Pearlscale Fancy GoldfishFamily: Cyprinidae Carassius auratus auratusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
The rounded body of the Pearlscale Goldfish appears as if adorned with rows of luminescent pearls!
Pearlscale Goldfish are very popular and found in collectors tanks throughout the world. Their hardiness and ability to live in cold temperatures makes them ideal pets. Rather than having the long slender body of the Common Goldfish or the Shubunkins, this is one of the more rounded or egg-shaped fancy gold fish. They have a straight back with a swollen belly, resembling a golf ball.
It is usually twin-tailed with a very compact body. It can be easily recognized by its nacreous scales with raised centers and dark perimeters. Arranged in rows, these distinctively raised scales look like pale pearls.This is the only variety of goldfish with these types of scales. They can be found in all kinds of colors including red, blue, black, calico, chocolate and red/white combinations.
These are one of the newer varieties of fancy goldfish. The first known mentioning of them is from the early 20th century. They have been largely developed in England and first appeared in 1900. Today there are more than 125 captive bred fancy goldfish varieties.
Crown Pearlscale Goldfish
A variation of the common pearlscale is the Crown Pearlscale or Hamanishiki Crown Pearlscale, which develops a hood or head growth similar to that seen on the Oranda Goldfish.
Pearlscale Fancy Goldfish are fairly hardy and can be successfully kept by beginners. However they must be handled with care as they can be easily damaged. Their scales can fall off with rough handling or by sharp objects. Like many of the egg-shaped goldfish they are slow swimmers. These fish won't win any races, but if kept with other slow-moving varieties they should get plenty to eat and do well. Many of the elongated goldfish varieties like the the Common Goldfish, Comet Goldfish, the Shubunkin, are not really good companions because they are fast swimmers and too competitive during feeding
Good tank mates would be similarly shaped goldfish that are also slower swimmers such as the Fantail Goldfish, Ryukin Goldfish, and the Black Moor Goldfish. These varieties all tolerate temperatures a few degrees above freezing, as long as the cooling drops only a few degrees a day.
Their hardiness and ability to live at colder temperatures makes them ideal for outdoor ponds. If you wish to keep it in a pond, make sure the environment is safe. In a warmer, well maintained tank, even the less hardy Water-Bubble Eye Goldfish, Telescope Goldfish, and Celestial Eye Goldfish can be good companions.
For more goldfish information, see:
Goldfish Care: Fancy Goldfish and Goldfish Diseases
- Size of fish - inches: 4.0 inches (10.16 cm)
- Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L)
- Temperament: Peaceful
- Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
- Temperature: 65.0 to 72.0° F (18.3 to 22.2° C)
- Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
- My Aquarium - Enter your aquarium to see if this fish is compatible!
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. In the early 1500's these fish were exported first to Japan and then to Europe and were developed into the wonderful colors and forms of gold fish we see today.
The Pearlscale Fancy Goldfish is one of the newer varieties of fancy goldfish, with the first known mentioning of them from the early 20th century. They first appeared in 1900, and have been largely developed in England. Today there are more than 125 captive bred fancy goldfish varieties.
- Scientific Name: Carassius auratus auratus
- Social Grouping: Groups
- IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed - There are no wild populations of this captive bred variety.
The Pearlscale Goldfish is an egg-shaped variety of goldfish. The body is short, stubby, and compact . It has a straight back and swollen belly, resembling a golf ball, and is usually twin tailed. It has rows of distinct scales with raised centers and dark perimeters.
These goldfish will generally reach about 4 inches (10 cm), though some hobbyist report their Pearlscale's growing much larger. The average goldfish life span is 10 – 15 years, though living 20 years or more is not uncommon in well maintained goldfish aquariums and ponds.
They can be found in all kinds of colors including red, blue, black, calico, chocolate, and red/white combinations. A variation of the common pearlscale is the Crown Pearlscale Goldfish or Hamanishiki Crown Pearlscale, which develops a hood or head growth similar to that seen on the Oranda Goldfish.
- Size of fish - inches: 4.0 inches (10.16 cm) - Pearlscale Goldfish will generally reach about 4 inches (10 cm) in length, but have been reported to grow twice that size in exceedingly well maintained tanks or ponds.
- 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.
Pearlscale Goldfish are some of the hardier species of goldfish and can be kept by a beginners. They are very undemanding of water quality and temperature. However they can be easily damaged, knocking off their scales with rough handling or by sharp objects in their environment.
Be careful even when netting these fish because when they loose a 'pearl' scale it will only grow back as a regular scale. Some hobbyists suggest providing additional calcium in their tank may help prevent the lose of these scales, but that it is not yet documented.
Many people will keep goldfish in an aquarium with no heater or filtration. But for the best success in keeping goldfish, provide them the same filtration, especially biological filtration, that other aquarium residents enjoy.
- Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy - The aquarist should use caution when netting this fish as the pearl scales are delicate and do not regrow as pearl scales. Some aquarists suggest that calcium rich water is beneficial to this species.
- Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
Since they are omnivorous, the Pearlscale Goldfish will generally eat all kinds of fresh, frozen, and flake foods. To care for your Pearlscale Goldfish, keep a good balance by giving them a high quality flake food everyday. Feed brine shrimp (either live or frozen), blood worms, Daphnia, or tubifex worms as a treat. Other vegetables like cucumber and lettuce are acceptable as well. It is usually better to feed soaked freeze-dried foods as opposed to live foods to avoid parasites and bacterial infections that could be present in live foods.
Because of the unusual body shape, the pearlscale is more susceptible to swim bladder disease and constipation. It is suggested that any pellets or flake food be soaked thoroughly before feeding to prevent swelling in the stomach. It has also been suggested that deshelled peas in the diet at least once a week will prevent and treat constipation.
- Diet Type: Omnivore
- Flake Food: Yes - This fish is a slow eater, the aquarist should ensure that it is not outcompeted for food by swifter moving tankmates.
- 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
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
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.
- Tank parameters to consider when choosing a goldfish aquarium:
- Tank size
Ten gallons is the absolute minimum required to house a Pearlscale 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 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.
- Tank size
Goldfish are a cold water fish and will do best at temperatures between 65 - 72° F (18°- 22° C). The Pearlscale 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. The Pearlscale should not be kept in water colder than 55° F (12.77° C).
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.
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, 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
- Temperature: 65.0 to 72.0° F (18.3 to 22.2° C) - Goldfish can tolerate colder temperatures, but the Pearlscale should not be kept in water colder than 55° F (12.77° C).
- 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.
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.
Along with the other egg-shaped goldfish like the Fantail Goldfish, Ryukin Goldfish, and the Black Moor Goldfish, the Pearlscale Goldfish are slow swimmers. They cannot vigorously compete for food with fast swimming types of goldfish like the the Common Goldfish, Comet Goldfish, the Shubunkin, so may not fare well if housed with them, but they will do well housed together.
- Venomous: No
- Temperament: Peaceful
- Compatible with:
- Same species - conspecifics: Yes
- Peaceful fish (): Safe
- Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
- Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
- Plants: Threat - Goldfish will eat many kinds of aquatic plants, and their constant search for food can end up uprooting plants that they don't eat.
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. See pictures and more information about sexing at Bristol Aquarists.
Pearlscale 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: Moderate
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.
The Pearscale Goldfish is readily available in fish stores and on-line, and is inexpensive. Another type of pearlscale called the Crown Pearlscale has the iridescent scales like the pearlscale, but also has the crown atop its head like the oranda goldfish. The Crown Pearlscale is sometimes available and can be expensive.
- Animal-World References: Freshwater Fish and Plants
- David Alderton, Encyclopedia of Aquarium and Pond Fish , DK Publishing, Inc., 2005.
- Marshall E. Ostrow, Goldfish (Barron's Complete Pet Owner's Manuals), Barron's Educational Series, Inc. 2003
- Geoff Rogers, Nick Fletcher, Focus on Freshwater Aquarium Fish, Firefly Books. 2004
- David Sands, Goldfish (Caring for Your Pet), Interpet Publishing, 1999