Goldfish Types

There are well over 100 known Goldfish types.

We will be concentrating on the more common Goldfish types available, as some varieties recognized in China or Japan are rarely seen outside their respective countries.

This page gives an overview of the 4 major physical attributes that distinguishes one Goldfish variety from another.

The major physical attributes of Goldfish are:

  1. Scale types
  2. Fin variations
  3. Eye variations
  4. Body shapes
  5. Wen (cuticular tissue covering the head) and
  6. Narial bouquet (pom pom like extensions to the nostrils).

Within the major physical attributes, there can be several variations. An example of this is single tail fins. They can be:

  • Short
  • Long
  • Pointed or
  • Rounded at the ends.

Some of these variations are a requirement for a particular variety. For instance a Comet Goldfish should have a tail as long as the body with pointed ends.

Scale Types

Metallic scales.  Goldfish with this scale type have a shiny metallic appearance, hence the description.  They can be a single color or have two.  Any black coloration found on a metallic goldfish will be because of injury or it has not yet finished changing color.  Black Moor goldfish are the exception to this rule.

The majority of Goldfish sold are metallic scaled.

Nacreous (calico) scales.  These fish lack the shine of the metallic fish.  The scales are missing the top layer of pigment so are semi transparent.  Fish in this scale type usually have mottled coloring made up of several colors such as red, black, blue, white and every color in between.

Nacreous goldfish will often have a few scattered metallic scales or metallic gill plates.  These are not desirable on show quality fish.

Matt scales.  Fish with matt scales have fully transparent scales.  These fish display very little color or none at all and appear pink.

Fin Variations

There are really only two major tail fin variations, single and twin.

Within these two types, tail fins can be long, short, pointed or rounded at the ends, forked or have no fork at all, depending on the Goldfish type.  The rest of the finnage generally follows the tail fin form.

Single tailed varieties include the Common, Comet, Bristol and London Shubunkins.

All other fancy varieties should have two tail fins (and two anal fins on the better specimens).

Sometimes single tailed fancy Goldfish are called nymphs, but they are only poor specimens that shouldn’t have made it past the first cull.

The one exception to this is the Tamasaba variety that has the appearance of a hump-backed Ryukin but with a long single tail.

The only other major fin variation is Goldfish with a missing dorsal fin.  These varieties include the Celestial, Water Bubble Eye, Ranchu, Pompom and Lionhead.  These Goldfish are some of the most highly developed.

Eye Variations

Goldfish have four eye variations:

  • Normal eyed
  • Telescopic-eyed as seen on Black or Red Moors
  • Upturned-eyes as seen on Celestials and
  • Water bubble eyes as seen on Water Bubble Eye Goldfish.  The eye is actually normal, but a fluid filled sac grows from underneath the eyes pushing them upwards.

Body Shape Variations

There are three body shapes:

  • Long and slender similar to the wild fish.  (These Goldfish types always have a single tail fin)
  • Short and round.  (These Goldfish should always have twin tail fins and a dorsal)
  • Medium short with dorsal absent.  (These Goldfish should always have twin tail fins).

Goldfish Types

All goldfish varieties started with the Prussian carp which was selectively bred for color variations.  The Common Goldfish was the first Goldfish variety developed.

For an overview of the most common Goldfish varieties available, I have grouped them by their major physical characteristic, for example all single tailed Goldfish are in the same group.

At the top of each list are the least developed Goldfish, moving down to the most developed at the bottom.  Click on each link to be taken to a detailed page on the type.

Single Tail Fin



London Shubunkin

Bristol Shubunkin

Japanese/American Shubunkin

Double Tail Fins, Normal Eyed




Pearl scale

Telescopic Eyed

Black Moor

Red Moor (includes calico moors)

No Dorsal 

Pompom (Correct name Pompon)




Water Bubble Eye

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