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Where Do Goldfish Come From? History FAQ


Apr 12, 2023
red Comet in the aquarium


red Comet in the aquarium

Goldfish are extremely common in aquariums across the United States, and you often see them as prizes at carnivals and fairs. Since they are so popular, you might wonder where they come from. The short answer is that they originated in China, but keep reading as we discuss what kind of fish they are, if you can find them in the wild, and many other interesting facts.

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Where Do Goldfish Come From?

Most experts believe that the Goldfish first appeared in China over 1,000 years ago. At that time, the Chinese people started farming a kind of Carp that they called “Chi” in large pools instead of catching them in the wild. They noticed that these typically grey or silver fish would sometimes have offspring that were bright yellow or orange. These colorful fish couldn’t live long in the wild because they would be easy to see by predators, but they lived longer on the farms, and the Chinese farmers started selectively breeding them to create the modern Goldfish. By the 16th century, the Chinese introduced the new fish to the Japanese people, who began shipping them worldwide, and they became the popular pet that they are today.

a Comet Goldfish in the aquarium
Image Credit: smspsy, Shutterstock

Are There Different Kinds of Goldfish?

Yes. Through selective breeding, we have created many different kinds of Goldfish, each with a unique appearance. They can vary significantly in size, shape, color, and number of fins, among other features. Besides the Common Goldfish, other varieties that you might see are the Comet Goldfish, Fantail Goldfish, Ryukin Goldfish, Oranda Goldfish, Black Moor Goldfish, and Bubble Eye Goldfish.

How Long Do Goldfish Live?

The lifespan of your Goldfish can vary significantly depending on the breed, diet, habitat, water quality, and more. Some only live a few days, while others can live many years. The average lifespan of a Goldfish is 10–15 years with proper care, but many people report that theirs lived much longer, with several living more than 30 years. Goldie is a Goldfish that died in 2005 at 45 years old.

Ryukin Goldfish
Image Credit: Galina Savina, Shutterstock

Do Goldfish Forget Quickly?

Many people have heard the urban legend that Goldfish can only remember something for 3 seconds. However, studies done in the 195os and 1960s suggest that they can remember things for months or even years. They are also intelligent and can learn to recognize faces. If you feed them on the same side of the tank each day, they will wait on that side at feeding times. They can also learn to complete tasks and take cues from bubbles and other sources, like the sound of music.

Why Do Goldfish Get So Big in the Wild?

Goldfish in the wild often grow larger than in aquariums because they have more space to swim and can eat a more varied diet. They can also breed naturally, leading to genetic diversity and larger sizes.



Goldfish originated in China more than 1,000 years ago when farmers were farming Carp for food. They created the ornamental Goldfish through selective breeding and brought it to Japan in the 16th century. Soon after, these colorful fish could be found worldwide, and today, more selective breeding has created several varieties of Goldfish that come in many shapes and sizes. They make great pets, and most will live more than 10 years.

Featured Image Credit: Grigorii Pisotsckii, Shutterstock

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