Thanks to the efforts of goldfish breeders around the world, there are now over 300 varieties of fancy goldfish you can keep in your home aquarium.
Just about every anatomical feature of the goldfish—color, fins, eyes, and body shape—has been modified by selective breeding.
There is always a new, beautiful goldfish for you to add to your tank.
But if you are new to keeping goldfish, it is best to start with the common goldfish.
Common Goldfish look like a smaller, more colorful version of their ancestor, the carp. Common Goldfish are not all golden.
There are Common Goldfish in orange, white, and yellow, and also in bronze, black, and red.
Lacking any distracting fancy anatomical features, Common Goldfish are some of the most visually attractive of all the kinds of goldfish available.
Comet Goldfish are similar to Common Goldfish in that they also have a slim body and a stiff fin.
Like Common Goldfish, Comet Goldfish come in many colors.
Their caudal (tail) fin, however, is deeply forked and maybe almost as long as the Comet Goldfish’s entire body.
Comet Goldfish are friendly tank mates with Common Goldfish.
Protected from cats and birds, both kinds of goldfish do well in outdoor ponds.
They can survive cooler temperatures and poor water quality, while still growing up to a foot (30 cm) long.
However, they don’t make good neighbors for other kinds of goldfish that stay small.
While Common Goldfish and Comet Goldfish make good neighbors, most goldfish with unusual anatomical features need to be kept in their own tank.
Slim-bodied Common Goldfish and Comet Goldfish are fast swimmers with aggressive features.
They can injure the gentler, slower bespectacled, fancy-finned, and egg-shaped varieties of goldfish we will discuss a little later in this article.
Choosing Goldfish by Color
There are so many colors of goldfish that the term “goldfish” has become misleading.
Most of the goldfish you can find ready for sale in pet shops aren’t golden, or any color close to golden.
You can now find matte (non-reflective) black, blue, speckled orange, silver, and chocolate brown goldfish.
There are goldfish that not only sport dazzling colors but also interesting domed or dented (convex) scales.
Goldfish may come with metallic scales or scales in calico colors.
Extreme coloration would make goldfish easy targets for predators in the wild or in your backyard pond, but they are harmless, interesting adaptations for goldfish kept in captivity.
Here are some of the most common kinds of fancy goldfish you can keep in a home aquarium.
Metallic Goldfish come from three gene pools, Blue Belly, Metallic, and Mock Metallic.
They can have scales of a single color, red, orange, yellow, blue, or black, or they can have scales of a single color mixed with streaks of silver.
Goldfish that have metallic scales seem to shimmer in their aquarium lighting.
This is due to a layer of guanine just beneath their scales that reflect light like a prism.
Some metallic goldfish have just small patches of metallic scales. Goldfish that have metallic scales all over their bodies are highly prized.
Calico Goldfish have a mixture of matte and reflective scales.
The reflective scales, also known as nacreous scales, have a layer of guanine underneath them.
Calico Goldfish can have some scales that don’t have any pigment in them. These scales look pink.
Other scales can have pigments of brown, blue, violet, or gray.
If Calico Goldfish in your aquarium manage to reproduce, their offspring have a 50-50 chance of being calico.
Some Calico Goldfish will have a balance of colors.
They will have slim bodies, and they will grow long and strong enough to compete with Common and Comet Goldfish for food.
Beloved pets in Japan, these goldfish are known as Shibunkins.
Shubunkins are often beautifully “striped” goldfish.
These slim, fast-swimming, graceful fish can easily compete with Common Goldfish and Comet Goldfish for food.
But you should never put them in the same enclosure as any of the fancy goldfish we will discuss in the next section.
Choosing Fancy Goldfish
The fancy goldfish include Goggle-Eyed Goldfish (goldfish that seem to be wearing eyeglasses), Fancy-Finned Goldfish, and Egg-Shaped Goldfish.
There is no reason a beginner to keep goldfish can’t keep, as long as these fancy goldfish are kept indoors in their own tank.
Trying to keep any of these fancy goldfish with any of the goldfish we have already mentioned will not end well for them.
Goggle-Eye Goldfish have big, protruding eyes that look more than a little like goggles.
This group of goldfish includes Bubble-Eye Goldfish, Celestial Goldfish, and Golden-Eye Goldfish.
Goggle-Eye Goldfish are especially hard to care for. It is dangerous to keep Goggle-Eye Goldfish with Guppies and Barbs.
They need a large tank with a safety cover over the filtration system.
Even when they are the only fish in the aquarium, you will need to add an antibiotic like Metafix to the water they swim in.
When Goggle-Eye Goldfish injure their eyes, there is nothing you can do for them except to add Metafix and keep their water perfectly clean.
They are susceptible to easy shock from cold temperatures and suffer severe stress when they have to compete with other fish for food.
They have very poor vision and are constantly at risk of puncturing their eye sac bubbles on objects in their aquarium.
They are clumsy because they don’t have a dorsal (tail) fin. But they are fascinating to watch.
Fancy-Finned Goldfish, as their name suggests, have fancy fins. Common varieties of Fancy-Tailed Goldfish include Fantails and Veil Tails.
Fantails are probably the hardiest variety of Fancy-Finned Goldfish. If you are new to keeping goldfish, they are a great choice.
They can usually survive alongside Common Goldfish and Comet Goldfish, and they do well in outdoor ponds as well as indoor aquariums.
Fantail Goldfish are the Western cousins of a goldfish that is very popular in Japan, the Ryukin.
Fantail Goldfish have round, egg-shaped body. They don’t have a shoulder hump.
They are capable of surviving cold temperatures in deep water (at least 3 feet or 1 meter) outdoors in winter, as long as they don’t freeze, but they are happiest in an indoor aquarium at a constant temperature of 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius).
Fantails Goldfish have fat, short, egg-shaped bodies.
Varieties of Egg-Shaped Goldfish include the previously mentioned Fantails along with Lionheads and Rancheros.
The shorter swim bladder in Egg-Shaped Goldfish makes them slower and less agile, and puts them at a severe disadvantage at feeding time if they are housed with larger, sleeker goldfish.
The compressed physique of Egg-Shaped Goldfish can force them at a downward angle.
It can interfere with digestion, so you will need to pay special attention to their diet.
They must be fed neither too much nor too little.
Except for the Fantails, Egg-Shaped Goldfish cannot stand water temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) and they demand excellent water quality.
Every Egg-Shaped Goldfish needs an aquarium that contains at least 20 gallons (about 80 liters) of clean water, with another 10 gallons (38 liters) for each additional fish.
Other Varieties of Goldfish You May See in the Pet Store
Larger pet stores keep tanks stocked with fascinating goldfish with unique features.
Here are just a few of the offerings you may find on display.
The Black Telescope is a nearly completely black variant of Goggle-Eyed Goldfish that has black, protruding, extremely noticeable eyes.
The bulging of the eyes and the blackness of the scales only increase as this fish grows older.
Black Telescopes sometimes live to be 25 years old. This goldfish may also be advertised as a Kuro-Demekin, Moor, Popeye, or Dragon-Eye.
The Panda Telescope Goldfish starts life with a panda-like black and white color scheme, but its body may turn pink or green as it matures, the fins retaining their black and white stripes.
Some Panda Telescopes will turn pure white with no panda coloration as they age. There can be pure orange Panda Telescopes, too.
White Telescopes have bulging eyes with pure white scales. This fish can get whiter with age.
They are better adapted to cool water temperatures than the other Telescope Goldfish.
Celestial Eye Goldfish, also known by their Japanese name Choteri-Gan, have a double tail and telescope-like eyes with pupils pointed upward.
This goldfish does not have a dorsal fin, but it is still an agile swimmer.
Celestials may be orange, white, or red and white. Some Celestials have nacreous (iridescent) scales.
Because Celestials have poor vision, they cannot compete with other goldfish for food. It is also important to keep sharp objects out of their tanks.
Orandas (referred to as “Wen” in stores that cater to Chinese buyers) look like they are wearing a raspberry on their heads.
The raspberry-red growth may cover their entire face except for the eyes and mouth. The growth may take one or two years to develop. It leaves some Orandas blind.
Orandas are available in a variety of colors, including orange, red, red-and-black, red-and-white, black, blue, chocolate, bronze, silver, white black-and-white (panda-colored), tricolor (red-black-and-white), and calico.
They are extremely susceptible to bacterial infections.
The Azuma Nishiki is a nacreous (iridescent) variety of Oranda. Chinese breeders have developed telescope-eyed Orandas.
Pearlscale Goldfish have some white, convex scales that look like little pearls.
They grow up to the size of an orange, but their round shape makes them prone to swim bladder problems that make it hard to maintain their position in the water.
Pompom Goldfish, also known as Hanafusa, have bundles of loose fleshy outgrowths between their nostrils and on each side of the head.
These fleshy growths are sometimes referred to as nasal briquettes. Sometimes the growths hang down past their mouth.
They can have metallic or iridescent (nacreous) scales. Pompoms were once extremely popular, but now they are seldom available for sale.
Veiltails are prized for their extra-long, flowing double tails. Their tails look something like the wedding veil for a bride.
Veiltails also have well-developed, tall dorsal fins.
Veiltails come in many colors. Some have metallic or nacreous scales.
They don’t swim very well, so they should not be kept in the same aquarium with more aggressive kinds of goldfish.
They are sensitive to cold, and don’t do well in water temperatures that fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius).
Butterfly Tail Goldfish are best appreciated when viewed from above. They have double tails that fan out to resemble butterflies.
Most Butterfly Tail Goldfish have telescoped eyes, so they need to be kept separate from other goldfish to avoid injury and excessive competition for food.
The Curl-Gilled or Reverse-Gilled Goldfish has gill covers that seem to be turned inside out.
Most Curl-Gilled Goldfish are metallic orange.
Tamasaba Goldfish are attractive, strong goldfish that almost always come in red and white.
Their long, flowing single tail resembles that of a mackerel. These goldfish can compete with other varieties in outdoor ponds and in aquariums.
This curly-fantail goldfish has a distinctive tail fin that spreads out like a fan.
The fin can spread out horizontally with its leading edges curling under once or even twice.
Viewed from above, a Tosakin looks like a flat half-circle.
Tosakins come in red, white, and iron-black. They are very poor swimmers and have to be kept away from strong currents.
Achieving the flat, rounded tail requires keeping the fish in a shallow bowl with sloping sides for the first year of its life to avoid excessive upward or downward movement.
Tosakins are clumsy swimmers. They cannot compete with more agile fish for food.
They are usually kept in aquariums with sponge filters because the fish cannot swim against a strong current.
Changing the water in their aquarium frequently and on a rigid schedule is necessary for preventing disease.
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