Why goldfish called goldfish : Unveiling the Fascinating Origins Behind Their Golden Glory

Why goldfish called goldfish

Goldfish are one of the most recognizable and popular pets around the world. These vibrant and captivating aquatic creatures have been kept in ornamental ponds and tanks for centuries. But have you ever wondered why they are called “goldfish” when they come in a variety of colors other than gold? Let’s delve into the intriguing history behind their name.

Origins of Goldfish

Goldfish (Carassius auratus) are believed to have originated in ancient China over a thousand years ago. They were initially bred from wild carp, which were naturally silver-gray in color. Through selective breeding, the ancient Chinese developed a more vibrant and distinct variety of carp with bright, golden scales. This new variety, known as “Jinli” or “Golden Carp,” marked the beginnings of what we now refer to as goldfish.

Symbolism and Cultural Significance

In Chinese culture, goldfish hold great significance and are considered a symbol of wealth, luck, and abundance. The golden color of the fish is associated with prosperity and good fortune. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), goldfish were kept in ornamental ponds and gardens by the wealthy elite as a status symbol. These fish were highly treasured and admired for their elegant beauty.

Introduction to the Western World

The goldfish made its way to the Western world during the 17th century. Initially, they were only affordable to the affluent due to the difficulty and expense of transporting them over long distances. They were seen as exotic creatures and became a prized possession among European nobility. As the goldfish became more accessible, its popularity spread, and people from various social classes began to appreciate and keep them as pets.

The English Name: Goldfish

The English name “goldfish” reflects the dominant coloration of the original fish introduced to the Western world. While goldfish do come in various colors and patterns today, including red, white, black, and calico, the name “goldfish” stuck and continues to be used universally.

The Evolution of Goldfish Breeding

Over the centuries, goldfish breeding has expanded beyond the original golden variety. Through careful selective breeding, breeders have developed a wide range of colors and characteristics. Today, goldfish come in numerous colors, including metallic gold, red, orange, yellow, white, black, and even blue. Additionally, their body shapes and fin configurations have been selectively bred to create various fancy goldfish varieties, such as the celestial eye, oranda, ryukin, and bubble-eye.


The name “goldfish” may have originated from the golden variety of carp that first captivated the ancient Chinese. It is a name that has endured through centuries and crossed continents, becoming synonymous with these captivating aquatic pets. While goldfish now come in a multitude of colors and patterns, the cultural significance and historical origins of their name remind us of their cherished position in both Eastern and Western cultures. Whether you keep a golden, red, or multicolored goldfish, their beauty and charm continue to enchant fish enthusiasts worldwide. learn more about goldfish