Egg-Shaped Goldfish with Dorsal Fins

Here's where it starts to get interesting. In this next group you will see some of the most exotic fish in all of the fish hobbyist world. There are a mind-boggling variety of tails, body shapes, eye shapes, head shapes, etc. After viewing this next group, one can easily understand why the goldfish has held man's fascination for almost a millennia, and how it can easily last one lifetime.

These fish are almost comical because the body shape literally looks like an egg with fins. Imagine an egg swimming around an aquarium. That's what these fish look like. Some tend to be more oblong than egg-like, but nonetheless, these are some fascinating creatures. Many have short, rounded bodies, and it is difficult to distinguish the head from the rest of the body in some cases.

In terms of physical abilities to compete for food and withstand wide swings in temperature, this is the middle group. Some tend to be hardier than others, but they are all of a moderate ability when compared with their faster, sleeker relatives.

However, what they lack in speed and stamina, they make up for in extravagance, plumage, and coloration. These are some of the most exotic fish in the fish world. It's also important to remember that they are not the slowest nor the least hardy of the goldfish family. That group lies just after these.

There are only two fish that are good for outdoor ponds in this section: the fantail and the black moor. Both of these are less hardy than the fish in the previous group, and require mild climates to compete and survive in water gardens or ponds. If you live in warm weather, the ryukin is also a possibility. The rest of this group are strictly for the aquarium.



This is the most common of all the fancy breeds, and the most popular. The fantail is one of the oldest varieties of goldfish known to man, and can be found in recorded history as far back as 1500 years ago.

This egg-shaped fish should develop a color of deep, bright, shiny metallic gold. Its claim to fame is its large, double caudal or tail fin. The larger and more exaggerated the tail is, the more highly prized the fish will be. Fanciers are very particular about the tail: it should not be joined anywhere but at the base, and should mirror its opposite member as exactly as possible. While it is egg-shaped, it can look more like a fat comet or common goldfish than any of the following fish.

The most popular and plentiful of all these fish are the solid orange metallic. They are also the hardiest. With good care, a fantail will grow from 3 to 6 inches, and has a life expectancy of between five and ten years. This is an excellent transition fish for the hobbyist who would like to start keeping the more exotic breeds. It's not as difficult as some, but certainly easier than others. And it certainly is hardier than others.

The Nymph Goldfish

The nymph goldfish has long been thought to be a cross between a comet and a fantail. It has the short, round body of the fantail, with a short head and a large mouth. Its belly is deep and round. Its dorsal fin sits very far back on the spine. All of its fins are extremely long. The finnage is thought to be the contribution of the comet. There are three varieties, each of which have all the popular color markings found in the other breeds. Nymphs are available in single-tail, fan-tail, and fringe-tail varieties.



Fanciers argue over which is older—the fantail or the ryukin. What they don't argue over is that the ryukin was bred in Japan.

The easiest way to see the difference between a fantail and a ryukin is to see their high, arching back and deep belly. They have a distinct profile. The ryukin's back almost looks like it has a hump behind its head. The dorsal fin sits high atop the spine, not far back as in a fantail. The ryukin's tail is also larger and more exaggerated.

A full-grown ryukin can grow up to 6 inches. All the color variations available in other varieties can be found here, too. Ryukins are hardier than some of the other exotic breeds and they're also good for those looking to make the transition, eventually, to fish that require a bit more experience.

The Veiltail

It is not known from what breed of goldfish the veiltail originates. Regardless of this debate, the veiltail looks a lot like a fantail, with one key difference: the veiltail's finnage is extraordinary. Its fins unwind in long, flowing ribbons. The paired anal fins are so long, they usually come out to the middle of the veiltail's extremely long caudal fin. The caudal fin is a paired tail, but not forked. It is extremely long, graceful, and exaggerated. There is even a globe-eyed or telescoped-eyed version of this fish.

The veiltail is neither the hardest nor the easiest goldfish to keep. Because of their finnage, they need more room than most to swim around a tank, and for that reason, you should have fewer in your tank than you might of other fish. You also need to avoid overcrowding the tank with too many plants or too much bric-a-brac.

Veiltails tend to lose their color if the water temperature is not consistently maintained; also, the water must be kept as clean and clear as possible, and algae should be kept to a minimum. The veiltail's fins are extremely susceptible to rot or other fungal diseases. They are also easily damaged. It's extremely important to do everything necessary to keep these fish from ruining their exotic and beautiful plumage. Because of this, they should really only be kept with other veiltails.

Veiltails can grow to be 5 inches in length (not including the tail) and may live as long as six years. They require warmer temperatures than other goldfish; the water should be maintained consistently between 65°F and 75°F.

Veiltails are for a more experienced hobbyist. They are not for pond or outdoor use at all. Veiltails are not very hardy or competitive when compared to any of the previously mentioned fish.

The Oranda

Beginner's Luck!

These are the goldfish that are recommended for beginners:

  • Common goldfish

  • Comet goldfish

  • Shubunkin (either type)

  • Fantail

  • Black moor

  • Jikin

Some people call this breed a fantailed lionhead, but this is incorrect. The oranda is certainly among some of the most beautiful and strangest goldfish that are popularly kept.

The oranda is an egg-shaped fish that has a cap of hard, bumpy growth on top of its head. The growth looks like a small gourd. This growth should cover only the top of the head and not any of the facial features, such as eyes, nose, or mouth. An oranda takes two to three years before it begins to display this growth. It has dual fins along the bottom of its body and flowing dual caudal fins. Its dorsal fin is similar to that of the veiltail.

They are most readily available in gold or orange, where the cap takes on a deep, vibrant orange color. They are also available in calico. There is even a red cap or tancho variety oranda, which is very striking and among the most highly prized, as their white bodies provide stark contrast to the bright cherry red cap or hood that covers their heads.

The oranda may grow to a length of 4 inches (tail not included), and can be expected to live as long as approximately five to ten years. To accomplish these things, you need to keep them in a roomy tank with consistently good water quality. The temperature needs to be maintained consistently, too, at somewhere around 65°F. Given enough room, an oranda will grow somewhere between 3 and 4 inches, not including the length of the tail.

Like the veiltail, the oranda's cap sometimes poses a health problem, as it is susceptible to various infections, fungi, and diseases. To reduce the chances of this, the tank must be kept sparkling clean. Orandas should only be kept by someone who has experience with goldfish. These fish are definitely not for the beginner, nor should they be included in an outdoor pond.

The Pearl-Scaled Goldfish

The pearl-scaled goldfish gets its name from its oddly shaped scales. Usually, scales are flat and flexible, like a soft contact lens. The pearl-scaled goldfish features scales that are raised in the middle, so that they are not flat, but almost round. These scales are usually tinged with white. Fanciers consider larger scales more desirable. The more these scales encompass the body, the better. It's important to know that if these scales come off, through fighting or rubbing up against something, they are replaced by the body with the more normal, flat variations. However, these should be considered scars, and will not be passed on to offspring.

Pearl-scaled goldfish are becoming more popular. It looks like a ryunkin, but with less exaggerated finnage. It has the same high arching, hump-like back, but the abdomen protrudes much deeper.

Disease and fungus are sometimes a problem, as these tend to ferment in the folds and crevices of the skin. Again, like the veiltail and the oranda, you need to have consistent, high-quality water. It must be well filtered and aerated. The temperature should be kept between 55°F and 65°F for better success. If they are in an environment that encourages their growth, the pearl-scaled goldfish will grow to the size of a regulation baseball. These are not pond fish.

Telescope-Eyed or Globe-Eyed Goldfish

This odd fish is known by many names. You know what they say: as long as they're talking about you, that's all that matters. These fish are also known as dragon fish, dragon-eyed goldfish, and, in England, they are known as the pop-eyed goldfish. As you might have guessed by now, these goldfish are known for their eyes, which protrude in almost tube-like fashion, sometimes up to ¾” long in adults. The term telescope is misleading since these fish have limited vision to begin with. There are four different eye shapes in the globe- or telescope-eye varieties.

Their eyes don't begin to protrude until they are about six months old. Until then, they are able to compete for food quite easily. Later on, though, as their eyes begin to protrude, their sight lines become limited. This puts them at a disadvantage. It must be recommended that this type of fish be kept with its own kind or with other similarly handicapped fish.

They have the body and finnage of a fantail. And their markings include all the popular variations. You should probably keep this fish between 55°F and 65°F. They may grow up to 6 inches long and live approximately five to ten years. Disease and fungus are sometimes a problem, as the eyes are very delicate and sensitive. These fish are only for the experienced aquarist, and are not for the beginner. They are not to be kept in pond or water gardens.

Experts Only

Sorry, rookie—these goldfish are for advanced aquarists only:

  • Bubble-eyed goldfish
  • Veiltailed goldfish
  • Pearl-scaled goldfish
  • Celestial goldfish

The Black Moor

The black moor is a telescope- or globe-eyed goldfish, but it is solely known for its color, which appears as a velvet-like black coat. Black moors are hardier than globe-eyed goldfish, and less prone to disease. The black moor is a popular fish and is often used as a starter fish. Because it is so hardy, it is a great starter fish for those who really want to eventually house exotics.

With enough room, a black moor can grow as large as 6 inches (tail not included) and may be expected to live as long as five to ten years. It should be kept at a relatively constant temperature somewhere between 49°F and 65°F. You should err toward the cooler. This is very important. As black moors get older they develop a velvety texture. However, if the water is consistently too warm, orange will sometimes begin to show through. Once this occurs it usually cannot be reversed. Keep them at their appropriate temperature and they'll be fine.

The Heimlich for Goldfish

Goldfish sometimes get bits of gravel caught in their mouths. Usually this will dislodge itself over the course of several hours without damage to the fish. However, in those cases where the gravel does not dislodge, attempt the following tip recommended by the Goldfish Society of America in their Official Guide to the Goldfish:

  • Capture the fish with a fish net.

  • Hold the fish head down and press against both sides of the lips, opening the mouth.

  • With your other hand, press the throat behind the stone. Relief is usually immediate.

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