loss of color

the changing color of goldfish. loss of color.

enhanced color

enhanced color

Q:  I have a 300-gallon water garden in my yard. It is stocked with eight goldfish. They are o not fancy but all of them did have a w nice combination of white and orange markings. Now, one has lost almost all of its orange, leaving it nearly all white. I have a friend who has experi-enced this situation twice with goldfish in an outdoor pond and we are both wondering what the cause of this loss of color might be. My fish is about 4 inches long and about a year old.  Can you help us solve this mystery? Dan Reiss, Texas

A:  Color change in goldfish (and koi) is quite common. And, color change in yearlings is almost a rule. Sometimes, the changing colors of goldfish can turn an “ordinary-goldfish into a jewel, but just as often the reverse can happen. In general, color change in yearlings is connected with maturation and genetics. For example, many goldfish (pool comets and orandas in particular) start life deep black in color but turn the characteristic orange color at about one year of age.

Many hobbyist who thought a six-month-old black oranda would make a really nice addition to their pond has been rudely shocked when the black gave way to orange over several months. So it may be that your fish has merely moved to its young adult pattern. It could change again in a few years. Color patterns in goldfish and koi are not as well fixed as many people believe. Over time the colors can shift, patterns may mutate and the appearance of the sh can change significantly.

Food can also affect color. A heavy diet algae or other plant materials laden ith carotene can turn fish yellow-orange. A vitamin-poor diet can cause a fish to lose color as its general health declines but this is virtually impossible in a garden pond that is as lightly stocked as yours. This is usually a goldfish aquarium problem. Exposure to sunlight can affect fish coloring. Good sunlight brings out the deep velvety blacks in koi and goldfish. Shading them causes the black to fade. Similarly, I have found that orange and red loration is enhanced by sunlight. Goldfish kept in shaded tanks tend to have duIler coloring. Lastly, older fish often fade in Color.