Granddad The Lungfish, World's Oldest Aquarium Fish, Dies At Ridiculously Old Age


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockFeb 7 2017, 21:14 UTC

The extremely old lungfish, Granddad. Shedd Aquarium

Granddad, the world’s oldest fish in a zoological setting, has died after around 95 years of life.

The geriatric male lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri) arrived at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago in 1933 from Australia in preparation for the Chicago World's Fair of 1933-34. His age on arrival was unknown, so his exact age remains a mystery. After 84 years at the aquarium, he was humanely euthanized on Sunday due to a sudden decline in health. A full necropsy will be carried out, but initial findings suggest it was organ failure caused by old age.


“It is incredible to know that over 104 million guests had the opportunity to see Granddad in our care and learn about his unique species over eight decades,” aquarium President and CEO Bridget Coughlin said in a statement“For a fish who spent much of his time imitating a fallen log, he sparked curiosity, excitement and wonder among guests of all ages who would hear his story and learn about the incredible biology that makes his species a living fossil and one of the oldest living vertebrate genera on the planet.”

There are six different species of lungfish in the world. Fossil records show that they were around at least 380 million years ago and have stayed unchanged for over 100 million years.

These awesome creatures are also one of the few fish that can breathe in water and in air (hence the name). This species has just one primitive lung, which it uses if it's in shallow waters. Granddad’s carers explain that he used to surface several times an hour to do a noisy snorting gulp for air.


Michelle Sattler, collections manager who has cared for Granddad for over 30 years added: “Granddad lived a pretty relaxed life, enjoyed interactions with us, including gentle pats along his back, and loved to eat his leafy greens. But, worms were definitely his favorite and he would become quite animated on what became Earthworm Wednesdays, when they were dropped into his habitat – animated for a very slow-moving fish. We loved him. And he will be sorely missed.”

RIP Granddad – you were a shining example to your wonderful and downright weird species.