Last Updated: May 31, 2021
Everyone knows about the regular feeder-type goldfish at the pet store, which are usually Common or Comet goldfish. Some fancy goldfish have increased in popularity over time, so you’ve likely spotted a cute little Fantail or Black Moor in the pet store tanks as well. What you may not realize, though, is that there are dozens of varieties of goldfish! You may have even spotted an unusual looking goldfish at a friend’s house and not realized it’s a unique breed of goldfish.
What are Fancy Goldfish?
Fancy goldfish are most easily defined by their tails and body shape. Common goldfish have a single tail fin while fancies have two tail fins. These are often longer and more flowy than the tails on Common goldfish but may be similar to the tails on Comet goldfish. Single-finned goldfish have long, streamlined bodies that are similar to the bodies of Prussian carp, which are close relatives of goldfish. Fancy goldfish have been bred for a specific look, so they usually have more rounded bodies. Many fancies have bodies that are described as egg-shaped. Generally, it’s not recommended to keep Common and fancy goldfish together because Common goldfish are much faster and more streamlined than fancies, often outcompeting fancies for food.
20 Fancy Goldfish Breeds
One of the most common fancies, Fantails tend to be a little more hardy than most other fancies. They have flowing tail fins that trail behind them as they swim. They are one of few varieties of fancies that may be able to keep up with single-tail goldfish. They may have telescope eyes or “normal” eyes, but they have a high dorsal fin and lack the shoulder hump present in some fancies.
These goldfish were bred with the intention of being viewed from above, like in a pond. They have long flowing fins that are butterfly-shaped when viewed from above. These fins continue to grow as they age, developing a more defined butterfly shape over time. They can have telescope or normal eyes, as well as a small shoulder hump.
This grouping of goldfish has oversized, protruding eyes that “telescope” out from the head. They have elongated tail and pelvic fins and are often good goldfish for people starting out with fancies, but they do require an environment that is safe for their fins. Telescope goldfish are sometimes called Dragon Eye goldfish.
4. Black/Panda/Red Moor
These are all specific color morphs of Telescope goldfish. Black Moors are one of the most common Telescope goldfish, and they area lovely, velvety black color. However, they sometimes outgrow this color and may turn gold, red or white. Panda Moors are a specific color morph that features black and white, giving the fish a panda-like appearance.
Oranda goldfish are distinguishable by their wen, which is a fleshy growth on top of the head that sometimes grows onto the face as well. Sometimes, an Oranda’s wen may grow so much that it covers the eyes, gills, and potentially the mouth. The good news is that wens can be easily trimmed with clean scissors. Wens do not have blood vessels or nerve endings, so this is a painless process for the fish. They have a slight shoulder hump and are known for their gentle, friendly demeanor.
These fancy goldfish feature distinct, thickened scales that give them an appearance of being covered in small pearls. These scales are covered in a layer of calcium deposits, giving them their texture. Pearlscales have very round, egg-shaped bodies and tend to be very pleasant, docile goldfish. Some Pearlscale goldfish have a wen, while others have a crown, which is a fluid-filled sac on the forehead. They can even have a double crown, which consists of stacked crowns.
These goldfish feature a slightly arched back and long, delicate fins. Veiltails were bred to have squared tail fins that are half the length of the goldfish’s body or more. They also have elongated dorsal fins that are much taller than most other fish. The dorsal fin is made more dramatic in appearance by the back arch.
Ryukins are recognizable by their tall shoulder hump that causes the body to be taller than it is long. They have pointed, beak-like faces and egg-shaped bellies. They come in a variety of tail lengths and are best viewed from the size so you can take in their unusual, unique body shape. Ryukins and Fantails are sometimes confused with each other but can be told apart by the much larger shoulder hump in the Ryukin.
This egg-shaped variety of fancy goldfish lacks a dorsal fin but has a noticeably arched back. They also have a wen growth, similar to an Oranda, but Ranchu’s wen usually stays closer to the body. It also grows on the head and face, giving them chipmunk cheeks. Like Orandas, Ranchus may require wen trimming as the wen grows if it begins to impair vision or eating. These goldfish, known as “the king of goldfish”, are difficult to find and tend to be expensive.
As predecessors to the Ranchu goldfish, Lionhead goldfish lack a dorsal fin and feature a large wen. They have a dramatically arched back and a tucked tail, which clearly differentiates them from the Ranchu. The Lionhead’s wen grows all around the face and head, including on the gill plates, giving it the appearance of having a lion’s mane.
As the name implies, Lionchu goldfish are a crossbreed from Lionheads and Ranchus. They combine the features of both breeds, causing them to have a back arch that is less dramatic than that of the Lionhead and a wen that grows somewhere in between that of the Lionhead and the Ranchu. Like both parent breeds, Lionchus lack a dorsal fin and have a tail tuck.
12. Bubble Eye
This bizarre breed of goldfish lacks a dorsal fin and is distinguished by a large, fluid-filled sac on either side of the head. Their eyes are slightly upturned and the “bubble” on both sides of the head makes them look like they’re puffing their cheeks out. The fluid-filled sacs are prone to injury and can be ruptured by sharp or rough objects. They may or may not fully heal and should be monitored closely to prevent infection if ruptured.
13. Celestial Eye
Sometimes called Stargazer goldfish, Celestial Eye goldfish have telescope eyes. What differentiates them from Telescope goldfish, however, is that their eyes gaze directly upwards, as if they’re stargazing. They lack a dorsal fin and are similar in body shape to Bubble Eye goldfish. Celestial Eye goldfish are at risk for eye injuries and, due to their limited vision, should only be kept with docile tank mates that will not outcompete them for food.
PomPom goldfish are similar to Oranda goldfish in size and shape. In fact, some people refer to these as White PomPom Oranda goldfish. Instead of growing a full wen, though, they produce small, fleshy growths around the mouth and nose. They usually have two small growths that look like pompoms, but these growths may grow together, creating a bushy appearance around the upper portion of the mouth.
15. Izumo Nankin
This exceptionally rare breed of fancy goldfish is difficult to find outside of its home country of Japan. They were bred to be viewed from above in ponds and have a body and tail fin shape that looks triangular when viewed from above. They have a tall shoulder hump like Ryukins, but Izumo Nankin goldfish lack a dorsal fin. They have slightly pointed faces and only come in red and white bicolor.
Another rare breed of goldfish, Tamasaba goldfish have a high-arched back with an elegant, angular dorsal fin, and a deep, egg-shaped abdomen. Unlike most fancies, Tamasabas have a single tail fin that trails behind them like that of a Comet goldfish. They are usually red and white and are rarely seen in other color morphs. These fish are relatively hardy and can be kept in ponds.
Shukin goldfish were wiped out sometime around World War 2, but fanciers and hobbyists have been recreating the breed since then by crossbreeding Orandas and Ranchus. Their body shape is similar to the Ranchu goldfish with a high back arch, but the fins are long and trailing like an Oranda. Modern Shukins are often the same thing as a long-finned Ranchu and usually have a wen that doesn’t grow particularly large.
These goldfish are the predecessors to PomPoms, Bubble Eyes, Celestial Eyes, and Lionheads. They lack a dorsal fin and have a distinctly egg-shaped body, making them look very similar to Ranchu goldfish. However, Eggfish do not usually develop any kind of a wen. They develop long, flowing fins like those of Fantail goldfish.
This breed of goldfish is pretty rarely spotted in the aquatics trade. They are very similar in appearance to Bubble Eye goldfish with fluid-filled sacs on both sides of the face. Froghead goldfish have smaller fluid sacs than Bubble Eye goldfish and have a larger, more square head. They also have larger cheeks than Bubble Eye goldfish, but not as a part of the bubble sacs.
This is another breed of goldfish that was almost completely wiped out during World War 2. After the war, there were only six Tosakin goldfish left in existence. All Tosakins in existence today came from these six fish, and in 1969, the Japanese government announced that the Tosakin goldfish was considered a National Treasure in the Kochi Prefecture. Tosakins are sometimes called Curly Fantail goldfish for their flowing tail that appears curly when viewed from above. From the side, Tosakins have a noticeable shoulder hump and tall dorsal fin.
Fancy goldfish are interesting, fun additions to many tanks or ponds. However, they all have their own special needs and they can’t be kept with just any tank mates. It’s important to ensure you carefully choose tank mates for your fancies so avoid injury and stress. Some of them are weak swimmers or have poor vision, meaning they can easily be outcompeted for food and may not be able to escape bullying by other fish. Many fancies are becoming more popular in the aquatics trade, while others are rare enough that you may never see them in person. Each breed of fancy goldfish has its own charm and unique qualities, making them beautiful centerpieces for your tank.
Featured Image Credit: hineck, Pixabay
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. Originally from Canada, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. Nicole has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers worldwide.