Classic Pond Fish

Know Your Pond Fish

All photos taken in June of 2005 at Aquatics Unlimited.

Comet Goldfish: THE classic pond fish, nice golden/orange color and very hardy. True “comets” have long, flowing tail fins, but faster-moving “commons” with standard fins are usually also present in these batches. Comet goldfish typically can get up to about 12″ in body length, and those with the longest finnage may reach 18″ overall. They are not overly interested in eating or otherwise destroying decorative pond plants.
Sarasa Comet Goldfish: just as hardy as standard comets, but with a well-defined deep red and white pattern. Most have long fins, and vary from almost all white to almost all red – and an endless variety of patterns in between. Maximum length is again about 12″ plus finnage, and like the standard comets, sarasas are not much of a threat to plants.
Premium Comet Goldfish: usually taken from the Sarasa line, these comets often have a deeper red color than standard comets, but very little white. Most have long fins; some have white “noses” or finnage. Maximum length is again about 12″ plus finnage, and like the standard comets, premiums are not much of a threat to plants
Shubunkins: a hardy comet style fish with a red/white/black/blue/yellow calico pattern with a mix of metallic, matte and oversized scales. Almost as pretty as koi, but sturdier, don’t get so huge (maximum length about 12″ plus finnage), and not inclined to destroy plants.
Domestic Koi: these beautiful “born in the USA” fish sport a variety of colors, patterns and scale types. Koi can live for decades, get up to 3 feet long and like to munch on plants or dig in their pots. A few koi in a well-planted pond is no problem, but a lot of koi with a few plants is a snack break, and any potted plant that can easily be tipped or excavated is a mud bath. Koi are not quite as hardy as goldfish, especially during hot summers or long freeze-overs in winter.
Butterfly Koi: a special, long-finned variety of koi introduced to the hobby relatively recently. Very graceful in appearance and movement, but get as large as their standard cousins. Slightly less hardy than even the standard koi, but keeping them well aerated and protected from more aggressive fish helps them adapt more readily.
Premium Koi: with every generation, domestically bred koi are getting better and better, and most breeders now sort koi into two or more grades. Many premium koi rival the imports in color, pattern, shape, and especially price.
Imported Koi: the Japanese got about a 2000 year head start in selectively breeding koi, and it shows in the fish imported to the states. They are much more expensive than domestic koi, but the whites are creamier, reds deeper, blacks almost jet-black, and markings are much more sharply defined. Once established, imported koi are as hardy and get as large and vigorous as domestic koi.

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