The goldfish can be regarded as the standard bearer of all ornamental fish. Initially kept and prized by the wealthy rulers of China over 1500 years ago, their legacy for us today is the world’s most widely kept pet, probably the first ornamental pet fish in the world to be cultured, the goldfish. Through the meticulous attention to detail associated with the advanced Chinese culture and civilisation all those years ago, goldfish were selectively reared from the dull, brown and visually unappealing native crucian carp to produce the simply beautiful fish we have today.
To satisfy the demand for a wider range of goldfish forms, selective breeding of more exotic or ‘fancy’ varieties of goldfish has lead to there now being over 300 different goldfish varieties. Although fancy varieties of goldfish have been known to thrive and over-winter well in garden ponds, these are the exception rather than the rule. Standard, more traditional varieties of goldfish varieties fair better in UK garden ponds which include the standard goldfish and the longer tailed comet goldfish, sarasa comets (red and white). There is a limited number of UK bred goldfish available each year but most goldfish arrive in the UK from Israel, USA and China. They are available in a wide range of sizes from 1” to 14” and it can be very rewarding (and cheaper!) to buy smaller specimens to nurture, growing to suite the size of a pond. There is usually a wider variety of colour variations to choose from in the smaller size ranges enabling the selection of different coloured and patterned fish, making it easier to keep an eye on the progress of each fish. More success is usually achieved buying half a dozen at a time as goldfish are quite gregarious and have been known to sulk when kept in low numbers.
Bowl, tank or pond?
The popularity of goldfish is due largely to them being hardy, undemanding and straightforward to keep. They are an incredibly hardy fish, able to tolerate a wide range of temperatures and water conditions. What other fish can be kept in a bowl quite successfully for over 30 years? However, this is no excuse to be tempted to treat them poorly (as is often the case when seen at fairgrounds) and to see goldfish at their best they should be kept in a well-planted spacious garden pond.