8 Healthiest & Hardiest Goldfish Breeds 2023 [Updated]

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The Healthiest & Hardiest Types of Goldfish 2023 [Updated]

Pearlscale goldfish
Many breeds of fancy goldfish can have numerous health problems, so won’t be as hardy as other, more ‘common’, varieties. Lerdsuwa, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Having been bred and hybridized for centuries, goldfish now come in dozens of beautiful breeds and novelty varieties. There are types that have all manner of facial peculiarities, such as bubble-shaped eyes, pompoms growing out of nostrils, and colorful headpieces resembling a lion’s mane or an eye-catching haircut. Unfortunately, many of these breeds are associated with debilitating illnesses that come as a consequence of their unique morphology.

If you’re just starting out as a goldfish collector or breeder, it would be best to invest in hardy types of goldfish. These are more likely to tolerate mild inconsistencies in aquarium or pond conditions. Moreover, these are significantly cheaper investments that should last you years with minimal to moderate maintenance requirements.

Hardy goldfish breeds should be able to recover from dips in water temperature, which are known for being fatal to many fancy breeds. They are generally more resilient in the face of water contamination. They are thus also known for surviving in wild freshwater systems and potentially out-competing native fish. The breeds listed below are known for their longevity, ease of care, hearty appetites, and pleasant demeanors.

1) Common goldfish

Common goldfish in pond
Common goldfish can be very vivid when housed in the right conditions and given proper food. Tiefflieger, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Developed in China

Known for being remarkably similar to their supposed wild ancestors, Prussian carp, common goldfish are truly the hardiest of their kind. Most modern-day fancy goldfish breeds arose from selectively breeding and isolating specific traits of the common goldfish. This social fish can interbreed with other conspecifics, even if they are of a different variety. It can also peacefully live alongside docile pond fish, such as koi, orfes, and minnows.

With a typical lifespan of 10 – 15 years, the common goldfish can easily live as long as your dog or cat with proper care. The longest-living individual died at a ripe age of 43 years. That’s truly phenomenal for a pet fish and goes to show just how hardy this variety can be. A staple commodity in pet shops and fanfares, this fish is known for its streamlined shape, friendly face, and variety of colors.

The intensity of coloration may be indicative of the common goldfish’ quality of health. When they are housed in the appropriate setup and given proper food, they can be remarkably vivid and bright. The most common color is, of course, orange. Basic requirements for rearing this fish are a water volume of at least 5 gallons, a filter to regularly strip the water of waste, and a pump or air stone for consistent aeration. This type is frequently housed in fishbowls without filtration, but it rarely lives beyond a year in such conditions.

2) Comet

Sarasa comet goldfish
The Sarasa comet is one of the most popular comet varieties and has a blend of red & white pigments. Humanfeather / michelle jo, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Developed in the United States

The comet is a fairly cheap goldfish breed that was initially propagated by Hugo Mulertt in the 1880s. This single-tailed variety is very similar to the common goldfish in that it has a streamlined shape and is relatively easy to care for. They may be more popular as aquarium fish due to their diverse colors and flowy, deeply forked tails. One of the most popular varieties of this breed, which has a blend of red and white pigments, is called the Sarasa comet.

As comets are highly social and active, they are most comfortable when they are kept in schools of at least 5 fish. They typically swim through all depths within a tank, rarely favoring just the bottom or middle layers as common goldfish do. They can thrive on high-quality fish feeds, but should also benefit from the occasional live treat such as bloodworms and small insects. Chopped vegetables may be given as supplementary plant-based treats to meet their omnivorous needs.

Comets may have a lower resistance to pathogens compared to other types of pond or aquarium fish. Nonetheless, they are hardier than most fancy goldfish breeds. They can live for 10 – 14 years in an adequately spaced tank and in conservative densities. Water parameters should be optimized to reduce the fish’ stress levels.

3) Shubunkin

American/Japanese shubunkin
The American/Japanese shubunkin (pictured) is the most common type found in fish shops. Duchess, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Developed in Japan

Another single-tailed variety of goldfish, the shubunkin may be considered a fancy goldfish due to its remarkable scale features. This fish is known for its diverse patterns and combinations of color. It may be considered the “poor man’s koi” as it resembles the pigmentation of Japanese koi but is much cheaper, less rare, and much smaller in comparison.

Developed in the 1900s, there are now three main variations of this goldfish. These are (1) the American/Japanese shubunkin, which is the most common type in fish shops, (2) the London shubunkin, which is more round-bodied and stout, and (3) the Bristol shubunkin, which has the most well-developed fins and is the rarest.

All varieties are highly desirable due to their calico (or nacreous) scale type. This scale phenotype includes a combination of metallic and matte pigmentation, causing the fish to seemingly glimmer as it swims under bright light. The pigmentation can extend into their fins, making their bodies appear slightly larger. When kept in optimal conditions, shubunkins can live for as long as 15 years. They become sexually mature and can breed as soon as they are just 1 or 2 years old.

4) Fantail

Fantail is an attractive fancy goldfish type with flowy fins. Souravgg8, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Developed in China

The fantail goldfish is perhaps one of the most visually appealing of the hardier types of goldfish due to its well-developed fins. Instead of having a single tail fin, like the common goldfish or comet, it has a double tail fin. Deeply forked, both caudal fins are an exact copy of one another. This breed’s anal fins come in pairs as well, giving it a fairly complex appearance of several freely-flowing parts.

Despite its elaborate fin structures, the egg-shaped body of this fish makes it less stealthy and graceful in the water. It is one of the first-ever fancy types of goldfish to be developed, having been around since the 1400s. Truly well-loved, the fantail is now commercially grown in many parts of the world and is considered an ideal first pet for many animal lovers.

Fantails can actually grow quite large in high-volume tanks and outdoor ponds. The largest of these thick-bodied fish can measure as much as 12 inches (30 cm) in adulthood. That’s almost as long as some domesticated koi varieties! Some collectors favor them as they come in many rare color morphs beyond the typical gold, orange, or red variations. Their scales are most vivid in optimal water conditions and may grow notably pale when they are stressed.

5) Wakin

Wakin goldfish
Wakin goldfish are one of the oldest goldfish breeds and resemble koi. Asturio Cantabrio, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Developed in Japan

The wakin is believed to be one of the oldest breeds of goldfish. Directly bred from common goldfish, it possesses a koi-like body with a paired tail. Though it has been around for quite long, it ironically remains to be one of the rarest goldfish breeds. Consider yourself extra lucky if you can acquire one of these stunning fish as they are not only very hardy but also visually impactful in a pond or aquarium.

With their strong, lean, and streamlined bodies, wakins are fast swimmers and tend to actively explore their surroundings. The most prized color morphs are those that imitate purebred Japanese koi. Red and white wakins are thus a common favorite, though yellow, brown, orange, and calico types also exist. As those with rare colors sell for hefty prices, this breed may still be known as a collector’s item instead of as a fish for beginners.

Incredibly, wakins can grow to a lengthy mature size of 18 inches (46 cm) in a large tank or pond.  When they are well cared for, they can live for as long as 15 years. Their litheness and speed allow them to be peacefully kept with other fast swimmers, such as koi or comet goldfish. Avoid housing them with fancier goldfish breeds as they may compete with them for food.

6) Jikin

Jikin goldfish
Jikins are wakin-like goldfish that are rarely found outside of Japan. Yatokin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Developed in Japan

Jikin goldfish are quite similar in terms of physical morphology to the wakin. They may appear more delicate and may be difficult to breed, but mature individuals are known for being hardy. Rarely found outside of Japan, their coloration and fins firmly set them apart from other Japanese hybrids. The jikin has a twin tail, just like the wakin, but its body is distinctly pale and white all throughout its life. Its colors, usually red or orange, tend to be restricted to the fins and face.

Also referred to as peacock tail goldfish, jikins have a compressed tail. From behind, their caudal fins have an x-shaped structure. Collectors favor those with a “rokurin” type of coloration pattern. These fish have red pigmentation on twelve specific parts of their face and body. These include the lip, each of the caudal fins, each of the operculums or gill covers, the dorsal fin, and each of the remaining paired fins.

Though the jikin goldfish is not typically bred with other fancy breeds, it comes in a few of its own notable, yet exceedingly rare, varieties. The Kumanomi goldfish is one such variety that is believed to be a cross between a jikin and a shubunkin. This fish has a few vertical, red bars along the length of its body, making it resemble an anemonefish.

7) Watonai

Watonai goldfish illustration
The watonai is thought to be a hybrid between a wakin and ryukin goldfish. Biodiversity Heritage Library / No copyright

Developed in Japan

Watonai can look quite similar to butterfly koi when viewed from the top. Differing in appearance from the typical common goldfish breeds, this stunning fish is said to be a hybrid between a wakin and a ryukin goldfish. Rarely ever found outside of Japan, it is bred in such limited quantities in spite of its apparent hardiness.

Watonai goldfish are perfect for outdoor ponds as they can thrive in a wide range of temperatures. Nonetheless, the best range for rearing this species is 15 – 25˚C (59 – 77˚F). In large tanks, they can grow to a full length of about 10 – 12 inches (25 – 30 cm). In contrast, those placed in well-maintained ponds can measure as much as 19 inches (48 cm) in adulthood. A dark pond or tank bottom is likely to bring out their best colors.

As watonai have a lengthy double-finned tail (equal to the length of the body), they should not be stocked with small fish species that have the tendency to nibble on or nip larger fish. Their fancy tails make them slower swimmers, but they should still manage to thrive alongside other types of hardy goldfish. They also favor calm water or a gentle current where they can peacefully feed on a diet of high-quality fish feeds.

8) Ryukin

Ryukin goldfish
The ryukin is a deep-bodied, hardy goldfish that is relatively easy to care for. Lawrencekhoo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Developed in China

Although the ryukin is considered a fancy breed, it is generally hardy and much easier to care for compared to many other goldfish varieties. It may not be as tolerant of poor water conditions as common goldfish, but it is certainly a sturdy and rapid grower. Known best for its egg-shaped form and high dorsal hump, this fish can be described as deep-bodied and stocky.

In outdoor ponds, a healthy ryukin can grow to a full length of about 10 inches (25 cm). Those reared in tanks tend to measure 6 inches (15 cm) in adulthood. If water conditions are consistently optimized and a high-quality diet is provided, ryukins can easily live for 10 – 15 years. These goldfish are quite iconic as they have been around for centuries. Some of the earliest specimens were ancestors of other egg-bodied fancy goldfish breeds.

The ryukin has a relatively large double caudal fin with four distinct lobes. Its anal fins are paired as well. With remarkably vivid coloration, these active fish are an absolute joy to observe. They thrive best in water temperatures ranging from 17.8 – 22˚C (64 – 72˚F). Do note that ryukins may be quite aggressive toward single-finned goldfish breeds. Ideally, they should be kept with their own kind or with other double-tailed varieties.

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