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Drawing of a wild goldfish

General information

Goldfish are non-indigenous fish which means they are not native. Non-indigenous fish listed under Schedule 6 of the Fisheries Regulation 2008 may be kept in aquariums or above-ground ponds that prevent their escape. Goldfish cannot be released into the wild or used as bait alive or dead. If goldfish are caught in the wild they must not be returned to the water. Penalties of up to $200,000 apply.

Scientific name

Carassius auratus

  • often grow to around 36 cm but have been recorded at lengths of up to 45 cm
  • can live up to 30 years, but usually live for 9 to10 years
  • range in colour from bright yellow to black and many have a mottled appearance
  • colour is closely related to the habitat in which it lives
  • often mistaken for carp, but unlike carp they lack barbels (whiskers) on either corner of their upper lip.
  • native to Asia but now are introduced world-wide
  • introduced to Australia in 1876 as an aquarium fish
  • widely distributed in streams, ponds and dams throughout the southern half of Australia, extending into south-east and south-west Queensland and the Fitzroy and Burnett catchments.
  • subtropical, freshwater fish, but prefer cooler waters.
  • feed on a wide range of foods including plants, small crustaceans, insects and detritus.
  • reach sexual maturity at about three years
  • lay up to 1000 eggs on submerged vegetation which hatch in five to six days.
Environmental impacts
  • introduced to Australia as aquarium fish and once released were able to colonise many Australian freshwater systems
  • in the 1970s, goldfish brought goldfish ulcer disease to Australia from Japan. The disease is a bacterial fish disease which has affected wild and captive goldfish and koi carp populations throughout south-eastern Australia. The disease has not yet affected any Australian native fishes.
  • considered a potential pest, with several countries reporting adverse ecological impacts after their introduction
  • do not seem to form large populations, unlike carp.

Further information

Last updated 05 June 2009