The Age of a Fish


Compiled by Neil Taylor, and capmel.comFirstRed

How long do they live?    In most cases, it is longer than you think.     I have done reading for years and saved notes on what I have found.    Species by species below, you will get an idea just how old these fish are.  Some of these species live a very long time.

Some of these fish may even be older than you.    It makes you have a larger respect for our aquatic friends.

Some interesting starting facts:


The Species-


Fossil research shows that tarpon have been swimming in our oceans since prehistoric times. Tarpon can reach sizes up to 8 feet and can weigh up to 280 pounds. The life span of a tarpon can be in excess of 50 years. The oldest tarpon in captivity lived to be 63 years old.


Redfish can live more than 40 years, although few make it past their mid-30s. They grow their entire lives, but growth rate will vary significantly from fish to fish. The largest individual fish are often not the oldest fish.


Common Snook live a long time and grow quickly, where a male might live 15 years and can grow up to a length of around 38 inches- Females live around 20 years and can reach to around 50 inches.   A legal size female might be 4 or 5 years old, and a male a bit older.

There are five different species of snook that inhabit Florida waters: common snook, small-scale fat snook, large-scale fat snook, swordspine snook, and tarpon snook.neilsnook1


The average size of spotted seatrout is 0.5-1.0 kg (1-2 lb), but in most areas fish up to 2.5 kg (5 lb) are fairly common. Fish weighing 3.5-4.5 kg (8-10 lb) are rare. The world record is 7.9 kg (17 lb 7 oz).

Larval seatrout reach 5–7 mm in length about two weeks after hatching, and 170–200 mm within about seven months. It takes between one and two years for seatrout to reach 300 mm (about 12 inches) and between two and three years to reach 400 mm in length (about 16 inches). The maximum age of spotted seatrout that have been caught is estimated to be 12 years old, though that is rare, and the oldest fish caught on a regular basis are closer to four or five years old

Snapper, mangrove snapper.pier

Mangrove Snappers are a shallow species, common to coral reefs and seagrass beds, that have slow to moderate growth rates, reaching 30 inches in length and living up to 25 years of age.


Additional age information based on 3,649 gag otoliths collected during 2006-2008 support the conclusion that the maximum age of gag in the Gulf of Mexico is 31 years.


Digital image
Digital image

Female southern flounders grow more rapidly than males. A research project in Louisiana did not find a male southern flounder over 13.5 inches long. Another study in Georgia showed no males more than 16 inches long, and research in Texas showed no males over 12.8 inches long. Female flounders grow quickly their first two years; then their growth slows. Approximate average lengths at each age for females are: Age 1, 10 inches; Age 2, 16.7 inches; Age 3, 18.8 inches; Age 4, 19.6 inches; Age 5, 20 inches; Age 6, 20.4 inches; and Age 7, 20.5 inches. Few females live beyond seven years old and almost no males live past three years old.



Florida pompano grow rapidly; up to 12 inches (300 mm FL) of growth within their first year of life is common. Scientists at the Florida Marine Research Institute (FMRI)* were the first to age wild Florida pompano using sectioned otoliths, or ear stones. Researchers determined that pompano ages ranged from 0 to 7 years on the Atlantic coast and 0 to 5 years on the gulf coast of Florida. Florida pompano can be reproductively mature at an early age. Approximately 50% of the females reach maturity at age 1 (300 mm-325 mm FL), and 100% maturity occurs by age 3 (375 mm-400 mm FL). Pompano appear to spawn offshore over an extended period of time. Peak spawning occurs during the spring and early summer.

Black Drum


Studies have reported black drum weighing more than 60 kg on the Atlantic coast and they are believed to live up to 60 years. Other studies suggest that black drum in the Gulf of Mexico do not grow as large or live as long


Cobia14Male cobia (n = 170; 525-1330 mm FL) ranged from age 0 to 9, and females (n = 395; 493-1651 mm FL) ranged from age 0 to 11. The relationship of observed fork length and age was described by the von Bertalanffy growth equation for males FL(t) = 1171(1-exp [-0.432(t+1.150)]) and for females FL(t) = 1555(1-exp [-0.272(t+1.254)]). Growth in length for both sexes was relatively fast

Jack Crevalle

The larval and juvenile growth has been extensively studied, with the oldest known individual 17 years of age

Spanish Mackerel MackAThack

The Gulf group of Spanish mackerel spawn in batches from May to September off shore of Texas, off the Gulf shore of Florida as early as April in some years. The Atlantic group spawns starting in April off the Carolinas and from late August to late September in the northernmost part of its range. Spanish mackerel mature by age-1 at a fork length (FL) of 14 inches (36 cm). Females live longer and grow to larger sizes than males. Females may live as long as 11 years, growing to 11 pounds (5.0 kg) and 33 inches (84 cm) FL. Males reach about age-6 and 19 inches

King Mackerel Sabrina

This species spawns in the coastal waters of the southern and northern Gulf of Mexico and off the south Atlantic coast (Burns 1981; Grimes et al. 1990). Because of the protracted spawning season, larvae have been collected off Florida from May through October. Females, which reach at least 26 years and 62.2” fork length (FL), grow older and larger than males


Maximum ages were 12 and 14 years for females and males, respectively.

Sheepshead are fractional spawners (they only lay a portion of their eggs at a time) in inshore waters, typically in March and April. They are omnivorous feeding mostly on crustaceans and small fish.

Sharks Chark4

This shark was thought to reach sexual maturity at around 15 years of age and have a life span of over 30 years. New studies show the true lifespan of great white sharks to be far longer, now estimated to be as long as 70 years or more, making it one of the longest lived cartilaginous fish currently known.


The Atlantic tripletail grows to 35 in (89 cm) in length and weighs up to 41 lb.  The Georgia state record 17.63 kg and the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) record 19.19 kg tripletails suggest that it is likely tripletail could tripletail reach an age ~ 7 years.


Gulf sturgeon may reach a maximum size of about eight feet and weigh approximately 150-220 pounds. Most males stop growing at about five feet. Most Gulf sturgeon exceeding this length are females. Females grow large and develop a great number of large eggs.

A 503-pound sturgeon (possibly a Gulf sturgeon) was captured at the mouth of the Mississippi River in 1936. In recent decades, the largest reported Gulf sturgeon was a 300-pound fish from the Pearl River, Louisiana.

Downriver migration normally begins in late September or October when water temperatures drop to 23°C. Males reach sexual maturity between seven and 12 years of age, females between eight and 17 years of age

The life expectancy for Gulf sturgeon is between 20-42 years. The oldest age documented for a tagged and recaptured Suwannee River Gulf sturgeon is about 27-28 years. A Gulf sturgeon caught in the Suwannee River in the early 1970s was aged at 42 years.

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Neil Taylor
Full time kayak fishing guide, Neil was an advocate for conservation since before the time he started guiding. Outdoor writer, speaker and radio show host, Neil connected closely with Captain Mel Berman and did many positives with Mel to promote ethical angling. After Mel passed away, Neil managed and eventually became that web site’s owner.