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Goldfish (Carassius auratus) - Introduced

Wild goldfish.

A typical 8-inch wild goldfish.

Identification. Similar to common carp. Heavy-bodied (large adults are often quite rotund). Forked tail. Large scales. Long dorsal fin with 14-20 soft rays. Barbels absent. At least one thick barbed spine at front of dorsal and anal fins. Wild goldfish are typically brassy gold to brownish in color, but domestic stocks may be orange, white, black, red or some combination of these.

Size. Commonly reach 8 to 12 inches. State survey max. size 15 inches. Max. reported size 23 inches. World Record 6.6 pounds.

Pet store goldfish.

A 3-inch juvenile goldfish, similar to the ones sold in pet stores.

Distribution. Native to Asia. Introduced worldwide. In Connecticut, goldfish are commonly found in urban ponds wherever they’ve been stocked. Otherwise, they may be found in almost any slow-moving water, but seem to be more common near urban centers.

Goldfish distribution map.

All maps created in 2009. See CT DEEP Fish Community Data for updated distributions.

Habits. Prefer slow-moving waters of ponds and streams with heavy vegetation. Tolerant of poor water conditions. Can be caught on bait with small hooks. Goldfish are famously easy to keep in home aquariums, but may outgrow other wild fish.

Comments. Most wild goldfish found in larger lakes and streams are probably the result of aquarium releases (goldfish are illegal to release or use as bait in Connecticut). Self-sustaining populations tend to be limited to small ponds with few predators.  

Carp and goldfish comparison photo.

Wild goldfish (bottom) can look very similar to common carp (top) except that they lack barbels on the mouth and tend to be thicker-bodied.

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Text and images adapted from Jacobs, R. P., O'Donnell, E. B., and Connecticut DEEP. (2009). A Pictorial Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut. Hartford, CT. Available for purchase at the DEEP Store.