Goldfish was one of the first fish species to be kept in ponds by humans. It hails from a wild carp, probably the Crucian Carp, but has been bred selectively for centuries in China. Goldfish is still a very popular fish in aquariums as well as in ponds and can today be obtained in a wide range of different variations. If you look further down this page you will find articles about both commonly kept Goldfish types and more unusual Goldfish variations.
All Goldfish variations belong to the same species, Carassius auratus auratus
. According to Chinese tradition the different Goldfish variations are divided into four basic groups.
- Ce goldfish or Grass goldfish are goldfish without any “fancy“ features. The Common goldfish is very similar to the carp from which it has been bred; the main distinguishing feature is the colour modification. Unlike the wild carp, the Common goldfish can be obtained in a wide range of colour variations, including white, black, lemon yellow, orange and of course the golden colour.
- Wen goldfish are goldfish equipped with a dorsal fin and a fancy tail. An example of a Wen goldfish is the Fantail goldfish that has a dual-lobed tail that can reach a size of three inches.
- Dragon Eye goldfish have protruding eyes. As the names suggest, the Bubble Eye goldfish and the Telescope Eye goldfish both belong to this group.
- Egg goldfish is a goldfish that has no dorsal fin. One example of Egg goldfish is the Japanese Ranchu goldfish. If a Bubble Eye goldfish is without dorsal fin, it is considered a part of this group instead of the Dragon Eye goldfish group.
Compared to many other fish species that have been bred and developed in captivity, the Goldfish has a remarkably long history. Its ancestor is believed to have been the Crucian Carp, a comparatively small carp with a dark grey to olive-brown colouration. The Crucian Carp is native to East Asia, and it was the Chinese that began to keep it in fish ponds. The Tang Dynasty is famous for its beautiful fish ponds, and it was during this era that the golden colour mutation was discovered and used for selective breeding. In 1162 A.D. the Chinese Emperor issued a ban that restricted anyone but the royal family from keeping yellow carps. The orange variations were however still allowed. According to ancient Chinese literature, the other colour variations that occurred were first recorded in 1276 A.D. The fancy tailed goldfish is believed to have originated during the Ming Dynasty. It wasn’t until 1502 A.D. that the goldfish was introduced to Japan, where it became highly popular and new Japanese versions of the goldfish was eventually created. Tosakin and Ryukin are two examples of Japanese goldfish. The goldfish reached Europe in 1611 A.D. when it was brought to Portugal.
Goldfish is still a popular pond fish, but some of the more vulnerable variations need to be kept in aquariums. If you want a robust pond fish, the Shubunkin is one possibility. The Shubunkin goldfish was developed by Japanese goldfish breeders that wanted to create a brightly coloured goldfish that still had the physical strength and survival skills of the common goldfish. Shubunkin goldfish is the result of selective crossings between Comet goldfish and Calico Fantail goldfish.