SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Meet Methuselah, the fish who enjoys fresh figs, belly massages, and is said to be the world’s oldest living tank fish.
Methuselah was Noah’s grandpa in the Bible, and he lived to be 969 years old. Methuselah the fish isn’t quite that old, but researchers at the California Academy of Sciences estimate it to be around 90 years old and has no living counterparts.
Methuselah is a 4-foot-long (1.2-meter) Australian lungfish that weighed 40 pounds (18.1 kilograms) that was transported to the San Francisco museum in 1938.
Australian lungfish, a primitive species with lungs and gills, are thought to constitute the evolutionary connection between fish and amphibians.
“These unusual critters — with green scales that look like fresh artichoke leaves — are recognized to experts as a possible’missing link’ between terrestrial and aquatic species,” the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in 1947 about Methuselah.
The oldest Australian lungfish was in the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago until a few years ago. However, Granddad, the fish, died in 2017 at the age of 95.
“By default, Methuselah is the oldest,” said Allan Jan, the fish’s caretaker and senior scientist at the Academy. Methuselah’s keepers assume the fish is female, however determining the species’ sex without a dangerous blood sample is challenging. The Academy intends to send a small piece of her fin to Australian experts, who will try to establish the fish’s sex and determine its exact age.
Jan describes Methuselah as having a “mellow” demeanor who enjoys having her back and tummy caressed.
“Pretend she’s an underwater puppy, extremely placid and kind, but she’ll have surprising bursts of excitement if she gets scared, I tell my volunteers. But, for the most part, she is simply peaceful “Jan remarked. Methuselah has developed a preference for figs in season.
“She’s a finicky eater who only eats figs when they’re in season and fresh. When they’re frozen, she won’t eat them “The California Academy of Sciences’ representative, Jeanette Peach, stated
Jan stated that the Academy has two more Australian lungfish that are younger, both in their 40s or 50s.
Because the Australian lungfish is now a vulnerable species that cannot be exported from Australian waters, Academy scientists think it’s doubtful they’ll be able to find a replacement after Methuselah passes away.
Jan explained, “We simply give her the best possible care we can provide and hope she flourishes.”