What Is Goldfish In Chinese And What Does It Mean?

According to the Chinese tradition, a fish is a symbol of wealth and prosperity, and that is why the Chinese hold the fish motif in high regard. Fish in Chinese is referred to as Yu, which means plenty, abundance, or affluence. You must then be wondering whether the Chinese eat fish, well given that wealth is associated with fish, the Chinese eat fish during New Year’s Eve as a way of expressing their wishes of being wealthy every year.

What is goldfish in Chinese?

Goldfish is referred to as Jin Yu in Chinese and which means gold in abundance, the goldfish is, therefore, associated with gold and, by extension, it is a symbol of wealth.

How Many Types of Goldfish Are There

Goldfishes are very diverse and it is estimated that there are over 200 types of goldfishes but most of which have been selectively bred to produce the fancy goldfish. Some of the common types of goldfish that you are bound to find in the markets are the Comet Goldfish and which has a reddish-orange color. There is also the bubble eye goldfish, a delicate breed of the fancy goldfish also available in a variety of colors. Other types are the fantail, the lion head, pearl scale, and Oranda goldfish.

If we, however, evaluate the varieties of the goldfish in detail there is also the Chinese Goldfish characterized by a tail fin, head, body, and the back fin. They can be classified into four strains or breeds and which are the wenseries, the egg series, the dragon series, and the crucian series.

Goldfish History

goldfish chinese painting

The Goldfish was originally produced in China and is believed to belong to the Cyprinidae family of the cyprinoid order. The peculiar type of fish grew in popularity across the globe because of its buoyant color, elegant swimming gesture, and Junoesque posture. It is a quiet fish when incorporated in the home aquarium and has a tender temperament thus can be bullied or even eaten by other aggressive type’s fish.

During the Tang Dynasty, 618-907 living things were held sacred thus killing them was a taboo, as such pools were constructed for breeding the captured aureate crucians. The crucians then became a semi-cultivated pet fish. Enter the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and fish cultivation evolves from semi-domestic breeding to domestic breeding, it is at this time that the goldfish officially became a breed.

Nothing much happened during the song dynasty after the goldfish formally became a breed but in the last year of the Ming dynasty the period ranging from 1368-to 1644, the cultivation of the goldfish took off officially. The first fish to be cultivated was the double tai-finned fish, the process was successful leading to the cultivation of other varieties of the goldfish with odd shapes but highly ornamental.

The goldfish was highly cultivated in the Song dynasty and it is in this period when goldfish cultivation transformed into artificial breeding. The varieties of the artificially bred goldfish made their way to Japan. Fast forward to the 17th century and some of the varieties are introduced in Portugal and Britain. The new artificial breeding system then made its way to the Netherlands in 1728 consequently becoming common in Europe.

Artificial propagation of the goldfish was then introduced in the United States in the 18th century and from there it spread across the globe leadig to the creation of over 300 definite types of goldfishes.

What Do Goldfish Represent In Dreams?

In ancient times the goldfish, more especially the Koi represented good luck and good fortune. And if we are to look at this concept in terms of the fairy tales and ancient stories there have been stories of the goldfish granting wishes or making dreams come true.

When Do Goldfish Breed

Goldfish are known to be ready to breed when they are 1 or 2 years old, however, the best time for them to breed is at 3 years. They normally spawn once every month and in the period when the weather is warmer.

Goldfish Vs Koi Fish

koi vs goldfish difference

The Goldfish and the Koi fish have some slight differences, the majority of the koi fish are of the same size, whereas the goldfish are wider and have an oval appearance. Now when compared to Koi, the goldfish sports different body types and shapes but which is totally dependent on their characteristics.

Difference between Carp and Goldfish

The most notable difference between Goldfish and Carp is in their barbels, the goldfishes don’t have barbels and the carp have short ones.

A closer look at the two will reveal that the jaw of the goldfish has a more rounded shape whereas the jaw of the Koi flattens underneath its head.

Also, the dorsal fin of the Koi in the area close to the tail joins with the fish’s back, whereas the goldfish exhibits an apparent separation between its back and the fin.

Can I rear a goldfish and a Koi?

Yes, you can rear the goldfish and the Koi together in one fish tank but temporarily when the koi is young. Once the Koi begins to grow fully they should be separated because the Koi can grow up to 3ft in length, thus they may not fit in the tanks.

What does the Koi fish symbolize in traditional Chinese?

In traditional Chinese, the Koi fish symbolizes wealth and success.  

What does the carp symbolize in traditional Chinese?

In traditional Chinese, the carp symbolizes strength and bravery as it is known to swim against the current, upwards, mastering falls, the carp then ends up on the Dragon Gate in the yellow river.


Goldfish serve many purposes in the modern world, for one they are ornamental and will therefore improve the aesthetics of your home when reared in an Aquarium. Goldfish have also been established to improve mental health. And by just watching the fishes swim in an aquarium will greatly reduce one’s heart rate and blood pressure. Goldfishes come in three main color pigments which are the erythrophores, the xanthophores, and the melanophores.

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