Goldfish are one of the first fish people mention when talking about home aquariums. But most don’t realize just how many different types of goldfish there really are!
If we had to guess, we’d say that a lot of people think all goldfish are the same (no different breeds or anything like that).
But this guide will set the record straight.
In it, you’ll learn about all the main types of goldfish. It’s crazy to see how much each kind can vary in terms of their appearance!
Table of Contents
Single-Tailed Goldfish Types
Single-tailed goldfish types follow the standard body type that most people think of. They’re fairly slim, reasonably long, and have a normal fin setup (one caudal fin to go along with standard anal and pectoral fins.
There are a number of different types of single-tailed goldfish, but we’ll cover the main ones below.
This is what everyone pictures when they think about a goldfish. It’s the tried and true build that’s been around forever!
This type is typically an orange/yellow mix but can sometimes come with some white in them too. Even though there isn’t much of a pattern, the combination of color and simplicity is still quite beautiful.
Their bodies are very close to the original carp ancestors that the goldfish came from. This means a fairly normal yet long body with no-nonsense fins (don’t expect any flowing fins on these fish).
Many people assume that the common goldfish are only popular because they’re cheap, but there’s more to it than that. These fish are actually incredibly hardy and capable of handling a wide range of water conditions.
You can throw almost anything at this type (within reason) and they’ll be fine. We always advocate that you provide the best care possible, but in the short term these fish can absolutely handle it.
The comet is a type of goldfish that’s very similar to the common variety. The shape and size of their bodies is about the same and they even have a lot of the same primary coloration.
The big difference is their caudal fin.
Comet goldfish have massive forked caudal fins that are almost as long as the rest of their body! It’s usually partially transparent but still stands out from afar.
This goldfish breed also has a little variation in terms of the color on their body. Instead of being a 100% solid and consistent reddish-orange, these fish have random colored blotches.
These tend to be near the back and bottom of their bodies but the placement is fairly random. While they aren’t very large they do add a bit of style and aesthetic appeal.
This is where things start to get interesting. The Shubunkin is a type of goldfish that we absolutely love. There’s something about the unique pattern that we’ve been a fan of since day one!
The big draw to this fish is their unique pattern and coloration. The most common kind of Shubunkin is very similar to the comet goldfish when it comes to the main colors.
But that’s where it ends. Shubunkins have a very interesting calico pattern with darker spots peppered all over their body. These spots extend onto their fins as well, giving them a slightly hypnotizing look.
The interesting thing about this type of goldfish is that these darker spots aren’t actually on the outside of their scales. They have a lot of clear and shiny scales that make it possible to see darker spots that are underneath. A lot of owners own Shubunkins for years without ever realizing that!
The Wakin is an interesting type of goldfish that a lot of people forget about. This fish is sometimes confused with koi by non-aquarists and rarely makes it on the shortlist of different breeds.
But there’s a lot to like. The Wakin is a bit unique because they have some traits that you normally don’t see in a single-tailed goldfish. What we mean by this is that they have two caudal fins and two anal fins.
Your first instinct might be to say that they should be considered a fancy goldfish, and it’s not a bad idea. However, the rest of their body and build makes them a better fit for the single-tail category.
If this seems kind of weird we completely agree, it’s just the way it is.
We really like the large two-toned patches of color that you see on this type of goldfish. The size and pattern of these patches will vary based on the individual fish, but red on white is never a bad combo!
Here’s a kind of goldfish that a lot of people don’t know about. The main reason for this is that Watonai goldfish simply aren’t seen very often.
They’re kind of a mix between a Wakin and Comet because they do have two caudal fins but also have a bit of a long and slim body.
One of the most beautiful goldfish we’ve ever seen was actually a Watonai. It was primarily black with some red patches around its head. This combination was so striking that it’s been impossible to forget.
Owners of this type of goldfish tend to be pretty split about where they keep them. On one hand many prefer to admire the beauty in a home tank, but others put them in a pond (these are very good pond fish).
Jikin goldfish are an interesting breed that is chosen purely for their aesthetic appeal. For the sake of simplicity, you’re basically looking at the body type of a Wakin (double finned and fairly long) with a different color combination.
This breed of goldfish has a white body, but all the fins are red. This is a really neat look and creates a fun flickering effect while they swim around in their cage.
These types of goldfish can be a little tricky to track down at first, but you’ll find one eventually. We know some owners who are dead-set on owning a Jikin above any other, so if you’re in that camp don’t stop the search too early!
Fancy Goldfish Types
The name “fancy goldfish” has always been a little strange to us. Sure, they do have more fins to flaunt, but everything else doesn’t seem deserving of the word “fancy” to us.
First off, there are more fancy goldfish types than not. Second, their body types are a lot less streamlined (these fish are usually pretty squat).
Regardless if you agree with our war on the name or not, the fancy goldfish category contains some of the most popular breeds of goldfish out there. Not only that, but they’re also home to some incredibly unique (and strange) body types.
Fantails are the most popular kind of fancy goldfish you can find. These fish have been around forever and have a loyal fan base in the aquarist community.
Their name gives away their obvious tail shape but their coloration feels very much like the “classic” goldfish look.
One of the reasons these fish are so popular is because of their durability. You can throw these fish in a wide range of conditions and they’ll probably be fine. They can even compete for food which is something that many other fancy goldfish struggle with.
If you’re looking to get into the fancy goldfish game, then you can’t go wrong with a fantail.
The Ryukin is a big plump looking goldfish that’s quite cute. They’re often the first significantly humped breed that people see and it throws them for a loop!
Aside from the massive hump behind their head they also have some other telltale characteristics. Their head shape is very petite and they have a pointy nose. This gives them a very expressive face that we absolutely love.
Despite their large body hump, this type of goldfish has a pretty big tail as well. This combination isn’t that common among fancy goldfish and it’s partly what makes the Ryukin so unique.
The Tamasaba is very similar to the Ryukin breed. Their bodies are very similar (same tall hump on their backs) and their face shape matches as well.
The real difference between the two is that the Tamasaba has a single tail. If you’re thinking that this should disqualify them from fancy status, we completely understand. The reason they’re considered fancy is that the one tail they do have is pretty darn long.
Unlike the Ryukin you’ll typically see the Tamasaba in a mix of white and red. It’s extremely rare to see this kind in all red.
The Telescope Eye fish is something to behold. When we’ve shown pictures of them to our non-aquarist friends some were convinced the image was photoshopped!
True to their name, the Telescope Eye has large, round eyes that stick out from their head (and are angled mostly forward). But their notable eyes are actually a weakness.
First, they can get easily injured which leads to a whole world of potential health complications. You need to be very careful to keep them in an environment where they can’t poke those massive things and get hurt.
Also, their massive eyes are the opposite of high-powered. This breed has pretty bad eyesight!
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance kind of goldfish then it’s probably worth avoiding the Telescope Eye (no matter how interesting they look).
The Veiltail is a beautiful type of goldfish that a lot of owners love. When we think of a “fancy” goldfish these always come to mind first.
This breed is known for its very long and flowy fins that dangle and trail behind them when they swim. It honestly looks like their fins are double the size of their bodies!
Because of their fins, the Veiltail moves pretty slowly around the tank. This adds to their fancy aesthetic because they float around gently like royalty.
These fish usually come in a mixture of orange and white. Usually one of the colors is dominant while the other serves as an accent in patches.
If we had to choose our favorite type of goldfish, this would be it. While there’s a lot of beauty and variations of goldfish out there, nothing stands out quite like the Oranda.
Because of their unique look, a lot of people know about this kind of goldfish. Some aquarium sites even use them as their logo!
There’s one thing that stands out above all others when it comes to the Oranda, and that’s their head. It looks very much like a red brain, but it’s actually a wen.
Even though it looks important, it’s nothing more than a series of skin folds that help them show off a bit. This is relieving to a lot of aquarists since it means they don’t need to worry about avoiding it.
The Oranda goldfish comes in a variety of different colors. Their wen is almost always either red or orange while their body varies a bit. You’ll see orange, white, and even black colors on this breed.
On the shortlist of wild-looking goldfish is the Bubble Eye. These goldfish are known for the massive sacs of water that protrude from underneath their eyes.
Because of this, owners need to be very careful if they wish to keep this breed. It’s very easy for these sacs to get perforated by something pointy and cause them health issues during the healing process.
While we’re a fan of most types of goldfish, there’s something about this breed that makes us feel kind of bad. It doesn’t seem like they can see very well and their mobility is limited too. It honestly just feels kind of cruel to keep breeding these (that’s just our opinion though).
Bubble Eyes typically come in varying shades of orange and the color covers their whole body, including their sacs.
Celestial Eye goldfish are another super unique breed that many people love. Their big eyes make them look just like a cartoon.
They share a lot of similarities with the Telescope Eye, but these fish have eyes that face upward instead of semi-sideways.
You’ll want to practice a lot of the same protection techniques for this species as you do with the others that have large eyes. These big eyes are definitely weak spots that can cause a lot of trouble if poked with something sharp.
It’s common to find these fish in the classic orangeish-red. Apparently some people are breeding them in black these days, but we haven’t seen one yet.
While a lot of people find this look adorable, this is another fancy goldfish that we don’t feel great about owning. Something about intentionally breeding them to have a fixed cone of vision doesn’t seem very fair.
The Pearlscale Goldfish will stand out no matter what other species you have in your tank. Their unique textured sides are something that no other goldfish has, and makes them very addicting to look at.
Thick scales are what causes them to have such textured and bumpy-looking sides. Their body is also very round which adds to this effect.
Their heads are pointed slightly upward and they have a fairly pointy nose as well. Because of their body type they aren’t the best swimmers and are also very sensitive to suboptimal water conditions.
Tosakin Goldfish are a tale of two views. Their side profile is pretty standard, but seeing them from the top is a completely different story!
They have truly one of the fanciest tails out there. It trails and fans out while giving off a wavey look that no other type of goldfish can replicate.
Their tails seem to make up half their overall mass when you see it at the right angle, and this is further exaggerated by the fact that they’re not very large.
This is a fish that needs some attention if you want to keep them happy and healthy. They require specific water parameters and don’t do well if anything shifts (even briefly). We recommend that only aquarists with a reasonable amount of experience give them a shot.
This goldfish is really something to see. It’s unlike any other, and a lot of people don’t even know what they’re looking at when they first lay their eyes on one.
From a distance, it almost looks like these fish are a big blob. They don’t have a dorsal fin and have a lot of growth (wen) around their head and face. There can be so much on their face that it’s tough to see their eyes!
Because of this, they’re not the most functional kind of goldfish out there. This means you need to give them some extra attention and make sure they’re getting enough food. Keeping them with other more active fish will result in the Lionhead not getting enough to eat.
There is a little bit of debate on if the Butterfly Goldfish technically should be considered a goldfish, but we’re including it in here for now (if there’s a change to the classification we’ll remove it from this list).
This fish gets its name from the resemblance its tail has to butterfly wings. It’s uncanny!
It’s common for them to have rather large protruding eyes as well, but most people spend their time talking about the tail. There are also a number of possible colorations this fish comes in, with orange and white or orange and black being the most common.
This breed is versatile and can be included in ponds as well as home tanks. We personally know a lot of owners who like them in ponds because it makes it easier to see their unique caudal fin.
The inspiration for the name of this goldfish is pretty obvious when you see them. This type looks like it has two little pom poms on their face!
These two growths are usually found in front of their eyes, but in some cases they will grow on the nose of the fish as well.
You’ll usually see orangeish-gold as the main color of this breed with their “pom-poms” being a brighter orange. This can vary a bit but in our experience, it seems like 90% of them follow this coloration pattern.
Last but not least we have the Ranchu Goldfish. These fish are very similar to the Lionhead. So much that most people can’t tell them apart.
In some aspects this is true. They have a similar size and wen on their face. They even tend to be the same color.
The difference is in some subtle details on their bodies. Ranchu Goldfish have more of a rounded humpback than the Lionhead and almost a nonexistent caudal peduncle on the underside of their tail fin.
You approach caring for each of these pretty much the same though, so chances are you won’t notice a difference between the two. A lot of stores mix them up when selling to customers too, so it’s a good thing they don’t need totally different levels of care!
When we first got interested in aquariums we were blown away by how many different types of goldfish there are. There’s a chance you are too!
With so many different options on the table, it can seem a bit overwhelming to pick your favorite. There’s a lot to like about each of them.
That’s where the beauty of the goldfish makes it easy. Aside from some behavioral incompatibilities, acquiring and keeping any of breeds on our list really isn’t that challenging.
Some types are great for ponds too which really opens up your options. You could have a couple of fragile goldfish breeds in the house, and some hardy ones outside (we know a few aquarists who do this).
We wish you luck with your decision-making process and hope this guide helped you understand your list of options.