The World’s Oldest Fish, Hanako the Koi, lived for 226 years

Hanako is a celebrity fish whose story is still told today, almost half a century after she passed away. That might sound like a long time to us basic humans, but to her, it was NBD – As she had lived over two centuries herself! Born in 1751, she was splashing around 25 years before the United States was founded. And these types of fish live an average of 30-40 years, with 50 years considered the upper limit.

Hanako world's oldest fish
An unconfirmed photo of Hanako [Credit: Wikipedia/unknown]

Koi fish have been popular in East Asia, especially in China and Japan, for generations. First used as food, these beautiful fish became better known as pets or as decoration, and are considered a symbol of love and friendship.

AI recreation of Hanako the world's oldest koi fish
Our AI recreation of how we think Hanako looked like

Hanako was a Scarlet Koi, a type of carp, whose name translates to “flower girl.” She was owned by generations of the same family, with Dr. Komei Koshihara being her last caretaker. Her age was estimated in 1966 by removing several of her scales and examining them. The technique is similar to estimating the age of a tree by its growth rings. They pegged her age at around 215 years old, with Hanako passing away in 1977 at the age of 226. This makes Hanako the “world’s oldest freshwater fish” on record. But there have been disputes over this, as there were no additional tests to help confirm her age. Also, a couple of Hanako’s fishy roommates were estimated to be around 100 years old!

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