11 Longest Living Fish Species (Photos)

Like all other animals, not every fish has a long life expectancy. Many species only live for a few years! However, some fish species have shockingly long lifespans. In this article, “The 11 Longest Living Fish Species in the World,” you’ll discover the astounding and intriguing lifespan of some fish species.

Longest Living Fish Species

11 Longest Living Fish Species

You won’t find all of the oldest animals in the world on land. Many of the creatures with the longest lifespan spend their time swimming deep beneath the sea.

The list of the 11 longest living fish species includes captivating creatures such as the Greenland Shark, Bowhead Whale, Kaluga, and Great White Shark, among many others we will be discussing in this article.

Each fish species is succinctly described, highlighting their average lifespan and some of the things they are known for. Get ready to be amazed by the incredible longevity of these underwater creatures. 

  • Greenland Shark
  • Bowhead Whale
  • Kaluga
  • Great White Shark
  • Rougheye Rockfish
  • School Shark
  • Beluga Sturgeon
  • Spiny Dogfish
  • Bigmouth Buffalo
  • Sharptail Mola
  • Whale Shark

1. Greenland Shark

Greenland Shark

Source: National Geographic

The Greenland shark is also known as Somniosus microcephalus. They are always found in the cold North Atlantic waters of Greenland, Iceland, and the Arctic. Greenland sharks are often described as dinosaurs on Earth.

It usually measures between 7.9 and 14.1 feet; the largest Greenland shark on record was a whopping 24 feet long! It is a top predator and is known to eat a variety of foods, including eels, smaller sharks, and even seals!

The Greenland shark is also the most poisonous.  This sea creature moves very slowly as a way to preserve its energy for feeding time. The oldest recorded Greenland shark was about 400–500 years old.

Although its ability to survive several decades is quite impressive, this shark does have the downfall of slowly losing its sight due to a parasitic crustacean that eats this specific species’ corneas.

Greenland Sharks have a slow growth rate and late maturation, with females not reaching sexual maturity until they are around 150 years old

Not only is the Greenland shark the longest living fish species, but it has one of the longest lifespans of any creature in the animal kingdom. It’s considered to be the longest-lived vertebrae.

2. Bowhead Whale

Bowhead whale (Balaena Mysticetus) under ice, Arctic

Source: World Wildlife Fund

Bowhead Whale is also known as Balaena mysticetus. Bowhead whales live in the chilly Arctic and subarctic waters year-round. Bowhead whales can live more than 200 years which makes them one of the longest-living fish species on Earth.

This creature is the fifth largest whale in the ocean, reaching up to 60 feet in length. Bowhead whales are among the heaviest animals on Earth with their weight between 75-100 tons.  

As much as animals, this large animal that lives this long might come with the assumption that they must be vicious meat-eaters. However, bowhead whales, like most other whale species, simply strain plankton from the ocean’s surface, water columns, and seafloor.

3. Kaluga

Freshwater Kaluga Fish

Source: Wikipedia

Sometimes called the river beluga, is a type of predatory sturgeon (also known as the Great Siberian Sturgeon). While these fish spend the majority of their time in freshwater mostly found in the rivers of Russia and China, they’re also able to survive in salt water.

The kaluga is one of the world’s longest and largest living freshwater fish species Kaluga has an average life span of 65-95 years and can grow to be more than 18 feet long, with a weight of over 2,200 pounds.

Kaluga are also known for their slow growth rate and late maturation, with females not reaching sexual maturity until they are around 20 years old. They are highly valued for their caviar, which is considered a delicacy.

Kaluga are overfished, which has left the species vulnerable to extinction. Although many kaluga are killed before they fully mature, these fish have the potential to live very long lives. For instance, one kaluga that was caught in China is estimated to be over 100 years old.

4. Great White Shark

A Great White Shark

Source: Nautilus Liveaboard

The Great White Shark is one of the most iconic and feared fish species in the world. It is an apex predator that can be found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and is often seen in coastal waters.

Great white sharks are large sea creatures with immense size and power. Its length is about 11–20 feet and it weighs over 1,500–2,400 pounds. They have an average lifespan of 35–70 years.

Male great whites usually don’t mature until age 26, while females may not reach full maturity until they’re in their thirties Great White Sharks are known for their sharp teeth, powerful jaws, and ability to swim at high speeds. They are skilled hunters, often preying on seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals.

5. Rougheye Rockfish

Rougheye Rockfish

Source: NOAA Fisheries

The rougheye rockfish (Sebastes aleutianus), sometimes called the blackthroat rockfish, is among the longest-living fish, with a lifespan of about 120–205 years.

They are mostly found in coastal waters and typically live at depths between 500 and 1,500 feet, which are near the seafloor around caves and crevices. 

The rougheye rockfish gets its name from the spines along its lower eyelid. While many rockfish are a bright shade of orange or pink, some fish are duller in color and are covered in brown or tan scales. These fish prefer to swim in deep waters, which makes them tough to spot.

Rockfish are slow-growing, late-maturing and long-lived. Unfortunately, this also makes them highly vulnerable to overfishing. Recovering from fishing pressure is another thing rockfish do slowly.

6. School Shark

School Shark

Source: Wikipedia

The School Shark, also known as the Tope Shark, is a smaller species of predatory shark that can be found in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. These sharks have an average lifespan of 50-60 years. 

Female sharks are slightly larger than males on average, with fully-grown females measuring from 59 to 77 inches and males measuring between 53 and 69 inches. It mostly feeds on other fish species, such as sardines and rockfish.

The School Shark is known for its schooling behavior. These sharks are often found in large groups, or schools, which allows them to efficiently hunt for prey.

School Sharks have a streamlined body shape and powerful jaws, which enable them to catch and consume a variety of fish and squid. It can take more than 10 years for a school shark to reach maturity, but once these fish are fully grown, they generally have a long lifespan.

Unfortunately, the school shark is heavily fished, and the species is currently listed as endangered in some parts of the world.

7. Beluga Sturgeon

Beluga Sturgeon Underwater

Source: Wikipedia

The Beluga Sturgeon, also known as the Great Sturgeon, is a large and valuable fish that can be found in the Caspian Sea, Sea of Azov, and the Black Sea.

This creature can grow to be more than 24 feet long and weigh over 1,500 kilograms (3,300 pounds) which makes it among the largest freshwater fish in the world. The beluga fish have an average lifespan of 60-100 years, although some individuals have been known to live for over 150 years.

Belugas are fished for their roe, which is used to make beluga caviar, this heavily shortens the life expectancy of the fish. The beluga sturgeon can be traced back more than 200 million years and is one of the oldest fish species around today.

Beluga Sturgeon are known for their longevity and slow growth rate. They are highly prized for their caviar, which is one of the most expensive food products in the world.

8. Spiny Dogfish

Pacific Spiny Dogfish Underwater

Source: Robin Barefield

The Spiny Dogfish, sometimes called the spurdog or mud shark, is a small species of shark with venomous spines in front of its dorsal fins; these fins can inflict painful wounds if handled improperly.

These fish can be found in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Not only is it an aggressive hunter, but these fish are known to hunt in packs! Like the school shark species, these fish grow slowly, and some females don’t reach full maturity until they’re over 30 years old.

The Spiny dogfish have an average lifespan of 35-40 years, although some individuals have been known to live for over 50 years. Females tend to mature later than males, and they usually live longer too.

Aside from its spiny dorsal fin, which gives the species its name.  Spiny Dogfish are also known for their excellent sense of smell and ability to detect electrical signals, making them skilled hunters in their underwater habitat.

9. Bigmouth Buffalo

Bigmouth Buffalo captured | image by USFWS Mountain-Prairie via Flickr

Source: Flickr

The bigmouth buffalo is a large freshwater fish that can be found in rivers and lakes in North America. It has unusual eating habits and, true to its name, uses its large mouth and lips to suck up food that swims nearby.

They can potentially grow to be 4 feet long and can weigh as much as 80 pounds. This fish’s lifespan is an average of 112-120 years.

This fish species doesn’t reproduce very often, however, it can live up to 127 years. Most animals, including humans, decline as they grow older, but the bigmouth buffalo gets stronger and healthier in old age.

10. Sharptail Mola

Sharptail Mola

Source: Wikipedia

The Sharptail Mola is a species of ocean-dwelling fish that can be found in tropical and temperate waters. It is also known as the common sunfish.  This fish has an average lifespan of 85–105 years.

The Sharptail Mola is known for its unique body shape. Having a disc-like body with a short tail, which allows them to move through the water with ease.

The fish can be more than 11 feet long and weigh as much as 4,400 pounds.  While it spends most of its time swimming in deep sea waters, the Sharptail Mola is also known for its playful behavior, often leaping out of the water and riding the crests of waves.

They primarily feed on jellyfish and other small invertebrates. It’s rare to see a sharptail mola in the wild.

11. Whale Shark

Whale Shark

Source: World Wildlife Fund

The whale shark is known for both its size and its distinctive appearance. It can reach lengths of 18 to 33 feet long, and it can potentially weigh more than 40,000 pounds!

The whale shark has an average lifespan of 75–130 years. The shark has a dark grey body and is covered in white spots.


In conclusion, the world is home to a wide variety of fish species with remarkably long lifespans. Whether they reside in the ocean or freshwater habitats, these fish demonstrate the wonders of nature and its ability to sustain life for extended periods.

From the vibrant Sharptail Mola to the elusive Greenland Shark, each species has its unique characteristics and adaptations that contribute to its longevity.

As we continue to explore and appreciate the diverse underwater world, let us also be mindful of the importance of conservation and responsible stewardship to ensure the survival of these incredible fish species for generations to come.

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Environmental Consultant at Environment Go! | + posts

Ahamefula Ascension is a Real Estate Consultant, Data Analyst, and Content writer. He is the founder of Hope Ablaze Foundation and a Graduate of Environmental Management in one of the prestigious colleges in the country. He is obsessed with Reading, Research and Writing.

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