Goldfish
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • Close-up of ventral area: Notice that there is no ventral keel present.
  • Close-up of gill rakers of a preserved specimen: Notice the 37-43 gill rakers.
  • Notice the deep body; there are 27-30 lateral line scales.
  • Close-up of mouth: Notice that the mouth is terminal and is lacking barbels.
  • Close-up of dorsal fin: There is one serrated spine and 15-19 dorsal rays.
  • Close-up of anal fin: There is one serrated spine and 5-6 anal rays.
  • Head of a breeding male: Notice the small tubercles on the head and the leading edge of the pectoral fin.
  • Side view of a juvenile: Juveniles are similar to adults.
  • Side view of a white goldfish.
  • Side view of a golden goldfish.
  • Alternate side view of golden goldfish.
  • Side view of the wild type (top) and the golden form (bottom).
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Minnows (Cyprinidae)
Body
Mouth and Snout: Mouth terminal without any teeth. No barbels. Body Pattern: Solid bright gold, orange, reddish, olive, brown or black; sometimes a mix of orange and black blotches. No markings on fins. Fully scaled body with relatively large scales. Body Shape: Slightly laterally compressed, somewhat dorsoventrally flattened. Deep bodied. A flat oval in cross section anteriorly. Typical adult size is 150-300 mm TL (0.5-1 ft), with a maximum of 450 mm (1.5 ft).
Fins
Elongated dorsal fin with 15-19 rays and one serrated spinous ray. The anal fin has one spinous ray and 5-6 rays. Forked tail. Pelvic fin abdominal. No adipose fin.
Distinguishing Characteristics
Goldfish have large scales, a long dorsal fin with a single serrated spine (technically a spinous soft ray) about half a body length, and 15-19 soft rays. Anal fin with a serrated spine and 5-6 rays. Terminal mouth with no barbels. 27-30 lateral line scales and gill rakers 37-43. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Small tubercles on head region and pectoral fins of males.
Juveniles
Similar to adults. Somewhat less laterally compressed and more rounded in cross section.
Hybrids
Goldfish X Common carp. No photos available.
Compare Similar Species
Body Shape
Buffalo, BigmouthDeep, laterally compressed
Buffalo, BlackDeep, laterally compressed
Buffalo, SmallmouthDeep, laterally compressed
Carp, BigheadFusiform
Carp, CommonDeep, laterally compressed
Carp, GrassFusiform
Carp, SilverFusiform
Carpsucker, HighfinDeep, laterally compressed
Carpsucker, RiverDeep, laterally compressed
GoldfishDeep, laterally compressed
QuillbackDeep, laterally compressed
Ventral Keel
Buffalo, BigmouthAbsent
Buffalo, BlackAbsent
Buffalo, SmallmouthAbsent
Carp, BigheadFrom anal fin to pelvic fins
Carp, CommonAbsent
Carp, GrassAbsent
Carp, SilverFrom anal fin to isthmus
Carpsucker, HighfinAbsent
Carpsucker, RiverAbsent
GoldfishAbsent
QuillbackAbsent
Mouth
Buffalo, BigmouthTerminal, subterminal or inferior
Buffalo, BlackTerminal, subterminal or inferior
Buffalo, SmallmouthTerminal, subterminal or inferior
Carp, BigheadTerminal
Carp, CommonSubterminal
Carp, GrassTerminal
Carp, SilverTerminal
Carpsucker, HighfinTerminal, subterminal or inferior
Carpsucker, RiverTerminal, subterminal or inferior
GoldfishTerminal
QuillbackTerminal, subterminal or inferior
Barbels
Buffalo, BigmouthAbsent
Buffalo, BlackAbsent
Buffalo, SmallmouthAbsent
Carp, BigheadAbsent
Carp, CommonPresent
Carp, GrassAbsent
Carp, SilverAbsent
Carpsucker, HighfinAbsent
Carpsucker, RiverAbsent
GoldfishAbsent
QuillbackAbsent
Dorsal Fin
Buffalo, Bigmouth22-32 rays; first few rays elongated
Buffalo, Black22-32 rays; first few rays elongated
Buffalo, Smallmouth22-32 rays; first few rays elongated
Carp, Bighead1 spine (adults), 8 rays
Carp, Common1 serrated spine, 15-23 rays
Carp, Grass7-9 rays
Carp, Silver1 spine (adults), 8 rays
Carpsucker, Highfin22-32 rays; first few rays elongated
Carpsucker, River22-32 rays; first few rays elongated
Goldfish1 serrated spine, 15-19 rays
Quillback22-32 rays; first few rays elongated
Anal Fin
Buffalo, Bigmouth7-10 rays
Buffalo, Black7-10 rays
Buffalo, Smallmouth7-10 rays
Carp, Bighead1 spine (adults), 13-14 rays
Carp, Common1 serrated spine, 4-6 rays
Carp, Grass8-10 rays
Carp, Silver1 spine (adults), 12-13 rays
Carpsucker, Highfin7-10 rays
Carpsucker, River7-10 rays
Goldfish1 serrated spine, 5-6 rays
Quillback7-10 rays
Lateral Line Scales
Buffalo, Bigmouth33-40
Buffalo, Black33-40
Buffalo, Smallmouth33-40
Carp, Bighead85-100
Carp, Common32-41
Carp, Grass34-47
Carp, Silver95-103
Carpsucker, Highfin33-40
Carpsucker, River33-40
Goldfish27-30
Quillback33-40
Gill Rakers
Buffalo, Bigmouth20-70
Buffalo, Black20-70
Buffalo, Smallmouth20-70
Carp, Bighead53-80, long and fine
Carp, Common21-27
Carp, Grass15-16
Carp, SilverFused into sponge-like matrix
Carpsucker, Highfin20-70
Carpsucker, River20-70
Goldfish37-43
Quillback20-70
Similarity Index
Buffalo, BigmouthModerately similar
Buffalo, BlackModerately similar
Buffalo, SmallmouthModerately similar
Carp, BigheadModerately similar
Carp, CommonModerately similar
Carp, GrassModerately similar
Carp, SilverModerately similar
Carpsucker, HighfinModerately similar
Carpsucker, RiverModerately similar
GoldfishN/A
QuillbackModerately similar
Comments
Carp, BigheadNot yet confirmed from WI waters (two anecdotal records), but well-established further south in the Mississippi River and likely to be encountered in WI in the future.
Carp, GrassNot established in WI; present only as a stray from further south or from illegal introductions
Carp, SilverNot yet confirmed from WI waters, but well-established further south in the Mississippi River and likely to be encountered in WI in the future.
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