large goldfish (which typically live only up to 20 years).


Stunted goldfish actually can live longer.

See More: Stunted Goldfish: Is it Harmful?

2. Living in Unheated Environments

Colder water slows the metabolism of the fish. It also slows the growth of the fish. The results? A prolonged lifespan.


Slower-growing fish can live longer.

3. Living in Smaller Aquaria

Smaller homes concentrate the growth hormone. This indirectly produces smaller goldfish. Rather than following the typical guidelines for these types of goldfish, which can grow 12″ in a larger environment, the humble fishbowl (so often ridiculed) was the first home for many of these fish – and for Tish, remained his forever home.

Others were housed in tanks of around 10 gallons. For what it’s worth, tank size doesn’t have to cause limited growth. These people kept the water very clean for their fish via lots of water changes. Consequently, their fish (which were 10 and 9 years old in 2015) grew much larger.


Smaller does not automatically mean bad.

Related Post: Why Goldfish Tank Size Isn’t As Important as You Think

4. None Were Fancy Goldfish

Every single one is your typical feeder/fair fish common or comet goldfish.

It’s been the observation of many experienced fish keepers that fancy goldfish just don’t live as long due to their more extreme body shape, which compresses the organs. These long-lived fish are closest to their natural ancestor, the carp.


Less extreme goldfish breeds can live longer.

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Last Observation

All of these goldfish (except Bob) lost their color in their old age. Maybe Bob’s still got a little while to go before that happens.

Why? Just ask the next 80-year-old you run into why they have gray hair!

Why Do Most Fair Fish Live Such Short Lives?

goldfish in plastic bag
Image By: TRAN THI HAI YEN, Shutterstock

In our opinion, the real reason most fair fish don’t live long is because of three main problems:

  1. Overfeeding resulting in ammonia poisoning because they have no filter or live plants to take care of the waste they create.
  2. Many (if not most) pet stores and fair fish come with parasites or other diseases which gradually kill them.
  3. Stress from everything they’ve been through to get to where they are

Of course, genetics can also play a role in longevity, hence why one can die in 2 days while the other lives 2 years. They’ve both been through a lot of stress, but one is just hardier than the other.

That said. it’s not right that goldfish so often die within a few weeks or months of coming home. Personally, we think the fairest fish have the potential to live into their 20’s and 30’s no problem, but no amount of genetics can overcome the three problems above. However, given the right conditions, they can be long-lived pets, for sure!

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We hope you had fun reading this post, or perhaps learned something interesting. Maybe this overturns some of what you’ve previously been told about goldfish. Either way, age certainly can hold wisdom – wisdom we can use to broaden our knowledge of the fascinating goldfish species.

Featured Image Credit to: Buddy BIGPhotographer, Shutterstock

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