FANCY GOLDFISH VARIETIES

Featured here are the principle varieties of fancy goldfish as bred by BAS and other UK goldfish societies. Click on the image of each fish to learn more about the type.

A word about terminology! There is in fact only one goldfish species, and the many fancy goldfish varieties or breeds all belong to this same species. Within each variety, however, there may be many different strains; thus, for example, a breeder of veiltails will over time develop his/her own strain of veiltail, differing slightly in colour, finnage, body shape and genetic background from other breeders' strains of veiltail. This is clearly seen when you go to a major goldfish show and see the different strains of veiltail side by side on the show bench; but they are all veiltails compared, say, with fantails, comets or other varieties.

For background information about goldfish - their history, colour and finnage, and a glossary of terms used in describing goldfish, see About Goldfish.

ORIGINS

All the goldfish varieties originate from China (including the ranchu and the ryukin, which many these days associate more with Japan), except for:

VARIETIES

Type Description Found in  
UK Far East USA
Long Bodied: fish with the natural, wild-type body length
Single Tailed: fish with the natural, wild-type tail or an elongated or enlarged tail
Common Goldfish &
London shubunkin
Wild-type body form and finnage, metallic or calico colouration Common Common Common Common Goldfish
Comet Slim-bodied with long and sharply pointed finnage, colouration mostly metallic Common Common Common Comet
Bristol shubunkin
Wild-type body form with a large, heart-shaped tail, calico colouration only Uncommon Rare Rare Bristol Shubunkin
Double Tailed: fish in which the two layers of the natural tail (which is a laminate of two layers) have divided and grow separately
Wakin Slightly shorter body than wild-type with a double, fantail-like tail, metallic colouration only Rare Common Less common Wakin
Jikin or peacock-tail Slightly shorter body, divided tail which is splayed outwards Rare Uncommon Less common Jikin
Short Bodied: shortened body length, double tail and double (divided) anal fin
Long Tailed (Veiltailed): fish with deep bodies, a high dorsal fin and a long, flowing double tail in which the fork has largely been bred out
Veiltail Very round-bodied with a long, flowing "veil" tail, colour metallic or calico Uncommon Rare Uncommon Veiltail
Oranda Basic veiltail with raspberry-like growth on the head called a hood Less common Far Eastern type common Common Oranda
Broadtail Moor Basic veiltail with eyes protruding from the head in a telescopic manner, colour deep velvety black Uncommon Far Eastern type common Common Broadtail Moor
Globe Eye Similar to the moor, colour metallic or calico, tail usually slightly forked Uncommon Far Eastern type common Uncommon Globe Eye
Short Tailed (Fantailed) WITH Dorsal Fin: fish with oval (egg-shaped) bodies, short finnage and a well forked double tail held out like a fan
Fantail Colour mainly red or calico Less common Far Eastern type common Common Fantail
Pearlscale Scales raised in the shape of pearls, body shape approaching a sphere Less common Common Common Pearlscale
Short Tailed (Fantailed) WITHOUT Dorsal Fin: as above but with a smooth dorsal contour and no dorsal fin
Eggfish Short, rounded fins; phoenix eggfish has long, flowing finnage Rare Uncommon Rare Phoenix Eggfish
Lionhead Raspberry-like hood growth on the head; mostly red or calico Less common Common Less common Lionhead
Ranchu Similar to lionhead but with much more curved posterior dorsal contour Uncommon Common Common Ranchu
Celestial Protruding, upturned eyes; metallic or calico Uncommon Less common Uncommon Celestial
Pompon Large, frilly nasal septa; metallic or calico Rare Uncommon Uncommon Pompon
Bubble Eye Large bubble-like eye sacs; metallic or calico Less common Common Common Bubble Eye
Other Twin Tailed: short-bodied, double-tailed types that do not fit into the above scheme (i.e. that are neither Veiltails nor Fantails)
Ryukin Intermediate between fantail and veiltail with deep body, tail of varying length, pointed head and dorsal hump Uncommon Common Common Ryukin
Tosakin Similar to fantail except for the undivided double tail which is splayed sideways and forwards Rare Uncommon Rare Tosakin
Oriental twintail (man-yu) Intermediate between Fantail and Ryukin, smooth dorsal contour and fairly long, drooping, forked tail Common Common Common Man-yu
Experimental Varieties
Imperial Red metallic single-tailed fish intermediate between Bristol shubunkin and veiltail in appearance Extremely rare, limited to participating breeders in the London area Absent Absent Imperial


OTHER VARIETIES

There are some 20 varieties of goldfish described above, with variations between the Far Eastern and the Western versions adding to the count. In fact, in China there are considered to be about 300 varieties, encompassing nearly the full range of permutations in the following features:

You will find the main variations described on each of the individual pages accessed from the table above. To the British, many of these are hybrid varieties, but that is just one of several valid viewpoints. There is, however, a commercial dimension to developing new varieties, and some of these, for example the black and white fish, can be spectacular; others are not to the Western taste, for example:

In Britain, goldfish breeders like to maintain the recognized varieties distinct from each other, and little merit is seen in blending the different strains. Further, fish shows are competitive, and the exhibitors are very keen hobbyists; individual fish of a given variety manifesting characters that 'rightly' belong to another variety do not fare well in competition.

SPORTS

Globe eyed common goldfish

An example of a hybrid or 'sport' is this globe eyed common goldfish. The globe eye feature was first observed about 400 years ago (see History), and sometimes appears where least expected; shown below is a globe eyed young common goldfish, found amongst ordinary common goldfish that had been left to breed naturally in a pond in Exeter, Devon. (Picture by Catherine Howard, courtesy of Aquarist and Pondkeeper, 2002).

globe eye sport found amongst common goldfish

Common goldfish with double anal fin

Below is another sport seen at BAS 2004, a common goldfish with a double anal fin. (This feature was first recorded 100-200 years earlier than the globe eye). Notice also the longer tail lobes than per the standard for the common goldfish.

common goldfish sporting a double anal fin common goldfish sporting a double anal fin

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