breeds Pearlscale Goldfish

Pearlscale Goldfish: Basic Info, Pics and Care Tips

Pearlscale Goldfish are one of the more hardy breeds of fancy goldfish, and have the unique feature of their Nacreous scales.

Being the only breed of goldfish with this feature makes them very popular for fish owners to keep in a home aquarium, especially to add variety in an already established tank.


As with many of the fancy goldfish breeds, the Pearlscale is more egg-shaped, rather than long and thin like the common goldfish.

The swollen looking stomach of the Pearlscale helps to highlight the neat rows of scales that cover their body, and look like pearls because of their raised centers.

Most commonly, the Pearlscale will be twin tailed, although this isn’t always the case.

Pearlscale Goldfish Coloring

There are a huge variety of colors available in this breed, with some of the more popular colors being black, blue, red, chocolate, and also the combination of red and white.

One interesting variation of the Pearlscale breed is the development of the ‘hood’ as seen in breeds such as Oranda.

These variations when seen on the Pearlscale are named the Crown Pearlscale or the Hamanishike Crown Pearlscale.

If you’re looking to buy one of these more specialist breeds, do be aware they may be more expensive and harder to get hold of.

What Size are Pearscale Goldfish Fully Grown?

In most cases, Pearlscales will grow to be around 4-6 inches, but can be much larger depending on their living conditions…even up to twice this size has been reported in extremely well maintained tanks.

Life Expectancy if Properly Cared for?

As with the size they can grow to, their lifespan can depend hugely on how well their tank is maintained.

The most common ages for Pearlscales to live to is 10-15 years, but this can sometimes be increased up to 20 years if they’re really well looked after.

History and Origins

Unlike the majority of fancy goldfish, the Pearlscale isn’t bred in Japan or China…in fact, it’s mostly developed in England.

And it’s not only their place of breeding that stands them apart, they’re also a very new breed of goldfish, with no real record of them before the early 20th century.

Good for Home Aquariums?

If you’re hoping to keep fancy goldfish rather than common ones, but are quite new to fish keeping, then the Pearlscale breed is a great place to start. They are a fairly hardy breed, and are much less prone to infection than many other fancy breeds.

They’re happy to live in colder temperatures, meaning you have a bit more flexibility in the temperature of your aquarium, but it also means you have the option of an outdoor pond if you prefer.

Pearlscales will survive very happily in an outdoor pond, as long as you ensure it’s a safe and well maintained environment for them to live in.

Special Considerations for Keeping at Home

Their scales are very delicate, and if they’re handled in a rough way, they will fall off. This can also become an issue in a crowded tank…lots of rocks or decorations will mean they have lots of opportunities to bump into hard items that may result in them losing their scales.

If for any reason your fish does lose some of its original ‘pearl’ scales, it’s important to realize they will not regrow in the same way – instead, regular scales will grow in their place, changing the look of the fish fairly dramatically.

What do Pearlscale Goldfish Eat?

A pearlscale goldfish isolated on black background

Pearlscales are omnivores so can eat most things – although for most fish owners, frozen is often seen as better when compared to live food, as this can help prevent any unnecessary bacteria from entering the tank.

Due to the unique shape of the Pearlscale’s body, they’re unfortunately more likely to suffer from swim bladder issues or suffer from constipation. For this reason, it’s recommended you should soak flake food before giving it to your fish, as this can help lower the risk of swelling in their stomachs.

Although it needs to be soaked, adding flake food is still an important part of the diet of Pearlscale fish.

If you’re concerned about constipation developing, some owners suggest giving them deshelled peas as part of their regular diet (at least once every week) to help prevent the issue.

Aquarium Set-Up

Standard goldfish care requirements aside, the key thing to consider when setting up a tank for a Pearlscale Goldfish, is how vulnerable and fragile their scales are.

Like other goldfish breeds, they’ll love to swim around different items and plants, but you need to make sure they have plenty of space to get round things without hitting themselves on the sides of objects as they pass.

Silk plants make great items to put in a tank with a Pearlscale, as this stops any risk of sharp leaves of live plants scratching or grazing them, It also prevents the issue of goldfish digging up any live plants while they have a nose around the substrate, though there are many live plants suitable for life with goldfish.

Size and Shape of Tank?

A good size tank is recommended for Pearlscales, because it means they have plenty of space to swim around without damaging their scales, but also because they need to have enough oxygen in their tank.

As with all goldfish, they do produce a large amount of waste, so ensuring they have a tank with a minimum of 10 gallons will help ensure their water is safe and clear enough between your regular tank cleanings.

Most fish owners would recommend getting a tank that can hold more than 10 gallons however, and it’s advised you’ll need to increase this size by a further 10 gallons every time you want to add a new fish.

When you’re picking the shape of your tank, it can be tempting to go for modern or unique designs. While the more unusual shapes do look great, it’s worth remembering you would probably need a bigger tank if you pick something other than a standard shape.

You need to look for tanks with the biggest surface area where possible; as this will help make sure your water is oxygenated properly.

Do their Tanks Need Filtration?

While many fish owners do keep their goldfish with no filtration, it’s recommended that you do get hold of some good filtration equipment when you’re setting up your tank.

Biological filtration is your best bet, as this will help keep your water quality at a high level.

Getting a good filtration system set up in your aquarium will mean you don’t need to worry as much about not only the amount of waste produced by goldfish, but also any leftover food sitting in the tank.

This is especially important because as slow eaters, it’s likely Pearlscales will not eat all of their food when it’s given, especially if you’re only feeding them larger quantities once or twice a day rather than the recommended frequent smaller feeds.

Don’t forget that even with a good filtration system, you’ll still need to clean your tank on a regular basis to help keep the oxygen levels in the water high, and ensure the tank is a clean and safe environment.

Preferred Substrate

Gravel substrate is your best option for Pearlscales, as this will create a natural and homely environment for them, however, it’s best to try and find larger and smoother gravel substrate where ever possible.

As Pearlscales enjoy digging as much as most other breeds of goldfish, there is a chance they may swallow some of the substrate while they’re rooting around the bottom of the tank.

Larger substrate will help to limit this risk, and smoother gravel will also help lower the risk of issues if it’s ingested.


Goldfish are more than happy to live in natural light, and don’t have any particular needs when kept in a home aquarium.

As most tanks do come with a cover and basic lighting, many owners opt for a moderate lighting level, as the cover stops any possibility of your Pearlscale jumping out the tank, and the lighting will help illuminate your aquarium more as a feature in your home.

Temperature Requirements

In general, it’s recommended that goldfish are kept in water between 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit, however, Pearlscales are able to cope with water a few degrees colder than this.

It’s important to note however, that if Pearlscales are in colder water, they’ll need to be subjected to a gradual change in temperature, as any sudden drops are likely to kill them.

If possible, heating your tank so you’re able to control the temperature more accurately is recommended, especially if you’re trying to promote the larger growth and longer lifespan of your fish.

Preferred Tank Mates

Because of their rounded shape, they’re slower at swimming than the common goldfish or other elongated breeds. This means if you place them with fast swimming or aggressive fish, they’re likely to find it hard to get enough food, so finding other slow swimmers to keep them company is a must.

They’re a very social breed though, so if you want them to have company in an indoor aquarium, there are lots of varieties they’ll mix well with such as the Telescope eye Goldfish or Fantail Goldfish…do remember though that these other breeds need an indoor tank, so won’t be an option if you’re looking at keeping your Pearlscales in an outdoor pond.

Video: A Close Look at the Species

It can be hard to make a final decision about what breed of fancy goldfish will best suit your home, so if you’re unsure, have a look at some of the great videos online so you can see them swimming around, and get a close look at their amazing scales.


As one of the more hardy breeds of fancy goldfish, the Pearlscales are a great breed for fish owners to take home, even if you’re newer to maintaining an aquarium.

The key point to remember about this breed, is that once damaged, their ‘pearl’ scales won’t grow back, and instead will be replaced with normal scales.

Keep in mind that their scales are delicate, so they need to be handled gently, and all items in your tank should be smooth to help limit any risks of initial injury.

Jeremy is the chief editor of this site. A fish keeping enthusiast for more than 2 decades, he founded this site so he can share his knowledge with others, to aid in enjoyment of fish keeping, and to get as much fun out of the hobby as he does.

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