Pearlscale Goldfish; Care Guide, Lifespan, and More

Pearlscale goldfish are a variety of Fancy goldfish that can make an unusual addition to a coldwater aquarium. Pearlscales are fairly hardy and can be kept successfully by beginners, even in an outdoor pond setting.

Read this guide to learn everything you need to know about how to care for and breed the charming Pearlscale goldfish.

Origins Of The Pearlscale Goldfish

All modern goldfish descend from wild Prussian carp and have the scientific name Carassius auratus.

In the early 1700s, Chinese fishkeepers kept and raised Prussian carp as a food source. Several brightly colored specimens were discovered amongst the silvery-gray carp in a breeding pond. Those fish caught the eye of the fish keeper who kept those golden fish as ornamental specimens for his garden pond.

Experimental breeders discovered that the carp could be interbred and genetically manipulated to create more and more shapes and sizes of fish. Over the next couple of centuries, goldfish, as they came to be known, were being traded throughout Asia, Europe, and the US.

Pearlscale goldfish are a relatively new species of Fancy goldfish, first appearing on the market in the 20th century. Since then, the fish have gained in popularity among enthusiastic hobbyists and the Pearlscale is now a regular sight in home goldfish tanks.

What is a Pearlscale Goldfish?

Pearlscale goldfish are just one of over 200 different species of goldfish.

Like all goldfish, Pearlscales are a coldwater species that are equally happy living in a well-maintained aquarium or an outdoor pond.

Pearlscale goldfish are generally twin-tailed with very compact, rounded bodies. The fish takes its name from its nacreous scales, which have a raised center outlined with darker pigment. The scales are arranged in rows and resemble pale-colored pearls.

You can also find a variation of the Pearlscale that’s called a Hamanishiki Crown Pearlscale. This remarkable fish grows a large wen or head growth that’s similar to an Oranda goldfish.

Pearlscale Goldfish Lifespan

Pearlscale goldfish usually live for around ten to 15 years, although some examples are recorded as living for up to 20 years in exceptional cases.

What Size Are Pearlscale Goldfish?

Pearlscale goldfish typically grow to around 4 inches in length, although some owners have reported much larger specimens.

Colors And Patterns

Pearlscale goldfish are found in a range of patterns and colors, including:

  • Red
  • Blue
  • Calico
  • Black
  • Red/white
  • Chocolate

All the fish have distinctive, nacreous scales.

Price And Availability

Pearlscale Goldfish are readily available from good pet stores and online for around $20. Hamanishiki Crown Pearlscales are available but are generally more expensive, depending on the size, age, and quality of the fish.

Is The Pearlscale Goldfish Suitable For Beginners?

The Pearlscale goldfish is one the hardier species of Fancy goldfish, and we can recommend this variety for beginners. 

These fish are pretty undemanding when it comes to water temperature and quality. That said, Pearlscales can be easily damaged if handled roughly or injured by sharp objects in their environment that can knock off the fish’s raised scales. So, if you need to net your Pearlscales, be very careful not to dislodge any of the fish’s scales. Although the scales do grow back, they will appear as regular scales.

Like all species of goldfish, Pearlscales produce a lot of waste. That’s because goldfish don’t have a stomach. Instead, everything the fish eats passes straight through its digestive tract where nutrients are extracted and waste passes out into the water. In effect, that makes your goldfish a swimming garbage disposal unit!

For that reason, maintaining a goldfish tank is a time-consuming hobby that you must be prepared to devote some time to.

Pearlscale Goldfish Care Guide

This section of our guide explains how to look after these beautiful, unusual goldfish.

Tank Size and Shape

A tank of 10 gallons is the minimum size container for a Pearlscale goldfish. We recommend that you start with a larger tank of around 20 to 30 gallons if you have the space to accommodate one. You can increase the tank size by a further 10 gallons for every additional fish.

Goldfish use a lot of oxygen, so you want a tank that offers plenty of surface area for efficient gaseous exchange. The surface area is determined by the shape of the aquarium. For example, a rectangular aquarium provides more surface area and oxygen than a tall tank. Round or oval tanks are narrow at the top, meaning that the tank must be filled less than full to maximize the available surface area.

How Many Fish Can You Keep?

The goldfish you buy in fish stores are usually juveniles between three and six months old. The general rule here is to allow 1 inch of fish per 1 gallon of water. However, that’s the rule for young fish. 

Larger goldfish consume a lot more oxygen than juveniles, so you need to allow more space as your fish grow. Overcrowding can cause stress, outbreaks of disease, developmental problems, and stunted growth. So, either buy fewer fish than the maximum or be prepared to upsize your aquarium.

Water Parameters

Pearlscale goldfish prefer cooler water of around 65o and 72o Fahrenheit. However, you should never keep Pearlscales in water that’s colder than 55o Fahrenheit.

The pH should be around 6.0 to 8.0, with the water hardness between 5 and 19 dGH.

Ammonia and nitrite levels in the water must always be zero, and nitrates should be 20ppm, although less than that is preferable.


Pearlscale goldfish generate a vast quantity of waste. For that reason, you must be prepared to invest in a powerful filtration system to keep the water clean and safe for the fish. You need a filter system that circulates the water around your tank at least four times every hour and includes both mechanical and biological filter media.

However, unfortunately, if the filter outflow is too powerful, that can play havoc with the Pearlscale goldfish’s dreadful swimming style. Fancy goldfish are very poor swimmers, wobbling around the tank in a most unstable fashion. If the fish are caught in the current from the pump outflow, they will be swept away, which is highly stressful for them. 

So, you’ll need to choose a filter system that has an adjustable outflow valve or take steps to buffer the flow with plants or decorations.

Tank Maintenance

To keep your filter system operating efficiently, you’ll need to rinse the filter media in tank water once every couple of weeks and replace it periodically in line with the manufacturer’s directions. 

Weekly water changes of up to 30% are essential to remove nitrates and other harmful substances from the water. You should also use an aquarium vacuum to remove solid organic waste matter from the corners of the tank, around plant bases, and under the filter box. 

Finally, if you have living plants in your setup, you need to snip off any brown or dead leaves periodically.

Tank Decoration

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to decorating your goldfish tank. However, there are a few basic rules to follow if you want to keep Pearlscales. 

Safety First!

Pearlscales can be damaged by colliding with rough or sharp objects that could knock off the fish’s scales. 

So, we recommend that you don’t include resin ornaments or twisted roots. Instead, stick to decorations such as smooth stones, driftwood, and small glass pebbles. Place all decorations around the perimeter of the tank, leaving plenty of safe, clear swimming space for the fish.

Smooth gravel makes the best substrate for a goldfish tank, and there are many different colors to choose from.


Living plants bring natural beauty to the aquarium setup, as well as taking up nitrates from the water for use as fertilizers, absorbing CO2, and giving off oxygen.

Plants are also safe for the Pearlscales, as even if a fish blunders into a bunch of plants, no injuries should occur. 

Unfortunately, goldfish are diggers, and they eat plants, too. So, you’ll need to choose tough plant species such as Marimo Moss Balls, Java fern, and Anubias that can withstand the goldfishes’ activity.


Living plants need at least eight hours of light each day for photosynthesis. A beautifully lit aquarium shows off your fish to their best, too.

Although fish don’t need light to survive, a clear day/night lighting pattern is beneficial for the Pearlscales. Without a clear divide between daytime and night, the fish don’t know when to feed, become active, and rest. That can cause stress, which lowers the fishes’ autoimmune system, making the creatures more vulnerable to disease.

If you’re not around to switch your tank lights on and off manually, try using a lighting unit with an automatic timer, or buy a plug-in timer from a DIY shop.

Nutrition and Feeding

Goldfish are omnivorous, eating a varied diet of meaty protein, some plant matter, and algae. 

So, a good basic daily diet for your Pearlscales could include frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, etc. Fancy goldfish pellets and flake foods, and fresh vegetables, such as cucumber, zucchini, and lettuce.

Pearlscales living in a garden pond will enjoy a diet of insects, plants, worms, and insect larvae, all of which the fish will find in their natural environment. You can also offer your pond-dwelling fish some high-quality pellets to add variety and supplement their natural diet.

All egg-shaped fish tend to suffer from digestive disorders, such as constipation and bloat. Those ailments are usually caused by feeding the fish too much dried food, which accumulates in the fish’s intestines. Blockages in the fish’s gut press on the swim bladder, affecting the fish’s ability to swim on an even keel. 

Pearlscales with swim bladder problems can struggle to reach the surface, which affects feeding so that the fish don’t thrive. The fish sometimes get stuck at the surface or on the bottom of the tank, unable to descend or descend again, which is highly stressful for them.

Fortunately, constipation is relatively easy to cure by fasting your fish for a day or two, and then offering them some meaty protein or fresh vegetables. 

How Much To Feed?

Overfeeding causes health problems in goldfish. So, you only need to feed your Pearlscales enough food that they will clear in a few minutes. Feed the fish twice or three times a day.

What Are Good Tank Mates For Pearlscale Goldfish?

Since Pearlscales are such awful swimmers, you should keep them with their own species or with other varieties of Fancy goldfish. Large species of shrimp and snails can also be a good fit for a Fancy goldfish tank, as long as they are large enough to not be viewed as food items by the Pearlscales.

We recommend that you avoid including slim-bodied goldfish with your Pearlscales. The faster-swimming slim-bodied types will outcompete the slower Fancy goldfish for food, and collisions can cause injuries and stress.

Health and Diseases

Despite their exotic, fragile appearance, Pearlscale goldfish are among the more robust species of Fancy goldfish that you can keep.

However, there are a few common fish diseases that can affect the Pearlscales.


Ick is also commonly called White Spot Disease or Ich.

This disease is caused by a parasite that attaches itself to the fishes’ skin. The Ich parasite is often found in saltwater and freshwater aquariums. However, generally, only sick or stressed and weak fish are attacked.

If your Pearlscales have Ich, you’ll see them flicking or rubbing against the substrate and other solid objects in the tank. As the parasite’s life cycle progresses, a rash of tiny white spots develops on the victim’s gills, body, and fins.

Luckily, you can cure White Spot Disease with an over-the-counter that you can buy in most fish stores.

Bacterial Infections

Injured or weak fish can sometimes be affected by secondary bacterial infections. The signs of a bacterial infection are many and varied. However, symptoms often include:

  • Red patches on the skin
  • Ulcers
  • Inactivity
  • Poor appetite
  • Missing scales
  • Labored breathing
  • Damaged fins

You can often treat simple bacterial infections with antibacterial products from your vet or fish store.


Flukes are various species of external parasites that attack goldfish, including:

  • Anchor worms
  • Fish lice
  • Skin flukes

Flukes usually hitchhike their way into aquariums on live food, hidden under plant leaves, or attached to new fish. The best way to keep flukes out of your setup is to quarantine new arrivals for at least two weeks before putting them in your main display aquarium.

It’s also worth washing new plants in a solution of anti-parasite medication to kill any flukes that might be hiding there.

Breeding Pearlscale Goldfish

Pearlscale goldfish breed fairly readily in a pond or tank, provided they are fed a balanced diet and kept in a clean environment with the right water conditions.

For a successful breeding project, you’ll need a mix of males and females. Since all Pearlscales look pretty much identical, sexing the fish is almost impossible until they are in breeding condition. However, a ratio of one male fish to two females is usually achievable if you buy a group of around eight individuals.

Spawning Conditions

Pearlscales are egg layers, breeding in the spring when the weather is warmer. Watch out for any fish that develop white prickles called tubercles on their heads; those are the males.

For the fish to breed, they need to be in excellent condition and free from diseases. The spawning tank should be at least 20 gallons and planted with dense clumps of plants. You can also include some flat stones and spawning mops where the fish can lay their eggs.

Most breeders increase the temperature in the breeding tank by 3o over a few days to increase the temperature to around 68o to 74o Fahrenheit. Throughout spawning, you’ll need to carry out 30% partial water changes every day until the fish start to breed. To keep your fish in peak condition, feed them plenty of meaty protein, such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, etc. 


The male Pearlscale pursues the female, pushing her against plants and other objects to stimulate egg-laying. The female deposits her eggs on a flat stone or spawning mop, where the male fertilizes them. The whole process can last for several hours, with up to 10,000 eggs being laid in each spawn.

Unfortunately, goldfish are lousy parents, and they will eat their eggs if given the chance. So, you’ll need to remove the adult fish immediately when the eggs are fertilized.

After a week or so, the eggs should hatch, producing free-swimming fry. You can offer the fry prepared food that you’ll get in your local fish store. Once the baby Pearlscales are big enough, you can feed them micro worms, live baby brine shrimp, and finely crushed Fancy goldfish flakes.

For the first three months or so, the juvenile Pearlscales will be a rather drab brown or black color as camouflage before their adult colors gradually develop. Once the youngsters reach an inch or so long, it’s safe to introduce them to your main aquarium with the adults.

Final Thoughts

Pearlscale goldfish are unusual, beautiful fish that can make a stunning addition to your tank. These goldfish are pretty hardy creatures that are suitable for beginners and can thrive in an aquarium or outdoor pond.

To keep these goldfish you’ll need a large tank of at least 10 gallons that’s equipped with a powerful filter system to cope with the huge amount of waste produced by the fish. You can include Pearlscales in a community tank with other similar Fancy goldfish types.

If you keep Pearlscale goldfish, we’d love to hear about them! Tell us about your fish in the comments box below.

2 thoughts on “Pearlscale Goldfish; Care Guide, Lifespan, and More”

  1. Hello, we have a 10 year old pearlscale that’s sick. It’s not able to get off the bottom of the tank. And sometimes gets tipped over stuck on its side. My wife has been hand feeding it peas on the end of a tooth pick. It gets so excited, jumps up and down like a puppy dog. The cutest thing you’ve ever seen. But I don’t think it’s getting any better. Any suggestions? Thanks


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