Freshwater Fish

Pearl Scale Goldfish: Aquarium Care Guide

The pearlscale goldfish is a fascinating freshwater fish with a rather unique appearance. Because of this, there is a long list of aquarists who are interested in keeping them as pets.

But it’s important to know what you’re getting into first.

While caring for these fish isn’t the hardest job in the world, it does require you to be aware of the specific requirements they need (mainly due to their anatomy).

This guide will help you prepare for the task by covering all the essentials of Pearlscale goldfish care. When you’re done reading it, you’ll be ready to go!

Species Summary

The Pearlscale Goldfish is one of the most peculiar and whimsical looking fish species out there. Sometimes referred to as Goldball Pearlscale or Ping-Pong goldfish, these freshwater fish have a distinctive body shape and distinct scales that you won’t find on other types of goldfish.

Pearlscales are one of many species that fall into the «fancy goldfish» category. Like other fancy goldfish, Pearlscales were developed in captivity. Therefore, they do not exist in nature. This particular species is relatively new, appearing in the early 20th century.

These fish are believed to have originated in China before being further developed in Japan.

Perfect for well decorated tanks and ponds, Pearlscale goldfish will always turn heads. For aquarists and onlookers alike, this is one species that people seem to love!


When you take a look at the Pearlscale goldfish, the first thing you’ll notice is its deep, round belly! Mature adults can have a perfectly rounded belly that is similar in shape to an orange.

But that is not all.

Covering the belly are raised, bead-like scales. These scales are pearly in nature and arranged in rows. They are actually made of calcium carbonate deposits. But they have a translucent, reflective finish that is similar to pearls, hence their common trade name.

The rounded belly and scales develop as the fish ages. By comparison, the juveniles look like normal, fancy goldfish.

To go along with that golf ball-shaped belly are some beautiful flowing fins. The dorsal fin is single, but the rest of the fins are paired. The caudal fin, in particular, has split lobes to create a beautiful forked appearance.

Author’s Note: There are a couple of special varieties of Pearlscale goldfish. You may see crown fish or wen fish. Crowned Pearlscale sport large rounded bubbles on the head. They are sometimes called Hooded Pearl Scales, High-Headed Pearl Scales, or Hamanishiki.

Wen Pearlscales are similar to species such as the Oranda goldfish. They have the iconic wen growth, which is bubbly and textured.

When it comes to color, there is a lot of variation with the Pearlscale goldfish. You can see solid colored specimens covered in orange, red, white, black or blue. Chocolate brown fish is also becoming more prevalent. Calico and bicolor fish are also popular.

Life expectancy

On average, the lifespan of a Pearlscale goldfish is about 5 to 10 years. There are some reports of these fish living up to 15 years, but those cases are few and far between.

For the most part, Pearlscales are quite hardy. However, their unique biology does open them up to some health problems. Under suboptimal living conditions, those health problems can have a greater effect on the fish, significantly shortening their lifespan.

Average size

The average size of an adult Pearlscale goldfish is typically six to eight inches long. As we mentioned earlier, they are often compared to oranges in terms of size and shape.

These fish can get quite a bit larger, with some even reaching lengths of 10 inches. But again, those cases are the exception and not the rule.

Pearlscale Goldfish Care

Pearlscale goldfish care is not too difficult if you know the basics. They are an entire species (pun intended) that can be deceptively resilient despite their odd anatomy. These freshwater fish can adapt to a variety of environments and do well in cooler waters.

As always, it’s important to learn as much as you can about Pearlscale’s needs. Like any other fish, they have their preferences and some strict care guidelines that you must follow!

tank size

These fish are not particularly strong swimmers. The shape of its body and its fins are not the most conducive to fast swimming. So don’t expect them to be thrown around the tank.

Still, it should provide ample room for comfort. We recommend using a tank size of no less than 20 gallons for Pearlscale goldfish.

If possible, a 30 gallon aquarium is even better. That’s enough room for a single Pearlscale goldfish. To add more, increase the tank size by about 10 gallons for each additional fish.

Author’s Note: This species also does well in outdoor ponds (assuming the weather is right). In ponds, they can flourish and even grow beyond their expected size when kept in an aquarium.

Water parameters:

Pearl scale goldfish are not a natural species. As a result, there are no wild habitats to model your tank. Fortunately, the large group of luxury goldfish have been around for centuries, so their preferred living conditions are long established.

These fish prefer to live in cooler waters that are slow moving and teeming with plant life. Pearlscales are great cold water aquarium fish. They tolerate a wide temperature range and do best with neutral pH levels. However, rapid fluctuations in temperature or pH can lead to stress and illness.

As long as you follow these water parameters, your Pearlscale should have no problem thriving in your tank.

  • Water temperature: 65°F to 80°F (around 70 degrees is ideal)
  • pH levels: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 4 to 20 dKH

Author’s Note: Despite its strength and comfort in colder waters, it’s still smart to constantly test the water. This will allow you to keep conditions stable. We still recommend doing this if you also keep them in a pond (although conditions are probably more stable).

What to put in their habitat

Pearlscales are not too picky when it comes to decorations. You can use plastic or natural items. It really doesn’t matter to this fish!

However, more experienced aquarists tend to stick with a habitat that mimics a natural pond.

This means adding lots of rocks, driftwood, and plants. If you want to use live plants, choose cold-hardy varieties like Hornwort, Java Moss, Anacharis, and Anubias.

For your substrate, choose smooth gravel. The largest pieces of gravel are the best to prevent accidental ingestion.

The most important thing to keep in mind when decorating your tank or pond is to avoid sharp edges or anything that could hurt these fish.

Pearly scale goldfish are a bit clumsy due to their lackluster swimming abilities, and those beautiful raised scales are delicate. Once they fall off, they won’t come back!

Possible common diseases

Pearlscale goldfish are susceptible to all common freshwater fish diseases. This includes issues like Ich, fin rot, fungus, and flukes.

Fin rot is quite common in poor water conditions. Because Pearlscale’s fins are long and flowing, it can do a lot of damage to this fish (as there is so much tissue available). To avoid disease, monitor water conditions.

You should also change about a quarter of the water volume each week to prevent ammonia and nitrate levels from skyrocketing.

One of the most common diseases affecting Pearlscale goldfish is swim bladder disease. Despite the bulbous shape of their bellies, the intestinal tract is quite compact. When they eat too much or take in too much air, the swim bladder organ suffers.

The disease affects the fish’s ability to swim, so you should do everything you can to avoid it. Pearlscales already have compromised mobility, so further deterioration can be catastrophic.

Feeding and diet of the pearly scale goldfish

Pearlscale goldfish are omnivores with a healthy diet. They will readily accept most foods without hesitation.

You can provide dry flakes and calcium-fortified granules. However, dry foods can upset the delicate digestive system and cause swim bladder disease. To reduce the risk of problems, soak food first so it is soft and ready for digestion.

It’s also important to limit protein to about 30 percent of your diet. Too much protein is unnecessary and can lead to a variety of health problems. complications

It is better to follow a diet rich in vegetables. Goldfish such as lettuce, cucumbers, and peas. Vegetables will help prevent constipation and intestinal problems.

The occasional live or freeze-dried food is also good. However, it is important to limit those food sources to snack foods rather than staples of the diet.

behavior and temperament

You don’t have to worry about the aggression of the Pearlscale goldfish. This species is very calm and docile.

The fish will spend most of the day slowly swimming around the tank. You may see them playing around plants or exploring.

Pearlscales are comparatively weak swimmers, but they will flounder in the water and show off their beauty anyway! Despite their lack of mobility, they are actually quite active (everything happens slowly).

tank mates

Pearlscale goldfish are great additions to peaceful community tanks (or ponds). They have no problem living with other docile species.

You should avoid keeping them with any aggressive or semi-aggressive species. It’s also a good idea to stay away from fast swimmers. Many fast-swimming fish are known to nibble on Pearlscale’s fins.

These graceful goldfish have no way of defending themselves against this behavior, so it’s best to stick with other slow-moving fish.

Here are some suitable tank mates for the Pearlscale goldfish:

  • black moors
  • veil tails
  • Goldfish with bubble eyes
  • lion head goldfish

Author’s Note: Certain types of snails can also be a good fit for Pearlscales. Nerite and Mystery snails are two great options.


Pearlscale goldfish often breed in captivity. In many cases, they do so without the intervention of aquarists.

But if you want to actively promote spawning, the process is very similar to standard goldfish.

First, set up a separate breeding tank filled with spawning plants or mops. Start with a low water temperature around 60 degrees. When you add your bonded pair, you can slowly increase the temperature by about two degrees per day until you reach standard tank conditions.

This will trigger a mating ritual. Females can lay over 1,000 eggs at a time!

In about five or six days, the eggs will hatch. The fry can survive in the egg sac for a couple of days. Once they are free swimming, you can feed them powdered food or infusoria until they are ready to eat newly hatched brine shrimp.

Remember: young fish do not exhibit the defining traits of adults. That rounded belly won’t start to appear until around eight months of age. The pearly scales will appear soon after.


Effective Pearlscale goldfish care is all about understanding the specific needs of these fish. While they require relatively low maintenance, their health will suffer if you don’t take into account their unique anatomy.

But as long as you do that, everything should be fine. These fish are a joy to have and are so much fun to watch!

If there’s anything you think we’ve missed, feel free to let us know. We want to make sure these care guides are as helpful as possible, and we always appreciate a little help from our readers.

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