The Origin of Goldfish

Posted By: Matt Allen

two goldfish

It’s one of the earliest fish kept for its beauty and enjoyment.  It could be said that the species of fish is the genesis of fish keeping.  Of course we’re talking about the common goldfish.  The fish as we know it today has been selectively bred for centuries to achieve the look that it has today.  Beginning in ancient China, carp with specific color and fin mutations were separated and bred to reinforce the desired traits.  Early color mutations were silver, red, orange and yellow.

In 1162, during the Song dynasty, the empress collected gold (yellow) carp and began keeping them in outdoor ponds.  It was actually forbidden for anyone other than someone from the imperial family to keep these yellow fish, which was the imperial color.

During the Ming dynasty, goldfish began being kept in indoor ponds.  This allowed for even greater varieties of goldfish to be developed.  Mutations that would not survive in outdoor ponds became popular.  Fancy tailed goldfish and goldfish with unique body shapes were first bred during this period.  Goldfish were also introduced to Japan at this time which lead to even more selective breeding and an even greater number of unique species.