If you’ve been considering bringing home a goldfish, but want to make you find the right one, you’re in luck! Whether you need an easy-to-care variety for the kids’ first pet or want to explore some more exciting options that require care, you’ll find this list provides you with basic care for just about every type of goldfish out there. You’ll also find goldfish colors listed for each breed, which could well help you decide which beauties to bring home.
Three main color pigmentations exist in goldfish:
- Melanophores, which have black pigment
- Erythrophores, which have red pigment
- Xanthophores, which have yellow pigment
These three categories combine to create the plethora of other colors in goldfish, along with the patterns. The common shades and varieties include:
Single-Tailed Goldfish Varieties
As the name implies, the common goldfish is the easiest variety to find. These little darlings grow up to 4 inches during their 10- to 15-year lifespan and require 20 gallons of water, minimum. They need temperatures between 68- and 74-degrees Fahrenheit, with pH levels between 7.0 and 8.4. The common goldfish comes in just about every color you could imagine, save the rare forms. Most often, you’ll find them in blue-ish gray, metallic orange, red, orange, brown, yellow, white, or black.
The second most commonly found goldfish is the comet. This fish may grow up to 1 foot in length, meaning it’s a large goldfish and requires large tank. Most folks say a minimum of 50 gallons, but ideally, start them out with 75-gallons or more. The fish live between 4 and 14 years, depending on care and health, and tend to be peaceful and playful their whole lives. They require water temperatures between 50- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit, and pH levels between 6.5 and 7.5. The comet goldfish comes in many color variations, with the most popular being the bright, metallic orange. You can find black, orange, red, white, red and white, yellow, black and orange, calico, or red and silver comets.
London, Bristol, or American Shubunkin Goldfish
Shubunkins come in three varieties: American, London, or Bristol. The fish grow up to 18 inches, living as long as 15 years. The large goldies require 75-gallons minimum but do tend to be easy to care for. They need temperatures between 65- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit and pH levels between 6.0 and 8.0. The peaceful fish may come in a variety of colors but in calico patterns. You may find black, white, black and white, red, full calico, or pink gilled white bodies.
Double-Tailed Goldfish Varieties
Living between 5 and 8 years when healthy and cared for properly, the easy fantail goldfish adds some distinctive beauty to the fish tank. Growing between 6 and 8 inches, the fan tail has an egg-shaped body and long, fantails, earning them their name. They require 20 gallons, temperatures between 61- and 77-degrees, and pH levels right around 7.5. The delicate fish must have no sharp objects in its tank to avoid injury. The beauties come in koi colored morphs (almost exclusively in Japan), or more commonly red and orange, orange, red, black, yellow, white, or calico.
Needing temperatures between 65- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit and pH levels between 7.0 and 8.4, the Ryukin goldfish is a fascinating critter requiring 30 gallons minimum. The larger goldfish grows to between 6 and 10 inches over its 10- to 15-year lifespan. The fish is basically the eastern bred version of the fantail goldfish, only with a different body shape. The fish comes in red, white, calico, chocolate, red and white, yellow, orange, or black.
The gorgeous pearlscale goldie grows to between 6 and 8 inches, living only 5 to 10 years when properly cared for. The peaceful fish requires 20 gallons or more, with water temperatures between 65- and 75-degrees and pH levels between 6.5 and 7.5. The little fish look a bit like golf balls with their rounded bodies and thick scales. The somewhat challenging fish need absolutely pristine water conditions for optimum health. Pearscales come in black, purple, calico, brown, red, or red and white.
Bubble Eye Goldfish
Moderately difficult to care for, bubble eye goldfish grow to be about 5 inches and live between 10 and 15 years. The peaceful fish require a temperature range of 65- to 80-degrees Fahrenheit, with pH levels between 6.5 and 7.5. The attractive fish are some of the most unusual ones out there, and those bubble eyes are why they’re somewhat challenging to care for. The water sacs under their eyes make them susceptible to injury and accidents, so absolutely no sharp objects may be kept in their tanks. These fish come in red, chocolate, blue, calico, black, red and black, or red and white.
Telescope Eye Goldfish
Living between 10 and 15 years when healthy and cared for properly, telescope eye goldfish make for intriguing aquarium residents. The fish grow to 5 inches and require 20 gallons, minimum. They need pH levels between 6.0 and 8.0 and temperatures between 65- and 72-degrees Fahrenheit. The breed comes in a wide range of colors and subcategories, including black moor and panda telescope eye. You’ll find colors in red, chocolate, blue, lavender, kirin, chocolate and blue, black, black and white, calico, or red and white.
Black Moor Goldfish
The black moor goldfish comes in black with bronze bellies and fin tips. The fish have standard eyes or protruding eyes, depending on their lineage. Black moors require 20 gallons minimum, with 60- to 75-degree Fahrenheit water and pH levels between 7.0 and 7.5. The easy to care for fish grows between 6 and 8 inches and lives 10 to 15 years.
Jakin, Butterfly, Peacock, or Jikin Goldfish
Known as butterfly, peacock, Jikin, or Jakin goldfish, this unusual looking goldie may reach up to 10 inches in its lifetime. The breed generally has a healthy lifespan of at least 10 years, often reaching 15 to 18 years total. They require a minimum of 10 gallons, with temperatures between 65- and 78-degrees Fahrenheit and pH levels between 7.0 and 8.4. The breed is considered easy to care for, so makes a great starter fish. The fish tends to be a rare color morph from Japan, with long bodies, a shoulder hunch, and widespread tails. They usually come in bi-color as red and white with metallic scales.
Growing between 4 and 6 inches, with a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, the pompom goldfish lives up to its name. The unique looking goldfish has nasal appendages that sort of look like crafting pompoms near their eyes. The peaceful fish requires moderate care, with 65- to 78-degrees Fahrenheit and pH levels between 7.0 and 7.5. The fish has an egg-shaped body, double tail, no dorsal fin, and the cottony pompoms near their eyes which may be telescope. Sometimes, these fish have hoods, as well. They generally come in bi-color or tri-color patterns, or single colors, in red, white, silver, black, calico, or red and white patterns.
The lionhead goldfish is one of the most popular goldfish species without a dorsal fin. The unique fish has a flat-ish back and classic double tail. They reach 6 to 8 inches and live between 10 and 15 years, requiring a 10-gallon tank minimum size. The lionhead needs water temperatures between 65- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit and pH levels between 6.0 and 8.0. The moderately challenging fish may have metallic, nacreous, or matte scales in red, orange, white, black, natural, chocolate, red and white, blue, black and red, or black and white color forms.
Growing up to 6 inches, and living for 10 to 15 years, the Lionchu goldfish is a fascinating fish. They require 20 gallons minimum for one fish, but 50 gallons minimum for a community tank. The peaceful, moderately challenging goldie needs temperatures between 65- and 78-degrees and pH levels between 6.0 and 8.0. The hybrid breed combines Ranchu and lionhead goldfish features, with no dorsal fin, double tails, and mettalic nacreous scales. The colors for these fish include single, bi-color, tri-color, or calico patterns. You’ll find red, black, orange, chocolate, blue, red and white, or black and white create these patterns.
Celestial Eye Goldfish or Stargazing Goldfish
The unique, somewhat startling feature of the celestial eye or stargazing goldfish is the distinctive upturned, heavenward staring eyes. This breed grows between 5 and 6 inches, living between 10 and 15 years. The peaceful, moderately challenging fish requires 20 gallons minimum, with temperatures between 65- and 78-degrees, and pH levels between 6.0 and 8.0. Their selective breeding of the fish has resulted in no dorsal tail and the unusual eyes. They come in orange, red, white, or red and white.
A fancy double-tailed goldfish, the Oranda lives up to 15 years in captivity when well cared for. The fish grows to between 8 and 9 inches at full maturity and requires a minimum of 20 gallons. The extremely peaceful goldfish breed is easy to care for, requiring temperatures between 68- and 71.5-degrees Fahrenheit and pH levels between 5.0 and 8.0. This is one of the easiest fancy goldfish breeds to acquire, which helps to make them popular among beginners. The selectively bred fish have wens on their heads and come in orange, red, black, blue, chocolate, bronze, white, silver, calico, red and black, red and white, black and white, or red, black and white tricolor forms.
Thai Rose Tail Goldfish
Another fancy goldfish that’s not super easy to get ahold of, but not particularly rare, either, is the Thai rose tail. These fancies grow to between 8 and 12 inches and come from specific breeders only. They have highly developed wens and egg-shaped bodies, and ruffled tails. They come in a wide range of color patterns and shades.
The Ranchu goldfish feature wens and a distinctive lack of dorsal fin, meaning a lot of folks confused them for lionhead goldfish. This breed grows up to 5 inches, lives between 10 and 15 years, and is considered a moderately challenging goldfish to care for. They require temperatures between 65- and 77-degrees Fahrenheit and pH ranges between 7.2 and 7.6. The peaceful omnivores are slow movers, which is part of their higher care need (i.e., they don’t do well with a variety of other fish and finding food). These goldies come in red, yellow, gold, white, blue, black, orange, and calico.
The veiltail goldfish grows up to 7 inches in length and lives between 10 and 15 years. The peaceful fish requires a minimum of 20 gallons and tends to be moderate to hard to care for. They need pH level between 7.0 and 8.4 and temperatures between 65- and 72-degrees Fahrenheit. The beautiful little fish have round, slender bodies with large, impressive 4-inch-long tail fins. They look a bit like betta fish to some, with their flowy fins. These particular fish are prone to injuries because of those gorgeous tails and fins, so they need limited décor in their tanks and nothing with sharp edges. They come in red, orange, or red and white combinations, with the rare calico.
Butterfly Tail Goldfish
An intermediate care level fish, the butterfly tail goldfish grows to between 6 and 8 inches. They live between 5 and 8 years in 20 gallons minimum and require pH levels between 62- and 77-degrees and pH ranges between 7.0 and 8.4. This breed of goldfish is most stunning from above, with their tails literally looking like a butterfly with its wings open. The fish have tall shoulder hunches, hoods or telescopic eyes and many color morphs. You’ll find them in a matte white, lavender, blue, red and black, panda, black, or red and white.
Red Moor Goldfish
The red moor goldfish grows up to 5 inches and lives between 10 and 15 years when properly cared for. As their name implies, the unique variation of the black moor comes in a vivid red coloring with telescope eyes. Some may lean more towards orange or have white or black spots. The fish require pH levels between 7.0 and 7.5 and temperatures between 60- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit. Most folks consider this breed an easy goldfish to care for.
Panda Moor Goldfish
Ranging from 6 to 8 inches and living between 10 and 15 years, panda moor goldfish are thrilling, unique little fish. They require 20 gallons, minimum, tend to be easy to care for and have peaceful natures. Provide them with water temperatures between 60- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit and a pH range between 7.0 and 7.5.
Moor goldfish belong to the telescope eye goldfish family and in the case of the panda moor, you’ll see where the color comes from. Their unstable color morphs (in many cases) causes their coloring to fade into bi-color. They may originate as black moor and turn into panda moors. The look of panda moors is a black and white bi-color pattern that reminds folks of the panda bear’s coloring.
Rare Fancy Goldfish Varieties
For those looking for something unusual, a rare fancy goldfish might be just the ticket. However, most of these varieties and breeds are extremely hard to come by. Most of us just get to enjoy pictures and daydreaming from afar.
This particular variety of goldfish isn’t a specific type but rather a rare genetic mutation. Curled-gill goldfish could come in almost any type of goldfish, meaning any size, any lifespan, temperature or pH needs could be in the mix. They do all need at least 20 gallons minimum and are difficult to care for because of the health factors caused by this genetic mutation. They may come in any color.
The fish gets its name from the literal curled gill covers they grow, which curl out and away from the gills. This makes them vulnerable to illness more so than others and highly visible. When these fish do occur, most breeders cull them from their stock. It’s recommended that if you spot one of these at a pet store or market, to avoid purchasing because they will live short, unhealthy lives.
Izumo Nankin Goldfish
Growing up to 7 to 8.5 inches in length, the Izumo Nankin goldfish lives between 10 and 15 years when properly cared for. They require tanks of at least 10 gallons in size, with temperatures between 68- and 74-degrees Fahrenheit. The fish also need pH ranges between 6.5 and 7.0, meaning they’re a bit more persnickety than other goldfish types. Iumo Nankins tend to be difficult to care for and are hard to find in the western parts of the world. These goldies come in bi-color forms with red and white, with dorsal-less finned bodies and a partially fused Ranchu-like tail.
Siamese or China Doll Goldfish
The China doll or Siamese goldfish lives between 10 and 15 years, when properly cared for and healthy. They grow up to 12 inches and come in the unique and rare yellow Lutino morph yellow coloration. They’re hard to find in western markets, but if you do, the rare fantail fish needs 10 gallons per fish minimum, temperatures between 65- and 72-degrees Fahrenheit, and pH levels between 6.0 and 8.0. They are considered moderate to difficult to care for.
Hama Nishiki Goldfish
The rare cross between Oranda and pearl scale goldfish results in the Hama Nishiki goldfish, a goldfish in oranges, reds, and whites, with many in bi- or multi-color forms. The fish physically resemble the pearl scale, but with fins that are longer and bodies bigger than the pearl scale. They have small hood covers on their heads, gained from their Oranda parents. The fish grows to between 6 and 8 inches, and lives between 5 and 10 years on average. They require 20-gallon tanks minimum, temperatures between 75- and 80-degrees, and pH levels between 6.0 and 8.0. The peaceful omnivores tend to be fairly easy to care for.
Phoenix, Egg-Fish, or Maruko Goldfish
Living between 10 and 15 years when properly cared for, most phoenix goldfish reach up to 9 inches in size. Also known as egg-fish or Maruko goldfish, these beauties require 20 gallons minimum, and tend to be easy to care for. They should be kept in temperatures between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, with pH levels between 6.0 and 8.0. The fish are nearly impossible to buy.
Marukos have no dorsal fin and otherwise appear like an egg-shaped pompom with celestial goldfish eyes, double tail, and no wen hood. The fish come in red and orange most often, with white patterning. Occasionally, other colors may be found.
Jade Seal Goldfish
The Jade seal goldfish usually lives between 10 and 16 years, growing from 8 to 12 inches on average. The peaceful breed requires 30 gallons minimum, with pH ranges between 5.0 and 8.0 and temperatures between 68- and 71-degrees Fahrenheit.
The fish are also impossible to find for sale, and, in most countries are not available. The beautiful fish look like red orandas with white caps in most cases.
Tamasaba, Sabao, or Mackerel-Tailed Goldfish
Averaging 10 inches or longer, the Tamasaba goldfish, or Mackerel-tailed or Sabao goldfish, often lives to see 15 years. These beautiful, peaceful goldies require pH ranges between 6.0 and 8.0 and temperatures between 65- and 74-degrees Fahrenheit. The Japanese goldies rarely make their way into the public eye, but the egg-shaped fish with arched backs and long single tails are incredibly beautiful in red or red and white.
Tosakin, Peacock Tail, or Curly Tail Goldfish
Coming in red, black, or red and white, the rare Tosakin goldfish once almost went extinct. The rare fish was only bred by one person in Japan, and when war broke out during World War II and a tsunami hit soon thereafter, the fish were nearly lost. The breeder (Mr. Hiroe Tamura) risked his life to save the beauties.
Rarely, a calico color morph will show up in these unique goldies, as well. They live to between 10 and 15 years and grow between 4 and 8 inches long. It’s almost impossible to find them outside of Japan today.
Thai Orchid Tail Goldfish
A fancy variety of goldfish, Thai orchid tail comes from a Thai goldfish breeder, as the name implies. The hard to get ahold of fish grows between 8 and 12 inches and comes in a variety of color patterns. They have deep oranda type bodies with Tosakin tails.
Shukin goldfish generally range from 5 to 6 inches in length and live between 10 and 15 years when healthy. These rare fish are peaceful, require moderate care, and come in a variety of colors. Red, white, blue, and silver color these exceptionally challenging to find goldfish.
Froghead goldfish are easy to moderately easy to care for, needing 20-gallon tanks. The peaceful fish live between 10 and 15 years, but they’re hard to find. The rare fish have squarish heads with prominent cheeks and bubble eyes. They come in many colors, sizes, and shapes.
Meteor goldfish may be the rarest goldfish of all to find. Partially, this is because the fish is not recognized officially as a type of goldfish. Mostly, though, the rarity comes from the fact that breeding this is type of fish intentionally is nearly impossible to do consistently. Often, the label is attached to other types of goldfish. Meteor goldfish are peaceful and challenging to care for. They have no tails or extremely small tails. Elongated pectoral fins and strong anal fins allow them to swim around with ease instead. The name comes from the fact that the tail-less fish silhouette looks a bit like a shooting star.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Keung/Shutterstock.com
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