People first kept Goldfish in Asia in the 18th century. Ever since then, hundreds of interesting varieties have appeared in the hobby. Did you know that there are hundreds of different goldfish types?
Most of these varieties were bred with appearance in mind. Some are so unusual that they look like different species entirely. A fish with bubbles on their cheeks or a hood around their head looks like an exotic species rather than a simple Goldfish. Here are the 21 most popular types of Goldfish…
Single Tailed and Fancy Goldfish Explained
The Goldfish (Carassius auratus) is a relative of the Crucian Carp (Carassius carassius).
Many ichthyologists believe that Goldfish are a hybrid of the Crucian and Common Carp.
They were originally native to East Asia but now they can be found all over the world. As their popularity soared so did the number and types of different morphs available.
There are now hundreds of varieties and color morphs.
All of these different types of goldfish are either Single Tailed or Fancy varieties.
- Single Tailed: Single tailed breeds are the standard breeds and the ones that more closely resemble wild specimens. These fish have long, torpedo shaped bodies and a single V-shaped caudal fin. They are very energetic and can cover a lot of swimming distance. Because these breeds are not heavily modified they do not come with special needs and are the best for beginners and children. Single tailed breeds include the Common, Comet, and Shubunkin Goldfish.
- Fancy: Fancy breeds are ornamental breeds that can only be found in captivity. They are specially bred for their unusual appearances and can be identified by their paired caudal fins. You can find 3 subtypes of Fancy Goldfish: Telescope, Scaleless and Finless. They move very slowly and gracefully, with their long double caudal fins trailing behind them. Unfortunately, some of the modifications bred into these varieties can cause health problems or shorten their lifespan. The Oranda, Pearlscale, and Fantail are popular examples of Fancy breeds.
21 Types of Goldfish
The Albino Goldfish is an extremely rare goldfish breed. These Goldfish are completely white and have red eyes. The mutation can occur on both single tailed or Fancy breeds, but it cannot be selectively bred for. Breeding two Albino parents does not guarantee Albino offspring. The specific combination of recessive genes must be present in the offspring for the mutation to occur. Because of this, Albino Goldfish are highly sought after and will sell for an extremely high price when found.
The Black Moor Goldfish is a Chinese variety of the Telescope. They are completely black with a gold underside. This type of Telescope is very popular for their alluring appearance and slow, elegant movement. They grow to about 6 inches long and can have either a veiltail or fringetail. A Black Moor can live with other Fancy varieties but not with fast moving single tailed breeds. Their best tank mates include the Oranda, Ryukin, and other Telescope Goldfish.
The Bubble Eye Goldfish is a very strange variety from Japan. They are a double tailed fish with no dorsal fin and two fluid filled sacs around their cheeks. Their eyes are always facing upward. Bubble Eyes gained popularity because of their cuteness and unusual traits. Be very careful when keeping this fish in a community tank. They are extremely vulnerable so you should only keep them with other peaceful slow moving breeds like the Oranda Goldfish.
The wide double tails of this beautiful Goldfish look like a butterfly’s wings. Butterfly tails were bred onto Telescopes starting in the 1980s. The tail itself can contain up to 3 colors at once and often has a black border against an orange or yellow base. Any Telescope Goldfish can have a butterfly tail, including the Black Moor. Calico, red, gold, and orange are particularly popular color choices too.
The Comet Goldfish is one of the most popular single tailed breeds. This lively and playful fish is extremely fun to watch. They are excellent for beginners and children will be captivated by all of the tricks they can get up to. You can watch them dart in and out of underwater plants like a brightly colored torpedo. Comet Goldfish will each need at least a 50 gallon tank. They also need a strong external or canister filter and an environment furnished with cold water tolerant plants.
The Common Goldfish is the standard single tailed breed. This is the type of Goldfish that you would find in the wild, and they are the most commonly kept variety. They can be kept in an indoor tank or an outdoor pond. Gold is not the only color that you can find. Common Goldfish can also be red, orange, yellow, white, calico, and rarely albino and silver. Wild type specimens are grey or bronze. This intelligent and social fish can learn to recognize your face and even eat from your hands. They are an excellent tank mate for other single tailed breeds and some of the hardier Fancy breeds like the Ryukin or Fantail.
The Crown Pearlscale is a regal looking variety of the Pearlscale. They have large shimmering scales and a fleshy cap on top of their head. The cap is bulbous and filled with yellow fluid. Pearlscales have a compressed body with a visibly distended abdomen. They are very social and get along well with other Fancy Goldfish. They will socialize well with Orandas, Ryukins, and other Pearlscales.
The Fantail Goldfish is one of the most common Fancy breeds. They look like a single tailed breed with a short and round body. They have 2 V-shaped caudal fins and a wide, sail shaped dorsal fin. You can find them in all of the same colors that are available on a Common Goldfish. Fantails can handle a smaller tank size than a single tailed breed. You can keep a single specimen in a 30 to 40 gallon tank.
The Fringetail Goldfish is an elegant looking Fancy breed from Japan. They first appeared in the mid-1800s and since then they have been bred to create even more varieties. Fringetails look similar to Fantails with the same V-shaped caudal fins. However, the fins trail downward rather than standing upright. You can find fringe tails on many other Goldfish as well. Some Telescopes, Orandas, or Ryukins come with fringed tails. It is also possible to find a Fringetail that lacks visible scales. This is often the result of crossbreeding with a Scaleless Telescope.
The Lionhead Goldfish looks similar to the Oranda. Their head is covered by a bumpy hood called a wen and their body is humped and curves upward from the tail to the head. You should keep them in a tank full of other Lionheads or slow moving Fancy Goldfish breeds like the Ranchu or Oranda. They should not be placed with other species of fish, with the exception of peaceful bottom dwellers.
The Izumo Nankin Goldfish is a very rare breed from Japan. They look similar to the Lionhead but do not have the wen. Like the Lionhead, they have a curved body, short fins, and no dorsal fin. They are usually white with red markings but you can sometimes find them in gold or orange. Nankin Goldfish are not bred outside of Japan so expect to pay over the odds if you would like one.
The Oranda is one of the oldest Goldfish breeds. They were first bred in Japan in the 18th century and have a hood with long, trailing fins. Orandas are prized for their exotic beauty. They are best known for their wen which looks like a cluster of berries. The most common color is white with red markings and a red wen. Other colors include calico, orange, gold, and blue. Their tail can be either a Veiltail or a Fringetail.
Pearlscale Goldfish have large iridescent scales that shimmer in the light. Their name (pearlscale) refers to the size and shape of the scales, rather than the color. These Goldfish are usually white or have white as a base color. They may also come in gold, red, orange, or even black and brown.
There are very few Fancy breeds more unusual than the Ranchu Goldfish. This breed looks like a cross between a Lionhead, Oranda, and Nankin. Ranchus have egg shaped bodies and thick wens around their heads. Their fins are very small and their swimming gait is quite awkward and unbalanced. Because of these deformities the Ranchu typically has a shorter lifespan than other varieties. A healthy Ranchu Goldfish can live for about 6 to 8 years.
The Ryukin Goldfish is an adorable Japanese variety of the Fringetail. You can find them in many different colors, including red, calico, gold, and orange. They have a short, fat body with a visible balloon belly. Unlike many other Fancy Goldfish breeds with unusual body shapes, they are very hardy and healthy. However, they are still susceptible to swim bladder issues. Ryukins are a bit more uncommon than standard Fringetails and they are a little more expensive too, starting at about $20 per fish.
A Scaleless Goldfish is not truly scaleless. Their scales are just too small and thin to see. There are several situations when a Goldfish does not have scales. Certain Fringetails and Telescopes are bred to be scaleless and in rare cases, a fish may fail to develop true scales as they age. Scaleless Goldfish are very susceptible to injuries and infections.
They also cannot take the same medications as a fish with scales. They will need their water changed once a week rather than once every 2 weeks. You will also need to make sure that your substrate is not hard enough to cause any cuts or scrapes and that there are no decorations in your tank with rough or sharp edges.
A Common Goldfish’s colors do not develop until they are 8 months old. Until then, the young Goldfish is bronze or silver. In some cases the colors may never develop and the fish will stay silver. When this happens the fish is called a Silverfish. An elderly fish may also become a Silverfish as they age. Because this is considered a defect the Silverfish is not very popular. They are normally much cheaper than a regular Goldfish.
The Shubunkin is a popular single tailed breed from Japan. They are considered one of the best companions for Koi fish and there are 3 different varieties available.
- The American or Japanese-American variety is the original. Their body is the same as a Common Goldfish and their caudal fin is shaped like a V.
- The London variety has a rounder body and shorter fins, resembling a single tailed Fancy Goldfish.
- The Bristol variety is the most sought after and has trailing fins.
Shubunkins are friendly and playful fish that are suitable for first time keepers.
The Telescope, or Pop-Eye, is one of the most popular Fancy Goldfish breeds. They have bulging eyes that protrude outward from their face. Most have a full range of vision, but others may always look forward or off to the side. The Celestial Telescope is a variant with upward facing eyes. You can find them in many different colors and tail types. Fringetail, Veiltail, and Fantail are the most common. The famous Black Moor is an example of a solid black Telescope. Other popular colors include red, calico, gold, orange, blue, and bi-color. Some Telescopes are even scaleless. This does not mean that they completely lack scales but that the scales are small, thin, and fit together like a chain.
Veiltail Goldfish are extremely elegant fish. They have wide trailing fins and their caudal fins trail downward like a lady’s skirt. Veiltails are similar to Fringetails, although they lack the dorsal hump that most Fringetails have. If you look closely you will see that there is also a small indent between the tails. Just remember that they are vulnerable to fin nipping fish. To create a safe community for them you should pair them with the Oranda, Black Moor, Fringetail, or any other slow moving Fancy Goldfish.
The Wakin Goldfish is a very large double tailed variety that is bred as a companion for Koi fish. They are one of the few Fancy breeds that can get along with Comets and other energetic single tailed varieties. Because they are bred as a Koi fish companion, their colors often match Koi. A red and white Wakin will complement a Kohaku Koi quite nicely. A red, black, and white fish will pair well with the Showa or Sanke. To keep them in an aquarium you will need at least a 55 gallon tank. However, they are much better for ponds than for tanks.
If you want to keep a Goldfish then you do not have to settle for the standard variety.
Whether you have a decorated indoor tank or an outdoor pond, there is something for you.
You can get a low maintenance Comet or Fantail, or try your hand at a more challenging breed like the Ranchu or Bubble Eye.
Many of these Goldfish get along with each other quite well and they are hardy enough to be kept in many different types of habitats.
Just remember that keeping a Goldfish is often a decade long commitment, and requires time, energy, and effort just like any other pet.
We hope that this guide has given you a good look into the wonderful world of Goldfish.
What is the most unusual type of Goldfish you have ever seen? Let us know in the comments section below…