Goldfish Colouring Explained

Although terms like red self-coloured metallic can appear almost meaningless, the system of goldfish colouring is not nearly as complicated as if first appears.

To start with, there are two basic colour types: metallic and calico.


Calico is the name given to the colour pattern most commonly found on shubunkin goldfish.  It is an irregular pattern of orange, yellow, red, black, brown, blue, violet, pearl, white and/or silver.  As long as there are three or more of these colours in a random pattern, the goldfish is calico.

Another feature of calico colouring is that some of the scales are shiny, some are translucent, and some are velvet in appearance.  The shininess of goldfish scales depends on the amount of a substance called guanine present in the scales.  The more guanine, the more reflective the scale.

The blue and violet colours that can be found in calico goldfish are actually black pigments deep under the skin that appear coloured when viewed through the pearly coloured skin.


The term metallic is slightly misleading, as it does not necessarily mean reflective all over.  Metallic coloured goldfish can have shiny or velvety scales.

Metallic colouring is divided into two types: self-coloured and variegated.

Self-coloured means nothing more than the same colour all over.  The colour can be orange, yellow, red, black, brown or blue.

Variegated simply means that the goldfish has more than one colour, and both sides of the fish are almost exactly the same pattern.  As well as the list of colours available in self-coloured fish, silver and white can be present in variegated fish.  A good example of variegated colouring is the redcap oranda.

2 Responses to “Goldfish Colouring Explained”

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  2. iluvmyfish♥ Says:

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