Japan's Goldfish Breeders Fish for Riches

Japan is famous for its beautiful ponds stocked with colorful "Koi" carp - a close relative of the common goldfish. Some breeders are now moving beyond Koi to create even more unusual  types of goldfish including scaleless, pearlescent varieties!

First introduced to Japan from China in the year 1502, the "common" goldfish was originally quite rare. As a red mutation of a type of Chinese carp, these early goldfish were extremely expensive and were owned only by those with wealth and nobility. Centuries of breeding have now given us a staggering variety of goldfish, from small orange fishbowl dwellers to beautifully ornate specimens nearly a foot long!

The city of Shonai, in Japan's Yamagata Prefecture is a major goldfish breeding center and the distinctive Shonai goldfish were first recognized by the Japanese government in 1923.

The nearby Shonai river has long produced wild goldfish, some of which have attracted the attention of breeders due to their unusual natural mutations, including several with transparent scales which sold quickly in local pet stores to eagle-eyed goldfish collectors.


One of three major goldfish farmers in the Shonai area is Takao Narisawa, whose pet project is creating a scaleless goldfish with an iridescent, pearl-like appearance. "It'll probably take four to five years to remove the scales," says Narisawa. 



"Also, I'm trying to perfect the development of Shonai Goldfish with pearl-like skin. It'll probably take 20 years to achieve this." It's a goal with a big payoff, as Narisawa estimates he can sell his "Shonai Sakura" goldfish for as much as $250 each. (via Channel NewsAsia)

Steve Levenstein     
Japanese Innovations Writer