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Types of Goldfish

Surprising to many, goldfish are a very complex fish with many characteristics that separate them from one another. Competition is fierce for breeding and showing of these beautiful fish. Simply speaking, there are three basic types of goldfish, single tail, double tail and Exotic. Exotics are specially bred for head size, body shape, color and finnage. In this article we will examine the characteristics of the single tailed goldfish. All of these varieties of goldfish can grow up to an incredible 12 to 20 inches in length.

Common Goldfish

The common goldfish has a single tail, an erect dorsal fin, and a torpedo shaped body with metallic scales. The tail is short, being only 3/8 the length of the body. While the majority of these fish are golden to golden-red in color, they can be white, yellow, green or multicolored.

Comet Goldfish

The comet goldfish differs from the common goldfish in that the dorsal fin and tail are longer and flowing. The tail is ‘forked’, having at least %80 of the tail being after the fork. The scales are metallic, and coloration can be from white to black. All colors are accepted except a calico color.


This fish is very similar to both the common and comet goldfish in body shape and looks with the exception of coloration. The Shubunkin is calico colored. The Shubunkin further has several fin and tail types.
- London tail – the same as the common goldfish
- Japanese tail – the same as the comet goldfish
- Bristol tail – a fuller forked tail with rounded edges. This tail is unique to the Shubunkin goldfish

Bristol Shubunkin

Figure 1: Modern Bristol (illustration by Merlin Cunliffe)

more to come

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