Pearlscale Goldfish 101: Complete Care Guide (2024)

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Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 12, 2024
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In every aquatic pet store, there’s invariably a stunning and majestic fish that stands out and is a must-add to your aquarium. For us, that fish is the pearlscale goldfish, and that’s exactly why we’ve put together this detailed guide on pearlscale goldfish care, addressing any urgent questions you may have.

Article Summary

  • Pearlscale goldfish, belonging to the fancy goldfish branch, are commonly available in most fish stores.
  • They are omnivores and should be fed a mixture of commercially available food and supplemental protein.
  • Pearlscale goldfish need a tank size of at least 20 gallons, and they require a filter due to their messy nature.

Species Overview

Common names:Pearlscale goldfish, ping pong goldfish, golf ball pearlscale
Scientific name:Carassius auratus
Species:C. auratus
Size:6-8 inches
Lifespan:5-10 years
Family:Cyprinidae
Genus:Carassius
Distribution:Captive bred
Color:Orange, white, crean
Diet:Omnivore
Temperament:Peaceful
Minimum Tank Size:20 gallons
Place in the tank:Middle
Care level:Beginner
Breeding:Moderate

Chapter 1: History and Background

Goldfish have a unique and long history, being the first foreign fish introduced to North America in the 1800s.

Origin

Like all goldfish the pearlscale is descended from Prussian carp which were originally kept in outdoor ponds as a food source. As fish keepers realized that the mutations in the general population produced brightly colored or “gold” fish they would separate them from the larger populations and continue breeding them for desired traits such as coloring, bigger eyes, or larger fins.

The pearlscale goldfish is just one of many varieties that fall into the fancy goldfish branch.

Is Pearlscale goldfish rare?

Pearlscales are a fairly common fancy goldfish variety and you should be able to find them at most fish stores or from a local breeder.

Where did the first Pearlscale goldfish come from?

Tail of Fantail Goldfish
Tail of Fantail Goldfish

The first pearlscale was a variety of the fancy goldfish species artificially bred for their rounded body and double fins. It is likely that they are descended from a fantail goldfish due to their similar forked tail.

What is the difference between a fantail and a Pearlscale goldfish?

While similar looking the fantail goldfish has a more slender body, is slightly larger, and has a solid colored tail. On the other hand the pearlscale goldfish has a rounded, plump stomach, and its fins and tails are semi-transparent. Additionally, the pearlscale can come in a wider variety of colors including blue, chocolate, and black.

Are Pearlscale goldfish fast?

No, this docile species is known for being slow swimmers which is likely due to them having a rounded stomach and being one of the larger goldfish.

Are Pearlscale goldfish hard to keep?

No, pearlscale goldfish are relatively easy especially once you learn the basics. Don’t worry, we’ve created this overview as a way for you to make sure you know everything there is about pearlscale goldfish.

Can pearlscale goldfish live in a pond

Yes, the pearlscale goldfish is comfortable in both ponds and tanks. If keeping in a pond you should extra carefully monitor parameters such as temperature to ensure they are within the correct range.

Chapter 2: Appearance

Many aquarists love the pearlscale goldfish’s unique appearance, though I think they look a bit egg shaped, many refer to them as being golf ball or ping pong ball sized.

What do Pearlscale goldfish look like

Rounded Body of a Pearlscale Goldfish
Rounded Body of a Pearlscale Goldfish

The pearlscale goldfish has a very rounded body giving it the nickname of ping pong goldfish or golf ball goldfish. Its thick, nacreous scales have a shine to them which gives the fish its pearly sheen. They can come in a range of colors with a single dorsal fin and paired caudal and anal fins.

They are similar to the oranda goldfish variety due to their bubblesque hood or “wen” which is slightly egg shaped.

FUN FACT

Did you know pearlscales are one of the only goldfish to have calico coloration? Read on to learn more pearlscale goldfish facts!

How to tell the gender of a Pearlscale goldfish

It is difficult to identify the gender of this species when they are young as none of these features appear until they are sexually mature.

CharacteristicsMaleFemale
Midline ridge:Ridge running between pelvic fins to opening on undersideSmaller or missing rim
Abdomen firmness:Between the pelvic and anal fins is very firmBetween the pelvic and anal fins is pliable
Shape ot vent:Thin, concaveRound, convex
Pectoral fins:Pointed with stiff leading raysRounded and shorter

Pearlscale Color/Variety

Any pearlscale goldfish can be found in a wide variety of colors including red, black, calico, brown, and red/white or red/black combinations.

Crown pearlscale goldfish

The most famous, rare, and expensive variety- the crown pearlscale- is a result of crossbreeding the pearlscale and oranda goldfish in the 1980s. Crossbreeding goldfish can actually be quite tricky, hence why this variety is more rare. The term “crown” comes from its extra large wen, and can either be singular or double. They are sought after for their unique appearance.

Short tail Pearlscale

A common variety of the pearlscale, this fish has a smaller head and tail than the common variety which places even more emphasis on its rounded belly.

How big does a Pearlscale goldfish get?

The average size of a fully mature pearlscale is 6 to 8 inches. They are often compared to oranges.

How fast do Pearlscale goldfish grow

Young fish tend to grow rapidly in the first few months until they reach roughly half of their final size, then they will grow by roughly one inch per year. However, your fish will likely not develop a rounded belly or pearly sheen until 8 months of age.

How do I make my pearlscale goldfish fat

If you’re looking to make your young goldfish rounder like its adult counterparts, we suggest NOT feeding it more, and instead just waiting for it to grow. Goldfish are already prone to overeating, so adding more food to its diet just to change its appearance to have a rounder, more full belly is not healthy.

Chapter 3: Temperament and Tankmates

As a fairly peaceful fish, the pearlscale goldfish can get along with almost any tank mate.

Can 2 Pearlscale goldfish live together?

Yes, you can keep 2 pearlscales together in your aquarium setup. As slow swimming docile fish pairing two of the same species is an excellent choice.

How many Pearlscale goldfish should be kept together?

Pearlscale Goldfish as Tankmates
Pearlscale Goldfish as Tankmates

It isn’t as much of a question of how many fish you can fit into your goldfish aquarium, but how much maintenance you are willing to do. You can fit as many pearlscale goldfish into your fish tank as you have room for (1 per 20 gallons), however goldfish make a lot of waste and the more you have in your tank the more cleaning you will have to do. In the case of this species fewer fish is more.

The best tank mate for the pearlscale goldfish is other fancy goldfish. However, you should carefully watch all the fish and ensure that they can’t outswim each other because that can lead to bullying.

How many Pearlscale goldfish in a 10 gallon tank

While most fish of their size could fit 1 per 10 gallons, we recommend keeping your pearlscale goldfish in a minimum tank size of 20 gallons. This will ensure a natural and comfortable environment for your fish and keep your fish happy.

What fish can live with Pearlscale goldfish

Pearlscale goldfish are great community fish, and most other peaceful, freshwater fish will get along with them. You should stay away from tank mates that are fast swimming fish or aggressive fish as your pearlscale has no defense against other fish. Some suitable tank mates include;

Top 5 Compatible tank mates

  1. Black Moor Goldfish – a slow swimmer, and docile species that will give your pearlscale no trouble
  2. Lionhead goldfish – despite its ferocious name, this species is an excellent companion for the golfball goldfish and will mostly keep to itself
  3. Bubble Eye Goldfish – another popular fish for the community tank, this species will mostly ignore your pearlscale goldfish
  4. Veiltail goldfish – this beautiful goldfish is highly compatible with the pearlscale due to its easy-going nature. It’s also slow-moving like the pearlscale so it won’t hound all the food.
  5. Large nerite snails – an excellent tank mate once they are fully grown, freshwater snails will help clean a lot of waste your goldfish leaves behind as well as being one of the hardier species on this list.

RECOMMENDATION

Snails and other aquatic invertebrates going in your fish tank should be full size. Larger gold fish consume small invertebrates without a second thought.

Chapter 4: Tank Requirements

Like most goldfish, the key to a happy and healthy pearlscale is pristine water conditions and a properly sized tank.

How many Pearlscale goldfish can you keep?

Keeping Multiple Pearlscale Goldfish in a Tank

You can keep as many pearlfish as you have room for in your tank. If you’re not sure how many fish your aquarium can house it is always better to buy fewer fish and return later than to have too many fish for your tank size.

How many gallons does a Pearlscale need?

A pearlscale goldfish needs at least a 20 gallon tank. Tank shape doesn’t matter much and you can choose between a tall tank, or elongated tank.

Water Parameters

Tank Size:>20 gallons
Water Type:Freshwater
Water temperature:65-75
Water pH:6-7.5
Water hardness:8-20 dKH

Tank setup:

Proper Substrate for a pearlscale goldfish

Any substrate that is larger than your goldfish’s mouth or small enough to pass through its digestive system without consequences is appropriate for your aquarium. I find that medium sized gravel works best as it is easy to clean during your routine tank maintenance and easy to find at the pet store.

RECOMMENDATION

Be careful when choosing gravel substrate as rocks with sharp edges can injure your goldfish.

Do I need a Filter?

Yes! It is vital to have a filter for your goldfish tank as they are extremely messy fish.

Should I use a Pump

We strongly recommend using a pump as it will help improve your water parameters by circulating water throughout your aquarium. This is especially helpful if you choose to keep live plants in your aquarium as tank decoration.

Does a pearlscale goldfish need a Water heater?

No, goldfish are not tropical freshwater fish and do not need warm water temperatures.

What temperature do pearlscale goldfish need?

The pearlscale goldfish requires a temperature range between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

How much light does a pearlscale goldfish need?

A simple aquarium light will suffice for this freshwater fish. However, you should be aware that fish only need 8-12 hours of light a day, and 12-16 hours of darkness. This light pattern allows them to establish a circadian rhythm similar to that of the natural environment. Keeping the aquarium light on all day and night can affect their sleeping pattern and even lead to illnesses due to a weakened immune system.

RECOMMENDATION

If you’re forgetful about turning the lights on or off consider investing in an automatic timer.

Plants

White Pearlscale Goldfish in a Planted Aquarium
White Pearlscale Goldfish in a Planted Aquarium

Aquarium decor is an important part of ensuring that your fish is happy and entertained, consequently live plants and artificial plants are some of the easiest additions to your tank. When designing your aquarium you should try to replicate the natural pond environment that most goldfish live in. Plants such as hornwort, anubias, and java moss are plants that can adapt well to the cold temperatures and don’t require much light to thrive.

Be aware that goldfish are omnivores, and might nibble on your plants if they’re hungry enough. Additionally, these large fish are very prone to bumping into things meaning they can unintentionally destroy a planted tank.

TIP

If you’re adding fake plants to your tank be sure to purchase silk plants. Sharp objects like the edge of fake plants or the weighted plastic piece at the bottom can potentially cause injury to your fish.

Chapter 5: Diet and Health

When choosing your fish’s diet it is important to remember that it’s not the quantity of the food but the quality that improves their health.

What do Pearlscale goldfish eat

Like other fancy goldfish, pearlscales are omnivores and will eat anything you allow them to.

What to feed Pearlscale goldfish?

Variety of Fish Food
Variety of Fish Food

You should feed your fish a mixture of 80% commercially available food such as pellet or flake foods, and 20% supplemental protein such as anchor worms, blood worms, brine shrimp, or insect larvae. Supplemental protein can be live or frozen food.

Since goldfish also eat plants you should also supplement their diet with a mixture of greens and veggies such as blanched spinach, shelled peas, or lettuce.

How often to feed Pearlscale goldfish

We recommend feeding your pearlscale and any additional goldfish in the tank 1-2 small portions a day. Goldfish are prone to overeating which can impact the fish’s ability to swim due to bloating or constipation.

How much to feed Pearlscale goldfish?

You should feed your goldfish according to the 3 minute rule. This is where you add 3 to 4 pellets to your aquarium and start a timer, once your goldfish has eaten all of the pellets add more until three minutes are up. Once the timer ends remove all excess food from the aquarium.

Common diseases of Pearlscale goldfish?

There are not many diseases pearlscale goldfish are prone to, however, they often suffer from swim bladder disease and constipation.

Swim bladder disease

The swim bladder is an organ in fish that allows them to maintain buoyancy and stableness while in the water. When diseased the fish may swim upside down or sideways. Other symptoms of swim bladder disease can include not eating, sinking to the bottom, and labored swimming.

Causes vary but can include overeating, parasites, bacterial infections, or physical injury. Treatments for swim bladder disease include placing in a quarantine tank with low water level to prevent stress from being unable to swim, and providing pristine water parameters. If the problem is temporary it will resolve.

Constipation

As this fish is particularly apt to overeating it’s no surprise that they are frequently constipated. Symptoms include a swollen belly appearance, lethargy, and lack of appetite. The best treatment for constipated goldfish is regulating them to a diet consisting of only shelled peas until regular bowel movements occur.

TIP

Did you know the addition of some calcium carbonate deposits in your aquarium can help prevent diseases due to its ability to lower body acidity. Additionally calcium helps promote healing and stress reduction.

How long do Pearlscale goldfish live

On average the pearlscale goldfish can live 10 to 15 years, though it’s not unheard of for goldfish with excellently maintained tanks and water quality to live upwards of 20 years.

Chapter 6: Breeding

The pearlscale goldfish are egg layers and are one of the easiest species of fish to breed in captivity.

Can you breed a Pearlscale goldfish?

Yes, it is quite easy to breed pearlscale goldfish. In fact, it’s so easy most aquarist’s end up breeding goldfish by mistake.

How to breed a Pearlscale goldfish?

Pearlscale Goldfish Pair
Pearlscale Goldfish Pair

To begin the breeding process you must first set up a separate breeding tank of at least 20 gallons. Within this tank, you can include soft aquarium plants or spawning mops for the eggs to lay in. Once the tank is fully cycled you can add your mating pair.

Breeding Tank Temperature

Water temperatures in this separate aquarium should be 60 degrees Fahrenheit which should be increased by 2 to 3 degrees a day until 74 to initiate spawning. You’ll notice that both male and female coloring will become brighter and the male will begin to chase the female fish around the tank as part of their mating dance. When the female is ready she can lay up to 1,000 eggs which the male will then come behind her and fertilize. Once the eggs are fertilized remove both parents from the breeding tank to ensure that they don’t try to eat the young.

The fertilized eggs will take roughly 6 days to hatch, and another 1-2 days to become free-swimming. Free-swimming fry can be fed infusoria, with the addition of baby brine shrimp when they’re around 3 weeks old.

Is the Pearlscale goldfish for you?

If you’re looking for a colorful, freshwater fish that is peaceful and does well in cold water environments then the pearlscale goldfish might be a perfect fit!

Conclusion

In conclusion, the pearlscale goldfish is an excellent addition to both beginners’ and experts’ aquarium and can complement any setup.

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