Pearlscale goldfish care guide

Pearlscale goldfish (珍珠鱗 chinshurin in Japanese) is one of artificially bread ornamental freshwater fish species (Carassius auratus auratus) that differs from its relatives by the unusual shape of its scales that look like pearls.

Habitat in the wild

As all species of this kind the fish originates from a common wild carp. Goldfish species were bred at the end of Qin dynasty period (1848—1925) as a result of systematical breeding of various lines and scrutinous selective breeding programs.

Scientific NameCarassius auratus auratus
Common NamesPearlscale, pearlscale goldfish, pearl scale, pearlscale fish, pearl goldfish
Ease of keepingEasy
Lifespan10 years and more
Tank size100 liters (26,42 US gallons) and more
Tank typeCommunity of fishes
Temperaturepay attention – 20-24°C (68-75°F)
Water hardness5–20 dGH
Sizeup to 6 in (15 cm)


The pearlscale goldfish has oviform short rounded 15 cm (6 in) long body and it is fat like the one of a fantail fish. All the fins are short. The fish has separate large gibbose scales that look like cut in halves pearls stuck to its body.

If the pearlscale looses this pearl-like scale for some reason, a new one grows eventually, but it has an ordinary shape and doesn’t look like the lost one at all.

Body is often orange, red and white colored, but the most famous and popular coloring is the orange-red one. It is possible to encounter the fish with blurred spots on its body in case of yellow coloring with some other dark color combination.

Recently we’ve seen black and calico colored species.

Difficulties in keeping

Are pearlscale goldfish hardy? All goldfish species are rather not demanding, since they are ancestors of a common carp which dwells in cold water and isn’t demanding either.

Quite often pearlscale is kept in open waters and the water temperature there is lower than it is required for tropical fishes. Pearlscale is unpretentious as for the food as well.

Care and keeping in a tank

Tank size

You should keep a pearlscale in a tank not less than 50 liters (13,21 US gallons) for one fish. It’d be better to have a tank not less than 100 liters (26,42 US gallons) for two species.

Tank decor

These fish love digging the tank bottom substrate, that’s why it’s better to use pebbles or large grained sand for this purpose. This way the fish won’t scatter the substrate that much. The tank itself should be roomy and the species-only one. Put some large leaved tank plants in it.

Though the plants may be both artificial and live ones. The latter should have strong roots and coarse leaves. Plants like anubias will do perfectly well for this tank. The fish won’t eat them and they will help to create proper ecological environment in the tank.

However, pearlscale quickly damages tank plants with soft leaves or the leaves surfaces gets dirty because the rubbish (produced by the fish) lays on them. None of tank decorations whether these are stones or snags should have sharp edges that may hurt the body or fins. Leaving some free space in a tank for a pearlscale to swim is a must.

Tank lighting is not necessary, but nevertheless the fish shows all its beauty when the lighting is on. There should be no ammonia or nitrites in the tank water. Installing power canister filter is a must.

Water parameters

The tank water parameters should be the following: temperature 16-25 °C, optimal temperature 20-24 °C (68-75°F), pH 6,0-8,0, gH 5-20°dGH. To ensure healthy life for the fish you have to control the tank water quality and renew 1/3 of the total water amount every week.


Diet should contain 50-70% of vegetable components and 30-50% of protein food. The pearlscale usually eats live and frozen food: brine shrimp, daphnia, tubifex; also it likes dry food very much. You should feed twice a day – in the morning and in the evening.

The main thing is not to overfeed it, since this leads to bowel obstruction. It is especially dangerous to overfeed with a bloodworm, because it causes flatulence and the fish looses its balance and dies as a result.

Tank mates

Is not aggressive or troublesome. However, the fact that the pearlscale goldfish is slow, has long fins and tends to live in cool water puts some limitations when choosing tank mates for it (fishes like tiger barbs – bad choice).

Surely, the fish can live in a tropical fish tank, but still it feels better and more comfortable with the species of its kind – goldfish, oranda, veiltail.

Gender differences: male vs female

Male and female are almost indistinguishable from each other.


The fish is bred in farms. However, you can also obtain the juveniles in a home aquarium. Put some sandy substrate and small leaved plants into a spawning tank. As a rule, for spawning they put one female and 2-3 males (2 years old) in the tank.

The fish should live separately for 2-3 weeks before this. It is recommended to keep water temperature in the spawning tank about 24 – 26 °C. To trigger the spawning process you should gradually rise the water temperature until it becomes 5-10 °C higher

At that the males start actively haunting the female that is dropping eggs all over the tank at the same time. Mainly the eggs stay on the leaves of the tank plants.

In general the female lays about 1000 eggs. Once the spawning is over, remove the ‘parents’ from the tank. Small zooplankton should be the start food for juveniles.