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The Lifespans of Freshwater Aquarium Fish

As a new aquarium hobbyist, or even if you’re an expert exploring new aquatic life options for your aquarium, it is important to know the approximate lifespan of the aquatic life you are considering. This will help you assess what kind of commitment you are making to each aquatic life you add to your tank. 

There are a few general indicators that can help generally determine aquatic lifespan when thinking of the types of aquatic life you want to include in your aquarium. 

Size: In general, smaller aquatic life tend to have shorter life spans than larger aquatic life. 

Reproductive: In general, live bearers tend to have shorter life spans than egg layers.

Environment: Setting up an appropriately sized aquarium with appropriate tank mates, substrate, décor, and filtration supplies generally will increase the lifespan of your aquatic life.

Nutrition: Just like us, feeding proper nutrition can reduce the risk of health concerns throughout life.

Below are a few categories of popular aquatic life, and their average lifespans, to help assist in deciding which aquatic life is best for you.  

Catfish

Can range from 2-48 inches long depending on species and are egg layers

  • Adolfos cory (Corydoras adolfoi): 5 years

  • Bandit cory (Corydoras metae):  5 years

  • Bronze cory (Corydoras aeneus):  5 years

  • Blackfin cory (Corydoras leucomelas):  5+ years

  • Debauwi catfish (Pareutropius debauwi):  8 years

  • Pictus catfish (Pimelodus pictus):  8 years

  • Upside-down catfish (Synodontis nigriventris):  5 to 10 years

  • Armored catfish (Corydoras spp., Brochis spp.):  7 to 15 years

  • Banjo catfish (Acanthobunocephalus nicoi):  6 to 12 years

  • Jordan's Catfish (Arius seemani): 10+ years

  • Rafael catfish (Platydoras costatus):  7 to 15 years

  • Red-tailed catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus): 15 years

  • Otocinclus (Otocinculus sp.):  5 years

  • Hognose brochis (Brochis multiradiatus): 10 years

  • Whiptail pleco (Rineloricaria fallax):  8 years

Loaches 

Can range from under 2 inches to 24 inches long depending on the species and are egg layers. 

  • Dojo (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus): 10 years

  • Weather (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus): 10 years

  • Clown (Chromobotia macracanthus): 15+ years

Plecostomus 

Can range from under 3 inches to 24 inches long depending on the species and are egg layers. 

  • Bristlenose pleco (Ancistrus cirrhosis): 5 years

  • Pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus): 7 to 15 years

  • Royal pleco (Panaque nigrolineatus): 10+ years

Sharks

Can range from 5 inches to 24 inches long depending on the species and are egg layers. 

  • Bala (Puntius denisoni): 10 years

  • Black (Labeo chrysophekadion):  4 to 10 years

  • Rainbow (Epalzeorhynchos frenatum):  4 to 10 years

  • Redtail (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor): 5 to 8 years

Cichlids 

Can range from 2 inches to 14+ inches long depending on the species and are egg layers. 

  • Lemon (Neolamprologus leleupi):  8 years

  • Convict (Amatitlania nigrofasciata): 10+ years

  • Midas (Amphilophus citrinellus):  10 to 12 years

  • Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus): 10 to 18 years

  • Texas (Herichthys cyanoguttatus): 10+ years

  • Zebra (Metriaclima callainos): 10+ years

  • Bolivian ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus):  4 years

  • Blue Ram (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi):  4 years

  • Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher):  5 years

  • Firemouth (Thorichthys meeki): 10 to 15 years

  • Frontosa (Cyphotilapia frontosa):  8 to 15 years

  • Jack Dempsey (Rocio octofasciata): 10 to 18 years

  • Livingstoni (Nimbochromis livingstonii): 10+ years

  • Apistogramma (Apistogramma cacatuoides):  5 to 10 years

  • Festivum (Mesonauta festivus): 10+ years

  • Severum (Heros efasciatus): 10+ years

Goldfish 

Can range from 4 inches to 18+ inches long depending on the species and are egg layers.

  • Goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus): 10 to 25 years

Glassfish 

Can grow to 3 inches long are egg layers. 

  • Glassfish (Parambassis ranga):  8 years

Hatchetfish 

Can range from 1 inch to 2.5 inches long depending on the species and are egg layers. 

  • Silver (Gasteropelecus sternicla)): 2 to 5 years

  • Marbled (Carnegiella strigata): 2 to 5 years

  • Spotfin (Thoracocharax stellatus) 2 to 5 years

Angelfish

Angels can reach up to 4 inches in length but can reach up to 12 inches in height, depending on species and are egg layers. 

  • Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare, altum and leopoldi): 10+ years

Discus

Discus can reach up to8inches in length and are egg layers. 

  • Discus (Symphysodon aequifasciata): 10 to 18 years

Barbs 

Barbs can reach up to 3 inches in length and are egg layers. 

  • Rosy (Puntius conchonius):  5 years

  • Cherry (Puntius titteya):  5 to  7 years

  • Gold (Puntius semifasciolatus):  5+ years

  • Tiger (Puntius tetrazona):  6 years

  • Tinfoil  (Barbonymus schwanenfeldii): 10 years

Danios/Minnow 

Danios and white cloud mountain minnows can reach up to 2.5 inches in length and are egg layers. 

  • Leopard danio (Danio frankei):  3 to  5 years

  • Pearl danio (Danio albolineatus):  5 years

  • Zebra danio (Danio rerio):  5 years  

  • Giant danio (Devario aequipinnatus): 5 to  7 years

  • White cloud mountain minnow (Tanichthys albonubes):  5 to 7 years 

Gouramis 

Can range from 3 inches to 6 inches long depending on the species and are egg layers. 

  • Chocolate (Sphaerichthys osphromenoides):  4 years

  • Blue (Trichopodus trichopterus):  4 years

  • Dwarf (Trichogaster lalia):  4 years

  • Kissing (Helostoma temmincki):  5 years

  • Moonlight (Trichogaster microlepis):  4 years

  • Pearl (Trichogaster leeri):  4 years

  • Powder blue (Trichogaster lalia):  4 years

  • Honey (Trichogaster chuna):  4 to  8 years

Guppies 

Guppies can reach up to 2 inches in length and are livebearers.  

  • Guppy (Poecilia reticulata):  3 to  5years

  • Endler (Poecilia wingei): 3 to 5 years

  • Swamp (Poecilia picta): 3 to 5 years

Killifish 

Can range from a1/2 inch to 6 inches long depending on the species and are egg layers. 

  • Golden Wonder (Apolcheilus lineatus): 2 to 5 years

  • Gardneri Panchax (Fundulopanchax gardneri): 2 to 5 years

  • Rachovi (Nothobranchius rachovii): 6 – 12 months 

Mollies 

Can reach up to 4.5 inches in length and are livebearers.  

  • Short fin (Poecilia sphenops): 3 years

  • Sailfin (Poecilia latipinna):  3 years

  • Black (Poecilia latipinna): 3 years

 Platies

Can reach up to 2.5 inches in length and are livebearers.  

  • Platy (Xiphorphorus maculatus): 3 to 5 years

  • Red tuxedo platy (Xiphophorus maculatus): 3 to 5 years

  • Red wagtail platy (Xiphophorus maculatus): 3 to 5 years

  • Red tail black variatus (Xiphophorus variatus): 3 to 5 years

Rainbows 

Can range from under 1 inch to 6+ inches long depending on the species and are egg layers. 

  • Boeseman's (Melanotaenia boesemani): 5years

  • Turquoise (Melanotaenia lacustris): 5 years

  • Madagascar (Bedotia geayi): 5 years

  • Dwarf Neon (Melanotaenia praecox): 3 to 4 years

  • Red (Glossolepis incisus): 5 years

  • Axelrods (Chilatherina axelrodi): 5 years

Puffer

Can range from 1 inch to 26 inches

  • Figure 8 puffer (Tetraodon biocellatus): up to 15 years

  • Mbu (Tetraodon mbu): up to 10 years

  • Dwarf (Carinotetraodon travancoricus): 4 to 5 years

Rasbora 

Can reach up to 4 inches in length and are egg layers.  

  • Harlequin (Trigonostigma heteromorpha): 5 to 8 years

  • Black Harlequin (Trigonostigma heteromorpha): 5 to 8 years

  • Scissortail (Rasbora trilineata): 5 to 8 years 

Swordtails 

Can reach up to 5.5 inches in length and are livebearers.  

  • Swordtail (Xiphorphorus hellerii):3 to 5 years

Tetras 

Can range from under 1 inch to 3 inches long depending on the species and are egg layers. 

  • Black neon (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi): 5 years

  • Black phantom (Megalamphodus megalopterus): 5 years

  • Black widow (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi): 5 years

  • Blackskirt (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi): 3 to 5 years

  • Cardinal (Paracheirodon axelrodi): 4 years

  • Columbian (Hyphessobrycon columbianus): 5 years

  • Congo (Phenacogrammus interruptus): 5 years

  • Diamond (Moenkhausia pittier): 5 years

  • Glowlight (Hemigrammus erthrozonus): 5 years

  • Lemon (Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis): 5 years

  • Red eye (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae): 5 years

  • Silvertip (Hasemania nana): 5 years

  • Yellow (Hyphessobrycon bifasciatus): 5 years

  • Bloodfin (Aphyocharax anisitsi): 5 to 8t years

  • Neon (Paracheirodon innesi): 5 to 10 years

  • Rummy nose (Hemigrammus rhodostomus): 5+ years

Archerfish 

Can reach up to 12 inches in length dependent on species and are livebearers.

  • Archerfish (Toxotes spp.): 5 years

Betta 

Can reach up to 3.5 inches in length and are egg layers.  

  • Betta  (Betta splendens): 2 to five years

Piranha/Silver Dollar/Pacu 

Piranha can range from 4 inches to 12 inches in length and are egg layers.  Silver Dollars can reach around 6 inches in length and are egg layers.  Pacu can range from 12 inches to 24 inches in length and are egg layers.  

  • Red bellied piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri): 10 years

  • Silver Dollar (Metynnis argenteus): 10+ years

  • Redhook myleus (Myloplus rubripinnis): 10+ years

  • Spotted silver dollar (Metynnis lippincottianus): 10+ years

  • Silver pacu (Colossoma brachypomus): 10 years

  • Pacu (Colossoma spp.): 15+ years

Leporinus 

Can reach up to 10 inches in length and are egg layers.  

  • Black-banded (Leporinus fasciatus): 5+ years

  • Spotted (Leporinus nijsseni): 5+ years