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Goldfish Breeding

Last Updated: 4/29/10

Swimming Fish Swimming Fish Swimming Fish Swimming Fish Swimming Fish Swimming Fish

Note: The above two images (but not the first) are courtesy of Fantastic Fantails.

Goldfish Varieties
Breeding Links
Identifying Eggs
Hatching and Raising Fry
Goldfish Growth Rates and Color Changes
Telling Goldfish Fry from Koi Fry

On my koi care page:
Telling Goldfish and Koi Apart and Interbreeding

Goldfish Varieties

Goldfish come in many varieties. All are the same species and can interbreed. Often people ask if shubunkins can breed with common goldfish or if fantails can breed with comets. Well, they are all the same species. Just as a yorkie and a doberman pincher dog can breed, so too can two different varieties of goldfish.

Here is an incomplete list of varieties. Common colors are given but all varieties can be almost any color. Colors found include gold/orange, white, black, red, blue/gray, brown/chocolate, and more! Goldfish can also be any combination of each of these varieties in which case they may be multiple varieties at the same time. Also, any variety with double tail or caudal fins should have double anal fins; and anytime long tail is mentioned, the other fins are also longer than in the common goldfish. Dorsal fin = fin on the back. Caudal fin = tail. Anal fin = fin near vent or anus. Pectoral fin = fins near front on sides used to maneuver. The varieties are in no particular order. [Interestingly, someone took my list (without asking) and put it up on a forum and included photos from another site (which they did ask for permission apparently) of examples of each of these fish so you may find that more useful than my list. Here is the link.]

* = I currently have one or more goldfish of this variety
** = I used to have a goldfish of this variety but it died
*** = I have never had a goldfish of this variety

*Common - single tail; no adornments; usually natural bronze or reddish orange with white on the fin tips but may be other colors; picture
*Comet - single long tail; no adornments; essentially long finned common goldfish; usually orange with or without white or black on fins; often change colors as age
Shubunkin (original) - single short tail; no adornments; mix of white, red/orange, and blue/black
*Bristol Shubunkin - single long tail; no adornments; mix of white, red/orange, and blue/black
**London Shubunkin - single short tail; no adornments; mix of white, red/orange, and blue/black; known for its intense blue
*Fantail - double tail; fat bodied; red, white, calico, or any combination
***Veiltail - double long tail; fat bodied; red, white, calico, or any combination
***Lionhead or Ranchu - short double tail; no dorsal fin; fat bodied; hood or growth on head; red, white, calico, or any combination
**Oranda - long double tail; lionhead with dorsal fin; less fat bodied; hood or growth on head; red, white, orange-yellow, red cap (red just on hood), calico, black, blue (gray), chocolate (bronze), brown, or any combination; picture blue oranda; picture calico oranda with torn fins; picture red cap oranda
***Telescope eyed - double long tail; with or without dorsal fin; fat bodied; large eyes; developed from veiltail; red, white, calico, or any combination
**Black Moor - double tail; deep black color; large eyes; essentially a black telescope-eyed goldfish
***Bubble-eye - double tail; fat bodied; no dorsal fin; large fragile sacks around eyes filled with fluid; developed from celestial; red, white, calico, or any combination
***Pearl scale - double short tail; fat bodied; protruding scales as if fish has dropsy; red, white, yellow, calico, black, chocolate, or any combination
**Pompoms - double tail; fat bodied; no dorsal fin to be "prized" fish; may have other adornments; pompom like growths near nostrils; red, white, calico, or any combination
***Celestial - double tail; no dorsal fin; upturned fragile large eyes as adult; red, silver, orange-yellow, white, or any combination (usually metallic)
***Wakin - double short tail; bright colored; yellow, orange, white, or red-orange and white
***Peacocktail - tail like a butterfly; developed from Wakin; red, white, calico, or any combination
***Fringe tail - double large tail; fat bodied; hump on back; red, white, or any combination
***Albino doll - double tail; fat bodied; large eyes; albino telescope eyed-like fish

Breeding Links

Goldfish Breeding

Breeding Goldfish

Goldfish Eggs and Fry Photos - an archived version of the site


The keys to breeding goldfish are temperature change and providing a place to spawn. A gradual increase in temperature from say 50 to 75 degrees F over a few months should excite the fish. The females need soft, coldwater plants in shallow (under a foot) areas to spawn. Plants such as anacharis, cambomba, hornwort, java moss (in tanks), etc. work. You can also buy artificial spawning mops for her to lay the eggs. If you want any (in tanks) or more than a few (in ponds) fry to survive, remove the eggs as soon as they are laid. Both fish will eat the eggs immediately. Keep the eggs in similar water with light aeration if possible.

When a female goldfish is full of eggs, she will release pheromones into the water. The males will probably harass her at other times too but, once she sends out the message, the males go crazy. The males will chase the females around very quickly and slam her into any soft vegetation around. If no soft spots are present, she will be most likely be injured in the males' excitement. Most people on first seeing goldfish spawning in a pond say that they fish have "gone crazy." In an aquarium with less swimming room, the activity will not seem as frantic. A female will lay thousands of eggs and all fish present will eat as many as they can get. The eggs hatch in 4 to 7 days depending on temperature. After a few days of hanging around (they seem to suction themselves onto glass in tanks), the fry will begin to feed.

Egg-laden goldfish have been called twits, twats, twirps, and twerps according to various sources. Get the scoop on this controversy over "Is a pregnant goldfish called a twit?" at this site. It's pretty funny! And yes, goldfish are not technically pregnant but egg-laden or ripe (like some sort of fruit!).

My fish video page has nine videos of the goldfish spawning at various times in my pond.

Identifying Eggs

Eggs look like tiny clear balls that stick to whatever they landed on, including each other. After a day, black spots should appear at the center of each egg that was fertilized. Snail and amphibian eggs, on the other hand, are usually gelatinous masses. Snail eggs will usually be in clumps on surfaces, and amphibian eggs will usually not be stuck to anything but each other or perhaps anchored to a plant.

Check out Twerp's page to see photos of a red capped oranda next to a bunch of her eggs.

Hatching and Raising Fry

The goldfish eggs take up to a week to hatch, depending on temperature. At 50 to 60 degrees F, they may take up to one or even two weeks to hatch but at 75 degrees F, they may hatch in 4 to 5 days. The newborns will lay around for another week or so. Only when they start to swim around, should they be fed small foods like infusoria. Later, they can eat baby brine shrimp. In crowded conditions, they grow slowly. There are often runts, malformed fry, and fry that do not conform to what you had intended to breed. These fish can be culled (killed) or reared separately to be used as "feeder fish." An individual may cull most of the fry (often by feeding them to other fish) because he or she does not have the room for multiple tanks. In ponds, non-selective culling is done naturally by the goldfish and any other animals in the pond who love to eat both the eggs and fry.

Goldfish Growth Rates and Color Changes

In clean, uncrowded conditions in tanks or ponds, goldfish grow fast. They can grow to a few inches (1 to 4 inches) within the first year. It really depends on their genetics and living situation. It may take a year or two before they change color from brown to gold or whatever color their parents were. Some common and comet goldfish change from brown to orange/gold at only an inch in length in my pond while others that I have had retained the brownish color well up to 5 inches in length and about two years old. Occasionally, a common goldfish will remain the natural brownish color forever. My goldfish (comet and common mixes) tend to change from bronze to a washed out white/orange with black tipped fins at two inches and then change to orange with black tipped fins, to all orange, and finally to orange with white tipped fins by the time they reach four inches. Fancy goldfish and shubunkins tend to develop their colors earlier (by an inch) than common goldfish. Goldfish change color throughout their lives. A few years after birth or when the goldfish (single finned varieties) reach 4 to 6 inches in length (3 to 5 inches for fancy goldfish), they should have obtained their best colors and begin breeding in earnest.

For information on caring for fry in general, visit my breeding and fry care page.

For information on telling koi and goldfish apart and about their interbreeding, see this section.

For more on goldfish color changes including a few photos, see this section.

Here is a link to a post on my forum about breeding goldfish in a pond. There are other posts on there as well. If I ever renovate this page, I will have to add the information from this and other posts to this page.
Forum posting on breeding goldfish in a pond

Telling Goldfish Fry from Koi Fry

Do you have both goldfish and koi in your pond? Do you have fry? Do you want to know if a fry is goldfish or koi? Here are some things to keep in mind. If you have other fish, then it becomes even more complex!

Return to Main Goldfish Page.

Go the Goldfish Sexing Page

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