Goldfish Fry Colour Change

I have a number of fry in my pond. Can I expect them all to live and when do they change colour from black to golden? I have five adults. The fry are about 1" long.

Grant's Reply


Your fry have done very well so far to grow to 1" long without being eaten by the adults or succumbing to parasites. They must have had plenty of hiding spots and the pond must not be too crowded.

If their body length is 1", then they are still susceptible to parasites until they are 2" in body length. (Read the website page on goldfish flukes).

If the adults can get them in their mouths, they will still try and eat the fry.

You don't say how many fry you have, but if you are planning on raising a number of fry to adulthood, they will need adequate food and room to grow before winter. The Goldfish Care website page gives details on how much room goldfish need in a pond.

If your fry have turned black, that is the first stage of turning orange/gold.

The colour change starts in the lower regions of the goldfish, and gradually moves up to the dorsal or back region. You can see this process when fry are observed from the side, but in a pond you only see the change occurring in the last stages.

The speed of the colour change is dependent on several factors, food, water temperature and genetics.

The higher the water temperature, the faster the change. In ideal conditions, faster colouring varieties such as Comets start changing colour when the fry are 50-60 days old. The process has usually finished in another 50-60 days.

Fry change colour at different speeds, even within the same brood. Some fry never change colour and remain a dull brown. Choose those fry that change colour first and with the deepest colour for future parents.

The fry will be a light orange/yellow at first but this deepens over time. The deepest colours are developed when the fry are in ponds and exposed to sunlight.

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Apr 24, 2018
My Goldfish
by: Grant

If the black fish that turned gold had a single tail, I suspect it had Black Moor genes.
Often Black Moor turn orange with age, and as you mention that it got fat and big, I suspect that the good care it received when younger allowed it to develop the short, deep, fat body that is normal for a Black Moor.

Apr 21, 2018
My goldfish
by: Crissy

I bought goldfish at petco for about 26cents. Got 10 of them pond was 10x8. They did so good. I had 2 black ones and the others were just orange n white. They got about 3 to four inches lost a black one due to hungry cat I saw hanging out. The other black one turned totally orange got really fat n big. Wondered why??? I gave up the pond due to dangerous poison cane frog. My dog bit one n almost died!! Wasn't worth the trouble so I put them in separate tanks. They haven't grown much more but still I enjoy my goldfish!

Jul 28, 2017
Black is Black
by: Grant

When calico scaled Goldfish spawn, they produce fry with three scale types, calico, matt and metallic.
The pink one is a matt, and that is the colour it will remain.
The black ones are metallic. The metallic fry from a calico spawning are slow to colour, if they colour at all, because the gene that triggers the change to orange/gold is suppressed.
If the fry are black, and not dark grey/brown, they are changing colour.
To speed up the process the can be kept in water around 25C and fed plenty of live food.
Read the page on Goldfish scale groups here.

Jul 28, 2017
black is black
by: Strebori

I have three motley coloured shubunkins in a small garden pond (1m long half as wide and deep) with lots of weed and circulating water.

They spawned about two years ago and there are two surviving black fry and one white pink one with an orange head spot. They are thriving, feed happily with the adults and in their second year are over an inch long and but showing no sign of changing colour. I have no problem with this but I am interested in how the genetics work to produce this coloration

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