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Goldfish Facts

The Goldfish is a fish from the carp family that lives in freshwater. They are often kept as pets because they are small and don’t require as much care as other animals. They eat flakes but sometimes will eat worms, snails, and shrimp pellets.

They need a tank with a filter and lots of plants (with hardy varieties). The filter cleans the water from harmful chemicals, and the plants help keep it healthy.

Goldfish Facts for Kids

  • A group of Goldfish is called a troubling.
  • There are more than 200 different varieties of Goldfish
  • They eat Flake Foods, Fish Pelles, Algae, and Aquarium Plants
  • They can live for 10-20 years

Everything You Need To Know About Goldfish

1. They Aren’t All Gold

Odd considering the name, but Goldfish actually descend from Prussian carp, a fish that isn’t gold at all, but actually a dull gray-green color. Over the years they have been cross-bred, and certain genetic mutations have taken place to create the gold-colored scales we think of today.

They can have metallic scales (shiny). But, because of the amount of cross-breeding and mutations in DNA that have occurred over time, there are now actually over 200 different species that are classified under the catch-all label ‘goldfish’ today.

2. They Are Exceptionally Tough

Some species of fish have very strict requirements for the water they need to survive, but that’s not the case with Goldfish. Whatever variety you might have, a goldfish is a tough little fish, and it will survive well in many water types. They can deal with changes in temperatures and pH levels (within reason, of course), and they will survive well in all manner of water.

3. They Vary In Size, Dramatically

Trying to find somebody who will tell you the ‘average size of a goldfish is like trying to find a needle in a haystack because there isn’t an average. Well, not really anyway. You can find an average easily enough, but it can never represent Goldfish entirely.

First, their size depends on the room they have. Ones kept in fish tanks that are relatively small will only grow to the size of the tank. Ones that have been released into the wild, however, can grow to the size of a carp! So you can really see dramatic differences.

4. They’re An Invasive Species

For anybody who doesn’t know what that means, Goldfish are basically the home invaders of the fish world. Releasing one into a pond can disrupt native species to no end, and they are known for cross-breeding, which can often result in un-survivable genetic mutations.

Not only that, but they’re carriers of disease and can actually wipe out entire populations when introduced into a new habitat. So never release one into the wild.

5. They Have An Interesting Diet

It’s difficult to imagine what they might survive on in the wild because we’re so used to feeding them our flakey fish food at home. But, when left to their own devices, they eat some pretty interesting things.

From crustaceans to worms, lettuce to larvae, their natural diet is a varied one. You can purchase supplements for your pet goldfish if you want to mimic their actual diet, or else just provide some live plants to snack on between meals.

6. They Have Incredible Senses

Ignoring the fact that they can’t taste anything (goldfish lack barbels – a sensory organ that allows fish to taste their food), they do have impressive senses when it comes to their sight and smell. When we think of Goldfish, we probably imagine them with enormous eyes because it’s very common amongst them, and without sounding too much like we’re quoting Little Red Riding Hood here – it’s all the better to see you with.

They can see more colors than us, too, four in fact, which allows them to see ultraviolet light. They also have an incredible sense of smell and hearing too!

7. They Have Better Memories Than We Give Them Credit For

‘You’ve got a memory like a goldfish’ is a common phrase whenever somebody forgets something quickly. That’s because there is a common misconception that they can’t remember anything for longer than three seconds. However, recent research has shown that their memories are much better and can last for over a week and even up to three months!

You can try it yourself at home – put something distinctive in your tank (one experiment used a bright Lego brick) just before feeding time. After a while, they’ll come to associate that with food. Then take a break before reintroducing the object again, and you’ll see for yourself how quickly they come out awaiting their food.

8. They Have A Long Lifespan

If you have a pet goldfish that you love, then you can rejoice because most live for around ten years in aquariums. If kept in a pond, though, they can a long life and live anywhere from twenty-five to forty years! As a species, they have a pretty good lifespan.

9. They’re Easy To Tell Apart

We don’t mean that if we dropped your Goldfish into a tank of thirty others, you’d be able to reliably pick them out every time here. No, we’re talking about being able to tell the male Goldfish from the female Goldfish.

Females are darker, have rounder figures, and can sometimes appear lop-sided as mating season approaches and they produce eggs. So, look at your fish’s color and shape, and make sure you don’t need to change Frank to a Frankie.

10. They Produce Pigment In Their Skin

Much like we tan in response to light, their scales turn their famous color in response to light too. Pigments in their skin react to the sunlight that enters their tank and changes their colors, but because we only ever see ones that have been exposed to light, we might never have known it. Of course, scientists have tested this, and if left in the dark, they actually become gray fish.

11. They Don’t Have Stomachs

Again, it’s odd, considering their seemingly endless appetite, but they don’t actually have stomachs for storing all of that food. So it’s actually best to feed them in small amounts regularly, rather than lots in one go.

Providing them with too much food can actually result in death because they don’t seem to know when to stop, so they will eat whatever we give them access to – no matter the detriment to their health. You can also watch out for any plant in your aquarium as they might eat that!

12. They Are Not ‘Little Carp.’

So many people mistakenly believe that they are the same species of carp, just smaller. But this isn’t the case at all. Goldfish and carp are distinct species in their own right. They can mate and have offspring, but their offspring cannot have future offspring of their own because of a genetic mutation that renders them sterile.

This highlights again why it is so important not to release one into the wild as it could lead to population decline over time.

Different Types of Goldfish

Comet goldfish

They are the most popular variety of Goldfish. They have a fancy single tail with a dark bar at the base near the body. The common colors are orange, red, white, and cream. They also have an eyespot on their body.

Like others, they need to be kept in an aquarium with an aerator or filter. The water temperature should be between 18 °C and 25 °C.

Fantail goldfish

The beautiful Fantail goldfish is a popular freshwater fish that are great for beginners and experienced owners alike. Though these fish are very low-maintenance, there is a few aspects of their care that can be a bit tricky.

They are a type of fancy Goldfish and come from China. They have long, flowing fins that give them a resemblance to the tail of a fantail. They are more active than other types of fish and need plenty of space.

They are sometimes called “fancy goldfish” because of their strawberry-like markings and appearance. Fantail goldfish have a lifespan of 1-5 years.

They are active fish and need plenty of room.

Ryukin Goldfish

The Ryukin Goldfish is a breed of Goldfish that originated in Japan. They were developed from a mutation of the Wakin or Japanese Shubunkin Goldfish. Ryukins are characterized by their red-orange color, with an orange head and black finnage. The Ryu-Kun is also known as the Sarasa-Ryu.

In Japan, Ryukin Goldfish are known as the “Ryu-Kun.” This name is also used for the Sarasa-Ryu, the most common of all Goldfish in Japan.

Shubunkin goldfish

The Shubunkin Goldfish is a fish in the family Cyprinidae of order Cypriniformes. They are sometimes also called Tosakin or Comet Goldfish, though this can also refer to the Telescope goldfish.

The Shubunkin was developed in Japan by crossing a Fantail goldfish and a Ranchu, and was imported to North America around 1958.

Shubunkins have been bred for three different patterns: Veiltail (the traditional pattern), Rearing, which includes both Doubletail and Hoshigaki; and Wakin, which is a short-bodied fish with round eyes that have been selectively bred from Veiltails for coloration without finnage.

Black Moor Goldfish

The Black Moor Goldfish is a beautiful fish that has a deep body. The fins are long, flowing, and graceful. Their dorsal fin is sharp and pointed. The caudal fin is deeply forked. Black Moor Goldfish is a popular variety of Goldfish prized for their deep body shape, rich coloration, and ability to live in colder water than other varieties.

Frequently Asked Questions

How big can a goldfish get?

The maximum length in the wild is usually about 10 inches. The longest accurately measured was 12 inches, which is often cited as the maximum length possible.”

What do Goldfish look like?

Their body is covered with a protective layer called ‘aesthetic skin’ and has no scales, which are characteristic features of carp fish. Its mouth usually stays closed and forms the shape of a smirk. Because of this peculiarity, some people attribute with to the ability to be able to laugh. Its fins are thin and slim, and thus it is not able to swim as fast as other fish. They have a line of fine strip-like scales running down the side of its body, tapering or “finning” to a point.

How long do Goldfish live?

The average lifespan is 10-12 years, although some can live as long as 20 years. The age of a goldfish is not easy to determine.

Where do Goldfish live?

They live primarily in cool freshwater ponds, but they can also survive in pure or hard water. They have a varied diet, which includes zooplankton, small crustaceans, and insect larvae. Unlike their close relative (the carp), they cannot live in saltwater.

Where do Goldfish come from?

They were originally a decorative symbol of wealth in China, and they have been enjoyed by the Chinese people for over 2,000 years. They are domesticated carp that were bred to like living in small shallow bowls near a homeowner’s living space.

How smart are Goldfish?

They have a brain about the size of their eye. They have been shown to be able to incorporate knowledge and learn from experience. One example is that when learning is reinforced with positive feedback, they are more likely to perform that behavior again without being prompted. This indicates that they are able to learn over time. Some scientists believe there may even be higher cognitive abilities in fish, but this concept remains controversial in the scientific community at this time.

Is it OK to touch a goldfish?

Technically you can touch them, but we would recommend against it. They are notoriously susceptible to illness and can be easily harmed by any number of things — from dust and dirt in the air to chemicals in their water and food.

Can fish hear you?

The ability to hear is a key sense for an animal. The fish can hear and use low-frequency vibrations in the water. The vibrations are created by other animals or from the sounds made by living things such as plants, insects, and organisms on land.

How can you tell if your Goldfish is happy?

You can tell if your fish is happy if you notice that it is swimming around in a lively way, doing what looks like a dance, and chasing other fish.

Do pet goldfish get bored?

It is a hard one to answer, but you should always try to keep your fish entertained in order to avoid the chance of being bored.

What do Goldfish do for fun?

They have a very simple way of having fun. They mainly enjoy food. They also like to explore their surroundings and watch the world around them.

Learn More

By the Song Dynasty, selective breeding of Goldfish had begun. 1162 saw the construction of a pond to gather the red and gold variety. Since yellow was viewed as an imperial color, the public was prohibited from keeping Goldfish of the gold breed. That may be why orange Goldfish surpass yellow Goldfish, even though the latter is easier to breed.