Feeder fish is an umbrella term used for certain kinds of inexpensive fish that are usually fed as live prey to animals with a knack for live food like turtles, oscars, rays, jack dempseys, and red-bellied piranha.
Now when it comes to answering how long do feeder fish live, there’s no one definitive answer. That’s because there are so many different kinds of feeder fish available in the trade – we will have to answer one by one.
So, please bear with us while we do so.
Before I answer how long do feeder fish live, let’s find out who they are first.
Most commonly fed feeder fish are:
- Kuhli loaches
- Mosquito fish
- Convict cichlids
- Suckermouth catfish
- Female betta fish
- Small tilapia
So, now that you know who made the cut, let’s look at their average lifespan. Of course feeder fish will live as long as you let them, but I’ll tell you how long they live on average if they were to lead a ‘free’ and ‘normal life’.
How Long Do Feeder Fish Live?
The answer is going to be pretty vague. Feeder fish can live for 1-40 years depending on the species. Small fish like mosquito fish and guppies only live for about 1-3 years, whereas some feeder goldfish are known to live for over 4 decades!
|Kuhli loaches||Up to 14 years|
|Mosquito fish||1 year|
|Convict cichlids||8-10 years|
|Suckermouth catfish||7-8 years|
|Female betta fish||2-5 years|
|Small tilapia||10 years|
How Long Do Feeder Goldfish Live?
In a tank, feeder goldfish can live for around 10-15 years. In the pond, they’re even known to make it past their 30th or 40th birthday.
How Long Do Guppies Live?
Generally, guppies live for around 1-3 years. However, in the right environment and if fed the right diet, they can easily live for over 5 years.
How Long Do Platies Live?
When kept in an optimal environment with clean water, good nutrition, and low stress levels, platies are known to live for about 3-4 years.
How Long Do Mollies Live?
Mollies aren’t blessed with a long lifespan. A molly fish can live for anywhere between 2 to 5 years. Their longevity depends largely on their environment and the food they eat.
How Long Do Kuhli Loaches Live?
Kuhli loaches enjoy a decent lifespan – if allowed to live that long that is. Their average lifespan is 14 years. However, under the right care, they’re known to live quite longer than that.
How Long Do Mosquito Fish Live?
Mosquito fish have a very short lifespan and therefore they mature quite fast. They only live for around 1 year on average. And what’s interesting is that these fish never over-breed.
How Long Do Convict Cichlids Live?
Convicts will eat practically anything they can fit inside their mouth. However, most often, they end up being meals for bigger fish. Convicts can live for roughly 8 to 10 years in captivity.
How Long Do Minnows Live?
Minnows can live for anywhere between 2 to 7 years depending on the kind and size. If it weren’t for natural predators, diseases, or anglers, minnows can quite easily outlive most small fish breeds.
How Long Do Suckermouth Catfish Live?
In the wild, suckermouth catfish live for only 7-8 years. However, in aquaria, they’re known to live for more than 10-15 years if cared for properly and not fed to other fish!
How Long Do Female Betta Fish Live?
Female bettas are widely used as feeder fish as they lack the long, flowy fins and brilliant colors their male counterparts are famed for. In captivity, female bettas can survive for around 2-5 years depending on the care your provide.
How Long Do Small Tilapia Live?
Small tilapias are hardy, fast-growing fish. They can live for around 10 years and weigh about 10 pounds if properly raised. Some specimens are even known to live for more than a decade.
How Long Do Bluegill Live?
Bluegills make excellent introductory fish when teaching angling to kids. These hardy fish can live for 5-6 years on average under the right care.
Why Do People Raise Feeder Fish?
People who own predatory pets like turtles, catfish, snakes, gar, and large catfish often raise feeder fish to feed their carnivore pet. Partly, it’s done so to encourage and hone the innate hunting instinct these animals naturally have. Another likely reason is that live prey is believed to be more nutritious than processed or frozen food.
However, not everyone in the hobby is in agreement about the sheer necessity and benefits of feeding live prey.
And since the fish that we mentioned above are sold solely as food and not as pets, 9 out of 10 times, they’re mass bred and kept in closed quarters under poor conditions.
The close proximity and a huge number of fish cohabiting means that parasites and disease can spread a lot quickly before one can even put his finger on it.
Unfortunately, feeder fish are inherently less healthy than fishes that are bred to be sold as pets owing to mass breeding and poor upbringing. However, since they’re inexpensive, they are ideal for people who live feed.
Before we end this article, here are two things that should be kept under consideration while bringing home feeder fish.
They Can Die On You
This is the cold, hard truth about feeder fish whether it’s guppies or goldfish. Sometimes, once you bring them home, no matter what you do, they will die. And it has nothing to do with you.
They die because of the conditions they were kept in before they come home with you. Unfortunately, the poor living conditions start right at the breeding facility and most likely carry over to the pet store.
Parasites, disease, malnourishment, and poor environment are all factors that play into the health of feeder goldfish. Since they often begin their life off in poor conditions, it leads to lowered immunity and high mortality rates.
You Should Quarantine Them
It’s the cardinal rule that you should quarantine any new plants or animals that you bring home to your aquarium. And you should never ever skip this rule when it comes to feeder fish.
Sadly, feeder fish often carry parasites and diseases that immediately aren’t apparent when you bring it first home. You may bring home perfect-looking feeder fish but it may very well carry an underlying condition that can’t be seen with the naked eye.
Therefore, you must quarantine the fish for a minimum of 1-2 weeks. If possible, extend it to 4 weeks. This will give you plenty of time to monitor your new feeder fish for signs of illnesses.
Final Words: How Long Do Feeder Fish Live?
There’s no one magic number to answer how long do feeder fish live. And that’s because there are so many different kinds of feeder fish available, ranging from tiny guppies to colossal goldfish.
To give you a range, feeder fish can live for anywhere between 1-40 years! Go through the table above once again. I’m sure it’ll be of help.