While koi may come in a wide variety of colors, goldfish come in a wide variety of shapes (and they are not hurting for a good
color selection either!) In addition to the colors shown below, you will also find them in blue, green, calico, and albino (which
has a yellow cast). Although the top-line (dorsal side) is important for each variety, you are not going to be viewing your fish
from the side in your pond. You are going to be viewing your fish from the top, so unless you are planning on showing your
fish, you can get by with a nice looking fish that perhaps doesn't have the ideal top line for it's particular variety.
For starters, these little guys have a bit of trouble getting around and competing for food against the faster moving koi and
common goldfish (both 'torpedo' shaped). In addition to that, koi tend to think of these chubby little guys as play things, and
will bonk them around just for fun, or especially during a spawn. Since koi and goldfish are really just different types of carp,
they will cross-breed, however, their offspring will be sterile, not unlike a mule, which is the product of a horse and a donkey.
When the hormones are flying around in the water, it doesn't matter one bit to the male koi (or goldfish) whose eggs he's trying
to fertilize, and he will squish the egg-laden female up against the side of the pond, or a rock, or a potted plant, or anything
else available, to try to get her to release her eggs. With larger koi in your pond, this can become an almost violent display of
affection, and fancy goldfish can get seriously injured or killed in the process. I myself have seen the results of such a frenzy
at a koi show. One of the vendors was holding several large, fancy goldfish for a woman who had purchased the fish earily to
pick up before the close of the show. Since tank space was limited, he put her goldfish in a koi tank, so there would be no her
to the point of exhaustion, and even though there was nothing in the tank to hurt her, they bumped her around so much that
by the next morning, her fins were completely shredded. The koi were not bigger than the black moor, but because of their
torpedo shape, were much faster and more agile swimmers. I also do not recommend combining fancy goldfish with comets,
sarasas or shubunkins for the same reason.
The only types of fancy goldfish I do NOT recommend for a pond are the bubble-eye and celestial varieties of goldfish. They
are far too fragile and slow-moving to compete for food, but any one of the goldfish pictured above could do quite well in an
outdoor pond, however, it should be noted that some precautions should be taken and their particular needs as fat little fish
should be taken into account. Seriously.
Oranda, Ranchu and Moor goldfish varieties should have a 'rectangular' body shape when viewed from the top. A Ryukin and
fan-tail should be tear-drop shaped, and the Pearlscale should look like a golfball with fins.
Some varieties of goldfish have head growth, called a cap. Most notably, these are the Oranda, Ranchu and Pearlscale
varieties. Look for good head growth on these fish. As the cap grows, it will look like it has small, white patches of fungus, but
be advised, unless there are similiar patches on the body of the fish, these are just growth spots and will go away once the
growth spurt is over.
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Since fancy goldfish are slow moving and extraordinarily stupid fish, you'll need to take extra precautions with pump intakes
and skimmer box nets, as they are likely to get sucked into anything they can. They also have a habit of getting trapped on the
top of a partially submerged marginal plant. If there's a ¼" of water over the top of your pot, they'll get up on it and become
trapped. Fully exposed to the air, they won't last long, so make sure you keep your marginal plant pots 2" below the surface of
I do recommend taking your fancy goldfish indoors in the winter, especially if you have hard winters like we do here in Illinois.
You can over-winter them in your pond if you keep it aerated (which is something you should do in any pond), and can cover
your pond with a PVC dome and Visqueen. By doing so, you will be able to keep your pond virtually ice-free, and although the
water temperature will be very cold, they should be fine. Remember, when the water temperature is below 55º, DO NOT FEED
Yet another factor you will need to be aware of is the fact that because of their body shape, fancy goldfish are notorious for
getting off balance and floating on their sides at the top of the pond. Because their bodies are engineered to be compact,
(which means their intestines are all bunched up) they tend to get 'gassy' if they're having trouble digesting food. A
contributing factor to floating goldfish is the type of food you give them. Since most fish food for pond fish is of the floating
variety, when the goldfish come up to the top to eat, they gulp in a lot of air. Their bodies aren't designed to cope with all the
extra gas, and until they can pass it, they float. If this happens, just stop feeding them for a week or until the problem fixes
itself. They'll be none the worse for wear. Feeding a pellet type food instead of a flake type will also help. Of course, they do
make a sinking food specially made for fancy goldfish (which I carry), and if you're going to spend $35.00 on up for a single
goldfish, the peace of mind is worth the investment.