Why Do Goldfish Die So Fast? (7 Factors Affecting Their Lifespan)

Image of goldfish swimming together

With proper care, a goldfish can live for more than ten years. However, it isn’t unusual for many store-bought goldfish to perish in a few days or weeks. So, why do goldfish die so fast?

Goldfish die quickly if they are weak, unhealthy, or ill. Even Healthy goldfish can die early if you keep them in a small or overcrowded tank. Sudden changes in water chemistry, poor filtration, improper feeding, and bullying by aggressive tank mates are the other factors that can kill goldfish.

Now, the good news is that you can improve your pet’s chances of survival by addressing the potential issues that adversely affect their lifespan.

7 Factors That Affect The Lifespan Of Goldfish

Goldfish are easy to care for. If you attend to their daily needs, these fish can survive for many years. However, it is very important to understand what they need. Unless you keep them in the right environment and attend to their basic needs, they will not survive for too long.

Given below are the major factors that affect the lifespan of goldfish.

1. It’s already sick or weak.

Pet stores may sell weak or unhealthy goldfish that were not bred or kept in the best conditions. If you bring home such a sick or weak goldfish, it will not be as healthy as the rest of your pets.

Such fish may succumb to the stress of being moved to a new environment. Even if they overcome this stress, they are highly vulnerable to illnesses and may die soon.

2. Insufficient space to swim.

If you provide good food and keep your goldfish in a clean environment, it can grow very big.

When you bring home a small fish, you should consider the size it will gain as an adult to choose a suitable tank. This fish will thrive when it has plenty of water to swim. So, you should arrange for at least twenty gallons of water per fish in a goldfish tank.

Cramped spaces restrict growth and affect the overall quality of life of a goldfish. Toxin levels will also build up faster in small aquariums and adversely affect the health of a goldfish.

It is always better to choose a bigger tank than one that is just the right size for your fish to have enough space. Your fish will live for much longer in such tanks.

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3. Overcrowding.

Overcrowded tanks are just as bad as small tanks for goldfish. Your fish should be able to swim without too many restrictions. They are happiest when they have enough space to explore. This may not be possible in an overcrowded tank.

When there is insufficient space or too many fish in the tank, goldfish get stressed. They may also become more aggressive and territorial.

Also, remember that goldfish are messy fish. They are sensitive to toxins and tend to become sick if the water gets dirty quickly. Since too many fish in an overcrowded tank will further increase the bioload, the living situation is less than ideal for their long life.

4. Poor filtration.

Goldfish are very messy. They eliminate waste several times a day. Their waste has high ammonia content, and it pollutes the water. Swimming in such water for a long time harms the health of the goldfish.

If you keep goldfish as pets, you will need a strong and efficient filtration system. It should not only remove the physical waste but also eliminate the toxins in the water.

Improper or insufficient filtration will make your goldfish vulnerable to ammonia and nitrite spikes. These pollutants will drastically impact the health of the fish and cause various illnesses and infections. Exposure to these toxins for too long can make your fish suffocate and die.

Since goldfish produce large amounts of waste, you will have to pay close attention to the water quality in their tank. You may have to replace your filter media often and clean the filters regularly to keep your filtration system in top shape.

You will also have to perform regular water changes to make sure the environment is ideal for your goldfish.

5. Changes in water chemistry.

Your goldfish need steady and healthy environmental conditions for optimal health. They are very sensitive to changes in water chemistry and temperature. Goldfish can get stressed in a dirty or unhygienic tank and show signs of distress.

Goldfish thrive in well-cycled, mature tanks with good filtration capacity. They will not do well if you do a rapid and large-scale water change. It can stress them out.

Each time you do a water change or clean the tank, monitor the pH and chemical levels to ensure that the water conditions are suitable for your fish.

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6. Improper feeding.

Goldfish are very hungry fish. They will eagerly await feeding time. You will also find them constantly searching for food in their surroundings.

Since these fish have a basic digestive system, they quickly digest all the food they consume and eliminate the waste. So, they need more frequent feeding than other fish.

Nonetheless, it is important to feed them balanced and nutritious food. You can easily overfeed these goldfish. They always look hungry and will eat anything you offer them. However, too much food can make the fish lethargic and lousy.

Overeating will also cause excess waste production. It will foul the water and lead to health issues that affect their health and well-being.

7. Stressful tank environment.

Goldfish are generally peaceful, easygoing fish. They get along with other peaceful fish. However, goldfish may get attacked by other aggressive aquarium fish.

The long flowing fish and tail of goldfish attract fin nippers. Fancy goldfish are more vulnerable to attacks. Their longer fins and tails slow down their movement and reduce their ability to escape and hide from attackers.

Mixing comets and other small varieties of goldfish with slow-moving, bigger fancy goldfish can also prove detrimental to the fancy goldfish.

If the fish are under constant attack, they get stressed. Stress can reduce their well-being and hence, lifespan.

When there are too many fish in a tank, the chances of aggression are higher. Even if all the inhabitants of the tank are goldfish, they may fight with each other till they establish a pecking order. The smaller and weaker fish will suffer in such circumstances.

To avoid this, always evaluate the compatibility of the different fish before placing them in the same tank. It will also help if you provide hiding places for the weak and small fish to hide from the more aggressive ones.

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Why Do Carnival Goldfish Die So Fast?

The chances are that the goldfish you win at carnivals were not bred or kept in the best conditions. They are already predisposed to disease and illness. Rough handling while transporting the fish further adds to their stress.

In most situations, carnival fish owners aren’t prepared to keep a goldfish as a pet. They may not have a mature tank. They may also be ignorant of the type of care the goldfish needs. When all these factors come together, the goldfish has a very small chance of survival.

However, if you receive a healthy carnival goldfish and tend to its basic needs while keeping it in a good aquarium, it can live for several years.

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