Are Goldfish Carp? – Understanding The Taxonomy And Origins

Tankarium is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.

Goldfish and carp resemble one another, often leading people to believe they are the same fish. The truth is that goldfish and carp are two different species of fish belonging to the same family. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the similarities and differences between goldfish and carp, and explain what makes each one unique.

What Are Carp?

Carp are a type of freshwater fish belonging to the Cyprinidae family, containing more than 2,000 species. Carp are native to Europe and Asia but have been introduced to other parts of the world, including North America. Ornamental carp such as koi are popular in aquaculture, but the common carp is the most widely distributed carp species.

Most species of carp are marked by a large, slightly forked tail and barrels, or whiskers, on their chin. Common carp colors include gold, brown, orange, black, and silver. However, these physical traits can vary depending on the breed of carp. It is always useful to determine the variant of carp fish you have before attempting to care for it.

Are Goldfish Carp?

Though they may seem like separate species, goldfish are actually a variant of carp fish. The main difference between the two is that carp is a type of fish, while goldfish is a type of carp. Carp are freshwater fish from the Cyprinidae family, while goldfish derive from a subfamily of the Cyprinidae family known as Carassius. The goldfish is actually a domesticated form of wild carp.

Red Oranda
 Image Source:

 So yes, goldfish are carp, but not all carp are goldfish. When referring to carp, people are usually talking about the common carp, which is a type of fish that can be found in ponds and lakes. Goldfish, on the other hand, are usually kept as pets.

Difference Between Goldfish and Carp

As we’ve established, goldfish are a type of carp. However, there are some key differences between goldfish and other types of carp. Here are some of the most notable distinctions:

Goldfish Have Been Domesticated

As we mentioned before, the goldfish is a domesticated form of the carp. This means that goldfish have been bred in captivity for centuries, allowing for more predictable and consistent qualities. These qualities can refer to physical things, like color and size, or behavioral, like tameness.

Physically, goldfish come in a greater variety of colors and shapes than carp. This is because goldfish have been selectively bred to display certain traits, while carp have not. For example, goldfish come in colors like red, orange, yellow, and white, while carp are typically brown, gold, or black.

Goldfish eating

When it comes to behavior, goldfish are usually much tamer than carp. Goldfish have been bred to be comfortable around humans, while carp have not. This means that goldfish are less likely to be afraid of humans and more likely to enjoy being around them.

Carp Are Usually Larger Than Goldfish

One of the most noticeable differences between goldfish and carp is size. Carp are typically much larger than goldfish, with some carp species growing to be over four feet long! Goldfish, on the other hand, usually only grow about a foot long. So, while it is entirely possible to house goldfish in fish tanks, it is not recommended to do so with carp. You’d most likely need a pond to adequately house a carp.

This difference in size can be attributed to the fact that goldfish have been bred to be smaller than carp. In the wild, carp can grow to be quite large, but goldfish have been bred to be smaller so they can be kept in captivity.

Goldfish Have Three Types of Scales

Another key difference between goldfish and carp is the type of scales they have. Carp have one type of scale known as cycloid scales. These scales are smooth and overlap each other, giving carp a slimy appearance. On the other hand, Goldfish have three types of scales: matt, metallic and nacreous.

Matt scales are the most common type of goldfish scale. They have a matte finish and are usually relatively small. Metallic scales are larger than matt scales and have a shiny, metallic appearance. Nacreous scales are the largest type of goldfish scale and have a pearly finish. Nacreous scales are pretty rare, and most goldfish will have either matt or metallic scales.

Because goldfish have three types of scales, they are often more colorful than carp. This is because the different types of scales reflect light in different ways, creating a greater variety of colors.

Carp Live Longer Than Goldfish

Another key difference between goldfish and carp is lifespan. Carp typically live for around 20 years, while goldfish usually only live for 10-15 years. So, while goldfish make excellent pets, they don’t have the same longevity as carp.

This difference in lifespan is likely due to the fact that goldfish are bred to be smaller than carp. Smaller animals tend to have shorter lifespans than larger animals, so it makes sense that goldfish would have a shorter lifespan than carp. Plus, generations of selective breeding may have robbed goldfish of some health benefits carp enjoy. They may be less resistant to disease and more prone to genetic disorders.

carp fish

Another factor leading to the shorter lifespan of goldfish is that they are often kept in captivity. Captive animals typically don’t live as long as their wild counterparts because closed tank environments are more susceptible to water quality and temperature fluctuations. These fluctuations can stress goldfish out and make them more susceptible to disease.

Goldfish Are More Popular Than Carp

Last but not least, goldfish are more popular than carp. This is likely because goldfish make better pets than carp. They’re smaller, more colorful, and less aggressive. They’re also easier to care for than carp, as they can be kept in smaller tanks.

Carp are still popular in some parts of the world, but they’re not as widely kept as goldfish. In most parts of the world, goldfish are the more popular choice for pet fish. The massive number of online retailers dedicated to breeding and selling goldfish is a testament to this charming species’ popularity. However, you shouldn’t discount carp entirely. They make great pets, too!

The Takeaway

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the differences between goldfish and carp. Both of these fish make great pets, but they’re quite different. Goldfish are smaller, more colorful, and have a shorter lifespan than carp. Carp are larger, less colorful, and have a longer lifespan than goldfish. Goldfish are more popular than carp, but both fish make great pets. Thanks for reading!

If you’re interested in learning more about goldfish, check out our article on the different types of goldfish. We cover everything from common goldfish to fancy goldfish and beyond!

Wanda is a second-generation aquarist from the sunny tropics of Malaysia. She has been helping her father with his freshwater tanks since she was a toddler, and has fallen in love with the hobby ever since. A perpetual nomad, Wanda does her best to integrate fish-keeping with her lifestyle, and has taken care of fish in three different continents. She loves how it provides a nice break from the hustle and bustle of life.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.