Goldfish, Carassius auratus (Linnaeus 1758)

Other Names: Carp, Crucian Carp, Golden Carp, Native Carp, Prussian Carp

One very large Goldfish, Carassius auratus, from Busselton's Vasse River, southwest Western Australia, 2016. Source: Freshwater Fish Group and Fish Health Unit, Murdoch University. License: All rights reserved

Although extremely colourful in aquaria, in the wild Goldfish are often a drab olive-bronze to deep golden above, fading to silvery-white on the belly, with dark olive-bronze fins.
The species is native to eastern Asia, and was introduced to Australia in the 1860s. Goldfish are now widespread and locally abundant in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, and also occur in southern Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia. 

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2024, Carassius auratus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Apr 2024,

Goldfish, Carassius auratus (Linnaeus 1758)

More Info


Freshwaters of the Fitzroy, Dawson & Burnett river catchments, QLD, coastal and inland waters of southern QLD, NSW, VIC, lowland streams, ACT, Western Plateau & Coopers Creek Lake Eyre drainage, SA, and coastal drainages between Moore, Vasse & Blackwood Rivers, Canegrass Swamp & Bromus Dam, southwest, WA, widespread in farm dams, and occasionally in streams and lakes, TAS. 

Inhabits still or slow-flowing waters, and is tolerant of a range of temperatures and oxygen concentrations. Researchers working in south Western Australia found that Goldfish are able to use estuaries as a ‘saltbridge’ to gain access to other tributaries and estuaries, thus expanding their distribution (Tweedley et al. 2017).


Dorsal fin III-IV, 15-19; Anal fin II-III, 4-7; Pectoral fin I, 15-17; Pelvic fin 7-9.

Thickset, deep-bodied, moderately compressed; dorsal profile sharply convex from snout to short, deep peduncle; head large, broadly triangular, without scales; snout blunt; eye moderately large, situated near dorsal profile; mouth terminal, protrusible, small; rear edge of jaws does not reach to anterior border of eye; jaws equal, without teeth; no barbels. Scales cycloid, large, firmly attached; lateral line complete (26-31 scales), curves upwards anteriorly. Single dorsal fin, long-based; 3-4 spines at front, first 2-3 small, last large and strongly serrated on hind edge; anal fin small, short-based; pectoral fins low, well forward, small, rounded and broad; ventral fins abdominal, beneath origin of dorsal fin, rounded; caudal fins moderately forked, lobes rounded.


Maximum size to 59 cm, but in Australia, Goldfish rarely reach 20 cm in length.


Usually olive bronze to deep gold, darker and brownish on the back and silvery white on the belly.


Adults are omnivores and consume organic detritus, plant matter and aquatic insects.


Sexually maturity is usually attained at 3-4 years but may be as early as 1 year; spawning in spring-summer when water temps are 17-23°C. Oviparous, benthic spawners, eggs are laid among aquatic plants and other submerged objects. Eggs are small (1-1.5 mm diameter), adhesive. Newly hatched larvae attach themselves to aquatic plants for a few days until yolk sac is completely absorbed.


Goldfish are extremely popular in the ornamental fish trade.

Similar Species

Wild Goldfish are very similar in appearance to Carp.

Species Citation

Cyprinus auratus Linnaeus, 1758, Systema Naturae 1: 322. Type locality: China, Japan.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2024


Atlas of Living Australia

Goldfish, Carassius auratus (Linnaeus 1758)


Allen, G.R. 1982. Inland Fishes of Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 86 pp. 6 figs 20 pls.

Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp.

Arthington, A. & McKenzie, F. 1997. Review of Impacts of Displaced/Introduced Fauna Associated with Inland Waters. State of the Environment Technical Paper Series (Inland Waters). Department of the Environment : Canberra. 69 pp.

Beatty. S.J., Allen, M.G., Whitty, J.M., Lymbery, A.J., et al. 2016. First evidence of spawning migration by goldfish Carassius auratus and the implications for control of a globally invasive species. Ecology of Freshwater Fish

Brumley, A.R. 1996. Family Cyprinidae carps, minnows, etc. pp. 99-106. in McDowall, R.M. (ed.) Freshwater Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Sydney : Reed Books 247 pp.

Cadwallader, P.L. & Backhouse, G.N. 1983. A Guide to the Freshwater Fish of Victoria. Melbourne : F.D. Atkinson Government Printer 249 pp. figs.

Castelnau, F.L. de 1872. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. 1. The Melbourne fish market. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 1: 29-242 1 pl. (described as Neocarassius ventricosus, type locality Saltwater River, Footscray, Victoria, Australia - based on introduced goldfish)

Clunie, P., Stuart, I., Jones, M., Schreiber, S., et al. 2002. A risk assessment of the impacts of pest species in the riverine environment in the Murray-Darling basin. Report produced for Murray-Darling Basin Commission, Strategic Investigations and Riverine Program, Project R2006. Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Victoria. 250 pp.

Corfield, J., Diggles, B., Jubb, C., McDowall, R.M., et al. 2008. Review of the impacts of introduced ornamental fish species that have established wild populations in Australia. Prepared for the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. 277 pp.

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

Kailola, P.J., Williams, M.J., Stewart, P.C., Reichelt, R.E., McNee, A. & Grieve, C. 1993. Australian Fisheries Resources. Canberra : Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation 422 pp.

Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna tria Naturae, secundem Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentis, Synonymis, Locis. Tom.1 Editio decima, reformata. Holmiae : Laurentii Salvii 824 pp.

Lintermans, M. 2009. Fishes of the Murray-Darling Basin — An Introductory Guide. Canberra : Murray-Darling Basin Commission 157 pp. [MDBC Publication Number 10/07]

McDowall, R.M. (ed.) 1980. Freshwater Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Sydney : A.H. & A.W. Reed 208 pp., figs, 32 pls.

McKay, R.J. 1984. Introductions of exotic fishes in Australia. pp. 177-199 in Courtnay, W.R. Jr & Staffer, J.R. Jr (eds). Distribution, Biology and Management of Exotic Fishes. Baltimore : John Hopkins University Press.

Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management. Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs.

Mitchel, B.D. 1979. Aspects of growth and feeding in golden carp, Carassius auratus, from South Australia. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 103(6): 137-144.

Morgan, D.L., Gill, H.S., Maddern, M.G. & Beatty, S.J. 2004. Distribution and impacts of introduced freshwater fishes in Western Australia. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 38: 511-523.

Morgan, D.L. & Beatty, S.J. 2007. Feral Goldfish (Carassius auratus) in Western Australia: a case study from the Vasse River. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 90: 151-156.

Tweedley, J.R., Hallett, C.S. & Beatty, S.J. 2017. Baseline survey of the fish fauna of a highly eutrophic estuary and evidence for its colonisation by Goldfish (Carassius auratus). International Aquatic Research 12 pp.

Wager, R. & Unmack, P.J. 2000. Fishes of the Lake Eyre Catchment of Central Australia. Brisbane : Department of Primary Industries and Queensland Fisheries Service 88 pp.

Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Ward, R.D. (eds). 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 460 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37165001

Fishing:Aquarium fish


Max Size:20 cm SL (Australia)

Native:Introduced - pest fish

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map