Goldfish - Encyclopedia

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GOLDFISH (Cyprinus or Carassius auratus), a small fish belonging to the Cyprinid family, a native of China but natur Telescope-fish.

alized in other countries. In the wild state its colours do not differ from those of a Crucian carp, and like that fish it is tenacious of life and easily domesticated. Albinos seem to be rather common; and as in other fishes (for instance, the tench, carp, eel, flounder), the colour of most of these albinos is a bright orange or golden yellow; occasionally even this shade of colour is lost, the fish being more or less pure white or silvery. The Chinese have domesticated these albinos for a long time, and by careful selection have succeeded in propagating all those strange varieties, and even monstrosities, which appear in every domestic animal. In some individuals the dorsal fin is only half its normal length, in others entirely absent; in others the anal fin has a double spine; in others all the fins are of nearly double the usual length. The snout is frequently malformed, giving the head of the fish an appearance similar to that of a bull-dog. The variety most highly prized has an extremely short snout, eyes which almost wholly project beyond the orbit, no dorsal fin, and a very long threeor four-lobed caudal fin (Telescope-fish).

The domestication of the goldfish by the Chinese dates back from the highest antiquity, and they were introduced into Japan at the beginning of the 16th century; but the date of their importation into Europe is still uncertain. The great German ichthyologist, M. E. Bloch, thought he could trace it back in England to the reign of James I., whilst other authors fix the date at 1691. It appears certain that they were brought to France, only much later, as a present to Mme de Pompadour, although the de Goncourts, the historians of the mistresses of Louis XV., have failed to trace any records of this event. The fish has since spread over a considerable part of Europe, and in many places it has reverted to its wild condition. In many parts of south-eastern Asia, in Mauritius, in North and South Africa, in Madagascar, in the Azores, it has become thoroughly acclimatized, and successfully competes with the indigenous fresh-water fishes. It will not thrive in rivers; in large ponds it readily reverts to the coloration of the original wild stock. It flourishes best in small tanks and ponds, in which the water is constantly changing and does not freeze; in such localities, and with a full supply of food, which consists of weeds, crumbs of bread, bran, worms, small crustaceans and insects, it attains to a length of from 6 to 12 in., breeding readily, sometimes at different times of the same year.

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