How Long Do Glofish Live?

Disclosure: I may earn a commission when you purchase through my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. – read more

If you love Glofish, congratulations, you are one of the millions of people who see Glofish as some of the most gorgeous and unique-looking fish in the world.

Also, welcome to a rather limited market, comprising only 5 fish species and only a handful of certified sellers.

The Glofish technology is patented. This means you can only buy the fish from certified sellers and you cannot resell or breed the fish for profit.

You can only keep them as decorative fish and breed them for personal use.

Glofish aren’t really that different from their natural counterparts. The only aspect that’s different about them is their fluorescent glow – the result of genetic engineering, making the fish seem like they’re made of colored glass.

Unlike dye injections or artificial dying, Glofish will pass on their fluorescent genes to their offspring, so long as both parents have them.

They also don’t suffer from health issues due to their unusual glowing, compared to the former 2 categories.

But, if you’re planning to get yourself some Glofish, what should you know about their lifespan? How long do they live, will their genetic glow influence their lifespan, and how can you help them live longer and healthier?

Let’s see!

Lifespan of Different Types of Glofish

Glofish aren’t a fish species, but a fish category. This means that you have 5 fish species to choose from, each with its own lifespan.

The table below highlights the core differences between them:

Fish Species Lifespan Special Notes
Betta Fish 2-5 years The betta fish lives around 2 years in the wild. Especially because of the stress of competing over food, evading predators, and constantly fighting with other betta males.

All that changes in captivity, providing the betta with safety, a well-rounded diet daily, and minimal risks to its health or life.

This will improve bettas’ quality of life and minimize stress, resulting in a longer lifespan.

Zebra Danios 2-5 years Zebra danios tend to live longer if kept in larger groups.

These are schooling fish that don’t do well if kept alone or in duos.

Zebra danios feel most comfortable, safer, and happier. This will ultimately influence their lifespan significantly.

Rainbow Shark 4-6 years Rainbow sharks prefer to live alone and, unlike zebra danios, can get stressed out in larger groups.

That’s primarily because male rainbow sharks are extremely territorial and aggressive towards one another.

Keeping more rainbow sharks in the same environment may lead to shorter lifespans overall.

In the wild, rainbow sharks can live up to 8 years.

Tiger Barbs 3-5 years Tiger barbs tend to live longer in the wild, up to 7 years in optimal conditions.

As for schooling fishes, they also need to live in groups of at least 6 individuals to remain active, calm, and peaceful.

Larger social groups will also boost the barb’s overall lifespan.

Neon Tetra 2-3 years The Neon Tetra can live a lot longer in the wild, up to 10 years.

Captivity isn’t as friendly to tetras as it is to other fish.

As a schooling species, tetras also need to live in larger groups. The larger the better.

How to Improve Glofish Longevity?

The same rules apply to all Glofish, no matter the species they belong to.

You can improve the Glofish’s lifespan by resorting to several strategies, such as:

Buy from Reputed Store

The problem with buying your fish from regular fish stores is that you don’t know what you’re getting.

As a novice fish lover, you don’t know if the fish you’re getting is sick, old, injured, or simply showcasing a subpar genetic background.

Regular fish stores aren’t really notorious for their care regarding the fish during transportation.

This usually translates to higher risks of dead fish on arrival. Most fish stores’ review sections are pretty telling in this sense.

I recommend only getting your fish from high-profile stores or, even better, individual sellers with vast experience in the field.

Seek to confirm the fish’s genetic background and verify its age and overall health to make sure there are no unwanted surprises.

Feed Quality Food

The diet is paramount in keeping your fish healthy and active over the years. You should always assess your favorite Glowfish’s dietary preferences because not all species will consume the same foods.

They will prefer similar diets, preferably as diverse as possible. Spirulina, algae, live food, and specialized fish pellets and flakes will pretty much cover all your fish’s dietary needs.

A diverse diet is necessary to spare your fish from vitamin and mineral deficiencies and boost their coloring, growth rate, and overall lifespan.

Regular Tank Maintenance

Glofish are generally highly sensitive to fluctuations in water parameters. Ammonia is especially a concern for schooling fish like barbs, zebra danios, and tetras, but other species are just as sensitive.

The difference is that solo creatures like the rainbow shark are less likely to experience dramatic ammonia boosts.

After all, they won’t produce as much fish waste as a school of 8-10 barbs.

To prevent ammonia buildup, maintain and clean the tank regularly. This includes vacuuming the substrate, removing food residues, and performing regular water changes, depending on your Glofish’s needs.

You should also clean the filtering system every 4-6 weeks to remove dirt and debris deposits that may clog the filter.

Just make sure you don’t use chlorinated water or any cleaning chemicals that may poison your Glofish.

Set the Right Water Parameters

This is where the nitrogen cycle shines the most. Completing the nitrogen cycle before adding the fish to your tank is necessary to create a safe, clean, and comfortable environment for your Glofish.

The purpose of the nitrogen cycle is to create a balanced microbiome and setting the ideal parameters for the beneficial bacteria to thrive.

Once that’s complete, you should always set the water parameters to the ideal values, depending on the fish species you intend to own.

For instance, neon tetras require an environmental temperature between 72 and 76 F. On the other hand, rainbow sharks prefer temperatures between 75 and 81 F, and zebra danios do best in temperatures of 70-78 F.

All these temperature variations describe each species’ comfort zone, which means you can’t live them to chance.

Setting the ideal water parameters translates to:

  • Using a filter to cleanse the water, control ammonia and nitrites, and oxygenate the water
  • Relying on a heater to keep the temperature within the preferred range
  • Getting an air pump if necessary
  • Keeping track of water parameters to discover any dangerous fluctuations in time
  • Reduces Stress and Aggression

Glofish aggression often relates to high levels of stress, which has several causes behind it.

These include:

  • Overcrowding – All Glofish will experience high stress and elevated levels of aggression when kept in small or overcrowded tanks. Or both, which would make things even worse. Overcrowding leads to more fish waste and food residues, causing ammonia spikes and stressing fish unnecessarily.
  • Overeating – Fish who overeat experience digestive issues and will produce more poop. Which, again, increases ammonia levels.
  • Improper male-to-female ratio – All male Glofish display territorial behavior and compete over food, females, space, and even hierarchical position. Limiting the number of males is necessary to mitigate male-on-male violence and maintain healthy and stable tank dynamics. As a general rule, every male fish should have 3-4 females at its disposal, if discussing school or shoal species. Rainbow sharks do just fine alone.

Fish stress and aggression are responsible for injuries, weaker immune systems, diseases, and even death, depending on how severe they are.

You can mitigate both these issues by:

  • Adding more decorations to the tank to provide your fish with more hiding places
  • Upgrading the tank to a larger one for more space
  • Lowering the number of fish to prevent overcrowding
  • Keeping the water parameters stable and preventing sudden or massive fluctuations
  • Monitoring tank dynamics to detect early signs of aggressive behavior or fish stress, etc.

These measures will keep your fish healthier and will increase their lifespan significantly in the long run.

Treat Diseases Quickly

Glofish are subject to a variety of disorders, all of which are normal for the species they belong to.

Ich, swim bladder disease, fin rot, mouth fungus, and many others, are responsible for a lot of deaths among aquarium fish.

The untreated disease will not only kill your fish fast but will also spread to other fish. This can cause widespread death among your Glofish population.

To avoid such an unfortunate scenario, identify the early signs of disease, quarantine the sick fish, and apply the adequate treatment.

In most cases, the treatment consists of moving the sick fish into a treatment tank, using antibiotics, and performing daily water changes to keep the environment clean.

A nutritious diet is also necessary during the treatment phase. Monitor the fish over the course of several days.

If it starts to eat and become more active, it may be on the course of getting better. If not, euthanasia is always an option.

The latter is a better alternative to reintroducing the sick fish back into the main tank and risking a generalized epidemic response.

Do Glofish Live Longer with a Filter?

The filtering system won’t necessarily increase your Glofish’s lifespan directly. However,  it will contribute to it. The purpose of the tank filter is to cleanse the water of debris, dirt, and floating particles, oxygenate the water better, ensure steady currents, and house billions of beneficial bacteria.

All these factors add up to form the basis for a healthy and stable aquatic environment where your fish can thrive. From a technical perspective, yes, the filtering system will extend your Glofish’s lifespan. I see no reason for not wanting to get one.


Glofish don’t require special care when compared to their non-fluorescent counterparts. Just provide them with adequate and varied diets and stable water parameters and they will be fine.

There’s no single factor that will single-handedly increase the Glofish’s lifespan.

As a summary, you should:

  • Ensure an optimal male-to-female ratio, depending on which species of Glofish we’re discussing
  • Always keep water parameters within the ideal range and monitor the values constantly
  • Perform regular tank maintenance and change the water every week or every other week as necessary
  • Ensure optimal and diverse diets
  • Craft a natural-looking aquatic environment to keep your fish calm, peaceful, and satisfied

These strategies should be enough to provide your Glofish with the best life they can get.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *