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GOLDFISH - CARASSIUS AURATUS - CIPRINIDAE TAXIDERMY

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Tetra Goldfish Care

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KINGDOM : Animalia

PHYLUM : Chordata

CLASS : Actinopterygii

ORDER : Cypriniformes

FAMILY : Cyprinidae

GENUS : Carassius

SPECIES Carassius auratus

National Goldfish standards

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GOLDFISH CARASSIUS AURATUS

Starting in ancient China, various species of carp (collectively known as Asian carp) have been domesticated and reared as food fish for thousands of years. Some of these normally gray or silver species have a tendency to produce red, orange or yellow colour mutations; this was first recorded during the Jin dynasty (265-420). During the Tang dynasty (618-907), it was popular to raise carp in ornamental ponds and watergardens. A natural genetic mutation produced gold (actually yellowish orange) rather than silver colouration. People began to breed the gold variety instead of the silver variety, keeping them in ponds or other bodies of water. On special occasions at which guests were expected they would be moved to a much smaller container for display.

By the Song dynasty (960-1279), the domestication of goldfish was firmly established. In 1162, the empress of the Song Dynasty ordered the construction of a pond to collect the red and gold variety. By this time, people outside the imperial family were forbidden to keep goldfish of the gold (yellow) variety, yellow being the imperial colour. This is probably the reason why there are more orange goldfish than yellow goldfish, even though the latter are genetically easier to breed. The occurrence of other colours (apart from red and gold) was first recorded in 1276.

A drawing in brown ink on an ocher background. A rectangular glass aquarium tank sits on a wooden stand with carved, curled legs, and contains two fish as well as plants with wavy grass-like leaves. A western aquarium of the 1850s of the type that contained goldfish among other coldwater species

During the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), goldfish also began to be raised indoors, which allowed mutations weakening the fishes' cold resistance to persist. The first occurrence of fancy-tailed goldfish was recorded in the Ming Dynasty. In 1603, goldfish were introduced to Japan. In 1611, goldfish were introduced to Portugal and from there to other parts of Europe.

During the 1620s, goldfish were highly regarded in southern Europe because of their metallic scales, and symbolised good luck and fortune. It became tradition for married men to give their wives a goldfish on their one-year anniversary, as a symbol for the prosperous years to come. This tradition quickly died, as goldfish became more available, losing their status. Goldfish were first introduced to North America around 1850 and quickly became popular in the United States.

Selective breeding over centuries has produced several colour variations, some of them far removed from the "golden" colour of the originally domesticated fish. There are also different body shapes, fin and eye configurations. Some extreme versions of the goldfish live only in aquariums they are much less hardy than varieties closer to the "wild" original. However, some variations are hardier, such as the Shubunkin. Currently, there are about 300 breeds recognised in China. The vast majority of goldfish breeds today originated from China.

Goldfish have strong associative learning abilities, as well as social learning skills. In addition, their visual acuity allows them to distinguish between individual humans. Owners may notice that fish react favorably to them (swimming to the front of the glass, swimming rapidly around the tank, and going to the surface mouthing for food) while hiding when other people approach the tank. Over time, goldfish learn to associate their owners and other humans with food, often "begging" for food whenever their owners approach.

Goldfish that have constant visual contact with humans also stop considering them to be a threat. After being kept in a tank for several weeks, sometimes months, it becomes possible to feed a goldfish by hand without it shying away.

Goldfish have a memory-span of at least three months and can distinguish between different shapes, colours and sounds. By using positive reinforcement, goldfish can be trained to recognise and to react to light signals of different colours or to perform tricks. Fish respond to certain colours most evidently in relation to feeding. Fish learn to anticipate feedings provided they occur at around the same time every day.

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