World's Oldest Captive Fish Euthanized

“Granddad” was believed to be more than 90 years of age, making him the oldest captive fish in any public zoo or aquarium in the world.
Kerry Lengyel
Published: February 14, 2017

Credit: Shedd Aquarium
Lungfish are freshwater fish that are found only in Africa, South America, and Australia. Even so, these rare fish can be seen in zoos throughout the world. “Granddad,” a lungfish that has lived Shedd Aquarium in Chicago since 1933, was euthanized early this week due to declining health. Granddad was very special to the aquarium because it was the oldest captive fish in the world.
 
Grandad thrived in the aquarium until his final days when he stopped eating and began showing signs of organ failure. The team at the aquarium made the decision to euthanize him when nothing else could be done. 
 
President and CEO of Shedd Aquarium, Bridget Coughlin, PhD, said in a statement, “It is incredible to know that more than 104 million guests had the opportunity to see Granddad in our care and learn about his unique species over eight decades.”
 
She noted that the famously sedentary fish “sparked curiosity, excitement, and wonder among guests of all ages.”
 
Lungfish prefer deep pools with free-flowing water. They are also able to breathe air due to a single primitive lung they have in addition to gills. This allows the fish to survive when water is depleted of oxygen during seasonal droughts.
 
Australian lungfish can reach the century mark when it comes to age, and Granddad was believed to be very close to that number.
 
Acquired from the Taronga Zoo and Aquarium in Sydney, Australia, Granddad enjoyed eating everything from fish, shrimp, and clams to fruits and leafy vegetables. It was when he began to lose interest in his food that team members became concerned.
 
Collections manager Michelle Sattler, one of the employees who oversaw Grandad, said, “He loved to eat his leafy greens. But worms were definitely his favorite, and he would become quite animated—for a very slow-moving fish—on what became ‘Earthworm Wednesdays,’ when they were dropped into his habitat. We loved him. And he will be sorely missed.”
 
A forthcoming necropsy report should reveal the fish’s exact age at death.
 
 

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