Keep reading to learn more, including a bit of history, care tips, and which types of goldfish you can likely spot at your local pet shop.
What Makes A Goldfish A Goldfish?
Goldfish originated in Eastern Asia over 1,000 years ago. These freshwater fish were originally silver in color and farmed for food. Eventually, colorful genetic mutations popped up, and the fish were kept as pets.
Goldfish now exhibit solid, spotted, and patterned combinations of white, orange, yellow, and black. Their coloration is almost as varied and unique as cats and dogs!
Goldfish are in the same family as carp and koi but don't have the long barbels or facial whiskers seen on their fishy cousins. Their body shapes can vary, from long and slender to short and round. Some even grow to just over a foot long!
When it comes to fins, they vary too. Goldfish are often classified as belonging to one of two groups: common/single-tailed or fancy/doubletailed. The latter fish are often confused with the elegant male betta, the king of fanciful fins.
How Many Types of Goldfish Are There?
Many varieties of goldfish have emerged thanks to domestication. We have over 200 recognized breeds of goldfish available to enjoy today. Most well appointed aquatics stores or pet shops will carry a handful or more types of goldfish to choose from.
Goldfish can live anywhere from five to 30 years or more, depending on the breed. So, keep this in mind when selecting the best type of goldfish for your family. Are you ready to potentially maintain an aquarium for 20 years or longer?
What Do Goldfish Eat?
Pet goldfish eat flake food and sinking pellet food made with up to 38% protein — a key nutrient needed by goldfish. In the wild, goldfish will feed on insects floating at the top of the pond, crustaceans wandering the floor of the waterway and fresh aquatic plants.
Goldfish are instinctively foragers, so don't be surprised when you see them scanning the bottom of the tank and using their noses to nudge rocks to reveal the perfect pellet snack.
Goldfish also love to nibble on live aquarium plants. A few good options for plants that can resist their munching include Java Ferns, Anubias, and Cryptocoryne. Do you enjoy plastic artificial plants in your aquarium? Nice! Then you might consider offering fresh leaves of lettuce, kale, or spinach as occasional treats for your goldfish.
Note: Do not use silk-based artificial plants in a goldfish tank. These faux plants are soft and thin, which your goldfish may mistake for real foliage and ingest, obstructing their digestive system.
4 Popular Goldfish Pets
Are you ready to get a pet goldfish or two of your own? Start by getting a tank set up, cycled, and ready to welcome your new pet(s) home. As a general rule, start with a 20-gallon tank for one goldfish, and add extra space at the rate of one gallon per inch of adult fish. When in doubt, more room is always better!
1) Common Goldfish
These are the closest in body type to the original goldfish with a single tail and are very economical to purchase. However, common goldfish can grow to 12 to 14 inches long and need lots of space for their 10- to 20-year lifespan
These guys are fancier with a long, forked singletail fin at the rear and are often bi-colored and add visual interest to your fish tank. This hearty breed lives five to 14 years, on average, and grows to 4 to 12 inches in length.
3) Ryukin Goldfish
This goldfish has an egg-shaped body with a camel-like hump on its back. Ryukins are fancy, double-tailed fish that can grow up to 10 inches long, making them one of the larger fancy goldfish varieties — plan to care for this fish for 10 to 15 years.
4) Oranda Goldfish
Look close at these unique goldfish, and you'll see a bubbly structure on its forehead called a wen. Often this feature is red-orange, making for a striking fish to admire. Orandas grow to 8 to 12 inches in length and live 15 to 25 years.
You might also spot Ranchu, Bubble Eye, Fantail, Black Moor, Lionhead, or Celestial Eye goldfish as you browse your favorite fish shop. All are beautiful, domesticated varieties of their ancestors from Eastern Asia, bred with unique eye, head, and tail features.
Is it time to set up your first aquarium? Or, add a goldfish to your established freshwater tank? There are many varieties of this colorful, popular fish to pick from. Learn more in this Goldfish Care Guide.
Aquatic Veterinary Services - Standard Care of Goldfish
Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital - General Goldfish Care
Minnesota Aquarium Society - The History of Goldfish
PetKeen - 30 Types of Goldfish Varieties: Common & Fancy