History of the Goldfish

The goldfish was probably the very first fish to be domesticated by humans. The goldfish breed initially came from ancient China. There is controversy regarding the origins of the first goldfish. Some sources claim that the Crucian carp was its primary ancestor, while more recent researchers hold that the Prussian carp, or Gibel carp, possesses a rounder snout and often has a grey/greenish color like the common goldfish of today.

Over 1,700 years ago during the first Jin Dynasty (265-420), the goldfish was first made mention of in history. Its gold coloration was first documented during this era. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), goldfish were raised in captivity in Buddhist monasteries. The yellow-orange color variation, a natural genetic mutation, became preferred to the former silver variety. During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), goldfish became common ornamental pets kept in courtyard ponds and gardens. Red-and-white coloration appeared at that time. People outside of royal families were forbidden to own goldfish with yellow coloring, as yellow was considered the imperial color.

Goldfish achieved a high reputation during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and thus became more common. During this time, goldfish began to be kept indoors in clay pots as pets and more delicate varieties were produced. Fish that displayed compact bodies, double tails, double anal fins, and dorsal-less bodies developed as well.

Japan was introduced to the goldfish in the early 1600s, where the Tosakin and Ryukin breeds were created. These two countries produced many other breeds and colorings such as the Red Cap, Globe-eye, Veiltail, and Fantail. In the late 1600s, goldfish reached Europe and quickly became popular pets. Goldfish were often given as exotic gifts during this time.

During the 1930’s a beautiful strain of Black Moors appeared in Europe with flowing veiltails, but are sadly hard to come by now. They reached the pinnacle of their fame when they reached America in 1874. It was there that the Comet goldfish was bred – the only goldfish to originate in America. Since then, over 100 types of goldfish(based on body type, coloration, eye protrusion and other characteristics) have been developed.