Think of the Carassius auratus auratu; in simple words our very own graceful little goldfish, and what comes to mind is a bright red fish with a flared tail, swimming with the grandeur of a mer-princess in light blue waters. They, quintessential to aquariums at homes and offices alike, has long been domesticated and kept as a pet. The fish not only has a certain royal touch to it, but also has many interesting qualities.
Fancy goldfish was once the sole property of the Royal families in China to keep. Specially bred yellow or reddish yellow ones were kept in ornamental ponds and smaller containers. However, it now exists in various colours including silver, white, yellow, orange, red, brown, and black. This species of fish has good cognitive skills and can be conditioned and trained by its owner. It also has intense visual and hearing abilities which allow it to differentiate well between individual humans.
These fishes are cold-water fishes, are members of the carp family, and feed on flakes, plant matter, cooked peas, and insect larvae. The variety of colours and types these fishes now exist in is a result of years of breeding. This makes fancy goldfish even more delicate to handle. These fishes need to be fed carefully as they do not stop feeding on their own and overfeeding may be very dangerous. Also, they can be kept with only those other varieties of goldfish that have similar swimming speeds and body characteristics to avoid uneven feeding. They cannot tolerate wide fluctuations in temperatures although the hardier varieties survive in extreme cold temperatures as well with adequate oxygen supply. Temperate climate is ideal for them. Typically they are very active in summers and sluggish in winters. They have a lifespan of more than 10 years.
These fishes have very interesting behavioural patterns. For one, they get accustomed to their owners to such an extent that in a family of 4 members they can distinguish each one and respond according to the source of stimulus provided. They can also be taught to do certain tricks. They are essentially “social”, gregarious, and friendly. They hardly ever hurt other fishes. They are thus easy to look after.