Goldfish happen to be the most popular aquarium fish in the world. A large part of their appeal is the fact that they are so hardy, inexpensive, and readily available. But their popularity isn't limited to the fish world. Goldfish are one of the most popular pets overall, and have a long history in the pet world.
Goldfish in History
Goldfish, dogs, and budgerigars (a type of parakeet) have the distinction of being kept as pets for longer than any other animal. Goldfish have been kept as pets for centuries. Experts believe Goldfish were kept as pets in China as far back as 960-1279 A.D. Back then the Chinese kept Goldfish near temples where they eventually began breeding them.
It wasn't long before the Koreans decided to follow suit, and by 1500 the Japanese were also keeping and breeding goldfish. The practice soon spread to Europe. Goldfish were rapidly becoming a sought after pet. By the time Rear Admiral Daniel Ammon brought them from the Orient to the United States, they had became a worldwide phenomenon. Today Japan and the United States are the biggest breeders of goldfish in the world.
Goldfish are cold water fish, which means they don't need heated water like many aquarium fish. Although they can live in water that is almost freezing, they do best if the water is between 46 and 64 degrees F (8 to 18 C). This makes them well suited to everything from ponds to tanks.
When I was a kid, goldfish were traditionally in little bowls. Even though goldfish bowls still exist, we know now that goldfish need far more space. Goldfish should be kept in a full sized tank with a filter to maintain good water quality. Most goldfish kept in little bowls have greatly shortened lifespans. With proper care, Goldfish will live 15 to 25 years, possibly longer. The oldest known goldfish lived to be 41 years old.
Goldfish all belong to the same family, but there are well over 100 varieties of goldfish. Some of the common ones are:
- Comets - Developed in the United States, Comets have a long tail and skinny body.
- Fantails - Shaped like a fat egg, Fantails have double anal and caudal fins.
- Veiltails - Their long flowing fins have made Veiltails very popular. Some have telescope eyes that stick out on either side of their head.
- Shubunkins - Popular for ponds, Shubunkins have a large caudal fin, and come in many colors.
- Black Moors - Easily recognized by their all black color, telescope eyes, and veil-tails. In Britain they breed them specially for competition.
- Lionheads - Resembling a lion's main, Lionheads have a bumpy growth on their head. They have no dorsal (top) fin, and sport a double caudal fin. The Oranda is a Lionhead with a veiltail and a dorsal fin.
- Bubble-eyes Large balloon like sacs below the eye of the Bubble-eye make them hard to miss. Like Lionheads, they don't have a dorsal fin and can't swim too well.
For photos of these and other Goldfish varieties, browse the Goldfish Gallery.