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The goldfish is a domesticated form of carp-like fish, Carassius auratus, native to East Asia and known as funa in Japan. In their wild state, they are olive or dark brown and can grow to a length of 30cm. Some have even reached 60cm in length and have weighed up to 4.5kg. Goldfish have been known to live 30-40 years. When the reddish, gold domesticated fish escapes to the wild, its offspring reverts in only a few generations to original colours.
The domesticated variety has been known for many years in China, where they were court pets of the Sung dynasty. They have been imported and distributed throughout the lakes and rivers of Europe, Asia and the United States. The most common colour in goldfish is a brassy red or orange but many others are known. Pink fish are often incorrectly called scaleless because the scales lack the amino acid guanine and are difficult to see.
Goldfish are a hardy, peaceful aquarium or small pond fish that eat a variety of foods. They are omnivorous, which means they feed on plants and small animals like mosquito larvae, flying white ants that drop in the pond and other tiny insects.
The fancier fish generally require warmer water (above 15 deg C) than the plainer forms. Hatching occurs in about 8 days in cool water, about 17 deg C. The newly hatched fish are nourished by their attached yolk sacs for the first 48 hours, after which they begin to feed on microscopic organisms. The fish have been bred for centuries to produce striking colours and astonishing varieties.
The celestial goldfish has bulging, globular eyes which are turned upward. The veiltail has a short, heavy body and a long, sheer, double tail. The lionhead has rounded, blister like growths on its head that form a 'mane'. The telescope black moor, a black goldfish, has large globular eyes that point forward.