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Pearlscale Goldfish

Pearlscale Fancy Goldfish

Family: Cyprinidae Pearl Scale Goldfish, Pearlscale Fancy Goldfish, Carassius auratusCarassius auratus auratusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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My baby goldfish swims with its head up and goes round and round then drifts to the bottom of the tank.  Yvonne

The rounded body of the Pearlscale Goldfish appears as if adorned with rows of luminescent pearls!

The Pearlscale Goldfish 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 of these distinctively raised scales look like pale pearls. This is the only variety of goldfish with these types of scales.

Rather than having the long slender body of the Common Goldfish or the Shubunkins, The Pearlscale Goldfish is one of the more rounded or egg-shaped fancy gold fish. They have a straight back with a swollen belly, resembling a golfball. The Pearlscale Fancy Goldfish can be found in all kinds of colors, such as red, blue, black, calico, chocolate and red/white combinations. 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 Goldfish are very popular gold fish and are found in collectors tanks throughout the world. Their hardiness and ability to live in cold temperatures makes them ideal pets. However, 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 for the Pearlscale Goldfish because they are fast swimmers and too competitive during feeding time.

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 goldfish 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. Like the Black Moor Goldfish however, the Pearscale Goldfish can be easily damaged. Its scales can fall off with rough handling or by sharp objects. 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

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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Pearlscale Goldfish - Quick Aquarium Care
  • 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
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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. 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 golfball, and is usually twin tailed. It has rows of distinct scales with raised centers and dark perimeters. 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.

  • Goldfish colors
    Pearlscale Goldfish can be found in all kinds of colors including red, blue, black, calico, chocolate, and red/white combinations.
  • Size - Weight
    Pearlscale Goldfish will generally reach about 4 inches (10 cm), though some hobbyist report their Pearlscale's growing much larger.
  • Goldfish lifespan
    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: 4.0 inches (10.16 cm) - In good conditions this fish has been reported to reach up to twice this size.
  • Lifespan: 20 years

Fish Keeping Difficulty

Pearlscale Goldfish are some of the hardier species of goldfish. 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 when netting these fish, when they loose a 'pearl' scales 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 small one or two gallon goldfish bowls 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

Foods and Feeding

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

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 an aquarium in a manner that will keep your fish happy and healthy is the first step to successfully fish keeping. Here are aquarium parameters to consider in choosing goldfish aquariums, filtration, lighting, and decor as well as temperature and water movement.

  • Minimum Tank Size / Length:
    The shape and size of the goldfish aquarium is important and depends upon the number of fish you are going to keep. Goldfish need a lot of oxygen and produce a lot of waste. Keep the tank size and shape in mind when you are buying your fish.
    • Tank Shape
      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 the same volume of water, an elongated tank offers more surface area (and oxygen) than a tall tank. In a goldfish bowl, filling the bowl to the middle offers more surface area than filling the bowl to the top. Always provide the maximum amount of surface area.
    • Tank size
      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
    • Formula: # of fish per gallon of water
      A general rule of thumb, but only for young fish, is 1 inch of fish (2.54 cm) per 1 gallon of water. This rule applies only 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 growth, either buy fewer fish than the maximum number of fish (based on the formula above) or be prepared to get a larger tank. 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
  • Aquarium Lighting
    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.
  • Filtration
    Goldfish 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 helps keep the tank clean and maintain the general health of the goldfish.
  • Substrate
    Provide a gravel substrate to help create a natural and comfortable environment for your fish. A medium sized gravel works best..
  • Aquarium Decor
    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.
  • Temperature: 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 hardier varieties of goldfish and can tolerate living in cold temperatures, 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.
  • Water Hardness: 5 - 19° dGH
  • ph: 6.0 to 8.0
  • Water Movement: Moderate.
  • Water Region: These fish will swim in all areas of the aquarium
  • 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, and will have very stunted growth if it is kept in a smaller aquarium or bowl.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Sometimes
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
  • Temperature: 65.0 to 72.0° F (18.3 to 22.2° C) - This fish is less tolerant of the cold than other goldfish, it should not be kept in water colder than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • 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. Yet any salinity for C. auratus must be kept below 10%, a specific gravity of less than 1.002.
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All

Social Behaviors

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.

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. See pictures and more information about sexing at Bristol Aquarists.

Breeding / Reproduction

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

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.


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.


Author: David Brough CFS
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Lastest Animal Stories on Pearlscale Goldfish

Yvonne - 2013-11-08
My baby goldfish swims with its head up and goes round and round then drifts to the bottom of the tank.

Emily - 2007-12-07
I have 2 pearlscales, Delilah and Kallie. They are so adorable. Delilah is a red and white crowned and Kallie is calico. Deli is about 3 inches long with long beautiful flowing fins. I've had her for over a year and she was about 1" long when I bought her. The bigger she gets, the more golfball-shaped she gets. I just got Kallie a couple weeks ago. She is a little baby, not much bigger than a small bouncy ball. She wobbles when she swims which I find absolutely adorable. I don't know if she is crowned or not but she has short fins (a characteristic of the non-crowned variety). They are some of my favorite fish in my tank (they live in a 90 gal with 7 other fancies) because they are unusual looking and very elegant. Make sure you either soak their food for about 5 minutes before you give it to them or feed them sinking pellets. Because of their shape, they are prone to SBD. Feeding peas about 3 times a week (with covering of pea removed) is also good for goldfish so they don't get swim bladder disease.

Anna Rega of Virginia - 2011-04-20
Well its spring time and my fish are back in the deck ponds. Thanks to this website and the information it gave me all my fish are fat, happy and healthy. I didn't lose any fish over the winter months. 5 of the 10 fish in my home are now back in their large deck pond. Today, I cleaned my other deck pond, and filling it with water as I type this note. My 5 pearlscales are still in the house. they are so pretty, I don't think I can put them back outside. The sound of their fliter water fall puts my to sleep every night and I have become use to it. I would like to take this time to tell everyone at Animal-World for having this website. It saved all 10 of my (3yr old fishes) lives. From Ick, fungis and airbladder dieases, this website gave me all the signs and symtoms to look for, then it gave me the treatments/cures for all the problems my fish had. All the treatments were successfull and all my fish recovered. Remenber I had 5 large pearlscales, 4 large Koi, and 1 super large fantail shumbunkin all 3yrs old. Plus the ten regular goldfish in my out door tank. This is my
"Go To" website. Animal-World, thank you for all your help in teaching me how to keep my fish healthy.

  • Charlie Roche - 2011-04-20
    I am happy that all worked out well for you and the folks at Animal World thank you for your wonderful enthusiasm.
Anna Rega of Virginia - 2011-07-11
Well its July! and all of my fish are doing great. My deck ponds are beautifull and clean. My fish are huge! I looked back on an old calander and realized that my big fish are over 4 yrs old and so are my 5 pearlscales. Jill is my largest fish now, measuring over 11inches long and her tail span is over 6 inches wide. She lets me pet her on the head now and gentle strokes along her side. She comes to me to be hand fed. My other fish come to me only when they are hungry! (malefishsystrom) I like coming back to this site just to read up on different fish info.

  • Charlie Roche - 2011-07-11
    That sound so wonderfulll Do you sit by them and just watch sometimes as must be mesmerizing.
  • Anna Rega of Virginia - 2011-07-13
    I love my fish ponds. We sit out on the deck and listen to the sounds of the fountains and we have a light to watch the fish by and they love the light too. We add water lillies and watch the fish eat and play with them. My whole deck is decor of fish schemes. My grandkids love to feed them and watch them grow over the years. It's a very relaxing atmosphere! Teaching my grandkids how to care for and be kind to all animals is very rewarding.
Anna Rega of Virginia - 2011-01-13
Hi, It's me again! I keep coming back to this Website for all my fish needs. The information on this website is awesome and very helpful. All ten of my fishes are doing great. I will use the info on this website to reconstruct my deck ponds. If you have a fish problem, like I did, then this is the website to read. It was a huge help in treating my fish problems. Now I am going to use the information on here to build a better and healthier eco system for my fish. I have large pearlscales, shubumkins, and Kio and about 10 regular goldfish. This will always be my "go to" Website and I keep it in my favorites for easy access! Thanks for all your help Animal-World....Anna Rega

Anna Rega of Virginia - 2010-12-23
This website has really been a huge help in treating my fish. I now have ten fish in my home for the winter. They were all sick with just about everything. This website told me the symptoms to look for and the product for the cure/treatment. And it all worked! I don't have aquarium fish, My fish are outside pond fish (pearlscales, Koi, regular goldfish, shumbumkins) I couldn't bring them all inside but the ones I had for over 2 yrs are in. My 5 goldies (pearlscales) 1-super large fantail shumbumkin and 4 koi are doing great even tho they are living in much smaller tanks(tubs) for right now. I have successfully treated and cured fungus, parasites and swim bladder diseases. Next spring they will go back into the outside deck ponds which are much bigger for them to live in (230gallons in each pond) I just weigh my pearlscales and the largest one is over 5 oz and the smallest is 4 oz approx 5 inches long, and almost 3 yrs old. The time, work and money is well worth the enjoyment they give me. They are my pets and they depend on Me to keep them healthy.


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