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Guide to Goldfish Varieties

In this guide, learn how to recognize goldfish varieties and their characteristics.

By Peter J. Ponzio |

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A few years ago, I worked with several folks on a goldfish standard project for the Goldfish Society of America (GFSA). We were looking for a simple way to identify the seemingly endless varieties of goldfish. The project was started to provide a way to identify, classify and judge among the various types of goldfish commonly seen by hobbyists and those entered in fish shows. The identification process had to be simple and easy to follow. The standards that were developed as a result of this project have been adopted by the American Goldfish Association (AGA), which is the sanctioning body that sets the standards and is charged with judging goldfish shows across the United States. There are currently 15 goldfish shows held annually in the U.S., with three to four new shows added each year.

The goldfish classification system differentiates fish into four broad categories, based on body and fin types. These categories include:
• Single tail fish with dorsal fin
• Double tail fish with dorsal fin
• Double tail fish without dorsal fin
• Body types being streamlined, fantailed, veiltailed or egg-shaped (ranchu). Based on these four criteria, the following categories of goldfish were recognized in the United States.
• Single tail with dorsal fin and streamlined body shape. This type of goldfish includes the common goldfish, comet goldfish and shubunkin.
• Double tail with dorsal fin, with fantail or veiltail body shape. These types include the fantail, ryukin, pearlscale, veiltail, telescope eye and oranda.
• Double tail without dorsal fin. This type includes the lionhead, ranchu, bubble eye and celestial.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the December 2010 issue of Aquarium Fish International today.

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