People often think that all goldfish look alike. However, there are actually many different types of goldfish and some of them look very different to what you might expect! For example, you may be surprised by the range of colors (far more than just “gold”), fin types and body shapes that exist.
Goldfish arose from a type of carp that was domesticated in ancient China and bred for food over 1000 years ago.
A genetic mutation in the carp meant that they would sometimes produce red, orange, yellow or gold offspring. People liked these colors and started selectively breeding carp to deliberately produce colorful offspring.
It was from this selective breeding that the first type of goldfish – the common goldfish – was born!
However, the selective breeding didn’t stop there. People wanted a wider variety of goldfish, so they kept selectively breeding to produce goldfish with certain traits. For example, big “bubble eyes”, shapes of tail fins and body size.
How many varieties of goldfish are there?
Over 200 different types of goldfish exist today.
Most of these have been selectively bred from the common goldfish to produce what are known as fancy goldfish types.
However, some fancy varieties are actually bred from other fancy goldfish. For instance, the Ranchu was bred from the Lionhead.
This selective breeding is all designed to produce a wide variety of body shapes, eye types, fin configurations and colors.
Different types of goldfish
If you’d like to explore the many weird and wonderful varieties of goldfish that exist today, we recommend starting with this article:
Fancy Goldfish Types: 20 Varieties of Fancy Goldfish
The article, by expert aquarist and The Goldfish Tank writer Alison Page, introduces 20 truly fascinating types of fancy goldfish.
Popular types of goldfish
Some of the most commonly kept types of goldfish include:
Black Moor Goldfish
The Black Moor Goldfish has a distinctly velvety black, round body with long flowing fins and protruding eyes.
Bubble Eye Goldfish
The Bubble Eye Goldfish is one of the most delicate breeds of fancy goldfish and comes in a variety of colors. It is characterized by the two fluid filled sacs or ‘bladders’ underneath its eyes.
The Celestial Goldfish has paired caudal fins and anal fins, and no dorsal fins. They can be found in orange, white, or a combination of both colors.
The Comet Goldfish is very similar to the Common Goldfish and comes in mostly a reddish orange color. However, there are differences such as the Comet Goldfish has a longer body and longer, flowing fins.
The Common Goldfish comes in a variety of colors; ranging from red, yellow and orange to bronze and black.
The fantail goldfish has a rounded, egg-like body and a split tail fin. While any goldfish with a split tail is considered a “fantail”, the Fantail is regarded as a separate breed and comes in colors that are mixed.
The Lionhead is characterized by the ‘wen’, or head growth, that covers its head and comes in a variety of colors such as calico.
Another type of goldfish with a wen – or ‘hood’ – the Oranda has a hood that develops only towards the top of its head. It comes in mostly an orange color but can be found in other colors such as red or black.
The Pearscale has uniquely-shaped scales, which are caused by calcium carbonate deposits, and have a pearly appearance. They come in a variety of colors and can be found with a hood on their head similar to the Oranda Goldfish.
The pompom goldfish is distinctive due to the two bubble-like growths than develop on its nose. They come in a wide range of colors such as orange, silver, and yellow to name a few.
The Ranchu is a strain of fancy goldfish developed from the Lionhead. However, Rachus have a much more rounded back than their Lionhead cousins. They have scales that give off a metallic appearance.
The Ryukin can be identified by the large dorsal hump that starts near its neck and makes its head look quite pointed. These come in a variety of colors such as red/white and calico.
Shubunkins have a calico coloring , which contains shades of red, gold, purple, blue, black and white. They are similar in appearance to a Comet Goldfish but have longer flowing fins and a blue coloring.
The veiltail is one of the more recently recognized fancy goldfish varieties. It was developed in Philadelphia, USA, in the early part of the 20th century. They come in a variety of colors and have long flowing fins.
In conclusion, there are over 200 different goldfish types and they all have their own characteristics and needs. Because of these different requirements, you should think carefully about which fish you choose to keep. Most of them are hardy but keep in mind what kind of tank each one needs.
Do you have a large tank or pond that can handle fast-swimming common goldfish, for instance?
Maybe you have a smaller tank that might be best suited to a single Black Moor?
Perhaps you plan to keep several goldfish in the same tank? If so, you should be careful to only keep types that go well together. For example, common goldfish don’t go well with fancy varieties.
Finally, goldfish don’t mix at all well with some other types of fish. So if you plan to keep goldfish in a community tank, you need to do your research before choosing other fish to live with your goldfish.