16 Types of Common and Fancy Goldfish (With Pics)

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Goldfish tank
Goldfish are an extremely popular aquarium fish and there are many fascinating varieties to choose from! Photo from publicdomainpictures.net

Perhaps the most popular type of fish due to the aquarium trade, goldfish have been gracing fish bowls and tanks for what seems like forever. Native to East Asia, they’ve been the focus of commercial breeding and ornamental fish hybridization for centuries. Creating new varieties with attractive coloration and unique features is truly a craft. A delicate balance lies between maintaining the fish’s hardiness and creating eye-catching traits.

Collectors far and wide fawn over the physical differences between each breed as they can be as subtle as the angle of a fin or as obvious as an enormous pair of eye sacs. The very first goldfish, which was likely the close descendant of a wild-caught Carassius auratus, may have looked totally different from the types we know and love today.  

The Chinese classify current goldfish breeds according to the robustness of their anatomical features, whereas Western breeders may simply group them into single-tailed or fancy types. Common varieties tend to be remarkably hardy. These ones are the most anatomically similar to wild carp. Fancy ones, which are produced by highly specialized breeders, come with a wide assortment of complex fin structures, eye morphologies, and pigmentation patterns.

Single & Double-Tailed Goldfish Breeds

1) Common goldfish

Common goldfish in tank
The common goldfish is a beginner-friendly, low-maintenance fish that can survive in a wide range of water conditions. לינה אבוגוש, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Also called feeder goldfish, this single-tailed variety is undoubtedly the hardiest of its kind. It is the perfect fish for beginners as it is fairly low-maintenance and can persist in a wide range of water conditions. As long as it is provided with filtered water, with pH levels ranging from 6 to 8, in a standard-sized aquarium, it should happily go about its day. Though it is often advertised as the type of fish that can live in a 1-gallon fishbowl, its survival rates are usually increased in larger setups.

Most types of fancy goldfish have been produced by artificially selecting specific traits of common goldfish. These fish look much like miniature versions of common carp, except they tend to come in more vibrant colors. The most popular types are, of course, the bright orange varieties. White, red, yellow, black, olive green, and patterned combinations of these colors may also be present in varying intensities. 

2) Comet goldfish

Comet goldfish
Comet goldfish look similar to common goldfish but can be recognized by their slimmer bodies and deeply forked tails. Kurayba / CC BY-SA 2.0

Developed in the US in the late 1800s, the comet goldfish was created and introduced into the aquarium industry by Hugo Mulertt. It is now found all across the globe as it is frequently cultivated in many types of fish farms. Because of its reputation for being hardy and cheap, this variety may also be used as bait by anglers. If you’ve ever received a goldfish as a prize in a carnival, it was likely a comet.

Compared to common goldfish, comets may have a more lithe or graceful appearance due to their slimmer bodies and deeply forked tails. Though their tails are longer, they also tend to be slightly smaller than the former. Yellow, red, and white pigmentation may appear in attractive patterns across their bodies. The Sarasa Comet, a Far Eastern variety of this fish, has red blotches that resemble those of the Kohaku koi.

3) Shubunkin

Shubunkin goldfish
Shubunkin goldfish have a calico pattern and can appear to glitter under bright light. Michelle Jo, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A famous Japanese variety, the shubunkin was developed by Yoshigoro Akiyama by crossbreeding three types of goldfish – the common goldfish, comet, and the calico telescope eye (fancy goldfish). In terms of morphological appearance, it is largely similar to the single-tailed types. It has a well-balanced, streamlined form that is accentuated by structurally even fins. Amazingly, these fish can grow quite large in pond setups. They may grow to a maximum length of about 18 inches (46 cm)!

The shubunkin’s coloration is what sets it apart. From its calico parentage, it inherited a stunning type of scale coloration. These fish possess both transparent and metallic scales. The combination of the two creates a “nacreous” type of coloration, which has a pearlescent quality. These eye-catching fish may appear to glitter under bright light. Nacreous scales with overlapping dark colors may create a bluish hue, which is highly prized in this variety.

Fancy Goldfish Breeds

1) Fantail

Fantail goldfish
The fantail is a great fancy goldfish breed for beginners, as it’s considered to be fairly low-maintenance. James Hartshorn / CC BY-SA 2.0

The undeniably gorgeous fantail is an ever-graceful addition to goldfish aquariums. This attractive fish is often regarded as one of the least problematic fancy goldfish breeds. It is a great initial investment for those wishing to try their hand at cultivating long-tailed varieties. They possess the character traits of common goldfish, eager to take feeds and swim toward a familiar caretaker.

Instead of having a streamlined body that is similar in form to those of common carp species, the fantail has an egg-shaped body. This prevents it from swiftly moving in water, making it appear to wobble slightly or sway as it swims. Though this may impede its survival in the wild, this trait is not necessarily a danger to its survival in tanks. As indicated by its common name, this variety has a stunning quadruple tail. It also possesses a high dorsal fin.

2) Veiltail

Veiltail goldfish
The veiltail is known for its elegant, long double tail and a tall dorsal fin that resembles a sail. Bkrhodesva, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are Chinese, American, and English strains of the fancy veiltail goldfish. This breed is best known for its large fins. Its dorsal fin is relatively tall, resembling the appearance of a sail. Its double tail, which is remarkably graceful and long, lacks a clear fork or indentation. Even its paired anal fins are very well-developed and will often touch bottom substrates as it swims along the tank floor.

The veiltail’s rounded body lacks a dorsal hump and may appear more compressed toward the tail. Its shape accentuates its belly. In large setups, this fish can grow to a maximum length of 12 inches (30 cm). As it is not a fast swimmer, it is best kept with other fancy goldfish breeds.

3) Oranda

Red cap oranda goldfish
Red cap orandas (pictured) are one of the most desired oranda varieties due to their coloration. Benson Kua, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Orandas are distinguished by a peculiar growth on top of their heads. This natural morphological structure, sometimes called a ‘headgrowth’, may take a few years to develop. It may appear anomalous and potentially problematic, but it does not necessarily affect the health of the fish unless it begins to cover its eyes. Mature orandas may have a growth that encases almost the entirety of their face.

Varieties are classified based on their color and on the extent of the growth’s coverage. Red cap orandas, a frequent favorite due to their coloration, have deeply red headgrowths that are restricted to their foreheads. Another famous variety is the panda oranda. These goldfish may have two or three colors but are especially recognizable for their black and white coloration.

4) Wakin

Wakin goldfish
Wakins are very rare goldfish, with orange-red blotches across their pearly white body. Asturio Cantabrio, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wakins are some of the rarest, double-tailed varieties of goldfish. These fish may look remarkably like smaller versions of koi due to their bright colors, pigmentation patterns, and streamlined bodies. They tend to have bright orange-red blotches above a clean base of pearly white scales. These pops of red make them extremely attractive to have in ponds and aquariums.

Wakins often exhibit peduncle flashes, which are bright displays of color along the base of the double-tail fin. They also possess a lengthy dorsal fin which may extend nearly all throughout the entire back region. The combination of the twin tails and large dorsal fin makes this fish a fantastic and speedy swimmer. It should ideally be kept with other agile swimmers, such as the shubunkin and comet.

5) Ryukin

Ryukin goldfish
Ryukins stand out from other common goldfish breeds thanks to their shoulder hump. Lawrencekhoo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Though they have a somewhat unclear history, ryukins are said to have been around since the 1800s. They supposedly originate from China, where they were bred from carefully selected wakins. They are characterized by their deep-bodied forms, which are unlike those of common goldfish breeds due to the presence of a shoulder hump.

Ryukins have triple or quadruple tails with either long or short fins. In some varieties of this breed, the tail is up to twice the length of the body. In large aquariums and ponds, these fish may grow up to 10 inches (25 cm) long. One variety, known as ‘tamasaba’, possesses the ryukin body type but has a single tail. This was developed in Japan and is known for being quite hardy.

6) Telescope

Telescope goldfish
Telescope goldfish have protruding eyes that are also referred to as ‘dragon eyes’. Annie Roi / CC BY 2.0

Hinted by their common name, telescope goldfish have visibly protruding eyes. They are so pronounced that they change the shape of the goldfish’s head. Their specific trait of eye protrusion is referred to as ‘dragon eyes’. It results from a mutation, which occurs as a type of tumor that forces air into the fish’s eye sacs. Fortunately, this mutation is not considered a disease as it does not compromise the survival of the fish.

Telescope goldfish come in many variants. These are distinguished from one another based on their colors. The most popular ones include ‘black moor’, which is a wholly black-colored goldfish originating from China, ‘white telescope’, which has a solid white body, and ‘panda telescope’, which has a white body with black eyes and fins.

7) Butterfly

Butterfly goldfish
Butterfly goldfish are named after their beautiful caudal fins, which fan out to look like butterfly wings! Pogrebnoj-Alexandroff, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Made to be appreciated from above, the butterfly goldfish has stunning caudal fins which fan out to resemble the shape of butterfly wings. Whether they are observed through the water’s surface or from the side of a tank, however, they are undeniably graceful. Their tails become even more full and angular as they age.

The butterfly goldfish has a similar body type to ryukins. Popular types in the market have protruding eyes as they are derived from carefully-selected varieties of telescope goldfish. Butterfly-shaped tails may also be observable in some oranda varieties. Coloration usually extends into the fins.

8) Meteor

Meteor goldfish illustration
The meteor goldfish is a controversial breed — some believe it doesn’t even exist! Internet Archive Book Images / No copyright

Meteors are considered the rarest and most difficult to breed among fancy goldfish varieties. This is partly due to their lack of tail fins. While most fancy goldfish breeds are sought after for their fins, this one has collectors searching for it due to its peculiar morphology. Instead of a tail, it has a highly developed anal fin. As a result, this fish is not known for being a good swimmer and is highly sensitive to suboptimal conditions.

The dorsal fin of a meteor goldfish is often larger and longer compared to its anal fin. The combination of their egg-shaped bodies and their anal fins makes them swim in a somewhat odd manner, much like a rocket or, you guessed it, meteor. These fish are so elusive that their existence is the subject of doubt.

9) Lionhead

Lionhead goldfish
Lionheads have a similar headgrowth to orandas, but have larger cheeks and lack a dorsal fin. Lawrencekhoo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lionheads are egg-shaped, fancy types of goldfish. They were initially bred to mimic the strange appearance of a mythological mammal, the lion-dog or shishi. These fish have headgrowths that are similar to those of the orandas, but they have even larger cheeks to make them resemble puppies. Their headgrowths extend toward their cheeks, covering their gill plates.

Another peculiar feature of lionhead goldfish is their total lack of a dorsal fin. They have markedly straight or very arched backs. Their double tail fins are short and do not droop, giving them a somewhat stiff appearance. Their full length, including their tail fins, rarely ever exceeds 6 inches (15 cm). Describable as short, stocky, and slow, lionheads are not the hardiest fish and may require heavy tank or pond maintenance to survive.

10) Ranchu

Ranchu goldfish
Ranchus are an odd-looking goldfish breed that come from Japanese lionheads. Lerdsuwa, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ranchu goldfish are derived from Japanese lionheads. Commonly regarded as the “king of goldfish”, this breed may appear quite odd-looking to laypersons with nary any knowledge of fancy goldfish. Their unique features include a significantly arched back, shortened tail fin, the total lack of dorsal fin, and a pronounced headgrowth. With their egg-shaped bodies, they may be perceived as awkward swimmers.

Ranchus tend to be graded based on how they appear from the top. The Chinese refer to them as luan chong which translates to “egg-shaped worm”. A profile of their backs makes them appear almost rectangular in shape, with a large dorsal space in between their eyes. When viewed from the side, their shape resembles that of a Japanese comb.

11) Bubble eye

Bubble eye goldfish
Bubble eye goldfish have fluid-filled sacs that force their eyes to face upward, making them partially visually impaired. Lerdsuwa, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bubble eye goldfish definitely take the cake when it comes to looking weird or odd. Their eye sacs literally come in the shape of bubbles. Moreover, the fluid in these sacs forces their eyes to face upward. This eye orientation causes them to be somewhat visually impaired and unable to compete with other types of normal-eyed goldfish for food. The enlarged sacs also make them exceedingly prone to injury, so they should be kept in tanks with minimal installations or décor.

Newly hatched bubble eye goldfish will not immediately possess observable eye mutations. Their eye sacs develop over time and may eventually be large enough to bounce up and down as the fish swims. Despite their relatively large eye features, bubble eyes have a maximum length of about 3 – 4 inches (7.6 – 10 cm). Like lionheads and ranchus, they lack a dorsal fin.

12) Pearlscale

Pair of pearlscale goldfish
Pearlscale goldfish have deformed swim bladders, meaning that they may struggle to maintain their position in the water. Lawrencekhoo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Breeding goldfish to develop varieties with specific body types may often lead to compromised bodily functions. The pearlscale, which was made to be markedly rounded in shape, may have difficulty maintaining its position in water due to a deformed swim bladder. These fish look remarkably like golf balls, not just because of their shape and size but also because of their scale texture.

Pearlscale goldfish have domed and thick scales along the length of their abdomens. The structure of each scale gives the illusion that their bodies are clad in pearls. Some varieties may possess headgrowths (e.g. Hama Nishiki). As their internal organs are extremely compact in their rounded bodies, extra caution must be taken to avoid overfeeding them. They are also sensitive to fluctuations in temperature and pH.

13) Pompom

Chocolate pompom goldfish
Pompom goldfish have a unique appearance, with clumps of flesh growing around their nasal organs! Lawrencekhoo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you thought goldfish couldn’t look weirder, think again. Pompoms are fancy goldfish with clumps of flesh growing around their nasal organs. These outgrowths are actually pigmented enlargements of their nasal septums. In some pompom varieties, they may grow large enough to droop close to the mouth. Possibly developed in the late 1800s, pompom goldfish were once often seen in aquarium fairs.

Pompoms come in several varieties with a wide range of fin structures. Some have long while others have short tail fins. The hana fusa is a variety with totally absent dorsal fins. Scalation is also highly variable, with some having attractively metallic combinations of colors.

14) Celestial eye

Celestial eye goldfish
With telescope eyes that are turned fully upwards, it’s best to keep celestial eye goldfish in their own tank as their vision isn’t particularly great! Michelle Jo, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A goldfish with a perpetually stunned appearance?! The celestial eye variety has a face that’s hard to forget. With telescope-like eyes turned fully upwards, these fish look as though they are constantly waiting for something to fall out of the sky. Of course, this permanently upward orientation drastically compromises their vision, preventing them from properly scanning the water around them. They should be kept in their own tank to minimize competition.

Celestial eye goldfish were documented as early as the 1770s in China. They continue to be commercially exported by Japanese and Chinese specialist breeders. Despite their total lack of a dorsal fin and their limited range of optical motion, they have elongated bodies. Their shape helps them swim in a more agile manner.

15) Lionchu

Lionchu goldfish
The lionchu is a fairly new breed and is a cross between lionhead and ranchu goldfish. Melanochromis, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The lionchu is a cross between the popular lionhead and ranchu goldfish varieties. The modern-day strains of this breed are said to have been developed in Thailand, though there are records of an ancestral goldfish from Japan that looked remarkably like this hybrid. It was known as the lion-headed ranchu. Lionchu is fairly new as an official variety of fancy goldfish because it was only accepted in 2006.

Because both of its parent strains lack a dorsal fin, the lionchu also has a bare dorsal region. It has the body shape of a ranchu combined with the distinct headgrowth of the lionhead goldfish. Mature individuals may grow to a maximum of 6 inches (15 cm) and should be housed in tanks with a volume of at least 20 gallons. This volume needs to be brought up significantly if lionchus are housed as a community.

16) Eggfish

Eggfish goldfish
Eggfish have (unsurprisingly) an egg-shaped body and lack a dorsal fin. Michelle Jo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The eggfish is a peculiar-looking fancy goldfish due to its short tail, lack of a dorsal fin, and egg-shaped body. Its caudal peduncle tends to be angled downward, giving it a somewhat timid appearance. This ancient breed, which was supposedly developed in China centuries ago, is the precursor to several modern-day fancy goldfish varieties. Its descendants include lionhead, pompom, and some varieties of bubble eye and celestial goldfish.

Eggfish look quite similar to ranchus, except they have a somewhat lengthier body and a smaller head. They are quite hardy and adaptable, with a lifespan of up to 15 years under proper care. These friendly fish come in all sorts of colors, patterns, and scale types. Due to their body structure, they are not known for being energy-efficient swimmers.  

Chris G
About the author

Chris G

Pond consultant and long-time hobbyist who enjoys writing in his spare time and sharing knowledge with other passionate pond owners. Experienced with pond installation, fish stocking, water quality testing, algae control and the troubleshooting of day-to-day pond related problems.

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1 thought on “16 Types of Common and Fancy Goldfish (With Pics)”

  1. the metor goldfish is not a mith, i had one of this fish long ago, the pet shop give to me for free because they said that the fish hava a genetic problem.


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