E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Carassius auratus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Family: Cyprinidae
Photo of species

© Tim Loh  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #126055)

Click on the map to view a larger version.
Source: Distribution map provided by Don McPhail for E-Fauna BC
E-Fauna's interactive maps for fish are not yet available.


The Goldfish is an Asian species of freshwater fish in the Carp Family (Cyprinidae) that has been introduced to BC and throughout the world. In BC, this species is found primarily in the Fraser Valley, with a few locations elsewhere in the province. Habitat includes quiet backwaters of streams and pools, ditches, and ponds where there is submerged aquatic vegetation. "The goldfish is tolerant of high levels of turbidity (Wallen 1951), temperature fluctuations (reviewed by Spotila et al. 1979), and low levels of dissolved oxygen" (Nico and Schofield 2011). In the wild, this species varies in colour from gold to olive green to whitish. Fish sampling in ditches in Richmond, BC, have collected gold-coloured individuals, likely a product of recent releases.

Carl and Guiget (1958) provide the following information on the arrival of the Goldfish in British Columbia: "Goldfish are known to be present in a large natural pond at Salmon Arm and in a small lake in the Lac du Bois area near Kamloops. Those in the pond were first noted in 1935, and a peak population was attained in 1941, when large numbers formed a dark gold band around the ede as the fish congregated in the shallows (Carl, 1945). Many brightly coloured individuals were present at that time, but as these tended to be taken by ospreys and other predators, the population gradually became composed mainly of fish possessing the ancestral olivaceous colour. These wild goldfish undoubtedly originated from a few individuals turned loose from an ornamental pond or aquarium. In isolated ponds and small lakes they would probably do no harm, but in systems that support sport or commercial fish they are certainly undesirable. "

Species Information

Dorsal spines (total): 3 - 4; Dorsal soft rays (total): 14 - 20; Anal spines: 2 - 3; Anal soft rays: 4 - 7; Vertebrae: 30. Body stout, thick-set, caudal peduncle thick and short (Ref. 1998). Head without scales (Ref. 39167, 1998), broadly triangular (Ref. 1998), interorbital space broad, snout longer than eye diameter, maxillary reaching posterior nostril or not quite to eye (Ref. 39166), barbels lacking on upper jaw (Ref. 39104, 1998). Lateral line complete. Dorsal and anal fins with serrate bony spines, pelvic fins short, broad and thoracic. Nuptial tubercles of male fine, on opercle, sometimes on back and a few on pectoral fins. Hybridize readily with carp, hybrids intermediate in most characteristics (Ref. 1998). Caudal fin with 17-19 rays (Ref. 2196). Last simple anal ray osseous and serrated posteriorly; no barbels (Ref. 43281). Pigmentation: Wild-caught specimens, olive brown (Ref. 39168, 39104), slate olive, olive green, with a bronze sheen (Ref. 39104), silvery, grayish yellowish, gray-silver (Ref. 39169), through gold (often with black blotches) to creamy white (Ref. 1998); yellowish white or white below. Cultured forms vary through scarlet, red-pink, silver, brown, white, black and combinations of these colors (Ref. 39104).

Source: FishBase. Kottelat, M., A.J. Whitten, S.N. Kartikasari and S. Wirjoatmodjo 1993 Freshwater fishes of Western Indonesia and Sulawesi. Periplus Editions, Hong Kong. 221 p.


Species Biology

Inhabit rivers, lakes, ponds and ditches (Ref. 5258, 10294) with stagnant or slow-flowing water (Ref. 30578). Feed on a wide range of food including plants, small crustaceans, insects, and detritus (Ref. 5258, 10294). They live better in cold water. Goldfish lay eggs on submerged vegetation. Oviparous, with pelagic larvae. They last long in captivity (Ref. 7248). Maximum recorded salinity is 17 ppt (Ref. 39171), but unable to withstand prolonged exposure above 15 ppt (Ref. 39172, 39174).

Source: FishBase. Kottelat, M., A.J. Whitten, S.N. Kartikasari and S. Wirjoatmodjo 1993 Freshwater fishes of Western Indonesia and Sulawesi. Periplus Editions, Hong Kong. 221 p.


BC Distribution and Notes

In B.C., this common aquarium fish is regularly released into the wild; however, it rarely establishes feral populations. Typically, feral populations are associated with small lakes, ponds, or sluggish sloughs in parks, golf courses and housing developments. They often are associated with dense vegetation and waters with a strong diel oxygen pulse. Goldfish can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and are unaffected by ice cover; however, they require water of 15–25ºC to breed. Consequently, they are unlikely to establish self-sustaining populations in central or northern B.C.

Source: Information provided by Don McPhail for E-Fauna BC.
Global Distribution

Asia: central Asia and China, and Japan (Ref. 6390). Introduced throughout the world. Asian form of the goldfish (Ref. 1739). Several countries report adverse ecological impact after introduction.

Source: FishBase. Kottelat, M., A.J. Whitten, S.N. Kartikasari and S. Wirjoatmodjo 1993 Freshwater fishes of Western Indonesia and Sulawesi. Periplus Editions, Hong Kong. 221 p.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
ExoticSNAExoticNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-05-28 7:51:15 PM]
Disclaimer: The information contained in an E-Fauna BC atlas pages is derived from expert sources as cited (with permission) in each section. This information is scientifically based.  E-Fauna BC also acts as a portal to other sites via deep links.  As always, users should refer to the original sources for complete information.  E-Fauna BC is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the original information.

© E-Fauna BC 2021: An initiative of the Spatial Data Lab, Department of Geography, UBC