I think you’ll agree with me when I say:
“Goldfish are so awesome.”
And if you didn’t know how many eggs a goldfish can lay before…
… it will blow your mind!
I guarantee you’ll have a new respect for your female fishy friend after reading this 🙂
Just How Does a Goldfish Lay Eggs (And How Many)?
Let’s set the record straight:
A female goldfish can never be pregnant. (Read why here.)
But she can swell up with the eggs, and even perish from a condition called egg-binding if things get complicated and a male doesn’t spawn with her.
So yes, goldfish do lay eggs – and they can lay a whole bunch of them.
How many babies she will have depends on her age and how much she’s been eating…
But a goldfish can easily lay over 1,000 eggs at one time!
That’s just at one time.
During breeding season, goldfish will often spawn multiple times on a weekly basis.
Talk about a family reunion 😀
So if you miss out on the first spawning and the parents gobble up the unhatched youngsters before you can interfere, don’t feel too bummed – keep a close eye on them for the next week.
Here’s a tip: goldfish usually spawn early in the morning. If you wake up before sunrise, you should be just in time for the show and should be able to separate out any eggs before they get eaten.
Like chickens, a female goldfish actually CAN lay eggs without spawning with a male goldfish.
They won’t hatch though.
These infertile eggs usually get eaten up or decompose in the water.
If she’s ready to spawn, she’ll start releasing pheromones into the water that let the males know it’s time to breed.
They will then chase the female around, nudging her sides until the eggs come out.
As they fall through the water, he’ll fertilize them with his milt.
A Bit About Goldfish Eggs (and How to Take Care of them)
So, exactly what do goldfish eggs look like?
Healthy goldfish eggs look like small, clear bubbles and can range in color from white to yellow-orange.
They are also EXTREMELY sticky.
Of course, this is part of their survival strategy.
By clinging to the plants as they would fall to the bottom, they have a better chance of not being devoured.
That’s why breeders put “spawning mops” in their tanks. Usually these are made of yarn and the eggs stick to them instead.
If you want to tell if the eggs are fertilized, you can look for tiny black specks in the eggs after the first day or so.
Those are the eyes of the tiny fry developing inside 🙂
How long does it take for them to hatch?
In 4 to 7 days, the eggs hatch (depending on the temperature).
That is – unless fungus has taken over and killed them before they had a chance. 🙁
Some people add a medication that turns the water blue to prevent fungus from taking hold…
But personally I wouldn’t do that.
Here’s a tip from goldfish breeders Adam & Erica Till of Arctic Lights Aquatics (who wrote a fantastic in-depth article about raising goldfish babies):
You can add shrimp to the tank (cherry shrimp, ghost shrimp or others).
They know how to pick out the bad eggs and eat them – but they don’t mess with the good ones.
Think of them as nature’s babysitters 😉
The condition of the water is REALLY important when it comes to successfully hatching them.
Clean water with plenty of aeration will help to prevent fungus, as well as removing infertile eggs right away (which will spread the fungus).
The tiny little wriggling creatures that emerge look like some kind of strange insect.
They feed off of their egg sack until they are ready for their first meal in another 3 days – no point in feeding them before then. 🙂
They start looking a little more like actual goldfish as they get older, usually in several weeks to a couple of months.
The hungry fry will demand a lot of food as they grow!
Once full grown, it all starts over again.
Goldfish make HORRIBLE parents.
They will eat all of their eggs faster than you can dial up Child Protection Services…
… And they will even eat their own newly hatched fry.
Any other bystander goldfish around will happily join in the cannibalistic buffet.
So if you want to make sure your eggs hatch, they will need to be separated as soon as possible.
Want to know more?
Learn how to raise your new eggs into beautiful, healthy fry in this guest post by expert goldfish breeders on raising babies!
What do You Think?
I hope you were amazed by what you learned.
Now I’m turning it over to you.
Have you ever tried to take care of goldfish eggs, or seen any your pond or tank?
Drop your comment below (I love hearing from my readers!)