The Pearlscale Goldfish: Round & Roly-Poly

Pearlscale Goldfish

The Pearlscale goldfish, known being one of the most “well-rounded” types of goldfish, lends a personality to any tank.  Learn more about this unusual breed of goldfish.


The Pearlscale goldfish is most easily identified by its deep, round belly and rows of small, hard, bead-shaped scales covering most of its body.  The scales of the fish are actually made of deposits of calcium carbonate, and on very large fish may get rather large.  This gives the fish a fantastical appearance and draws much attention to itself.  They are the only goldfish to have these elevated scales, which are translucent or nacreous.  This means that all Pearlscales are nacreous, and cannot be found in metallic!  They can, however, be found in many different color patterns and markings including calico (fairly common), red, white, black, blue, bi-color and most recently chocolate.

As the fish matures, its body rounds more deeply and even begins to bulge to the sides.  Their body is more round than any other breed of goldfish, and combined with the special scales, it has sometimes been called the golf ball goldfish!  Very young Pearlscales do not display this feature, but with age a definite distinction will be detectable between the chin and the tummy, which will continue to become more and more prominent as the stomach enlarges.

The Pearlscale breed has two head variations: the crowned (or hooded) and the wenned.  The Crown Pearlscale variant looks identical to the regular Pearlscale, but with a “bubble” on top of its head that may be single or split down the middle.  It is also called the high-head goldfish or Hama Nishiki.  The wenned variety may have a small hood like a Lionhead goldfish or a large Oranda-like wen.  Not all Pearlscales have head features – indeed, most have no head feature at all.  Finnage does not vary widely among this breed of goldfish, but there are some kinds of Pearlscales that have more of a longer fringetail than most.  This is uncommon.  Recently, Pearlscales have been bred with telescope eyes as well.

Is my Fish a Pearlscale?

Very young Pearlscales can be mistaken for Fantail goldfish when they have not developed much of a belly and their scales are still small and hard to see.  They become distinguishable from them the older they get, so as with many other goldfish breeds, only time will tell.  If your fish is younger, look closely for the presence of little “pearls” and a rounder body shape seen by the head.  Looking at a photo of one can also help determine if your goldfish is a Pearlscale or not.

History of the Pearlscale Goldfish

The Pearlscale, a recently produced breed, is estimated to have been developed around the turn of the 20th century in China and was brought to Japan in the late 1950’s, where further modifications were made to the breed.  Today in America, this breed is very popular and can be found widely in many chain and private pet stores.

Read about special Pearlscale goldfish care here…


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