Goldfish…the other pond fish

goldfishMost people when considering fish for their pond think of Koi, but the Goldfish, a distant cousin to the Koi, are also popular fish for ponds. Goldfish are a smaller, inexpensive alternative to Koi and are safely kept in a pond with Koi, Orfe and Plecostomus (algae eaters). They are social and enjoy living in groups. Like Koi, Goldfish are members of the Carp family. Unlike Koi, they do not have barbels. They are well suited for smaller ponds. Native to East Asia, they have been domesticated for more than a thousand years. Over the years, many varieties have been breed with different body shapes, fins, eyes and color variations. There are over 250 breeds but most will not adapt to pond life.

As with Koi, it is important to not over feed or over stock your pond with Goldfish or any other pond fish. Bottom feeders by nature , they will eat the muck at the pond bottom. In the winter, they may become sluggish, eat less and stay at the bottom of the pond. Come spring they will be active again.


The most popular pond goldfish include common goldfish, comets, shubunkins and wakin. You may also keep Moors, Oranda, Lionhead and other split tail goldfish in your pond but remember they move slowly making it easier for predators to fin them.




  • Common Goldfish are available in red, orange, black, white and yellow and most closely resemble their ancestors. The common goldfish are usually labeled as feeder fish in pet stores. If you have ever won a fish at a fair or carnival, it was a common goldfish.
  •  Comets  is the most common variety in the US. It is similar to the common goldfish, except slightly smaller and slimmer, with a long flowing tail similar to a Butterfly Koi. Comets come in orange, red, black and yellow. The most popular comet is the Sarasa, which have a multi-color body, closely resembling Koi fish.
  • Shubunkin are also very popular pond fish because it is a very hardy goldfish. The Shubunkin has a slender body like the Comet but differs in color with red, brown, orange and yellow mixed with black spots creating a calico pattern over a violet or silver/blue background. The color covers the body & fins.
  • The Wakin  is a common, slender body goldfish with a short, split tail similar to a fantail. This goldfish can grow large, up to 18″ long. The Wakin are usually bright red, crisp white or a mix of red & white. It is best to view the Wakin from above to appreciate the color variations.

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