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SCIENTIFIC NAME: Carassisus auratus

CHARACTERISTICS: Like the common carp, the goldfish has a long dorsal fin and a saw-toothed spine in front of the dorsal and anal fins. This species does not have barbels, and it has fewer than 30 lateral line scales. Goldfish sport a variety of colors-scarlet, red, pink, orange, silver, brown, white, gray, black-that can occur singly or in combination. Most common, however, is a color combination of medium to dark olive brown on the back, blending to light yellow and cream on the belly.

ADULT SIZE: 3.9 to 15 in (100 to 380 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: The goldfish is native to China and eastern Europe. Now widely distributed in the United States, this exotic species became an introduced one after it escaped or was released from fish hatcheries, ponds, home aquariums, and bait buckets. Though collections in Alabama have been few, the goldfish’s range is wide, stretching from the Tennessee to the Chattahoochee rivers.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Goldfish prefer quiet waters with extensive aquatic vegetation-conditions similar to those in most home aquariums. Adults favor plankton, but they will feed on a variety of animal and plant matter. Breder and Rosen (1966) report that, in Alabama, spawning occurs from February through November and is similar to that of the common carp. (In fact, goldfish sometimes hybridize with the common carp.) Goldfish are unusually long-lived; in captivity.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Linnaeus described the goldfish in 1758.

Carassius means from the Greek word karass, the common name for these fishes in Eurasia.
Auratus means gilded.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.

ADDITIONAL COMMON NAMES: Some bait dealers raise goldfish for bait in fresh and salt water. Goldfish bred for saltwater bait may be known as a "black salty."  Both varieties exhibited very good survival for at least 30 days at salinities up to 10 ppt. However, at 15 ppt survival was much lower over the 30-day period (black salty: 11%; standard goldfish: 8%). Goldfish of any variety are not native to the United States. Ethical anglers may want to consider whether or not to use such a fish for bait.

Individual goldfish have been kept as pets for as long as 43 years.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.

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