5 Recommended Smallest Goldfish Species

5 Recommended Smallest Goldfish Species7 mins read

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5 Recommended Smallest Goldfish Species
Image from Flickr

If you have a nano tank or love small, cute pets, you may wonder what the smallest goldfish in the world are. Goldfish are one of the most sought-after freshwater fish species in the aquarium trade. They are generally affordable – and easy to keep, right? Unfortunately, no, not always.

See, there are so many different species of Goldfish. Each species has its unique requirements and quirks, but the smallest goldfish breeds often require the most optimal care. Starting off, it’s best to understand general goldfish care and needs. There is much to learn about the different smallest goldfish species and their origin. Keep in mind goldfish are still quite big, even the smallest species of goldfish.

The smallest goldfish types are mainly ornamental goldfish. They are slightly rare and more difficult to care for.

Goldfish Species Overview

Goldfish as a general species are scientifically known as Carassius auratus, and are from the Carp Family or Cyprinid family. They are one of the most kept aquarium pets, all over the world. The Goldfish is considered invasive in the waters of some countries, mostly in North American areas. Even when just looking for the smallest species of goldfish, remember goldfish cover quite a large spectrum of varieties. This article will cover this in order to discuss the smallest goldfish. Furthermore, you can divide Goldfish into Common, and Ornamental Goldfish species families.

Though spread throughout the world in aquariums, they are native to China. The first selectively bred Goldfish for color existed more than 1000 ago in China. Yet today, goldfish vary vastly. They have distinct body shapes, fin configurations, and coloration. Though the most common colors are yellow, orange, red, brown, and black.

Size and Lifespan

Goldfish sizes depend largely on the specific species. Most wild Goldfish are typically between 4.7 inches (12 cm) and 8.7 inches (22 cm). Documented though are sizes up to. The smallest goldfish species will range between 3 – 7 Inches (7.6 – 17.7cm). a rather medium-sized fish species, there are no tiny variations. The average lifespan of Goldfish is between 5 – 15 years. Inherently it depends on their species, and the care provided.

Regular and Fancy Goldfish Breeds

Before addressing the smallest goldfish, let’s first look at their two categories. You can categorize Goldfish into two main species families. Fancy Goldfish, Ornamental Goldfish, and Common Goldfish. Essentially only ornamental Goldfish come in smaller sizes. Most ornamental goldfish species are small to medium-sized. However, there are exceptions regarding size in ornamental Goldfish and this list will look at the smallest type of goldfish and their care and variants.

Common Goldfish

Common Goldfish have a longer and laterally slender body, and do not even mak the list of smallest goldfish. If you want a small pet, these guys are the ones to avoid, though it’s best to know how to spot them. Their fins and tails are short, though their bodies prevent them from being the smallest species of goldfish. Common Goldfish are less expensive and more available. At a lower level, they consist of two main species, the Common Goldfish, and Comet Goldfish.

Common Goldfish similarly come in solid colors and multiple colors. Common Goldfish, however, are usually larger. Thus, they do not form part of the discussion for the smallest goldfish types. Most Common Goldfish grow quite large, and they are generally more suited for larger aquariums and ponds.

Ornamental Goldfish

In comparison, fancy Goldfish have a rounder short body, and longer fins. You can identify them by their double caudal and anal fins. Whereas Common Goldfish have single caudal and anal fins. Ornamental Goldfish are among the most popular and expensive Goldfish species. They are sought after for their elegant and brilliant colors, fins, and excrescences.

To name a few here are some popular fancy Goldfish:

  • Bubble Eyes.
  • Celestial eyes.
  • Butterfly Tail.
  • Butterfly Telescope.

Similarly, variations of these breeds exist, adding more variety to the choices for the smallest type of goldfish. Some of these may even feature characteristics of two or more different species. In addition, ornamental Goldfish species are rare and more expensive than common Goldfish.

Ornamental goldfish are unfortunately also more prone to disease and other health issues. Thus, because of their fragile nature and extraordinary characteristics, they will need special care. Furthermore, many ornamental breeds have either missing or additional body characteristics. And, unfortunately, this impedes their speed and abilities.

5 Of The Smallest Species Of Goldfish

That said, experienced aquarists may be confident looking after some of these more delicate species. So, now that we understand the general care requirements of Goldfish, here are a few smaller breeds:

Bubble Eye Goldfish

Bubble Eye Goldfish
They have a minimum tank requirement of 20 gallons per fish and are not suitable for ponds. Image from Flickr

Ranking the smallest goldfish so far. It reaches sizes of between 3- 4 inches (7.6 cm – 10 cm). They have a minimum tank requirement of 20 gallons per fish and are not suitable for ponds. A unique smaller Goldfish from the ornamental family. The large fluid-filled bubble eye sacs identify the species. Keep in mind Bubble Eye Goldfish have poor eyesight. Therefore, like many competitors for the smallest type of goldfish, they do not compete well for food, or swim very well.

Peaceful swimming tank mates will do best with them. The most common Bubble eye Goldfish are either solid orange, yellow, or white. Brown, black, and multi-colored varieties also exist. Similarly, they are available in white and orange, or red and white colors.

Veiltail Goldfish

Veiltail Goldfish
The smallest type of Goldfish regarding its body size only. Typically, they have a 4-inch body (10 cm) and 3-inch fins (7.6 cm). Image from Flickr

This is the smallest breed of goldfish regarding its body size only. Typically, they have a 4-inch body (10 cm) and 3-inch fins (7.6 cm). They are extraordinary and elegant fish with large fins. The fins come with a price though. They are more susceptible to Fin Rot and damage to their fins. Try to avoid any décor with sharp edges and fin-nipping tank mates.

Likewise, they are not strong competitors for food. Thus, ensure that they eat three small meals a day. Veiltail Goldfish are amongst the smallest type of goldfish that is available in some magnificent color variations. Colors include; red, orange, brown, black, blue, metallic silver, and metallic gold. Apart from this, their elegant and sophisticated beauty stems from their long-flowing tails.

Pompom Goldfish

Pompom Goldfish
An odd-looking Goldfish with a small round body and shorter fins. The Pompom is around 4 – 6 inches (10 cm – 15 cm) as an adult. Image from wikipedia.org

An odd-looking Goldfish with a small round body and shorter fins. This may not be the absolute smallest breed of goldfish, but it’s definitely close!

The Pompom is around 4 – 6 inches (10 cm – 15 cm) as an adult. The bumps on their forehead called nuchal humps explain their name “pompom”. They closely resemble the cheerleader’s uniform. They are less fragile, though their humps can get in the way of navigating through the tank. Pompoms are well known for being social.

Essentially keep them in a group of at least 2 – 3 similar species. A 35-gallon tank is ideal for 2-3 pompoms. Pompom Goldfish come in a variety of colors. They can be solid or multi-colored. Red, orange, orange, White, and brown are their base colors. Pompoms are mostly kept for their social behavior and antics. Some may think they are not the most physically appealing smallest type of goldfish variety. Nevertheless, they make up for it in cuteness and size.

Egg fish Goldfish

Egg fish Goldfish
The Egg fish breed Goldfish is a rarer ornamental breed. They range from between 4- 7 inches (10 – 17.7 cm). Image from wikipedia.org

The Egg fish breed Goldfish is a rarer ornamental breed. They range from between 4- 7 inches (10 – 17.7 cm). a 20-gallon tank is sufficient for two of these species. Due to the fragility of this species, they are not suitable for pond living. The Egg fish has an oblong-shaped body resembling an egg. Hence the name Egg Fish. In Japan, they refer to the English as a Maruko Goldfish. They were originally bred from fantails, though these themselves are not amongst the smallest species of goldfish.

One of their unique traits is the absence of a dorsal fin. Thus, the top of the body is smooth and rounded. Although they are easy to care for, they cannot swim fast, because of the lack of a dorsal fin, which impedes swimming speed. It is best to keep them with slow-moving moving peaceful tank mates.

Unfortunately, they are not only a top pick for the smallest type of goldfish, but very rare and expensive. Regular Egg fish are already pricey. More exuberant, rarer colors can cost up to $100. One such rare color is the Blue Egg Phoenix variation. The more common English Goldfish colors are orange, white, and orange, Red, and white. They similarly come in a phoenix tail or regular tail variation.

Celestial Goldfish

Celestial Goldfish
Sometimes referred to as the Celestial Eye Goldfish. It is a smaller breed with long flowing fins. Image from Flickr

Sometimes referred to as the Celestial Eye Goldfish. It is a smaller breed with long flowing fins. The name relates to their upturned eyes which look in an upward position. They are unique and beautiful, and compete for the title of the smallest breed of goldfish with others like the veilteil. However, these fish are highly susceptible to infections, injuries, and disease. Celestial goldfish are high maintenance because of their delicate nature. Essentially, you need to handle and house them with extreme care.

Always keep them with very peaceful moving tank mates. You must keep them in at least a 20 – 30-gallon tank like any goldfish, even the smallest type of goldfish, otherwise, they will not have sufficient space. A good tip is to avoid bright lighting in their tank.

Because of the position of the eyes, bright lights can hurt their eyes. On the other hand, Celestial Goldfish do not have a dorsal fin. They are mainly available in orange or orange and white colors. Many times, the darker orange variations are also called red.

Tips on Caring for Goldfish in General

Tips on Caring for Goldfish in General
To start, Goldfish produce a large amount of waste. Thus, they need a strong effective tank filter and regular tank maintenance.

Essentially looking for the smallest breed of Goldfish, implies that you are setting up a smaller aquarium. On the other hand, you may just like smaller Goldfish species. Either way, it is vital to understand the needs of Goldfish for them to thrive. Keeping a Goldfish in a bowl, even the smallest type of goldfish, is not acceptable.

Goldfish need a properly equipped aquarium, even the smallest species of goldfish, just as any other aquarium fish species. Although you can keep some Goldfish species in ponds, under the right circumstances, this does not apply to the species on this list. Still, even with hardy varieties, you will need proper pond equipment for Goldfish.


To start, Goldfish produce a large amount of waste. Thus, they need a strong effective tank filter and regular tank maintenance. Essentially Goldfish can thrive in much colder water. Most Goldfish are generally suited to cooler water temperatures. However, they do not thrive in water that is too cold, and if you want the smallest breed of goldfish or one of the smallest, they are less able to thrive in very harsh temperatures.

In addition, this guide is only a general idea of the aquarium requirements if you are looking for the smallest type of goldfish. It covers a broad spectrum, and you must research the specific smallest species of goldfish and their requirements for a better idea. Keep in mind Ornamental Goldfish are slightly fussier regarding water conditions and parameters.

  • Tank size – Small goldfish require at least a 20 – 35-gallon tank to thrive.
  • Filtration and Heat – A strong hang-on back filter is ideal with a moderate current. There is some debate as to whether they require a heater. It depends on your climate. Ideally, rather invest in a heater.
  • Substrate and Décor – A medium to finer gravel or sandy substrate is ideal. You can ideally add some synthetic plants or hardy live plants. Caves, rocks driftwood, and interest and hiding spots.
  • Water Parameters – In general a pH between 6.5 – 8.0 is ideal.
  • Temperatures – Goldfish thrive in cooler water. Keep temperatures between 20°C – 23°C (68 °F – 74°F) and higher for fancy Goldfish.

Note: Goldfish eat live plants, and can uproot them. Plant species such as Cryptocoryne and Anubias are your best bet.


Goldfish are omnivores. You will notice that there are several food options for Goldfish. Some ornamental species require specialized commercial foods. A good quality flake or pellet food is essential. As a vegetable-based food, a variety of fresh-blanched vegetables is ideal. Protein is essential in the form of fresh or frozen. Bloodworms, Daphnia, and brine shrimp are good choices.

If you’re dead set on finding the smallest type of goldfish, bear in mind their tank mates. Larger Goldfish may occasionally prey on smaller fish, or their own young, but the smallest breed of goldfish or smaller breeds are always very gentle.

Apart from this, feed your Goldfish as much as they can eat in a few minutes. Avoid overfeeding that causes digestive issues.


Just to touch on breeding in general. Goldfish are not good parents and will eat their young. Males are generally not as round and short as females. Females lay eggs, fertilized by males.

Eggs usually hatch within a few days. Rather keep eggs and small fry in a separate aquarium for their safety. Goldfish breeding difficulty largely rests on the specific species. Following a proper care guide will give you more insights into successfully breeding Goldfish. However, breeding the smallest type of goldfish or fancy small varieties is more challenging.

Common Ailments in Goldfish

Goldfish, like most freshwater fish, are prone to a few health conditions. Though they are quite hardy and tolerant fish, these should still be considered. Ornamental Goldfish tend to be more prone to health issues.

Lastly, to care for Goldfish you must be aware of some common ailments:

  • Fin Rot – A fungal infection in aquarium fish. Usually caused by physical injury and poor water conditions. It causes discoloration and frayed fins in your fish.
  • Swim Bladder Disease – An infection or damage to the swim bladder. Your fish will struggle to swim upright. It may float at the surface or sink to the bottom of the tank. Usually treated with antibiotics or anti-fungal medication.
  • Ich – Ich is a protozoan parasite. It causes white spots on your fish, along with other symptoms. Treatable with an anti-parasite medication.

To keep your Goldfish healthy and thriving it is best to follow these guidelines:

  • Ensure that their water parameters and temperatures are always optimal. This will depend on the specific Goldfish species.
  • Do regular tank maintenance. Water changes weekly and good housekeeping is essential.
  • Always feed them high-quality pellets or flakes as a staple food.
  • Supplement their diet with blanched fresh vegetables and protein-based foods.
  • Never overfeed Goldfish. They do well on smaller frequent meals.
  • Bloating and indigestion is a common problem in Goldfish. Deshelled peas and daphnia can help with indigestion.
  • Invest in a moderate current good filter. Goldfish produce plenty of waste and need a strong filter.
  • Avoid ornaments with sharp edges, or that they can get stuck in.
  • Always make sure to select tank mates carefully, especially for ornamental goldfish. Peaceful slow-moving tank mates are ideal.
  • The tank size must be adequate for your Goldfish. Because they produce a lot of waste, small tanks get dirty fast. Goldfish similarly need ample swimming space.

In Conclusion

You will note that the smallest species of Goldfish are ornamental, or fancy Goldfish. Many of these species are quite fragile. Therefore, it is essential to do proper research on the species that tickles your fancy, for each species requires specific care. If you’re set on keeping the smallest breed of goldfish, remember they similarly each have some unique needs and risks involved in keeping them. Once you have chosen a species of your choice your best course of action is to find a breeder or specialized pet store online or locally.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Pygmy Goldfish?
You may have come across the term “dwarf” or “pygmy” Goldfish. This is a highly inbred genetically deformed Goldfish and not an actual variation. Genetically modified and inbred fish are highly likely to develop issues at later stages. They are much more prone to diseases and deformities. Their immune systems are also compromised because of compressed organs. Once again, they are not a small breed, but rather do not keep deformed Goldfish as a pet. Rather opt for a trusted breeder or pet store to source healthy-sized Goldfish.
What is the Lifespan of a Small Goldfish?
Goldfish in general have an average lifespan of between 5 – 15 years. Their lifespan depends largely on the specific breed. With proper care and consideration, your Goldfish will enjoy a full life. Keep in mind their aquarium must meet their physical and behavioral needs.
What is the Smallest Goldfish Tank Size?
Though information on the internet goes as far as a 10-gallon minimum, it is not ideal. With proper research and consideration, the smallest tank for them is 20 gallons. In an ideal setting larger is always better. To point out a myth. Goldfish do not adapt and stay small in smaller tanks or bowls. Never keep Goldfish in bowls or small containers. The ideal tank size for a single small Goldfish is no less than 20 gallons. Goldfish require ample swimming space in their tank.
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