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Title: Goldfish Mating Behavior
Description: Stressful behavior

Marty S - January 4, 2012 09:34 PM (GMT)
I have a 600-gal. inground pond with three goldfish. I was told by an "expert goldfish person" that they were all females. I've had them for years now and they are 6-8" long. I never had any babies which is why I think the "expert" thought they were females. Your site correctly sexed them a year or so ago because of behavior I described. Well, my concern is that I have two males and one female. She is getting beat up every mating season. I dread spring!!! :( She is mostly blind and of course I am not sure but think they blinded her by chasing and pounding her. I have built her a little sanctuary area but the males can get in there too sometimes. Any information about protecting her better would be appreciated. I feed her by hand because she cannot see and was wasting away. She is much larger now and doing ok, I just know that spring is coming..... it is very painful to watch.

Before I realized the sex of the fish I came home from work one day almost twoyears ago in the spring and found a female veil tail (whom the fish "expert" told me was a Shubunkin) exhausted and partially "beached" on some rocks at the side of the pond. She had spent much of the winter upside down so I just figured she was suffering and humanely euthanized her. Later I realized she likely was being harrassed by these same bulloes that brutalize the remaining female. Good grief. Any ideas to make her and my life a little easier?

Robyn - January 5, 2012 12:47 AM (GMT)
Welcome to the forum!

I'm sorry that she is getting beat up. At 6 to 8", regularly-finned goldfish (commons, comets, and shunbunkins) are not going to be old unless stunted. They can grow to over a foot long; I've had some at 14". A 600 gallon pond should be able to handle more than three goldfish. I would suggest adding more goldfish. Any individual female will be less harassed by the males when there are more options. The guys are going to want to chase the healthy girls and not ones that are half dead. To truly protect her though, you would need to bring her indoors and set her up in an aquarium by herself. Why do you think she is blind? Are her eyes gone? I would doubt that as she wouldn't live long without sight in a pond.

If you've had males and females, there were probably babies. Does the pond have a lot of plants? I would suspect no. If there's not a lot of cover, the babies will all be eaten. Adding more plants is another way to lessen chasing and harassment with the fish as there are not only more places to hide but softer places (if you used submerged plants like anacharis and hornwort) on which to spawn.

Good luck!

Marty S - January 5, 2012 10:26 PM (GMT)
Thank you for response and the welcome. I think she is blind because while the two males have black eyes hers are cloudy gray. I know she can see a little because she seems to respond to me when I come to the side to feed her (but not always; sometimes I have to swish the water). She does not see the plant trimming wand like the males do when I am cutting lily leaves. Unlike the two males she is a long-finned beauty while the males are stocky guys with short tails. They are much larger/longer. A couple of times I have seen flashes of color and thought it was a baby goldfish. Actually when I had a lot of anachris is when I saw the babies. They still never survived. In the spring I have a lot of anachris and lillies but they still go after her like crazy. I will try adding some more plants. I'm not sure I want to add more fish. With my luck I'll end up with another male :) :(

Many thanks. Marty

Robyn - January 6, 2012 12:51 AM (GMT)
Hazy eyes may be caused by a bacterial infection, cataracts, fungus, or even parasites. The haze may reduce her vision. Depending on the cause, it might be reversible.

Longfin female goldfish in with regular-tailed goldfish will be beat up even more as they simply can't get away as quickly.

Rosiemeadow - January 6, 2012 02:15 AM (GMT)
Welcome Marty!
Your pond is about the same size as mine & do you want to guess how many fish are in my pond? Easily about 30 yup, that's right, because my fish had babies this past year & there are more of them in my 90 gal pond. I agree with Robyn that you should add a few more fish in there, chances are there will be a female among them. My babies are beauties they are combination goldfish, shubunkin & comets. I did get quite a few that have bent spines but surprisingly only two have died, they are happy little fishies! Fishiedude I have two good size Koi in there also & they never bother the little ones, I also have 10 frogs out there too, they all co-exist rather well. Gee, I sure hope I didn't just jinx myself. ^_^

Marty S - January 6, 2012 11:18 PM (GMT)
Thank you for responses Robyn and Rosie:

Ok, I will seriously consdier adding more fish. I should mention there are also mosquito fish (100s) and some shrimp, and I have seen a frog or two over the years. Re the cloudy eyes, I did give her saline baths when first noticed, but they didn't seem to help. Maybe she'll get some more anyway. Based on what you said Robyn is it logical to keep her in the pond with her being a long-finned? even with adding other fish?I really dont have anywhere else to keep her. The two females I know I had/have turn out to be a veil tail and a long finned both slower and most susceptible.

Can goldfish change sexes? (Just a thought from left field as I have discussed this problem with a friend who knows as little as I do about mating behavior.)

Thanks guys. Marty

Broxandval - January 6, 2012 11:37 PM (GMT)
Hi Marty welcome to the forum from the UK our area of expertise is really in koi but all fish are prone to eye problems aren't they .
Robyn is perfectly correct in what she says but there are many other reasons for damage to resultt in blindness to your fish.

Here is an article by a good friend Pieter Odendaal on eyes and how they become damaged and the fish ultimately blind :-

You may be able to tell the type of damage it is from looking at the diagrams.
The goldfish if removed indoors will live a long and happy life without the need for eyes as she has many other senses .

broxandval Fishiedude

Marty S - January 8, 2012 01:26 AM (GMT)
Thank you responder from the UK. I will check out your link and learn more about this pretty girl's eyes.

Thank you all for taking the time to send me input. Much appreciated to all.


Robyn - January 8, 2012 01:43 AM (GMT)
I would bet the mosquito fish are why you have never seen any baby goldfish survive. Mosquito fish are voracious eaters of fry.

Ideally, you wouldn't have a fancy goldfish outdoors. But, if you don't have a place for her indoors, that's the best you can do. When I started my pond, I had fancy goldfish too but none lasted long. I think a fantail made it about four years. Ponds are better as far as room and natural goes compared to aquariums. Also, in an aquarium, a female can really be beat up by the males even moreso than in a pond. Fancy goldfish don't fare as well in ponds because they can't get away from males or predators as well as non-fancy goldfish.

Goldfish cannot change sex.

Broxandval - January 8, 2012 10:47 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (Marty S @ Jan 8 2012, 01:26 AM)
Thank you responder from the UK. I will check out your link and learn more about this pretty girl's eyes.

Thank you all for taking the time to send me input. Much appreciated to all.


Marty thanx my friend however knowledge learned over 25 years is something we give freely so that others may advance in the hobby and books are that way fowards.
Having helped friends out about their goldfishes problems on more than one occaision, I decided to buy a book on Goldish to be sure on what I was saying and asking due to the differences between koi and Goldfish and Goldfish to Fancy Goldfish and their problems (mostly due to the changes brought about by breeding and bred into them over many a decade).
Having read through it I would recomend it to all Goldfish owners both Fancy and Normal to give you a greater understanding of your hobby .
Its Title is :- Fancy Goldfish ( A complete Guide to Care and Collecting), ISBN 1859749577 the koi keepers amongst us will recognize the Author. Dr Erik L Johnson DVM and Richard E Hess with Photographs by Fred Rosenzwieg it is curretly avialable on Amazon Books for less than the 45.00 asking price however I'm Sorrys I dont have the echange rate, so please forgive me.
"My reveiw of this book".
"175 pages of interesting reading and is a must buy.
A book covering all aspects of Fancy Goldfish Dr Johnson has surpassed himself, With stunning Photographs throughout
This is ten chapters of interesting reading Part one has six chapters of everything you'll need to know about goldfish health , symptoms, treatments,parasites, Preditors etc
Part two Covers everything you'll need to know about Collecting and keeping goldfish, Appreciation, Chinese and Japenese goldfish and finishing of with one whole chapter on the breeding of Ranchus and the every aspect of them.
You cannot go wrong with this wonderful book".
I strongly recomend you to buy this Marty you can learn one hell of a lot from it putting you in a position for your good self to pass on the knowledge you have learned


broxandval Fishiedude

Marty S - January 8, 2012 09:50 PM (GMT)
Thanks again to all who responded. The three goldfish I have were all feeder fish puchased from pet store in one of thsoe cramped aquariams. I started out with many more of course in my early ponding days. Then I was given the veil tail and told it was a shubinkin which is hardier than a veil tail. Anyway, I dislike learining at the expense of the fish.

This morning I saw a little frog on a fake lily pad. I believe it is a pickrel frog (sorry about spelling??) Don't know it will fare very well. Aren't they supposed to be hibernating? The daytiime temps have been up to 70s this past week so likely this brought the frog out. The winters here are moderate but do drop to and below freezing. Last year the pond actually iced over but not completely. I run a pump year round.

I hate to admit but I have agonized over this pond more than I saw coming. I appreciate all the input.


Robyn - January 8, 2012 10:46 PM (GMT)
It's been abnormally warm here. I have a daffodil in bloom! I haven't seen too much of my frogs but it's common for them to come up on warm winter days. Pickerel frogs are pretty hardy.

Marty S - January 9, 2012 01:15 AM (GMT)
Thanks Robyn. I'm glad to hear they are hardy. This little guy is pretty cute.

wvairman - February 17, 2012 06:24 PM (GMT)
As Robyn said goldfish can't change sexes , reef fish such as anthias are one of the few that do. I live in Georgia where mosquito fish (gambusia) are very common and take special care not to introduce them. They are great little hunters.

Marty S - February 18, 2012 06:45 PM (GMT)
Thank you wvairman for your post. A "fish expert" told me all my goldfish were females and then years later, the brutal mating behavior indicating they are not! Always wondered if they changed sexes but no, guess they were always just what they are. Perfect in nature but hard for me to watch this little blind girl get beat up. Ugh. Spring is coming I know it will start again. As for the mosquito fish, the same "expert" dumped them in my pond without telling me anything about them. My fault as unexperienced as I was when I took this on.

Thanks again for your input.

wvairman - February 18, 2012 07:54 PM (GMT)

Broxandval - February 18, 2012 10:20 PM (GMT)
Hi Marty
I would remove the blind goldfish from the pond if she is being beat up all the time like that.
It's not very fair on her when she cant see any males coming at her to mate perhaps a life indoors in a nice tank is the best way forwards for her.
She deservesa happy retirement dont you think ?

Dave Fishiedude

Marty S - March 5, 2012 12:47 AM (GMT)
Hi Dave, I agree with you but I have nowhere to put her. I already have an aquariam with two corydoras, 20 gal. I am very limited on room.

Marty S - March 5, 2012 01:04 AM (GMT)
Thank you also for goldfish sexting link. Mine are in a pond so it is a little hard to see certain fish parts :) I do believe I have seen the little bumps on the gills of tghe mails tho.

What would the males do if I took the female out of the pond?

Broxandval - March 5, 2012 10:53 AM (GMT)
Hi Marty S
There is not alot they can do if they are minus the female I doubt ery much if the would get physical with each other but in future it would be better to sex your goldfish prior to putting them in the pond .
This is so you dont get the one sided approach of the males on the one female .

broxandval Fishiedude

Robyn - March 5, 2012 04:42 PM (GMT)
Apparently, when there are no females, the males results to sexting (as you refer to the goldfish sexting link). Take their cell phones away!

Seriously, the males will just chase each other around if they are in the mood. If you have a pond with only females, then it can be a problem as the females have trouble dropping their eggs without the males slamming them in to things.

Adult goldfish are easy to sex when it's breeding season but, otherwise, it's not always easy to separate fish by the sexes when you buy them (and they are usually young and/or stressed).

Marty S - March 5, 2012 06:50 PM (GMT)
First of all, thanks to all who responded. Can you tell my "spring is coming" fear is starting to rise in my consciousness? Also, happy upcoming birthday to Val!

Ok, can my only female goldfish who is long-tailed, blind, 8-10 inches long including tail, live in an aquarium in a house in Arizona where summer temps are 80+ in the house? with two corydoras? in a 20 gallon tank?

Will this female then get egg bound and endanger her health?

Any responses appreciated.


Robyn - March 6, 2012 12:22 AM (GMT)
The fantail will find it a bit warm and cramped of course. I assume the pond is also that warm in the summer? I would worry about the cories chewing on her fins. That's what some panda cories did to my female fantail years ago in a tank. She was beat up from males as well. Egg binding doesn't always happen. First, if the conditions aren't right (health, temperature, etc.), she may not develop eggs. In the 80's and warmer, most breeding should slow or stop. Second, most female goldfish will reabsorb the eggs if they do develop eggs but have no male around. I've had a few people e-mail me that their female goldfish did drop eggs without a mate but that's not the usual outcome. As your girl has bigger problems, I wouldn't worry about the egg binding. Help keep her from being beaten up, and that will help the most.

Marty S - March 6, 2012 02:04 AM (GMT)
Thanks Robyn - first of all, I love the sexting line.. didn't realize I had typed in sexting til you responded.

Now, are you saying my little girl fish could come inside? Are there any fish diseases that could be shared among the corys and her?

Also, she has a small dark spot on her head (blue/black). I thought maybe she ran into something and it's like a bruise or blood spot. Anyway, I'm asking because of the potential of bringing her into the cory tank.

Thanks for sharing with me on this saga. I really do worry about her.

Marty S

Robyn - March 7, 2012 12:11 AM (GMT)
It's your decision if you want to bring your girl inside. There are pros and cons as with most things. I think a lot of those have been covered.

Most of her problems seem to be from the other fish pestering her, right? If you think she has something contagious, I wouldn't put her with the cories. Do the cories have symptoms of something? Most bacteria, funguses, and fish parasites would affect the goldfish and the cories.

Can you get a photo of the spot on her head? It could be localized physical damage like a bruise. It could be a small area of color change, a cyst, or something more.

Marty S - March 7, 2012 04:50 PM (GMT)
Thank Robyn,

The corys in aquarium are fine, no sign of any illnesses; the two other male goldfish in pond with female do not have any signs of illness on them. This morning there was a whooping crane eyeing my pond :o and, the males have already started in on my girl. I helped her get in my little sanctuary I made for her then left for work. There, however she is easy pickens for the crane. With the crane's long legs tho they are all easy pickens.

I'll see if I can get a pic of her head.

My concern about co-habitating with corys for her is: tank too small, probably but not impossible, too warm, probably but not impossible ?, and mingling tropical and goldfish. You and your wonderful forum have helped immensely with those questions. I know from there I have to decide.

Robyn - March 7, 2012 05:54 PM (GMT)
A whooping crane, really?! I'd love to see a photo of that! Are you in Texas?

Marty S - March 7, 2012 08:12 PM (GMT)
I'm in Arizona, southern. (Tucson). I was in my kitchen and out of corner of my eye this strange whiteish flash caught my attention enough to go out and it had landed on the other side of my shade cloth over the pond and flew up - all legs and wings but I was about 4-5 feet away. I tried to follow with my eyes but it was gone. I ran to my bird book and yep Whooping Crane - all white with red on face, black under wing tips and did I mention long legs, long enough to stand in my pond. Tucson of course is desert but we have golf courses with water bodies on them and people tell me they see whooping cranes on the courses/near bodies of water and gulping fish.

I'm at work wondering if I have any goldfish mating behavioral problems still. :unsure:

I'll know in 4-5 hours.

PS It happened so fast I wasnt able to get a picture.

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