Granddad, the oldest living fish in captivity, has died

Posted February 09, 2017

A 90-year-old Australian lungfish acquired by a Chicago aquarium in 1933 has been euthanised after becoming the longest-living fish in a zoological setting.

Granddad, as the 11-kilogram fish was known, was euthanased due to old age at the Chicago Shedd Aquarium after losing interest in food and showing signs of organ failure.

Granddad was one of three other Australian lungfish who are exhibited at the aquarium, one of which is an African lungfish who is scheduled to go on display soon. The fish's exact age is impossible to pinpoint, according to the aquarium, but officials there think Granddad was near the century mark, given that Australian lungfish can live to be 100 and he was fully grown when he first came to them. Several weeks prior to Granddad's death, the Aquarium workers observed that the 100-year-old lungfish lost its appetite.

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While the decades rolled by in the outside world, Granddad lived in habitats that aimed to recreate a riverbank ecosystem, dining on fare such as clams, fish and shrimp while aquarium visitors enjoyed catching sight of him. "During his almost two-year hiatus in a reserve area, staff members repeatedly assured anxious aquarium members and other guests that their favorite lungfish was doing fine and would be back on view in a spacious new habitat recreating a Queensland riverbank ecosystem. Behind the scenes, aquarists in the vicinity were occasionally startled by the long, loud snorts the fish made as he breathed".

The aquarium shared the sad news on their Facebook page. "I remember seeing him when I was a little boy visiting the aquarium", he wrote. Sattler, who has provided care for Granddad for more than 15 years, said he will be missed. "He seemed as permanent a fixture at Shedd as the terra cotta fishes that decorate the building inside and out".

Age is a bit of a theme with lungfish.