Goldfish are known to be the most common and popular choice for pets. But why do people bring home Goldfish? They can’t run or let out a squeak leave alone express themselves and they definitely can’t play catch. All they will do is just swim and swim and swim and yet they manage to make that connection with us and we love them for it. If you ask a Goldfish lover what makes them great, the answer would be: they are great because they just are!
Are Goldfish really gold?
One of the probable reasons why people are attracted to Goldfish could be because of their golden hues. It gives them that exotic and different look. However, they aren’t really golden – more a combination (or absence) of the two or three types of pigment cells black, yellow and red – that give the Goldfish a variety of color effects. Goldfish can be golden, red, white, bronze and even blue and black. In fact, when Goldfish are born they are neither gold nor orange. They are a very tan or olive kind of shade and sometimes they can be pretty dark. It’s only when they grow that they begin to change their color.
Essentially a wild species, Goldfish probably acquired their color over the ages and thanks to genetic mutations and selective breeding we have Goldfish that can range from silver to gold, red to orange, with a single tail or a fantail and some with pop eyes and without dorsal fins! The color of goldfish depends on the environment it is bred in as well as the light it is exposed to. Goldfish is one species that has been bred, crossbred and changed quite a bit and this has been going on since more than hundreds of years. But when did it all begin?
The Birth of the Goldfish
It all began in Ancient China when the goldfish as we know it today was bred from the gibel carp which is found in slow moving waters in South China. The first evidence we have is in the year 265-415 when the Chun dynasty recorded the gold hue of this fish. From then on documents show that the goldfish were raised in ponds within Buddhist monasteries and mostly in the houses of royalty and other aristocrats.
It was during the reign on the Ming Dynasty that records show the Goldfish being raised in bowls as indoor pet. This in fact helped the Goldfish to evolve double tail and anal fins, red and white coloration and even dispense with their dorsal fins. Goldfish became linked to prosperity, fortune and good luck and even inspired art in China which was reflected in the goldfish motifs used in silks, ceramics and jade carvings.
Soon they began to become more commonly available and made their first trip out of their homeland to Japan in 1603. In 1611- 1691 goldfish were exported to Europe. It was in 1874 that Goldfish made an entry into United States of America. The 19th Century saw
the demand for aquariums and goldfish grow. The world’s first public aquarium opened in London in 1853.
Today’s modern Goldfish has its very own definition: “A small reddish golden Chinese carp kept for ornament” (Oxford Dictionary, American Edition, Oxford University Press). Its official biological name is Carassius auratus and but it’s commonly known as the golden carp or simply the goldfish.