Goldfish (Carassius auratus)

Updated on November 20, 2020 by

Very hardy fish, well known by most aquarists, they are active and playful, bringing joy in every aquarium.

Quick stats – Goldfish

Category Info
Origin Asia
Max size 18-12” / 20-30 cm
Aquarium Min 30 gallon / 100 liters
Water 65-75° F / 18-24° C

KH 4-20, pH 6.5-7.5
Care level Easy
Behaviour Peaceful
Diet Omnivore
Family Cyprinidae
Colors Gold, red, white, black

Goldfish description

Belonging to the Cyprinidae family, and originating from the cool streams, lakes and ponds of Asia and part of eastern Europe, the goldfish (carassius auratus) is the most popular fish species of the freshwater and always among the list of considerations when setting up an aquarium. Owing to its social nature, ease of care, calm temperament, and intelligence, the goldfish is always the first consideration of beginners and experienced aquarists alike.

There are different types of goldfish and they all have dissimilar shape, size, aesthetic colours and behaviors. So before setting up tank for the lovely goldfish, you need to make sure what type you want to keep and how to care for them. Providing proper care for your goldfish, it can easily live for more than 10 years.

Goldfish can be easily found in most pet shops and fish stores at large and setting up the ideal environment for them is rather cheap.
The goldfish species can be categorized into two broad classes with each having different species of dissimilar characteristics. They are as follows:

1) The single tailed/slim body type.
2) Fancy/egg shaped goldfish type.

Goldfish – The Single Tailed/Slim body type

The Common Goldfish

This is the most popular and most common (as the name implies) of the goldfish family. These fish are very hardy and are not prone to diseases, which makes them a great consideration for any beginner enthusiast.

In the wild, the common goldfish is found in rivers, lakes, streams, and ponds of freshwater with adequate vegetation. They thrive in a colder region of water having a temperature of 16-22° C with a pH of 6.0-8.0.

They come in different colors, ranging from yellow, orange, black, red to brown. They have a rigid and single tail which are not too long in size and can grow up to 16cm long.

Common Goldfish 2

Setting up an aquarium for the common goldfish requires mimicking their natural habitat to provide them the necessary comfort.
As a social fish, 2-3 small goldfish can be housed in a well filtered 10-gallon tank, subject to adequate upgrade as they grow and increase in size. The water should be changed monthly, replacing at least 40-50% of the water.

The water can be slow moving to stagnant with adequate vegetation. Though they require no specific substrate, a silty or gravel substrate can provide comfort for the goldfish.
As omnivores, they are not picky eaters and can feed on both meaty foods and vegetation, with a bit of flake food to spice up their diet. 

These common goldfish are picky when it comes to tank mates. They don’t even do well with fancy goldfish, even though they are of the same family.

Suitable tank mates for the common goldfish include the Cherry Barbs, Zebra Danios, ghost and cherry shrimps and White cloud mountain minnows. However due to the fact that the common goldfish can live in extreme cold environments, suitable goldfish that can thrive in such extreme environment would be the perfect companion for the common goldfish.

Aggressive and predatory species like the Cichlids are unsuitable tank mates for the common goldfish. Also species that cannot thrive in the cold freshwater conditions of the common goldfish should be greatly avoided.

With proper care the Common Goldfish can live up to 5-10 years.

The Comet Goldfish

Bred in the United States, the Comet Goldfish is another type of single-tailed goldfish with a striking resemblance with the Common Goldfish. The dissimilar features between the Common Goldfish and the Comet Goldfish are in the body and tail.

The Common Goldfish has a rather broader body and a short tail (otherwise known as caudal fin), while the Comet Goldfish has a slender body and a longer flowery tail (caudal fin) in the shape of a comet, hence the name Comet Goldfish.

These flowing flowery tails are usually more than half the size of their body and are really a great sight to behold when viewed from the top of the aquarium.

Comet Goldfish 1

Like the common goldfish, the comet goldfish comes in different aesthetic colours ranging from orange, yellow to white, which adds beauty and glamour to the tank. The comet goldfish are more playful and active than most of the other goldfish breeds. They are fast swimmers and can thrive in environments with very low temperatures.

Including the tail, the comet goldfish could be the longest goldfish, growing up to 14″ long. The aquarium setup of the comet goldfish will require a well filtered 50 gallon tank with temperatures ranging from 10 to 23° C to house 2-3 goldfish.

Requiring no specific substrate, a silty or gravel substrate would be okay for the comet goldfish.

Being omnivores, these species are non picky eaters and as such can eat almost anything from meaty food to vegetables and flake foods. Just like the common goldfish, Weather Loaches, Zebra Danios and Bristlenose Plecos are suitable tank mates for the comet goldfish.

Fin nippers like the Tiger Barbs should be avoided in the tank housing the comet goldfish. Also predator fish such as Cichlids, ought to be also avoided.

With proper care, the Comet Goldfish can live up to 14 years.

The Shubunkin Goldfish

The peaceful Shubunkin goldfish has a striking resemblance with the comet fish due to similar aesthetic color patterns. The Shubunkin goldfish is multicolored fish with different shades of colour on its body such as black, white, orange, purple, brown, red, yellow, gray, calico and blue.

This multi-coloration makes it stand out among other goldfish types. The exquisite coloration of the Shubunkin goldfish adds glamour and beauty to the tank, brightening the room.

There are three varieties of the Shubunkin goldfish, which are the American Shubunkin, the London Shubunkin and the Bristol Shubunkin.

The Bristol Shubunkin is larger with a more rounded caudal fin than the London Shubunkin. The American Shubunkin has a long deeply indented tail also called a ribbon tail.

They are hardier than most other goldfish species, and as such they are very easy to breed.

Shubunkin Goldfish 1

The environment setup for the Shubunkin goldfish will require a well filtered 75 gallons of slow moving water with the temperature between 16-22 °C, pH between 6.0-8.0, and hardness of 5-19 dGH.

The Shubunkin goldfish are messy, which demands that the water should be changed more often than other species, replacing more than 40% of the water each time.

Requiring no specific substrate, medium sized gravel will be the most suitable for the Shubunkin goldfish as it would allow them to sift through in order to find left over foods.

As omnivores, they are also non-picky eaters and do well with meaty foods (both live and frozen), vegetables and flake foods. They are active and fast swimmers, which makes them unsuitable tank mates for slow moving and shy species.

Also overly aggressive species such as some Cichlids and Tiger Barbs should be avoided in the tank as they would harass and even prey on the Shubunkin goldfish.

Common and Comet goldfish types are suitable tank mates for the Shubunkin goldfish. Also other larger peaceful fast swimming species can also be suitable for the Shubunkin Goldfish. Small species such as Neon Tetras should be avoided as they might be mistaken for food.

With proper care the Shubunkin Goldfish can live up to 15 years.

The Wakin Goldfish

The Wakin Goldfish is one of the strongest species of the goldfish family and can live in a wide range of water conditions. They are known for their slender long body with flowery fins and a flowing tail. 

They come in many shades of colors ranging from red, milky colour, bi-color and calico mix of different colors such as red, white and black.

Wakin Goldfish is a breed of goldfish with a combination of fancy and non-fancy appearance having a double tail but a long body.

Wakin Goldfish 1

The ideal environment for housing a couple of Wakin Goldfish should provide a well filtered 30 gallons tank with temperatures between 18-25° C. Also omnivores, they are not picky eaters and can feed on a large variety of foods from meaty food to vegetables and flakes.

Meals prepared for the Wakin Goldfish should be rich in protein and fibers.

The Wakin Goldfish is also compatible with peaceful species alike such as the ghost and cherry shrimps, Weather or Dojo Loaches and other compatible goldfish. Just like every other goldfish species, more aggressive and predator species should be avoided in the tank.

The Wakin Goldfish are fast swimmers with huge appetites, which makes them unsuitable tank mates for slow and/or shy species.

With proper care, the Wakin Goldfish can live up to 15 years reaching about 10″ long.

The Jikin Goldfish

Native to the rivers of Japan and China, the Jikin Goldfish is truly a beauty of the Goldfish species. It has a long and slender body with a colorful tail.

Also called Peacock Tail Goldfish because of its brightly colored tails, this Goldfish is a Japanese national treasure. Jikin Goldfish frequent colors are silvery white and reddish.

Jikin Goldfish 1

This is also a hardy species and can thrive in many types of environments. But a well filtered 30-50 gallons tank with temperatures between 23-24° C and pH level of 6.0-8.0 will be ideal for the Jikin Goldfish.

However, Jikin Goldfish are extremely active swimmers and always have the tendency of jumping out of their tanks. This requires that their tank should be fitted with a lid. Requiring no specific substrate, a gravel substrate will do just fine for the Jikin Goldfish.

Jikin goldfish are not picky about their meal, and can live on any diet that comes their way. So feeding this species is not a hassle. But they shouldn’t be overfed, and leftover foods should be removed from the tank to prevent water pollution which will be harmful for the Jikin Goldfish.

With proper care, the Jikin Goldfish can grow up 9″ and live up to 9 years and more.

Goldfish – The Fancy/Egg shaped type

As the name implies, this Goldfish category usually have a round and oval shape like an egg, with short and stocky body. They come in way brighter colors displaying exuberant beauty compared to the single tailed/slim body types, hence the implication of the name “fancy”.

A particular characteristic of species of Goldfish in this category is their double-tail.

They are generally slow swimmers and not suitable for extremely low temperatures.

They are social, peaceful and friendly, but are recommended for more experienced or expert aquarists due to their sensitive nature and the fact that they are prone to diseases.

Let’s take a quick look at the Goldfish that belong to this category and how to care for them.

The Fantail Goldfish

These species are considered the most common and popular fancy Goldfish. They are egg-shaped with a long dorsal fin and a long flowy tail shaped like a fan, hence the name Fantail Goldfish.

They exist in different shades of colors such as orange, silver, black, yellow, silver, bronze and red. They are quite hardy compared to most fancy Goldfish, but not as the single-tailed non fancy Goldfish.

Fantail Goldfish 1

The ideal environment of the Fantail Goldfish should provide a well filtered 20-30 gallons tank, having a temperature of about 26° C to house 1-2 Fantail Goldfish.

Although they are omnivores and can feed on meaty foods and vegetables alike with flakes foods, they shouldn’t be overfed as these species always have digestive complications due to the fact that their organs are very compactly positioned in their body.

As slow swimmers they are unsuitable tank mates of the fast swimming non-fancy single-tailed Goldfish types and other boisterous and fast swimming species.

This is because the fast swimming species will always out run and overpower the Fantail Goldfish during feeding, thus leaving the Fantail Goldfish inadequately fed. Also fin nippers like the Tiger Barbs should be greatly avoided as the Fantail Goldfish cannot escape from harassing fish species.

However they are suitable tank mates of other slow swimming Goldfish alike. Zebra Danios, Neon Tetras, Mollies, Rosy Barbs, or White Cloud Mountain Minnows are considered suitable tank mates of the fantail goldfish. Invertebrates such as ghost and cherry shrimp and nerite snail can make good companions of the fantail goldfish.

With proper care, the Fantail Goldfish can grow up to 6″ long and live up to 10 years.

The Pearlscale Goldfish

Originating from China and shaped like an adorable golf ball, the Pearlscale Goldfish is a rare beauty of the aquarium hobby.

They have round scales in the form of a pearl (hence the name Pearlscale) with short white fins similar to the Fantail. The scales consist of calcium carbonate deposits which gives the fish a fascinating look, and a great sight to behold. 

They come in different colour patterns and markings including red, white, black, blue, bi-color and calico.

Calico Crown Pearlscale Goldfish 1

They are slow swimmers and always face difficulty with balance and buoyancy due to their shape. The Pearlscale Goldfish is categorised into two types, namely: The Crowned Pearlscale and the Wenned Pearlscale.

The Crowned Pearlscale comes with a bubble on top of its head that may be single or split to the middle.

The Wenned Pearlscales may have a small bubble on the top of the head like the Lionhead Goldfish or a large Oranda-like.

However, not all Pearlscale have the head feature. As a matter of fact, most of the Pearlscale Goldfish’ head is actually part of the entire body.

Pearlscales are hardy species and are able to withstand cold conditions. Setting up an aquarium for the Pearlscale Goldfish requires a well filtered 20 gallons tank, with a temperature in the range of 18-22° C to house 1-2 fish.

They are not heavy eaters, and as such should be fed with just enough so they can finish in a few minutes. As omnivores, they can feed on meaty foods and nourished vegetables.

Peaceful and slow species alike such as Bubble eyes, Telescope eyes like Black Moors, Veiltails and in some cases Lionheads are all suitable companions for the Pearlscale Goldfish. More aggressive relatives like the Ryukin are unsuitable tank mates of the Pearlscale as they would always pick on the Pearlscale.

With proper care the Pearlscale Goldfish can live up to 10-15 years, growing up to 4”.

The Ryukin Goldfish

The Ryukin Goldfish has a fanlike tail similar to that of a Fantail Goldfish. However, Ryukin is taller than the Fantail with a hump on its shoulder. 

Long-tailed versions of the Ryukin are called Fringe-tail or Ribbon-tail Ryukin.
They are available in different colors from red,white, bi-color(red and white), chocolate and calico.

Ryukin Goldfish 1

Setting up the environment for this lovely species will require a well filtered 30 gallons tank to house 1-2 Ryukin fish. Although they are very hardy fish and can live in colder water conditions, the most suitable water temperature of the Ryukin fish should be 24° C with pH levels between 6.5-7.5 and hardness of 4-20 dH. 

The water should be changed on a weekly basis, replacing more than 30% of the water at each interval. Requiring no specific substrate, a gravel substrate will be suitable for the Ryukin Goldfish.

As omnivores, the Ryukin can feed on meaty foods, vegetables and flake foods. Bloodworms, brine shrimp and tubifex worms are extremely appealing to the Ryukin Goldfish. High quality flake food should be fed as well to achieve an ideal diet balance.

These species are easy to breed and can lay up to 1000 eggs with the fry hatching in 5-6 days. The fry should be moved to a separate tank and fed with small live food or prepared nutritious food recommended for the fry.

Ideal tank mates for the Ryukin include the Plecos and some Corydoras. As a peaceful species, aggressive species should be avoided in their tank. Also active and fast swimming species are unsuitable for the Ryukin Goldfish.

With proper care, the Ryukin Goldfish can live up to 10-15 years, growing up to 8” long.

The Telescope Eye Goldfish

Owing to the name, these species have protruding and bulging eyes in the form of a telescope.

Due to the fact that these species are poor-sighted, they are not recommended for beginner aquarists, as special care needs to be given due to the eyes of these species. For instance, be extra careful when netting these fish, as their eyes can be easily damaged.

They are available in different colors such as red, white, blue, chocolate, calico, bi-color and tri-color. Also these species are susceptible to diseases and sickness if their water condition is not adequately treated.

Telescope Eye Goldfish 1

Setting up the environment for these lovely fish, requires a well filtered and treated water in a 30 gallons tank, with a temperature range of 18-23° C. Decorations with sharp edges should be greatly avoided, as this may tend to tear the fins and eyes of this delicate species.

A smooth substrate is more suitable to a glassy sharp substrate. This is because a glassy sharp substrate might wound the poor sighted species as it forages the tank for food.

As omnivores, they can feed on meaty and vegetable foods. High quality flaked foods are used to strike a balance in their daily diet requirements.
Bloodworms, tubifex and brine shrimp is a welcoming treat for the Telescope Eye Goldfish.
They are quite slow eaters due to their poor sight which gives them a difficult time in seeing their food. 

Aggressive species should be greatly avoided in the tank of the Telescope Eye Goldfish.

With proper care, the delicate Telescope Eye Goldfish can live up to 10-15 years whilst growing up to 6” long.

The Bubble Eye Goldfish

This is a very delicate species of the Goldfish family. These species have sac-like eyes similar to a large water bubble, hence the name Bubble Eye Goldfish.

They come in different colors such as red, blue, chocolate and calico. These species are not recommended for beginner aquarists because they require special care and handling, and they are frequently prone to diseases and sickness.

Bubble eye Goldfish 2

The environment setup of this species requires a well filtered 30 gallons tank, with a temperature range of 18-22°C.

Their water should be subjected to weekly changes and refill, replacing up to 40% of the water at each interval, to avoid build up and coagulation of dirt in the filters and substrate, which are the major causes of diseases for the Bubble Eye Goldfish.

As delicate species, decorations with sharp edges should be greatly avoided. Sharp substrate should be avoided as well.

As omnivores, they can also feed on meaty and vegetable foods. Their diet should also be balanced with nourishing flaked foods.

The most suitable tank mates of the bubble eye goldfish are more Bubble Eye Goldfish. They can’t thrive with active fish breeds and as such, these should be avoided.

With proper care, the Bubble Eye Goldfish can live up to 10-15 years, growing up to 4”.

The Veiltail Goldfish

As the name implies, this species have an adorable flowy long tail in the form of a veil. This tail can outgrow the actual size of the fish body itself. 

Though they look similar to the Fantail Goldfish, they have a rounder short and stubby body  with a wide head which gives it an extremely distorted swim bladder. 

Like the Fantail, their dorsal fin is held erect, although they can grow to a very long length. Their double caudal and anal fin are well separated. These species are available in thick red, orange or calico color.

Veiltail Goldfish 1

Due to the fact that the distorted swim bladder of the Veiltail Goldfish frequently affects them, and their delicate fins are susceptible to diseases and injury, they are therefore not advisable for beginner aquarists.

Setting up a tank for these delicate species requires a well filtered 30 gallons of water with a temperature range of 18-22°C, pH range of 6.0-8.0 and hardness of 5-19 dGH. As delicate species, the water should be subject to weekly renewal, replacing over 30% of the water at each interval.

Decorations with sharp edges should be avoided in the tank. A smooth substrate would be adequate.

As omnivores they can feed on a variety of live food, vegetables and a nourished flaked meal.

Fin nippers should be greatly avoided in the tank, as they will harass the Veiltail Goldfish and even cause them injuries.

With proper care, the Veiltail Goldfish can grow up to 7” and live up to 15 years.

The Lionhead Goldfish

These species look similar to the Oranda Goldfish, but differ in their short, stumpy fins and lacking a dorsal fin. They are available in different colors ranging from red, white, black, gold to calico.

These species have a short and round body with a soft plumpy hood which often covers the entire head. Due to the fact that their hoods have a resemblance with a cluster of berries, they are often called bramble heads. Their hood develops at the age of 6 months and continues to grow along with the fish.

The hood may grow so much that it extends to the gills plates which often results in complicated respiratory problems.

Lionhead Goldfish 1

Although they are quite a beauty to behold and will add exuberance and true colors to the tank, they are however not so hardy and not adaptable to extreme water conditions. All these factors make the Lionhead Goldfish rather unsuitable for beginner aquarists.

The tank environment of these species requires a 30 gallons of slowly moving water with temperature range of 18-22°C, pH range of 6.0-8.0 and hardness of 5-19 dGH. These species have a very low tolerance for pollution and as such the water should be adequately filtered and regularly changed up to 40% to avoid pollution.

As omnivores, the lionhead goldfish will feed on meaty foods, vegetable and nourished flake foods.

Aggressive species are threats to the Lionhead Goldfish and should be greatly avoided. Peaceful species are suitable tank mates of the Lionhead Goldfish.  However, the most suitable tank mates of the Lionhead Goldfish are naturally more Lionhead Goldfish.

With proper care the delicate Lionhead Goldfish can live up to 10-15 years, growing up to 5” long.

The Tamasaba Goldfish

Also called Sabao, the Tamasaba Goldfish is a very beautiful but uncommon Goldfish native to the streams and river basins of Japan. This species is also called Mackerel Tail Goldfish due to the fact that it has a single flowing tail like that of a mackerel.

The Tamasaba Goldfish has a similar structure to Ryukin Goldfish, whilst having a flowery fin. They are breeds developed by the crossing of a single tailed Syounai (no longer available) and a double tailed Ryukin Goldfish.

They are often regarded as the single-tailed version of the Ryukin as they possess a long and flowy single tail.

They are available in different colours such as red and white.

Tamasaba Goldfish 1

Setting up the environment for the Tamasaba Goldfish involves a very well filtered 75 gallons tank having a temperature of about 24° C. Tamasaba Goldfish are omnivores and will feed on a variety of meaty, vegetable and flaked foods.

As a slow moving species, suitable tank mates of the Tamabasa would be slow moving species alike. 
Aggressive species are definitely unsuitable tank mates for the Tamasaba Goldfish. Also fin nippers such as the Tiger Barbs must be avoided as they will harass the Tamasaba Goldfish.

With proper care, the Tamasaba Goldfish can live up to 15 years whilst growing up to 12” long.

The Celestial Eye Goldfish

These species are selective breeds from the mutation of the Telescope Goldfish, and thus resembles greatly the Telescope Eye Goldfish. However, the eye of the Celestial Goldfish is not as big as the Telescope Eye Goldfish’ and points upwards, while the eyes of the Telescope Goldfish point sideways.

This results in the poor sight capabilities of these lovely species.

These upwards pointing eyes, determine the reason why the Celestial Goldfish are called stargazers in China. Also the Celestial Eye Goldfish lacks dorsal fins and are very slow swimmers.

They come available in different colors such as black, white, orange and calico.

However these species are prone to diseases and as such require special care. Thus as a delicate species they are not found often among beginner aquarists.

Celestial eye Goldfish 1

The tank setup for the Celestial Eye Goldfish requires about 30 gallons of well treated and filtered water, with a temperature of 18-22° C. A sharp gravel substrate should be avoided in their tank as this may injure this delicate species.

Although they are omnivores and can feed on meaty foods, vegetables and flaked foods, they are quite picky eaters. Brine shrimp, bloodworm, tubifex worms or daphnia are delicious meaty treats for the Celestial Eye Goldfish.

A well nourished flaked food should be used to balance their diet. However, due to their poor vision, they will have a hard time finding their food and consequently need a longer time during feeding.

The best tank mates of the Celestial Eye Goldfish are more Celestial Eye Goldfish. However species with impaired vision such as the Telescope Eye Goldfish, Bubble Eye Goldfish and the Lionhead Goldfish are suitable tank mates of the Celestial Eye Goldfish.

Fast moving species should be greatly avoided as these other species will always outfeed the visually impaired Celestial Eye Goldfish.

With proper care, the Celestial Eye Goldfish can live up to 15 years whilst growing up to 5” long.

The Black Moor Goldfish

The Black Moor Goldfish are the living proof that not all Goldfish come in a golden color. The Black Moor are completely black except for their underbellies. They sometimes change color from black to gray.

The Black Moor Goldfish resembles the Veiltail Goldfish as it has a single dorsal fin and a fully divided paired and flowing caudal fins. But differs in the protruding eyes which resembles the Telescope Goldfish.

Sometimes called Moor Telescope, the Black Moor Goldfish has similar eyes to the Telescope Goldfish. A Black Moor has its eyes placed on the extreme tips of its protuberance. This results in the poor sight capacity of the Black Moor Goldfish.

The Black Moor Goldfish are greatly sought after in the aquarium hobby, due to their contrasting colors.

Black Moor Goldfish 1

Setting up a tank for the Black Moor Goldfish will require 30 gallons of well filtered slow moving water having a temperature range of 18-22° C. Due to the telescopic eyes, they are also susceptible to disease, which requires that 20% of the water should be replaced on a weekly basis.

As omnivores they can feed on meaty, vegetables and flaked foods. Their diet should be balanced to provide them with adequate nourishment. Due to their poor vision, they will have a hard time finding their food, therefore requiring a longer time to feed.

Fast moving species are unsuitable tank mates for the Black Moor Goldfish, as they will always outfeed the Black Moor. Slow moving, vision impaired species alike are the perfect tank mates of the Black Moor Goldfish.

With proper care, the Black Moor Goldfish can live up to 10-15 years whilst growing up to 8″ long.

To conclude

The word “Goldfish” is only a house name which harbours a lot of species. So before keeping a Goldfish, one should make the decision on which breed to get, and acquire adequate knowledge on how to best care for them.

The single tailed type species are quite hardy and active species recommended for beginner aquarists.
Most of the fancy type species are rather delicate and thus not recommended for beginner aquarists.

However, Goldfish are really the best choice to add astonishing colors and fun to your aquarium world.

Frequently asked questions

How many species of Goldfish exist?

There are over 300 species of Goldfish in existence.

What Goldfish species are suitable for beginner aquarists?

The single tailed/non fancy type species are the most suitable for beginner aquarists.

How long can a Goldfish live?

On average, provided with adequate care, a Goldfish can live up to 15 years, sometimes even longer.