Goldfish Longevity  Goldfish Behavior  Visitor Comments

Site Index - Shortcuts to make navigation easier.

Goldfish Glossary - A list of commonly used terms.

Site Updates - Updated link section. - NEW OCT 7-

Links - Goldfish related links.


  Goldfish Tricks - Video showing a goldfish that has been trained to do several tricks.

  Training Fish - This video shows an example of training a fish using positive reinforcement.

  Tamed Golfish - An example of goldfish being tamed to the point where they can be hand fed.

  More Tamed Goldfish - Another example of how tame goldfish can get...this one will allow itself ot be "petted".

Goldfish Timeline:

300 AD - Gold color mutation first discovered in the common Gibel Carp during the Jin dynasty.

700 AD - During the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907) goldfish begin to be domesticated in ponds by monks. Modern gold/orange coloration is fixed as a genetic trait.

1100 AD - Song Dynasty (1127 to 1279). Red, White, and Red/White-Mottled color traits established.

1400 AD - Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644). Goldfish are first raised in bowls indoors, allowing for the selection of mutations that might have gone unnoticed in a pond environment.

Double tailed and dorsal-less varieties first developed. Egg shaped bodies first developed.

1500 AD - Red Cap (Tancho) coloration developed.

Matte scale type and Calico colorations are first bred in 1596.

1600 AD - Telescope varieties developed. Goldfish are now no longer restricted to royalty, being kept by the common people as well.

The first goldfish are exported to Japan in 1603, and are exported to Europe in 1608.

1700 AD - Goldfish are bred in Europe. Blue and Bronze colorations are developed.

1800 AD - In 1864 goldfish are first exported to America. By 1870, Celestials first bred. By 1893, the first goldfish with headgrowth (Orandas) appear.

1900 AD - By the early 1900s, Comet Goldfish are established as a breed int he US. PomPom and Pearlscale breeds established as well, and Veiltail fin type is first developed.

By 1908 the first Bubble Eyes appear. By 1934 the Bristol Shubunkin is first bred in britain.

A Lionhead and albino Comet goldfish

Exotic Goldfish (also known as "Fancy Goldfish", "Oriental Goldfish" or "Chinese Goldfish") are the earliest fish to be domesticated by humans. All modern goldfish are decended from the Carassius auratus gibelio carp (aka, the "Gibel Carp") that lived in East Asia in the 3rd century. The gold color was first observed in pond carp in China approximately 1700 years ago during the Jin Dynasty. They were first bred in captivity approximately 1000 years ago during the Tang Dynasty by Buddhist Monks. These were the first fish to resemble what we now think of as the Common Goldfish.

The first goldfish probably originated from the Zhejiang province in China. The gold was a mutation that was very desriable and aggressively cultivated until it became the standard color of modern goldfish we see today. Other color variations followed centuries later. The most recent colors are the Blue and Chocolate (red/brown) varieties. Common Goldfish were first introduced to Japan in the 1500s, to Europe in the 1700s, and to the United States in the mid 1800s.

All goldfish are the same species, despite their extreme differences in appearance, and all are capable of interbreeding. When different breeds of goldfish mate, the offspring they produce what are referred to as "sport" varieties and commonly have attributes from both parent breeds. These are often frowned upon by purists. True Sport fish are usually intended as a one-time product. However, different breeds are also sometimes crossed to introduce a new single specific trait into one of the pure breeds (new colors or patterns for example), with the goal of maintaining the rest of the traits of that specifc breed.

An image of a Gibel Carp, the common ancestor of all modern goldfish

Contrary to popular belief, the Goldfish did not "evolve" from the Gibel Carp; genetically they are the same species, in the same way that a Bulldog and a Poodle are the same species. They are Gibel Carp that have been selectively bred by humans to fix certain traits. Goldfish can breed with the wild Gibel carp and still produce viable offspring. Even though different breeds of goldfish may look radically different, they are all the same species of fish.

Koi are not Goldfish, though they look very similar. Though related to the Gibel Carp (and therefore to goldfish), they are not only a different species, but also a different genus. Both are members of the cyprinidae family however (which includes Barbs, Danios, and some algea eaters). The relationship of Koi to Goldfish is similar to that of Horses and Donkeys; They can breed, but the offspring are sterile and usually unappealing. Unlike goldfish, all Koi have a traditional "fish-shaped" body. The only way Koi differ from each other (with a few exceptions) is the patterns on their skin; they never have radically different body shapes or split fins like goldfish. Koi mouths are more rounded in profile, and positioned lower on the body. True Koi will always have barbels (whiskers) on the sides of their mouths. Goldfish and Koi/Goldfish hybrids do not.

A typical example of a Koi

Ironically, despite the fact that both Koi and Goldfish are very colorful, their hybrid offspring are usually grey and bland like normal carp. However, these hybrids are hardier than either species, and can survive in more extreme conditions. Most "breeding" between the two species is not deliberate, with one species fertilizing the eggs of the other by accident when spawing with their own kind in the same pond.


"Goldie", the oldest recorded goldfish

Goldfish have the longest lifespan of any domesticated fish in the world.

Most goldfish raised in captivity have a lifespan of between 8 and 30 years, though at least one case exists of a fish that survived in captivity for 45 years (Guinness would not accept the record without hard evidence...the "official" record holder died at 43 years old in 1999). Anecdotal evidence exists for goldfish that have lived even longer than that.

They range in size as adults from 4 inches to almost 18 inches (the more exotic the breed, the smaller they tend to be as adults). Most exotic breeds do not grow larger than 12 inches.


This calico Fantail Goldfish that has been trained to do a number of tricks
The idea that goldfish have three second memories is a myth. Studies have shown they have a memory of at least three months, and can recognize multiple colors and sounds.

They are sufficiently intelligent that they can be trained to do simple tricks such as pushing a lever to get food. At least one has been trained to do complex tricks, like push a small soccer ball through a goal. There is a youtube video showing four goldfish that were tarined to swim in syncronized patterns...the patterns could change on the fly depending on the hand gestures of the trainer. Fish can respond to training using positive reinforcement just as many other animals do.

Some tests have indicated that their memory and visual accuity seems to be enough to allow them to distinguish between different humans, and can identify certain humans as providers of food. The same tests indicated that they can associate sounds (voices) with food as well.

Goldfish that have long term visual contact with humans (at least several weeks) can become tame, and will stop treating humans as a threat. These tamed fish can be fed by hand. This youtube video shows an example of how tame goldfish can get (be warned: Goldfish should NOT be petted...this rubs off the layer of mucus on their body that protects them from micoscopic parasites and can cause them to get sick...see the Care section for more information).

Most "play" behavior is actually either aggression or a precursor to breeding. Males will chase females and (in the absence of available females) other males. Goldfish are normally active, swimming throughout the aquarium. Aggressive behavior (including fin nipping) is typical when new fish are introduced to the tank, but this usually stops after a few days. Lethargic behavior or an inability to stay horizontal usually indicates sickness.

Goldfish are social and can display schooling behavior when kept with the same goldfish for longer periods.

Member of