Many of us have kept a fish or two throughout our lives. However, have you ever stopped to take a moment to think about the incredible history of the goldfish? It turns out there is a lot more the humble pet than first meets the eye.
Goldfish actually come from carp
Believe it or not, but goldfish essentially came from carp. At least, that’s what Anna Marie Roos learned from her studies. She told National Geographic that the Chinese once bred carp to eat, and they were usually green or gray. However, breeding so much meant there were several varieties along the way, something that eventually led to the goldfish. The mutation meant the gray pigment cells were suppressed, leaving room for the orange and red cells to shine. Once they realized there was such a color within the breed, humans started trying to create the goldfish we know and love today.
They became pets thanks to Buddhist monks
People in China were breeding and eating carp for many years until the ninth century when fishermen started catching wild goldfish and handing them to Buddhist monks. Here, they were released into special ponds as a mercy release. This was believed to be an act of self-purification. It was thought that if the monks fed the goldfish, cared for them, and protected them from open water, then it would be seen as a good deed. Things were even better for the monks because, at the time, goldfish were still incredibly rare. Saving them from the open water meant they were helping to protect the new species.
Goldfish as pets eventually made their way around the world
It took many years before goldfish started to make their way around the rest of the world. They have been in China for around 1,000 years and eventually appeared in Japan in the late 16th-century. From there, the fish eventually made their way to Europe, with the first drawing of one in England appearing in 1711. It took several more years before goldfish were taken to America as they were first noted in the 19th-century.
They are now a hugely popular pet
The incredible history of the goldfish shows they have come a long way over the years, especially as they are now one of the most popular species of fish on the market. At the beginning of the 20th-century, goldfish farms started to crop up across the US. Grassyfork Fishery in Indiana was one of the most successful as it bred up to two million goldfish a year at one point. They make great pets for so many reasons, and it seems that goldfish won’t be going anywhere anytime soon – and it all started thanks to China’s love of eating carp.
It turns out that goldfish have come a long way. That’s right; the humble fish that many of us keep as pets were once out there with the greats in open water. Now, they are the gentle additions that many of us can’t imagine living without.