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Goldfish Species

Goldfish originated in China during the Sung Era, approximately 1000 A.D. China has bred goldfish for more than a thousand years. Around 1500 A.D., goldfishwere first exported to Japan and Korea. Then in the 1600s to Europe and it was not until 1876 that goldfish were also exported to the United States. 

The goldfish that we enjoy today is a result of more than 1700 years of human effort to select and stabilize desirable gene combinations from the wild Crucian Carp (Carassius Carassius) to the multiple varieties that exist today.

The following is a brief description of some of the popular goldfish varieties in the trade. This list is by no means exhaustive. 


Orandas were first bred at about the same time as the lionhead in 1893. It is characterized by a heavy growth of tissue on the head. Head growth can be enhanced if fish are kept in clean water with low organic content and algae. High protein diets in confined rearing ponds also speed up the head growth process. Jade Seal and Panda Oranda is very desirable. The Jade Seal has distinctive white head growth with a red body. Orandas can be found in every goldfish color and scale type. In general, orandas should be egg-shaped with medium to long fins. Feeding food fairly high in carbohydrates and roughage is important for proper body development. Once in a while, blood worms are a good source of protein for the developing head growth. Notable Oranda hybrids are Pearlscale Oranda, Pom Pom Oranda and Dragon Eye Oranda.

Dragon Eye:

The name Dragon Eye is favored by the Chinese. Nowadays, it is interchangeable with the Telescopes or Moors. Actually, there are some difference between them depending on the shape and the amount of protrusion of the eyes. The eye of the Telescope protrudes more whereas the eye of the Dragon Eye is bigger with less protrusion. The bulging eye is believed to have evolved around 1592. The body shape of a high quality dragon eye should be short and egg-shaped. The Dragon Eye can be found in every goldfish color. The Black Moor is a classic of this species. However, a totally jet black round short body black moor is highly desirable and rather hard to obtain. As shown in the picture, red cap dragon eye; a beautiful goldfish with white body with distinct red head growth which is a cross species with the Oranda.

Bubble Eye:

The Bubble Eye was developed in 1908, and is characterized by two large bubbles on both sides of its head. The bubbles when viewed from above can be quite fascinating. The eye can be very from small to very large. Like in many things in life, balance is the key; the picture show a Calico Bubble with good eye, body and finnage proportion. However, do take special care when handling them to avoid popping their delicate bubbles.  A common fault of Bubble Eyes is the presence of a small bump on the back of the fish. 

Celestial Eye:

This species was believed to be developed in 1870. This dorsal-less goldfish breed has a fairly long body and is a very active swimmer. The pupils of the large bulging eyes are positioned so they are looking straight up the sky, hence its name. Good quality Celestials should have smooth backs, fairly long fins, and bright distinguishable colors. Usually found in gold, red/white colors.
One popular cross breed variety is the Celestial Eye Pom Pom.


Large emphasis is placed on the head growth and was developed around 1893. The Lionhead is characterized by a short, oval body, a gentle curve along their dorsal-fin-less back, very short fins, and large head growth. Common Lion Head colors are red, red/white, calico and black. For reasons unknown, the calico generally has a smaller head growth than other colors. Today more and more solid jet black Lionheads are available but still rare. 



The Pearlscale was developed in 1900. In the early days, the Pearlscale has a round, ball-shaped body with very short side-fins, and forkless, short, doubletail fins. Today, the Pearlscale can be found in the original form and those with long forked and forkless tail fins like in the Veiltail.
Whichever style you prefer, all Pearl Scales have scales with a large white raised dome in the center of each scale. A high quality Pearl Scale will have large pearls in each scale especially those along the back. It is interesting to note that the black pigment in the calico and black Pearlscales will cover the white pearl on each scale whereas the other colors the white pearl covers the color of the scale. The Pearlscale is a big heavy fish and can reach a length of 8 inches or more. Due to its large size and fast growth, the Pearl Scale should be housed in a large aquarium. To help it develop a good shapely body, it should be fed with food high in carbohydrates and roughage. Pearlscales are strong fish but may not be for everyone to enjoy. It has such distinct characteristics that either you love it or you hate it. The most popular cross breed of the Pearlscale is the Pearlscale Oranda as shown in the picture.

Pom Pom:

The Pom Pom was developed about the same time as the Pearlscale in 1900. The Pom Pom referred to the excessive growth of the fin-like tissue over each nostril of the goldfish. Pom Pom has been bred into Orandas, Lionheads, Telescopes, and many other goldfish breeds. There are generally two different types of Pom poms. One type without the dorsal fin, has a shorter body, and a round, pea size growth over each nostril. Some varieties have four pom poms with two on each nostril. To be attractive, the pom pom on each side should be the same size and distinct like a bouquet. The common colors of this type are calico, red/white, and gold. The other type has a dorsal fin and a body very similar to that of the Oranda. The velvet color body with red pom pom is quite popular today. The Pom poms' nasal growths are very delicate. Even a soft net can damage them. Pom poms that have been torn off may or may not grow back. If they do grow back it will be smaller than the original one for many months, if not years.


This is a rare and beautiful doubletail-finned breed developed in the early 1900s. The main feature is a very high dorsal fin and long, forkless, doubletail fins. The dorsal fin should be as high or higher than the body's depth and should be held high and erect. The forkless tail fins very in length from fish to fish, but in general they should be 1.25 to 2 times the length of the body. The Veiltail has a short, egg-shaped body with a narrow, triangular head shape that ends at the mouth in a rounded point. This original beautiful egg shape Veiltail breed unfortunately is almost extinct today. The finnage characteristics of a Veiltail are a recessive trait that can be crossed into other goldfish breeds such as the Telescopes, Pearlscale and Orandas. Due to their long finnage and highly inbred nature, Veiltails are sensitive to poor water quality. Ammonia levels must be very low for this breed to do well. In any event Veiltails are very rare, difficult to locate, expensive, and is more challenging to keep and breed. The picture shown a Veiltail Telescope.
Butterfly Tail:

Butterfly Tail is a breed derived from the Dragon Eye. This relatively new breed was popularized about twenty years ago. The name came from the tail that resemble a butterfly when viewed from above. The body shape should be short to match the relatively short and board tail to be considered attractive and aesthetically pleasing. The Panda (black/white) Butterfly Tail is the most popular and was developed in Fu Chow China in 1987. Although 22 years ago, it was considered one of the newer goldfish varieties that have now become mainstream. A good quality panda butterfly tail could demand a very high price. The Butterfly Tail comes in all possible goldfish colors.


Ranchu is a dorsal-fin-less headgrowth breed similar to the Lionhead. The large, egg-shaped body should have a definite curve along the back with a sharp downward angle as the tail nears the caudal peduncle. The fins are short. The doubletail fins are held erect and well spread. Ranchu is very high in demand in Japan and other Asian countries. There are a dozen or more different varieties of Ranchus in Japan. The standards vary for the Ranchu. Big head growth is a matter of taste but the steep angle formed by the tail fins and the caudal peduncle is a crucial element to show the characteristic of a Ranchu. Basic colors are red, red/white, calico and black. Some people consider Ranchu the king of all goldfish. The Ranchu differs from the Lionhead by the curved posterior dorsal contour and the acute angle of join with the upper lobe of the tail fin at the caudal peduncle.

The Ryukin attractiveness came from its almost-circular body with short to long finnage. The circular body shape as a result of a distinct hump right behind the head. The tail should always be held very high and well spread. Today in the trade, it is separated into short or long tail. Red, red/white, and calico are the most common color combinations. Other color varieties became popular today are the Sakura and Tri-color. The Ryukin should be fed with food high in carbohydrates and roughage to help the development of their round, full bodies. The short tail version is very popular in the Far East. In the US, the longer fin version is more popular. 


The Wakin looks almost the same as a common goldfish except the tail is divided. It is the common goldfish in Japan. The wakin can grow very large in size - over 10 inches. They are very easy to care for and are great for ponds. The most popular color is the red and white.



The Jikin, is another species developed in Japan from the Wakin. Jinkin body shape is slightly shorter than the Wakin and the tail is splayed outwards therefore sometime refer to as peacock-tail. The most desirable Jikins are the completely silver-white bodies with red lips and red color on all the fins only.


The Tosakin is another species developed in Japan from the Ryukin. This is a goldfish variety with an undivided double tail. The tail splayed sideways and forwards. The Tosakin is not very popular outside of Japan. The Tosakin is among many fancy goldfish developed for viewing pleasure from above such as Celestial Eye, Butterfly Tail, Bubble Eyes etc. 


This is a very popular goldfish breed, which was believed to have originated in the US. The comet has pointed tail lobes like open scissors. They are fast swimmers and excellent fish for pond. They are hardy and cost relatively low to maintain. Most popular colors include red and white (Sarasa) and calico (Shubunkin). 



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