The goldfish is an ornamental aquarium and pond fish of the carp family.
It is one of the most commonly kept aquarium fish.
Goldfish are a domesticated version of a wild carp from east Asia. Their wild ancestor was silver-grey. Known as “chi”, it was at one time the most common fish eaten in China.
According to legend, Governor Ting Yen-tsan discovered both golden and yellow chi in a pond outside the city of Jiaxing. The pond then became a “pond of mercy”.
In the Buddhist tradition, it is a good deed to set an animal free, especially if the animal is rare. So it became common practice throughout China for the rare coloured chi to be spared the
stewpot and released into ponds. Official records document an accumulation of colorful chi in ponds around year 975.
By around 1240, goldfish were domesticated and distinct from their chi ancestors. They were tame and would readily eat the food they were given. In public ponds of mercy, goldfish lived alongside chi, turtles, and other fish. But those who could afford to build their own ponds on private land tended to stock them only with the beautiful, colorful goldfish.
By the the 1500s, it became popular to keep goldfish in bowls. That made the keeping of goldfish far more affordable, as nearly everyone had earthen vessels.
During the 1620s, goldfish were highly regarded in Southern Europe because of their color, and symbolized good luck and fortune. It became a tradition for married men to give their wives a
goldfish on their first anniversary, as a symbol for the prosperous years to come. This tradition quickly died, as goldfish became more available, losing their status.
Goldfish were first introduced to North America around 1850 and quickly became popular in the United States.
By 1890 a goldfish farm had been established in Maryland, and by the turn of the century most of the fancy breeds were known to American aquarists.
Currently, there are about 200 varieties of goldfish recognized in China.
The most common varieties is golden-colored, but goldfish come in many different shapes and sizes. Many gold fish have fancy tails. Another common kind is called a black moor, which is black colored. Wild goldfish are called prussian carp and are silver-green in color.
Some high quality varieties cost between $125 to $300.
Goldfish need a lot of space so they have room to swim and so the water does not get dirty too fast. Goldfish live best in temperatures between 10 and 30 °C (10 and 86 °F).
Goldfish are popular pond fish, since they are small, inexpensive, colorful, and very hardy. In a pond, they may even survive if brief periods of ice form on the surface, as long as there is enough
oxygen remaining in the water and the pond does not freeze solid.
Small to large ponds are fine for keeping goldfish, although the depth should be at least 80 centimeters (30 inches) to avoid freezing. During winter, goldfish will become sluggish, stop
eating, and often stay on the bottom. They will become active again in the spring.
Escaping from park and garden pools, the goldfish has become naturalized in many areas of the eastern United States.
Goldfish can live for long periods of time if they are fed a varied diet and housed in proper water conditions. The average lifetime of a goldfish is ten to fifteen years. The longest lived goldfish
on record lived to age 43. The oldest living goldfish was Tish, won by a UK family at a funfair.
The world’s longest goldfish (Carassius auratus) is owned by Joris Gijsbers and measured 47.4 cm (18.7 in) from snout to tail-fin end on 24 March 2003 in Hapert, The Netherlands.
It was once thought that goldfish have short memories, but scientists have proven that this is not true. In experiments, a goldfish was trained to kick a small ball under water. Another goldfish
learned to swim through a maze.
As of October 2005, the fish with the largest repertoire of tricks is Albert Einstein, a 3 year old calico fantail goldfish who can perform 6 tricks such as playing football or performing limbo. He
was trained by his owner Dean Pomerleau at the ‘Fish School’ in Gibsonia, United States.
In many countries, carnival and fair operators commonly give goldfish away in plastic bags as prizes.
Koi and goldfish may look similar, but the two are actually two different species.