Since Oriental fish enthusiasts began breeding goldfish by crossing various species of carp, the colors of these popular pet fish aren't limited to the standard golden hues. Today's goldfish come in a vast array of solid colors as well as mixes, providing choices to fit any aquarium.
This species with its multi-colored calico-styled mix of red, brown, orange and yellow colors across its body is as eye-pleasing as it is physically hardy. It is a popular choice among first-time fish keepers due to its reputation for thriving in outdoor ponds. This fish is a fast swimmer and should not be kept with other goldfish such as the telescope or bubble eye species known for slower swimming speeds, as it will outpace and beat the other fish in the race for food. First developed in Japan, shubunkin goldfish are now actively marketed by fish-breeding enthusiasts in England and the United States. Its translucent scales serve as an effective conduit for its varied colors to reflect through the water as it swims.
These fish originated in China in the 1700s and are named for their massive eyes, which stick out from each side of their head in a manner that looks like a telescope. Its protruding eyes are where similarities within the species end, as its variance in color and fin types mean purchasers have many options from which to select. These fish come in solid colors of red, blue, chocolate and white as well as calico patterns mixing those four colors. Bi-colored red-and-white or black-and-white versions are common. Three fin types -- broadtail, veil tail and butterfly -- are characteristic of telescope goldfish. They are not considered the best option for someone just starting out as a fish keeper, however, because the physical characteristics of their eyes put them at a visual disadvantage in a tank environment and leaves them more prone to eye infections that are difficult to detect until one has more experience caring for fish.
First available only in red, this type of goldfish is now marketed in solid white and chocolate as well as tri-color and calico combinations. When ryukin goldfish are bi-color, it is only a combination of red and white. They are a hardy choice for novice fish keepers seeking a successful first-time experience. This fish tolerates colder temperatures, making it a wise choice for outdoor ponds even in areas where winter climates are in the freezing range. Its body shape differs from other goldfish, with a high back that appears as a dorsal hump beginning in the neck region. Its only physical downfall is its more rounded body that is prone to swim bladder infections, especially if the fish is kept in a smaller tank environment without regular water changes.
This fish gets its name from the raised appearance of its scales, which feature a harder white surface at the center that appears to the human eye as if a pearl has been attached to each. These fish come in a solid red, blue, black or chocolate as well as a calico mix of those colors and a two-color mix of red and white. Some pearlscale goldfish have a rounded growth on the top of their head. This is known as a hamanishiki and is a highly-desirable trait.
Amy M. Armstrong is a former community news journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing features and covering school districts. She has received more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism and photography. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Washington State University. Armstrong grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington and wrote agricultural news while in college.