Like many successful ideas, designs or inventions, their secret to longevity and widespread acclaim is down to their simplicity. What you see is what you get and any additional frills or detail would detract from what would otherwise be simply beautiful.
The goldfish’s popularity goes far deeper than its physical beauty, but even to this day, many hundreds of years after its discovery, the goldfish is the fish against which other fish are compared. It is the fish that everybody recognises.
Why does the goldfish continue to be so successful?
1 Widely available.
The goldfish is a truly international fish and is the favourite of the novice fishkeeper learning the first steps of the responsibilities of keeping a pet through to the most experienced pondkeepers who may keep them alongside their collection of koi.
2. Relatively undemanding
The goldfish has certainly earned its reputation for being an undemanding fish. The records of coloured fish being kept for their beauty go way back to 700AD with the T’ang Dynasty in China. Goldfish were kept and viewed in ceramic jars with no life-support systems such as air pumps, filters and water pumps. It is the goldfish’s tolerance of ‘average’ water quality that has given it a reputation for being a hardy fish. It is these qualities that make them tolerant to the conditions experienced in a goldfish bowl.
If the goldfish had not managed to overcome the obstacle of the conditions in which they were kept many hundreds of years ago then there is a great chance that they would not be as widespread today or regarded as the standard-bearer of ornamental fish.
3. Easy to breed
Even though goldfish can tolerate such conditions, they should be given the best possible environment as this may well stimulate them to breed.
Sexually mature goldfish (6″+) will flock spawn in a garden pond, splashing and bumping in weedy shallows, depositing thousand of tiny adhesive eggs within the weed.
An intriguing characteristic of goldfish is the array of different colour forms that result from a natural spawn. The majority appear at first to be brown and it is only over time that some of the fry will develop the traditional colouration of goldfish.
4. One name – many guises
Although the common name ‘goldfish’ has the scientific name Carassius auratus (auratus = golden) the diverse genetic treasure chest that this fish has brought with it through the many generations has seen a wide range of colour and shape variations available to the hobby. From the comet goldfish that closely resembles the goldfish through to the fancier varieties such as pom-poms and bubble-eyes, it is amazing to consider that all of these varieties stemmed from the goldfish and all continue to share their distant ancestor’s scientific name. They are all the same species.
Goldfish have a recognised level of intelligence that is common to most fish in the carp family which gives goldfish a ‘pet’ status with their owners.
It is possible to train goldfish to respond to specific stimuli, the responses to which may be interpreted by the owners as the goldfish ‘being pleased to see them’ or ‘showing affection and a fondness to the owner’. In reality, the fish soon become accustomed to associating the owner’s silhouette or vibrations of their footsteps upon approaching the pond with feeding time.
There are records of monks ringing a bell prior to feeding carp in some extensive mud ponds so that the fish would gather at the same place for ease of feeding each day.
6. Easy to feed.
Goldfish are easily fed using a floating pellet or flake for the smaller fish. Look out for diets that offer colour enhancing ingredients as these will really deepen red and black colouration.
In summary, the goldfish offers a wide range of fishkeepers an extensive selection of shaped and coloured fish that are relatively undemanding and easy to keep. They can be very rewarding through breeding and increasing a pond collection, even becoming accustomed to your footsteps. It’s no wonder that goldfish are still so popular.