Common Goldfish

Goldfish

Family: Cyprinidae Goldfish, Common Goldfish, Carassius auratusCarassius auratus auratusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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I have two fresh water fish living in a 96 litre tank with a Tetratec IN 800 filtration system, I preform 10-15% water changes every week and have just recently... (more)  Chloe

Goldfish are fun to watch... just look at all the different colors of these beautiful fish!

The Common Goldfish Carassius gibelio (previously Carassius auratus auratus) are hardy fish that are well known by all aquarists. They are colorful, inexpensive, and readily available. These fish are a favorite pet for a multitude of keepers because they can be quite personable and are delightful to watch.

The Common Goldfish is a small member of the Cyprinidae family of carp fish. The popular Koi fish commonly kept in ponds is also a member of the carp family. The C. gibelio was normally a silver or gray color but early in the Jin Dynasty, somewhere between the years 265 - 420, it was noted that there was a natural genetic mutation producing a yellowish orange color.

It became common practice to breed this pretty golden fish, and over time a large variety of breeds of varying shapes and sizes have been developed. Other natural mutations are red and yellow. Today they are available in various solid colors and combinations of white, yellow, orange, red, brown, and black.

Goldfish, Carassius gibelio
Tailfin should be completely split to show

These are one of the hardiest of the gold fish varieties. They have a history of often being the first fish new aquarists will keep. A choice beginner fish because they are one of the easiest fish to keep. They can handle a variety of aquarium conditions and are also not picky, readily eating what is offered. Selecting them is also fun because they have come in such a diverse mix of colors.

Most freshwater aquarium fish are tropical fish but goldfish are an exception. These are coldwater fish, preferring a tank kept between between 65 - 72° F (18°- 22° C). Still, these durable fellows are very versatile and can tolerate tropical temperatures all the way down to a few degrees above freezing, as long as the cooling drops only a few degrees a day. They can be maintained without a heater or a filter, as long as the water is changed out frequently.

These are active fish and they can swim fairly fast, but they are also very social. They thrive well in a community. Along with the other elongated goldfish, such as the Comet Goldfish and the Shubunkin Goldfish, they make good pond fish. They are fast and so can get along well with Koi as well, but they will readily spawn, and so can quickly overpopulate your pond.

If they are kept in a community with other freshwater fish, then the aquarium needs to be designed for the needs of the other fish. Not only will it need a heater, but it will also need a good filtration system. Goldfish place a much heavier bioload on the aquarium than most other tropical fish, so more frequent water changes will have to be performed as well to keep the water quality up.

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


Geographic Distribution
Carassius auratus auratus
Data provided by FishBase.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Cypriniformes
  • Family: Cyprinidae
  • Genus: Carassius
  • Species: auratus auratus
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Common Goldfish - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Size of fish - inches: 4.0 inches (10.16 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 25 gal (95 L)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Temperature: 65.0 to 72.0° F (18.3 to 22.2° C)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The goldfish of today are descendants of a wild carp fish, known as the Prussian Carp, Silver Prussian carp, or Gibel Carp Carassius gibelio (syn: Carassius auratus gibelio) which was described by Bloch in 1782. For many years it was believed that goldfish had originated from the Crucian Carp or Golden Carp Carassius auratus auratus described by Linnaeus in 1758, but more recent research is pointing toward the former.

These wild carp originated in Asia; 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.

Goldfish were originally developed in China. This species was normally a silver or gray color, but early in the Jin Dynasty, somewhere between the years 265 - 420, it was noted that there was a natural genetic mutation producing a yellowish orange color. It became common practice to breed this pretty golden fish for ornamental garden ponds.

By the 1500’s goldfish were traded to Japan, to Europe in the 1600's, and to America by the 1800's. The results of this centuries long endeavor is the wonderful goldfish colors and forms we see today. Other natural mutations are red and yellow, and today there are various solid colors and combinations of white, yellow, orange, red, brown, and black. Today domesticated goldfish are distributed world-wide and there are more than 125 captive bred varieties that have been developed.

  • Scientific Name: Carassius auratus auratus
  • Social Grouping: Groups
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed

Description

The Common Goldfish is an elongated, flat-bodied variety of goldfish. The head is wide but short and it has a smoothly tapering body shape from its back and belly to the base of its caudal fin (tail fin). The caudal fin is forked. Its fins generally stand fully erect and the edge of the dorsal fin is slightly concave.

The average goldfish lifespan is 10 – 15 years, though living 20 years or more is not uncommon in well maintained goldfish aquariums and ponds.

The environment the Common Goldfish is kept in is a determining factor on whether your pet grows to its full potential size or is somewhat smaller. In an average 10 gallon tank, if well cared for and not crowded, they can grow up to about 4 inches (10 cm). In a larger, uncrowded tank they can grow generally reach about 7 or 8 inches (17.78 - 20.32 cm). If kept in a spacious pond they can reach over 12 inches (30+ cm) with some hobbyist reporting their goldfish reaching up to a whopping 18" (45+ cm)!

Common Goldfish
Common Goldfish

There are various solid colors and combinations of white, yellow, orange, red, brown, and black. The most distinguished specimen is a bright orange metallic color.

The Common Goldfish is very similar to, and sometimes confused with, the Comet Goldfish. The Comet is a further development of the Common Goldfish. Both these fish have an almost identical body shape but the fins on the Comet are much longer, especially the caudal (tail) fin, and it is more deeply forked. Also, in the standard orange color the Comet is generally a more reddish orange while the Common Goldfish is more orangish. The adult size of the Comet Goldfish is smaller too. On both these fish the caudal (tail) fin is held fully erect.

Comet Goldfish
Comet Goldfish

Also, in the standard orange color the Comet is generally a more reddish orange while the Common Goldfish is more orangish. The adult size of the Comet Goldfish is smaller too. On both these fish the caudal (tail) fin is held fully erect.

Another goldfish that is almost identical to the Common Goldfish is the 'London' type of Shubunkin Goldfish. Both these fish have virtually the same body and fin shapes, but the London type Shubunkin Goldfish has a totally different body color. While a good specimen of the Common Goldfish will have a bright orange metallic color, this London type Shubunkin goldfish can be speckled or have a variegated color pattern.

Another goldfish that is almost identical to the Common Goldfish is the 'London' type of Shubunkin Goldfish. Both these fish have virtually the same body and fin shapes, but the London type Shubunkin Goldfish has a totally different body color. While a good specimen of the Common Goldfish will have a bright orange metallic color, this London type Shubunkin goldfish can be speckled or have a variegated color pattern.

  • Size of fish - inches: 4.0 inches (10.16 cm) - Average size is 4" (10. cm) but can reach about 7 or 8 inches (18 - 20 cm) if not crowded. If kept in a spacious pond they can reach over 12 inches (30+ cm). Some hobbyist report their Common Goldfish reaching up to a whopping 18" (45+ cm).
  • Lifespan: 15 years - The average goldfish lifespan is 10 – 15 years, but they have been known to live 20 years or more when well maintained.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

Common Goldfish are some of the hardier species of goldfish. They are very undemanding of water quality and temperature. They can do well in goldfish aquariums, a pond, or even a goldfish bowl when small, as long as the environment is safe and their tank mates are not competitive.

Many people will keep goldfish in an aquarium with no heater or filtration, but for the best success provide them the same filtration, especially biological filtration, that other aquarium residents enjoy.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Foods and Feeding

Since they are omnivorous, the Common 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 goldfish, feed brine shrimp (either live or frozen), blood worms, Daphnia, or tubifex worms as a treat. It is usually better to feed freeze-dried foods as opposed to live foods to avoid parasites and bacterial infections that could be present in live foods.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • 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

Aquarium Care

Regular weekly water changes of 1/4 to 1/3 is 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

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. Filtration systems remove much of the detritus, excess foods and waste. This in turn helps to keep the tank clean and maintain the general health of the goldfish.

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

  • Tank parameters to consider when choosing a goldfish aquarium:
    • Tank size
      Ten gallons is the absolute minimum required to house a Black Moor. 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 of water will help minimize goldfish suffering 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. In an oval or round shaped tank the middle offers more surface area than filling it to the top.
    • Number of fish
      For juveniles a general rule of thumb is 1 inch of fish (2.54 cm) per 1 gallon of water. But this rule only applies to young fish and is not adequate as they grow. Larger gold fish consume much more oxygen than young fish so maintaining this formula for growing fish will stunt them, and can 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 overstocking the aquarium.

Goldfish are a cold water fish and will do best at temperatures between 65 - 72° F (18°- 22° C). The Common Goldfish are one of the most hardy varieties of goldfish and can tolerate temperatures a few degrees above freezing, as long as the cooling drops only a few degrees a day. A quick temperature drop can kill them, so if you live in a very cold climate a heater is advisable.

Provide a gravel substrate to help create a natural and comfortable environment for your fish. You can add some decor, but 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, but does make the aquarium a nice show piece and lighting will help if you have live plants.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 25 gal (95 L) - This fish can grow to over a foot in length, keeping it in a small tank will horribly stunt its growth and cause irreversible damage. 25 gallons is really the absolute minimum suggested for this variety of Goldfish.
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
  • Temperature: 65.0 to 72.0° F (18.3 to 22.2° C) - Goldfish can tolerate colder temperatures, but this is the optimum range for activity and longevity in Goldfish.
  • Range ph: 6.0-8.0
  • Hardness Range: 5 - 19 dGH
  • Brackish: Sometimes - Goldfish are freshwater fish, but they have some tolerance for slightly brackish water. Any salinity for must be kept low, below 10%, a specific gravity of less than 1.002.
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All - These fish will swim in all areas of the aquarium.

Social Behaviors

School of Common and Commet Goldfish, Carassius gibeliopreviously Carassius auratus auratus
School of Common and Commet Goldfish

Goldfish are very social animals and thrive in a community. Not only are they a great community fish but 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.

Most fancy goldfish will thrive in both freshwater and tropical aquariums as long as there are no aggressive or territorial fish in the tank. Some good tank mates for fancy goldfish are the Chinese Blue Bitterling and the Northern Redbelly Dace.

Common Goldfish can be kept with other varieties of elongated goldfish, such as the Comet Goldfish and the Shubunkin, and they also do fine with Koi.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful - This fish is active and friendly.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Threat - Goldfish produce more waste than most other freshwater fish and benefit greatly from more frequent water changes.

Sex: Sexual differences

Although is it impossible to sex Goldfish when they are young and not in breeding season, the male is usually smaller and more slender that the female. In the breeding season the male has white prickles, called breeding tubercles, on its gill covers and head. Seen from above the female will have a fatter appearance as she is carrying eggs.

Breeding / Reproduction

Common Goldfish are egg layers that spawn readily in the right conditions. See Breeding Freshwater Fish - Goldfish for more information on breeding Goldfish.

  • Ease of Breeding: Easy

Fish Diseases

Goldfish are subject to the same diseases as tropical fish. A couple of the more common problems are Ich, Swim Bladder Disease, and external parasites including flukes, lice and anchor worms. For more in-depth information about goldfish diseases and illnesses, see: Goldfish Care; Fancy Goldfish and Goldfish Diseases.

Availability

The Common Goldfish is readily available in fish stores and on-line, and is inexpensive

References

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

Chloe - 2014-08-31
I have two fresh water fish living in a 96 litre tank with a Tetratec IN 800 filtration system, I preform 10-15% water changes every week and have just recently been bought two more fish, will the size of my tank be enough? The breed of fish are; Common goldfish, two Comet goldfish and a Shubunkin, I'll also be buying a gravel cleaner and an algae scraper very soon, the tank has just been set up and the two new fish are in the quarantine tank for a week or two, any help would be greatly appreciated, also, would a couple small snails be okay in the tank? I'm not buying them till I'm sure everything will be okay, thank you.

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-09-01
    No, unfortunately a 96 ltr tank is only 25 gallons, and will not be near enough water as these fish get older. When small it may work for awhile, but you will soon have to upgrade. As you can see in the aquarium setup info above, goldfish require a minimum of 10 gallons per fish. That is 50 gallons (190 ltr) just for the 5 goldfish.
Reply
cassiopeia - 2009-12-28
Goldfish must be the most neglected pet ever. I work in a petshop and am constantly bombarded...! One woman came in asking for a goldfish bowl, I told her why we don't stock them and how bad they are for fish. She paused for a minute then said, the garden centre sells them and would she need a small one cos she only wanted 2 small goldfish! I had to bite my tongue, then tryed explaining that goldfish can reach up to 14" and live to around 20 years with the proper care and attention! None of which sunk in, and I know that she probably went to the garden centre where they'll sell anything to make money. I admit I've had my share of beginners mistakes, but my goldfish I've had since I was 5, only passed away 2 weeks ago at a grand age of 15! Also my 1st shubunkin was 10 when he sadly passed on! and I feel they could have been kept better. They were in a 3ft jewel aquarium with only live plants and 1 feed a day, but they could have done with a 4 or 5 foot tank. I took on a new comet goldfish from a man who was moving home and couldn't take poor "sharky" with him. He is almost 1ft in length and is 14 years old, he has a deformed spine and his pectorial fins are tiny, curved up and quite useless! This may have been from a bacterial infection or possibly because his tank was ridiculously undersized! Anyway thats quite enough ranting for one day, the bottom line is don't buy bowls or tiny plastic boxes for goldfish. They need a really good filtered tank, 2ft to start with as long as you're prepared to save up for a larger tank for when your fish grows. Provide live plants for decor an food (they also improve water quality) and always use tapsafe as water companies sometimes add new chemicals to the water.
Hope this rant is listened too and acted upon! (big fish need a big tank)

  • Lucky - 2010-10-03
    Will goldfish get along with some other fish, like, um, maybe catfish or some other fish that's larger than the goldfish is? Or will it get eaten? =(
  • jenna morris - 2011-01-31
    At my old apartment complex my landlord came to me with over 30 baby commons in a 10 gallon tank that had been abandoned. First thing I did was go buy a 50 gallon tank and start an adoption program. I hit the web looking for how to care for them all but one was adopted. We named him piggy. He is now a spry 6 years old and thriving. I'm saving for a bigger tank! I agree with you. People don't see fish as the wonderful part of the animal kingdom they are. I keep up with piggy's brothers and sisters as best I can. To me they're like abused rescued children.
Reply
Silvia - 2003-12-28
although beautiful and hardy...My suggestion for stocking levels is 1 fish per gallon of water. Also, these fish have the most amusing habit of rummaging around in the substrate, by working gravel in and out of their mouths searching for anything edible.These are hardy fish which can tolerate a lot, but please dont use that as an excuse to mistreat them.

  • Gavin - 2014-04-09
    1 gallon per fish is not sufficient it must be at least 15 gallons per fish.
  • Anonymous - 2014-06-03
    One gallon of water per inch of fish is better for healthy goldfish.
  • Rachel - 2014-06-04
    We tend to use the rule one gallon for every inch of fish. For a five inch fish you need five gallons of water, a three inch long fish needs three gallons of water, and three one inch fish will also need three gallons of water. For all of these fish together in one tank the bare minimum would be 11 gallons.
Reply
Andres - 2009-10-31
I don't understand how most of the people that have postd here are proud to have overstocked fish tanks / aquariums. A goldfish needs a minimun of 20 gallons for one goldfish and then add an extra 10 gallons for an extra goldfish. Some people are proud to have as little as 5 litres, 15 litres or 10 gallons, which none is goon enough even for 1 goldfish. If people bothered to read even a little about how to care for their pets (goldfish) they would not be so proud to learn that they're not caring for them properly and how misrable their poor fish must be.

I can not stress enough how important it is to get the right size tank in orderto keep healthy goldfish and just because some goldfish manage to live for 2 or3 years in very poor conditions, it doesn't mean that those 2 or 3 years were not agony for the poor fish. I can't think nothing crueler than sujecting your own pet to that kind of torture. It would be more humane to acctually kill it than inflict all that suffering for that period of time. If you are going to have pets then the least they deserve is to be cared for properly. Please Please Pleae people read up on how to take care of goldfish properly

Reply
mason - 2008-06-19
I enjoyed reading your interesting page about goldfish care (I found it while googling reproduction) and I decided to add my two bob's worth: yes, they are easy to care for as long as you keep them well fed and cleaning out their tank every few weeks. A good filter also really helps keep the water cleaner and aerated as well. We've got two fish - Wiggles, an ordinary goldfish and Dingleberry, a hyperactive Shubunkins. They both get along well together, really cosying up to each other at times... Another time we saw Dingleberry chasing Wiggles all around the tank - it was hilarious watching Wiggles frantically trying to escape his "amorous" attentions...

Goldfish are also more intelligent than you might think; Wiggles and Dingleberry always know when it's feeding time and they get terribly excited when they see me approaching their tank around feeding time!

We've just upgraded to a larger tank (15 litres) which replaced their old (and tiny) 5 litre job, and they just love it! I added a pictorial backing as well as more rocks and artificial weed for a more natural look and I also think that this more stimulating environment is definitely helping the fish as well as providing them with more room to swim and exercise.

Reply
Marcus Barber - 2004-07-16
I first bought 15 feeder goldfish at 5 for a dollar 3 years ago. The nice lady at the pet store gave me one extra. They were only about an inch long. In the past 3 years 3 have died but the rest are between 5 and 6 inches long. They seem to be growing too fast but that is probably only because I have kept them in an outdoor tank. I guess you could call it a tank it is actually a huge tractor tire that is approximately 450 gallons and is directly hooked to a well and has water available anytime. There is a faucet thing underwater that is tied to a plastic float. All I have to do is push the float down and water comes out. The tank is about 4 foot across and 3 foot deep. I keep them there all year round even in the winter. It freezes about 2 inches solid every year about every day in the winter. I am only 14 years old so I`m out of school during the winter because of snow so I have this sledge hammer to bust the ice gently so not to scare the fish. The tank doesn`t have any sort of filtration just when I dip out about 10% of the water every day.

Reply

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