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Originally bred as a food fish, with a natural colour of silvery grey, it was only when gold mutations started to appear that people started to purposely breed the yellowish gold varieties. However, during the Song Dynasty it was forbidden for any one outside the imperial family to keep gold coloured fish (as it was an imperial colour), so breeders concentrated on producing the red form, possibly why there are redder than the gold coloured fish today.
The Ming Dynasty was the beginning of goldfish being bred indoors and the development of the fancy varieties. Goldfish were then introduced to Japan in 1603 and then Portugal where their popularity spread through out Europe as they represented symbols of good fortune and prosperity. In 1850 the lucky fish were introduced to North America and soon became very popular, leading to the development of the comet goldfish.
Ammonia can build up very quickly from the waste produced, the longer fish have subjected to high ammonia the damage to their gills and other vital organs increases, and if not corrected such high amount of ammonia will lead to a painful death. Most diseases can be prevented with good fish husbandry, correct feeding and good water quality. But remember, goldfish are covered with a protective slime, so when they are being netted special care needs to be taken so as not to damage or remove the slime as this can lead to bacterial infections. Prevention is always better than cure!
- Ulcers. Open pinky white wounds caused by damage to natural slime, excessive high Ph or ammonia and nitrite levels. Proceed by changing the water, adding aquarium salt and appropriate anti bacterial medication.
- Cloudy eyes. An eye which takes on a cloudy, opaque appearance is usually the result of a poor diet and poor water conditions, vitamins and a proper diet with correction of water chemistry usually clear this condition.
- Dropsy. A bloated body with scales standing up is caused by build up of ammonia and bacteria. This is difficult to treat but improving water conditions and using an anti bacterial treatment will help.
- White spot. Small spots resembling grains of salt, covering the body, fins and fills is normally caused by stress by dramatic fluctuations in temperature, poor water quality etc. Treat by correcting water parameters, treat with anti parasitic medication (raising temperature can speed up the process).
- Bacterial infection. Reddening of skin and fins, open sores are caused by bad handling, loss of body slime, high ammonia and generally bad water conditions. Correct the water add anti bacterial treatment and salt.
- Fungus. Fluffy growths on wounds, usually following on from parasitic and ulcerated wounds. Treat with salt and anti fungal treatment, in good water quality.
- Finrot. A bacterial infection causing frayed fins with pale reddish red on edge of fins and blood in the fin tissues. Can be caused by fighting, more often from poor water quality, treat with anti bacterial medication, salt and check water quality.
- Swimbladder disorder. Very often genetic but can be caused by poor water quality and too much dried foods, if not genetic then moisten feeds, reduce feed, check water and possibly try an anti bacterial treatment.
There is very little difference in telling the gender of goldfish. Some times, depending on the variety, body shape and size can be good indicators. However, in the breeding season, usually with a temperature increase and longer light cycle, the males will develop white tubercle spots around the gills and their fins and head become more stream lined, where as the females will be noticeably filling with eggs.
Goldfish kept under correct conditions have long lives and are intelligent fish. They soon recognise who feeds them and will show great excitement when you approach their tank or pond. They make wonderful and interesting pets and it is our duty and responsibility, as with any livestock, to provide proper care and attention.