Breeding Pond Goldfish

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In an uncontrolled environment like a garden pond, goldfish can breed given there is a minimum of one male and one female. Spawning occurs when the water temperature is between 50-78*F (10-26*C). In times of ideal spawning conditions, male goldfish will be more active, chase the females around and often get tubercles (spawning rash) on their gill covers and bony rays of their pectoral fins. These tubercles look like tiny white bumps (not to be mistaken for the white spots of ich).The more rounded female full of eggs attempt to flee the perusing males and are drawn to the vegetation of the aquatic plants. The vegetation of the aquatic plants is where the females will lay their eggs when they are ready. As a female drop her eggs (500-4000), several males will follow closely behind and attempt to fertilize the eggs. The eggs immediately fall onto the leaves of the aquatic plants where the fertilized eggs begin to develop embryos. The unfertilized eggs turn white and die within a few hours.

pond goldfish fry
Goldfish eggs are a good source of nutrients and will be eaten by the inhabitants of the pond, including the parents. Any remaining embryos can hatch in 2 to 7 days depending on the temperature of the goldfish pond water. The warmer the water, the faster the incubation time. A hatched embryo will eat its remaining yolk sac, swim to the surface, take a breath of fresh air and inflate its swim bladder. These little guys are now called “goldfish fry”. The fry are also a food source and a large number of fry are eaten. It’s difficult to care for goldfish babies in a pond.Surviving fry that are able to find food and grow into small fish are often brown or bronze in color. If the pond contains several goldfish species, many of these small fish are likely to be cross breeds. It is also possible for a goldfish to cross breed with koi and ghost carp with the same disappointing results.
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Photo: Alice Chaos

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36 comments on “How to Breed Pond Goldfish

  1. Hi, I had all my fish taken by closing,a Heron, apart from two, who have been breeding like crazy. Just have well over sixty fry now. Does the female hide while laying her eggs? If so for now long? Am worried that Her on has been back, although the male and fry are all ok.

  2. I’ve stretched black shading material across where the ‘waterfall” hits the pond, also down the far end where it was getting in the weed. Shading the string algae from sunlight seems to have much reduced it and the mature goldfish like the shade in the hottest time of day. Babies don’t seem to mind the sun and nibble on the fine algae on the sides.

  3. I would like my koi and my goldfish stop reproducing, I get hundreds of babies and my pond is very small, I cannot keep them and last time I had to kill them everyday for a full week or more, I though it was a nightmare. I gave away as many as possible but I stll had hundreds of them and I couldnt’t figure out what else to to with them including buying a turtle to feed it with the baby fish but it was not enough. I felt really bad when I decided to set trapps to kill them but after days and days of getting the trapps full everyday, I though they were like a plague. Npw my koi are again very suspicious loking for a place to nest and the gold fish are furiously attacking the fertile females. I quarentine some females some times but they still re[roduce. Do you have any advise for me?

    • Hi, sadly not an answer but same has happened in my small pond. I have two koi and five goldfish. Am looking at moving house was happy that I only had a few fish to rehome but unfortunately over the hot summer fish decided to breed and I have probably got at least 50 babies. I am a novice fish owner but as an animal lover I can’t kill them. Sorry for not giving advice but letting you know you are not alone .

    • Do not kill them, give them away, or take to a,garden centre that sell fish aguatics and they will,sell to their customers

  4. Having read this it gives me encouragement, I will get some more vegetation and that might help as I was beginning to think all my fish were gay as no signs of any babies.

  5. I have 16 goldfish and 2 live plants so the babies can hide. When we were cleaning it out with the net and we saw one dead baby. Are the babies that hard to save? What else can I do? Thank you bunches 😊

  6. We got our water garden set up, about 250 gallons. Went to the water garden place that sells fish locally and bought 5 koi and a shubunkin, and a fantail. After a couple of days I noticed all of the fish chasing the poor fantail. It did not cross my mind they could be trying to mate as we just got them. Sure enough, I was inspecting my plants a couple of days later and noticed eggs that looked fertilized. I put them in a separate bucket of one water and two days later, boom! Probably 50 babies. Now what?! I am so new to this. I believe they are a fantail hybrid since they all chased that poor fish. Hopefully just the shubunkin fertilized the eggs. I put a water aerator in with them and have been feeding them and they are growing. Almost two weeks old now! Beyond that I have no idea what to do with them. Should I be attempting water changes? I just added a little fresh treated water a couple of times. Do you all think the koi could of fertilized the eggs? We have one koi that is 7 inches long and one that is more like 5 inches. From what I read online the koi hybrids ugly babies! Am I doing all of this work for nothing? Should I put a filter of some sort in there? At what point can I introduce a couple of the dry into my pond and then give away the rest of them? So many questions. Can’t seem to find the answers to.
    Thanks.

  7. So I have a question about my pond. I have a 250 gallon pond and I have 5 adult goldfish and one Koi adult fish and this year I spotted my first goldfish baby. It is now about 2 inches long now. Anyway my question is, I am running a pressure filter with a UV light running with a 2,000 gph pump sitting on the bottom of the pond, 2 top skimmers with aerators and a waterfall and a aerator with 2 separate lines and a couple water plants. So my pond should have enough oxygen in the water but I have been having problems with string algae right below my waterfall. That is where the worst problem is at with the string algae growing. I have a little in other places but the biggest problem is under my waterfall. So I’m thinking about adding filter on the other end of my pond to be able to suck up the fish waste that the waterfall stirs up. So will that help with the string algae?
    Also the string algae below the waterfall is like a little island and I think that my goldfish just spawned the middle of last week because they was chasing 2 of my fish around and pushing them around and chasing them like crazy. And the 2 goldfish that was being chased was swimming and jumping on and through string algae island.
    So I’m thinking that maybe my goldfish may have laid eggs in the string algae. So should I wait a week or two before I remove the algae just in case they laid eggs in/on it?
    And I don’t know what else to do about the string algae growth, I cleaned out the bottom of my pond last fall and it started coming back like a couple of weeks ago and I couldn’t seem to get it to stop growing. And we just started getting warm weather and I live in the North end of the Pacific Northwest and we don’t get a lot of really hot days here.
    Also I do a 10% water change every week.
    So any help with this problem would be great.

  8. We had three large goldfish (about 8” long) in our fish pond which is a 100 gal iron kettle. In January the pond froze and afterward we only had one goldfish remaining . Now it is April and much to our surprise, we have the original large goldfish and 3 small fish swimming around together. The small ones are about 1 1/2” long and one is gold and the other two are black. We can see the entire area as it is not that deep and there really is just one large adult fish. Can this be asexual reproduction? I read that a hybrid can occur that reproduces asexually. Any ideas????

    • If the small fish are 1 1/12″ long already they will be from last year’s spawn. You won’t get any more until those three mature.

  9. So, I just found out I have a healthy number of fry in my pond on Monday. The pond shop guy told me the Ruby Red Goldfish which are about 2″ long would not be bothered by the 7 Comets fish 8″ and under. Will this be true for the fry in the pond? All I can see in the pond surface water are the fry. Too many to count! Most are the same size. There are lots of hiding places for the fry as well. Will all the fry be swept into the skimmer? If so, will they just be sucked through the filtration (Bioballs) and com out the other side at the falls still live? I have so many questions and not enough know how.

    • It’s hard to say what will happen to the fry. The reason goldfish lay eggs in the numbers they do is because most of them won’t make it to become fry and many fry won’t make it to a size where they are safe from larger goldfish. It certainly helps improve their chances with having hiding spaces. If you want to ensure their survival, you might consider catching some and putting them in to their own tank. Though, you should also be aware of how many goldfish your pond can safely handle. Overstocking can lead to poor water quality and the death of some or all your goldfish.

  10. I have had my pond 5 to 6 years now. Have made it bigger each year. I have had up to 100 fish in the pond of all sizes. The pond is 5 ft. Wide by 32 ft long and 3 to 4 ft deep. I have never had any babies. I have a lot of plants and one end full of good sized rocks for babies to hide in. I believe the eggs are eaten as so as they are laid. I can not think of any other reason why “No” babies. Is that possible ?

    • That is likely what is occurring. Goldfish will eat the eggs and the small fry. You might try matching up a mating pair and place them into a breeding tank. Once the female finally releases her eggs (the male will be right behind her and fertilize the eggs), immediately remove the adult goldfish. It’s not always easy to determine the sex of a goldfish but if you see a goldfish chasing after another goldfish, it might be a male. Additionally, males that are ready to mate will have white bumps on the gill covers and fins. Or, you might inspect some of the plants during mating season and if you see little eggs attached to them, clip the leaves or stems and place them into a breeding tank.

    • Debbie I had my small kidney shaped pond for at least six years before my 2 adults had 3 babies! And today I noticed a newbie for this season! Lucky num 6 !!!!!!!! So be patient it takes awhile!!! Hope you are a fish grandma soon😎

  11. Hi I have two goldfish 1 is female one is male, they have been living with each other in a pond for under 4 years yet they have never mated I don’t know what has gone wrong what should I do to make them mate quicker?

  12. I’ve had my pond for a few years now and we had 9 goldfish. This year we managed to breed frogs which I had been attempting for 3 years. But I’ve just been looking in the pond and spotted a very small goldfish. How quickly do they grow? I’m trying to find out how old it would possibly be?

  13. First time pond keeper, I was not thinking of breeding them but you know nature. I did not know what was happening and all my big rounder fish would just die one by one and hine sight they were thinner. I took them to the pet shop they look at them tested the water and could find any reason why my fish were dieing. Now that we found frys we figured it out. I will be better prepared in the future so my female don’t get stressed and weaken.

  14. What would happen if I put a male ryukin in my tank with an older female goldfish? Would I end up with a strange type of goldfish fry?

  15. I’m beginner to bread gold fish so I wan start with a bucket to bread because I have someny guppy fishes in my home any and can help me with it

  16. Is it normal for green coating to form on pond walls? This started to happen about two weeks after stocking with about dozen minnow size goldfish . I have a bubbler plus I let a pump circulate water as a small water fall running all day and shuts down during the night. What else should I do to improve pond for goldfish . I live in Florissant,Mo.

    • It is common to have algae growth. But if it is excessive, it means you have too much waste in the water. Fish poop, rotting food or organic material.

    • The main thing to combat the algee growth is to ensure that you have a good supply of plants in the pond, especially oxygenating weed. Water snails will also help keep the slime down. Water snails breed very rapidly and do a good job.

    • You should leave your pump running 24/7. This not only keeps the water in motion, thereby oxygenating it. But it will also keep the beneficial bacteria necessary at a healthy level

    • Green is good. All natural ponds grow algae on the side. You should run your waterfall all day and all night. night is more important as the plants and the algae in the pond consume oxygen from the water at night. During the day photosynthesis allows the oxygen to be produced by the green plants in your pond adding oxygen to your water. But at night the plant’s pull oxygen from the water taking it from your fish and frogs therefore running the pump and waterfall at night it’s very important to ensure that your living Pond creatures have enough oxygen.

  17. I have just discovered a “new” type/breed of goldfish in my pond – which is quite large (6′ x 4′ x 3′ deep) with over 50 home bread fish (the stock has been swaped/mixed with fish from friends ponds) The fish, which must be 3 or more years old judging by its size, appears to have three fins in its tail, evenly spaced/separated by about 120 degrees. Have taken pics so I could upload if anyone/send if anyone interetsed and can throw some light on it.

  18. We weren’t even attempting to breed goldfish but we have a fantail and a comet goldfish in our pond and I thought I was seeing things when I saw a tiny fish thinking it was a minnow of some sorts. It grew and flourished and it now has the exact same markings as its parents, it is solid white with a distinctive orange spot on the top of its head. Life found a way!

    • goldfish fry should probably be kept separate from the main tank or pond until they are big enough so an adult goldfish can’t eat them. Basically, if you put a small fish into a tank with larger fish, fry or no fry, there is a chance they can get eaten. If the fry are bigger than the size of the adult goldfish’s mouth, then they should be fine. You can always add small hiding places just in case. Good luck with your breeding.

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