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Bubble Eye Goldfish

Water-Bubble Eye Goldfish

Family: Cyprinidae Bubble Eye Goldfish, Water-Bubble Eye Goldfish, Carassius auratusCarassius auratus auratusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
Latest Reader Comment - See More
My bubble eyes are Baxter and monster (my kids picked the names lol) I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced their fish accumulating small pellets that look... (more)  Melanie Andersen

The Bubble Eye Goldfish has big bubbles on the side of its head, which give it a truly bizarre appearance! 

The most intriguing feature of the Bubble Eye Goldfish is its bubbles. The bubbles on this goldfish begin to develop when it is 6-9 months old, leading to the name Water-Bubble Eye. By the time these goldfish are 2 years old, the bubbles are very large. These water-filled bubbles actually get so big that they can even make it difficult for this fish to see and swim

These fancy goldfish have a very intriguing appearance, but their bubble sacs are easily broken. The sacs are notorious for getting caught in the water uptake valves of aquarium filters. A foam cover over the valve should help prevent this. Most the time, broken bubbles will grow back but have a different shape and size that does not match the other bubble. Sometimes a broken bubble will not grow back at all. Additionally, broken bubbles heal slowly and are subject to infection, so keep an eye on your fish and be ready to treat it if necessary.

Infamous bubbles of the Bubble Eye Goldfish
Infamous bubbles of the Bubble Eye!

Besides its infamous bubbles, the Bubble Eye Goldfish is one the most unique-looking of the goldfish varieties. Along with the Lionhead Goldfish, the Bubble Eye Goldfish is dorsal-less, so it does not have a fin on the top of its back. One variety of Bubble Eye Goldfish bred in China does have a dorsal fin, but this variety does not qualify for show by the the Goldfish Society of America (GFSA).

The Bubble Eye Goldfish is one of the more rounded or egg-shaped fancy gold fish, which distinguishes it from the long, slender body seen in Common Goldfish or the Shubunkins. It has a double-tail, and its body shape and size are very similar to the Celestial Eye Goldfish. Like the Celestial, the Bubble Eye's eyes are upturned, though not as extremely as the Celestial's. Both of these goldfish have bodies that are a little bit slimmer than other round or egg-shaped goldfish. The Bubble Eye is available in a variety of goldfish colors that include solids of red, blue, chocolate, and black; bi-colors of red/white and red/black; and calicos.

Though Bubble Eye Goldfish are widely available, they are considered delicate and not recommended either as beginner fish or for community aquariums. Its swimming ability is encumbered by its rounded body and further diminished by the lack of a stabilizing dorsal fin.

Many of the elongated goldfish varieties like the the Common Goldfish, Comet Goldfish, and the Shubunkin are not good companions for the Bubble Eye Goldfish because they are fast swimmers and too competitive during feeding time. Better tankmates would be the similarly handicapped but less hardy Lionhead Goldfish, Telescope Goldfish, and Celestial Eye Goldfish. It won't win any races, but if kept with other slow-moving varieties, the Water-Bubble Eye Goldfish should get plenty to eat.

For more goldfish information, see:
Goldfish Care: Fancy Goldfish and Goldfish Diseases

Geographic Distribution
Carassius auratus auratus
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Cypriniformes
  • Family: Cyprinidae
  • Genus: Carassius
  • Species: auratus auratus
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Bubble Eye Goldfish - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Size of fish - inches: 5.0 inches (12.70 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Difficult
  • Temperature: 65.0 to 72.0° F (18.3 to 22.2° C)
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The goldfish of today are descendants of a species of wild carp known as the Prussian Carp, Silver Prussian carp, or Gibel Carp Carassius gibelio (syn: Carassius auratus gibelio), which was described by Bloch in 1782. These wild carp originated in Central Asia (Siberia). They inhabit the slow moving and stagnant waters of rivers, lakes, ponds, and ditches, feeding on plants, detritus, small crustaceans, and insects.

For many years, it was believed that goldfish had originated from the Crucian Carp or Golden Carp Carassius carassius described by Linnaeus in 1758. This fish has a wide range across the waters of the European continent, running west to east from England to Russia, north to Scandinavian countries in the Arctic Circle and as far south as the central France and the Black Sea. However, recent genetic research points to C. gibelio as a more likely ancestor.

Goldfish were originally developed in China. By the 1500s, goldfish were traded to Japan, arriving in Europe in the 1600s and America in the 1800s. The majority of the fancy goldfish were developed by Asian breeders. We can see the results of this centuries-long endeavor in the wonderful colors and shapes of goldfish today. Domesticated goldfish are now distributed world-wide.

The Bubble Eye Goldfish, also known as the Water-Bubble Eye Goldfish, was developed in China. It is one of the more than 125 captive bred fancy goldfish varieties.

  • Scientific Name: Carassius auratus auratus
  • Social Grouping: Groups - Can be kept singly or in groups.
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed - There are no wild populations of this captive-bred variety.


The Water-Bubble Eye Goldfish, also called the Bubble Eye Goldfish, is an egg-shaped variety of goldfish. It has a double-tail, and its body shape and size are very similar to the Celestial Goldfish, which is also a bit slimmer than other egg-shaped goldfish. Also, like the Celestial, its eyes are upturned, though not as extremely.

Mature Bubble Eye Goldfish
Mature Bubble Eye Goldfish

Fluid-filled sacks begin to develop as bubbles under its eyes at an age of 6-9 months. By the time they are 2 years old, the bubbles are very large. It is one of the dorsal-less goldfish, though one variety bred in China does have a dorsal fin.

These goldfish are available in a variety of colors that include solids of red, blue, chocolate, and black; bi-colors of red/white and red/black; and calicos. They will generally reach about 5 inches (13 cm), though some hobbyists report their Bubble Eye's growing much larger. The average goldfish lifespan is 10 – 15 years, though living 20 years or more is not uncommon in well-maintained goldfish aquariums and ponds.

  • Size of fish - inches: 5.0 inches (12.70 cm) - Although this fish is capable of larger sizes, it rarely exceeds five inches in the home aquarium.
  • Lifespan: 15 years - The average goldfish lifespan is 10 – 15 years, but they have been known to live 20 years of more when well maintained.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

Bubble Eye Goldfish are among the more delicate species of goldfish. They are not recommended as a beginner fish or for community aquariums. Unlike the flat-bodied types of goldfish, they have a lower tolerance for pollution. They will need good care and plenty of space. When it comes to feeding, they will not thrive with fast, competitive tank mates.

Be careful when netting these fish as their eyes are easily damaged. Also, be careful of filter intakes. If there is a strong water flow, the bubble sacs of these fish can get sucked into the intake and burst. Adding some soft sponge filter media over the intake valve can help.

Many people will keep goldfish in small one or two gallon bowls with no heater or filtration. But for the best success in keeping the Bubble Eye Goldfish, provide them the same filtration, especially biological filtration, that other aquarium residents enjoy.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Difficult - The sacs below the eyes are very delicate. This fish has poor eyesight and is a poor swimmer.
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate - The aquarist should be well acquainted with Goldfish care and the specific requirements of the variation.

Foods and Feeding

Since they are omnivorous, the Bubble Eye Goldfish will generally eat all kinds of fresh, frozen, and flake foods. To keep a good balance, give them a high quality flake food everyday. To care for your Bubble Eye Goldfish, feed brine shrimp (either live or frozen), blood worms, Daphnia, or tubifex worms as a treat. Feeze-dried foods are usually preferably to live foods to avoid parasites and bacterial infections.

Due to the fluid-filled sacs under their eyes, the Bubble Eye can have poor vision. This makes it harder for them to see their food and means they need extra time to feed.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Yes - This fish should optimally be fed sinking food as it seems very prone to air ingestion, which can cause health issues for the fish.
  • Tablet / Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day - Other Goldfish without sight and swimming handicaps will out-compete this fish at feeding time.

Aquarium Care

These goldfish need a well maintained tank to stay healthy. Minimum tank size is 10 gallons, so make sure water changes are frequent. Regular weekly water changes of 1/4 to 1/3 are strongly recommended to keep these fish healthy. Snails can be added as they reduce the algae in the tank, helping to keep it clean.

  • Water Changes: Weekly - Goldfish produce more waste than most other freshwater fish and benefit greatly from more frequent water changes.

Aquarium Setup

Setting up a goldfish aquarium in a manner that will keep your fish happy and healthy is the first step to success. The shape and size of the aquarium is important and depends upon the number of goldfish you are going to keep. These fish need a lot of oxygen and produce a lot of waste.

Good filtration, especially biological filtration, is very helpful in maintaining the water quality of the aquarium. A filtration system will remove much of the detritus, excess foods, and waste, which keeps the tank clean and maintains the general health of the goldfish. However, the sacs of the Bubble Eye Goldfish are notorious for getting caught in the water uptake valves of aquarium filters. A foam cover over the valve will help to prevent this.

  • Tank parameters to consider when choosing a goldfish aquarium:
    • Tank size
      Ten gallons is the absolute minimum required to house a Bubble Eye Goldfish. It's best to start with a 20 - 30 gallon tank for your first goldfish and then increase the size of the tank by 10 gallons for each additional goldfish. Providing a large amount of water per fish will help dilute the amount of waste and reduce the number of water changes needed.
    • Tank Shape
      Always provide the maximum amount of surface area. A large surface area minimizes the possibility that the goldfish will suffer from an oxygen shortage. Surface area is determined by the shape of the tank. For example an elongated tank offers more surface area (and oxygen) than a tall tank. Oval or round tanks that are wide in the middle and narrower toward the top might be filled less than full to maximize the surface area.
    • Number of fish
      For juveniles a general rule of thumb is 1 inch of fish (2.54 cm) per 1 gallon of water. However, this rule only applies to young fish. Larger gold fish consume much more oxygen than young fish so maintaining this formula for growing fish will stunt them and could contribute to disease and even death.
    • Fish size and growth
      To allow for proper growth, either buy fewer fish than the maximum number or be prepared to get a larger tank. To prevent stunted growth and other health problems, don't overstock the aquarium.

Goldfish are a cold water fish and will do best at temperatures between 65 - 72° F (18°- 22° C). Unlike the flat-bodied types of goldfish, Bubble Eye Goldfish cannot tolerate temperatures much below 60° F (16° C).

Provide a gravel substrate to help create a natural and comfortable environment for your fish. You could add some decor but keep in mind that its fluid filled eye sacs can be a problem, both easily damaged and giving these fish poor vision. Make sure that all ornamentation is smooth with no protruding points or sharp edges. Smooth rocks or driftwood, should be used sparingly if at all. Aquarium plants would be the best choice of aquarium decor for goldfish, but unfortunately these fish are diggers. Consequently live plants may be uprooted. Artificial plants make a good substitute and silk plants are safer than plastic ones.

Most aquariums come with a cover that includes lighting. A cover for the tank is desirable as it reduces evaporation and though they are not prone to jumping, on occasion some gold fish will jump out. Lighting is not essential for goldfish in general, but it can help the Bubble Eye as these fish have such poor eyesight. It does makes the aquarium a nice show piece and is needed if you have live plants.

Goldfish are freshwater fish, but they have some tolerance for slightly brackish water. The salinity level for C. auratus must be kept low, below 10% with a specific gravity of less than 1.002.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L) - Ten gallons is the absolute minimum required to house this fish. It has high oxygen requirements and produces a lot of waste. It will have very stunted growth if it is kept in a smaller aquarium.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Sometimes
  • Substrate Type: Any - A medium-sized gravel works best.
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting - Strong lighting will help this fish make the best of what little eyesight it has.
  • Temperature: 65.0 to 72.0° F (18.3 to 22.2° C) - Unlike the flat-bodied types of goldfish, Bubble Eye Goldfish cannot tolerate temperatures much below 60° F (16° C).
  • Breeding Temperature: - In the wild, goldfish spawn in the spring when water temperatures reach about 68° F (20° C).
  • Range ph: 6.0-8.0
  • Hardness Range: 5 - 19 dGH
  • Brackish: Sometimes - The salinity for C. auratus must be kept below 10%, a specific gravity of less than 1.002.
  • Water Movement: Weak - This fish needs a gentle water flow. Its rounded body and lack of a stabilizing dorsal fin encumber its swimming.
  • Water Region: All - This fish will usually favor the surface or the bottom of the aquarium.

Social Behaviors

Goldfish are very social animals and great community fish, and they are great scavengers as well. It is really not necessary to add other scavengers or other bottom feeders to the aquarium when you have goldfish.

Bubble Eye Goldfish in a group
Bubble Eye Goldfish do well in a group!

When choosing tank mates for this fancy goldfish, keep in mind the physical traits of the Bubble Eye. Like the Telescope Goldfish and Celestial Goldfish, the Bubble Eye can be visually handicapped. Additionally, its swimming ability is encumbered by its rounded body and the lack of a stabilizing dorsal fin, a trait that is also seen in the Lionhead Goldfish.

While the Bubble Eye cannot readily compete for food with fast swimming types of goldfish, any of the similarly handicapped varieties can make good companions. They also do well with their own kind.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Safe
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Threat - Goldfish will eat many kinds of aquatic plants. In their constant search for food, they can end up uprooting plants that they don't eat.

Sex: Sexual differences

During the breeding season, the male has white prickles, called breeding tubercles, on its gill covers and head. Seen from above, a female will have a fatter appearance when she is carrying eggs. It is impossible to sex Goldfish when they are young and not in breeding season, but generally the male is smaller and more slender than the female.

Breeding / Reproduction

Bubble Eye Goldfish are egg layers that spawn readily in the right conditions. They can be bred in groups as small as five individuals, but they are very social animals and likely to breed in larger groups as well. The only time Goldfish will spawn in the wild is when spring arrives. To spawn them in the aquarium, you will need to mimic the conditions found in nature.

Provide an aquarium that is at least 20 gallons and make sure the fish are healthy and disease free. Some breeders suggest you treat them for parasites. Many breeders will also separate the males and females for a few weeks prior to breeding to help increase their interest in spawning. Introduce the fish into the breeding tank at the same time. The tank will need a lush environment with solid surfaces for the spawning process and for the eggs to adhere to. Bushy, oxygenating plants, such as Anacharis, work well for this, though artificial plants or fibrous spawning mops can also be used.

To induce spawning, the temperature can be slowly dropped to around 60° F (11° C) and then slowly warmed at a rate of 3° F (2° C) per day until they spawn. Spawning generally begins when the temperatures are between 68° and 74° F (20°-23° C). Feeding lots of high protein food such live brine shrimp and worms during this time will also induce spawning. Feed small amounts three times a day, but don't overfeed. Uneaten scraps will sink to the bottom and foul the water. Maintain the breeding tank with partial water changes of up to about 20% per day.

Before spawning, as the temperature increases, the male will chase the female around the aquarium in a non-aggressive way. This can go on for several days, and the fish will intensify in color. During the spawn, the fish will gyrate from side to side, and the male will push the female against the plants. This stimulates the female to drop tiny eggs which the male will then fertilize. The eggs will adhere by sticky threads to the plants or spawn mop. Spawning can last two or three hours and can produce up to 10,000 eggs.

At this point the parents will start to eat as many eggs as they can find. For this reason, it is best to remove the parents after spawning is complete. The fertilized eggs will hatch in 4 to 7 days, depending on the temperature. You can feed the newly hatched goldfish specialty fry foods until they become big enough to eat flake or brine shrimp, or you can offer the same food as you feed the parents as long as it is crushed very small. At first, the fry are a dark brown or black color in order to better hide and not be eaten by larger fish. They gain their adult color after several months and can be put in with larger fish once they reach about 1 inch long. See Breeding Freshwater Fish - Goldfish for more information on breeding Goldfish.

  • Ease of Breeding: Moderate

Fish Diseases

In properly maintained goldfish aquariums or ponds, goldfish illness is largely preventable. Even so, goldfish illnesses can occur, and if left untreated, may prove fatal. Goldfish are hardy, though, and if treated in a timely manner, most will make a full recovery.

When treating individuals, it is usually best to move the afflicted fish into a separate tank with no gravel or plants and do regular partial water changes. However, if the disease is apparent throughout the main tank, it may be best to do the treatments there. Whether treating in a hospital tank or your main tank, read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for any medication. Some medications can adversely affect the water quality by destroying beneficial bacteria. You may also need to remove the carbon from the filtration system, as carbon will absorb many medications, making the treatment ineffective.

Goldfish diseases are mostly the same as those that afflict other freshwater fish, and the symptoms and treatment of goldfish are also similar. The main types of fish diseases include bacterial infections, fungal infections, parasites, and protozoa. There are also other ailments caused by injury, poor nutrition, or bad water conditions.

One of the more common problems is Ich, which is a protozoan disease. Ich is easy to identify because your fish looks like it is sprinkled with salt. Though Ich is easily treated, like other protozoan diseases, it can be fatal if not caught quickly. Some other protozoan diseases are Costia, which causes a cloudiness of the skin, and Chilodonella, which will cause a blue-white cloudiness on the skin.

External parasites are fairly common, too, but pretty easy to treat and usually not fatal when treated. These include flukes, which are flatworms about 1 mm long with hooks around their mouths. They infest the gills or body of the fish. Another type of parasite is fish lice (Argulus), flattened, mite-like crustaceans about 5 mm long that attach themselves to the body of the goldfish. Lastly, anchor worms look like threads coming out of the fish.

Some bacterial infections include Dropsy, an infection in the kidneys that can be fatal if not treated quickly. Fish Tuberculosis is indicated by the fish becoming emaciated (having a hollow belly). For this illness, there is no absolute treatment, and it can be fatal. Tail/Fin Rot may also be bacterial, though the reduced tail or fins can be caused by a number of factors as well. There is also fungus, a fungal infection, and Black Spot or Black Ich, which is a parasitic infection.

Swim Bladder Disease is an ailment indicated by fish swimming in abnormal patterns and having difficulty maintaining their balance. This can be caused by a number of things: constipation, poor nutrition, a physical deformity, or a parasitic infection. Feeding frozen peas (defrosted) has been noted to help alleviate the symptoms and correct the problem in some cases.

Other miscellaneous ailments include Cloudy Eye, which can be caused by a variety of things ranging from poor nutrition, bad water quality, and rough handling. It can also be the result of other illnesses, such as bacterial infections.Constipation is indicated by a loss of appetite and swelling of the body, and the cause is almost always diet. Then there are wounds and ulcers. Wounds can become infected, creating ulcers. Wounds can develop either bacterial or fungal infections, or both, and must be treated. There are treatments for each of these diseases individually and treatments that handle both. For more in-depth information about goldfish diseases and illnesses, see Goldfish Care; Fancy Goldfish and Goldfish Diseases.


The Water-Bubble Eye Goldfish is inexpensive and readily available both in fish stores and online.


Author: Clarice Brough CFS, David Brough CFS
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Lastest Animal Stories on Bubble Eye Goldfish

Melanie Andersen - 2015-10-30
My bubble eyes are Baxter and monster (my kids picked the names lol) I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced their fish accumulating small pellets that look like tiny white balls floating freely inside their fluid sack? My pet store says to add aquarium salt. But just looking for other experiences.

Blake - 2015-08-24
I can easily say, i have bought a bubble-eyed goldfish and i havent looked back. They are the cutest little companions and such great company!

Julie - 2014-03-28
My Bubble Eye fish, Bub, is kind of odd. He hates being in our 10G tank, and prefers our fish bowl which is like 1G-1.5G. He is full of personality, and I'm pretty sure he recognizes me when I come to feed him, or just sit and watch him. The thing is, I've read many times that they like to be towards the bottom/floor, which Bub does on occasion, but he's more fond of chilling at the top. He's healthy, and very playful, so I'm not sure if I should be concerned or not. He's been doing this pretty much since we got him, back in Dec. 2013. Any thoughts?

  • Julie - 2014-03-30
    Never mind... found him dead this morning. :/
  • Dave - 2014-09-13
    Fish at the surface can indicate lack of oxygen. Especially if they seem to be 'gasping'.
  • skittle - 2015-07-14
    im sorry for your loss
Cheryl Court - 2015-02-11
Looking to Purchase 1-4 Bubble Eye Goldfish.

Cheryl Court - 2015-02-11
Looking to Purchase 1-4 Bubble Eye Goldfish.