Why are goldfish orange? The surprising story!

Orange goldfish swimming in front of rockGoldfish were one of the first domesticated fish; their domestication began over 1000 years ago in China. It was the decisions of these early breeders and enthusiasts that created the pet we see today!

Goldfish come from a member of the carp family, and were bred in small ponds. As more generations came, a color mutation became apparent. The fish were seen in new colors of yellow (sometimes called gold). Although harder to produce a dominant gene, other colors like red and orange soon appeared.

During the Song Dynasty (around 960–1279), the government banned ordinary citizens from owning and breeding the yellow variety of goldfish. In China, the imperial color is yellow, so only the imperial family could keep it! The commoners still loved their goldfish, and continued to breed the colors they had. Orange became the most popular color of goldfish coloration.


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