When is Goldfish Breeding Season?

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Goldfish are extremely popular aquarium fish that don’t quite fit the general understanding of tank fish in some aspects.

This includes the breeding process. There are some particularities about goldfish that place them in the minority when it comes to breeding behavior, and we will discuss these in-depth today.

Here are the essentials about goldfish mating and breeding that you need to remember.

Do Goldfish Have Breeding Season?

Yes, they do. Wild goldfish typically spawn once a year, either in late spring or during the summer, once the environmental temperature increases and the days get longer.

Many species of goldfish will overwinter, entering a near-hibernation state, during which the fish’s metabolism drops dramatically.

As the temperatures increase, the fish ‘resurrects’ and gets ready to mate.

The most reliable factor informing the goldfish that the breeding season has come is temperature. The ideal breeding temperature is around 68-70, but they can spawn at even lower temperatures.

This raises interesting opportunities for people looking to breed goldfish for profit or engage in selective breeding. Simply increasing the tank’s temperature will put the goldfish into the mating mood, triggering the reproductive process.

Naturally, you should gradually increase the tank’s temperature over several days to prevent temperature shock.

In this sense, you shouldn’t boost the water’s temperature by more than 3 °F per day until it reaches the desired values. If your goldfish show any signs of temperature-related stress, slow down a bit.

Daily partial water changes may also be necessary since goldfish require crystal-clear water conditions to start the mating process.

Doing so will allow your goldfish to spawn several times per year, considerably boosting reproductive rates.

What Time of Year do Goldfish Lay Eggs?

It’s usually around the end of the spring. At this point, environmental temperatures will be high enough to trigger reproductive behavior.

The same pattern occurs in pond goldfish, which have the ability to overwinter.

However, this doesn’t apply to fancy goldfish kept in indoor tanks due to their more stable water parameters.

When it comes to fancy goldfish, you can trigger the mating behavior more often by altering their water conditions, as I’ve already explained.

At What Age do Goldfish Start Breeding?

The optimal breeding age differs for goldfish depending on their species, environmental conditions, and diet, to name a few factors.

Unlike other fish species, goldfish don’t mature at a set age. If their water conditions and environmental parameters are suboptimal, their growth will be heavily delayed. The same goes for receiving inadequate food that’s either insufficient or lacking necessary nutrients.

As a general idea, goldfish kept in optimal conditions will become sexually mature between 1.5 to 2 years of age.

However, while most goldfish will achieve sexual maturity within this time, they won’t breed until they’re 3 years of age or even older. Some won’t mate until 6-7 years of age.

So, it ultimately depends on your strain of goldfish, genetic predisposition, and environmental factors like temperature, diet, and overall water parameters.

How do You Know if Goldish are Mating?

Learning when your goldfish have started to mate is essential for improving their reproductive rates and increasing the number of fertilized eggs.

It’s also useful if you plan on saving as many fry as possible. Goldfish are notorious for laying hundreds or even thousands of eggs during the breeding season. But they’re also known for eating many of their young upon hatching.

The goldfish’s dualist nature requires you to resort to several tactics to prevent that. The most reliable one is identifying the goldfish’s mating behavior in time.

This allows you to separate the male and female after they’ve fertilized the eggs.

So, what are the tale-telling signs that your goldfish have entered the mating phase?

There are several cues to look for:

  • Physical changes in males – Goldfish males will develop white spots around their gills, which often get confused for Ich. So, you should assess the situation carefully. Mistaking Ich for breeding-specific color changes can have dire consequences. Generally speaking, if the goldfish doesn’t show any sign of disease, the white spots are mostly related to their sexual behavior.
  • Physical changes in females – The goldfish females will begin to grow rounder as the eggs grow inside them. This is another reason for confusion for many aquarists since it’s easy to mistake gravid females for sick ones. Bloating can occur for multiple reasons, including Ich, dropsy, swim bladder disease, organ inflammation due to internal parasites, etc. If your female seems to have a normal appetite with no worrying behavioral changes, it’s probably gravid. If the goldfish is sick, the bloating will generally progress fast over the course of days or even hours. Gravid females will grow in proportions gradually, over the course of several weeks.
  • Mating behavior – You will easily be able to tell when your goldfish have started mating. It all begins with the goldfish male chasing the female around and bumping into her relentlessly. The male’s goal is to force the female to release the eggs by any means necessary. Including pressing the female’s belly against a hard surface like a rock or the tank’s walls. If you notice this behavior, it means that the 2 are ready to fertilize the eggs, and you have hours or even minutes until the female will release the eggs.

If you’ve determined that your goldfish are ready to breed, stay on your guard. The ideal scenario is collecting the eggs soon after spawning to prevent the fish from eating them.

The problem is that they’re covered in a sticky substance, making them difficult to remove. A better alternative would be to place the gravid female in a separate tank with the male.

The female will release the eggs, the male will fertilize them with its milt, and then you can relocate the 2 into the main tank.

Then, your job would be to provide the eggs with adequate temperature and care for the resulting fry once they spawn.


Many aquarists don’t realize that goldfish are quite prolific breeders, capable of producing hundreds and even thousands of eggs during one breeding session.

In the wild, older goldfish females can produce even around 10,000 eggs which is an absurd amount. You can expect around 100-300 eggs in captivity, although the female will become more prolific over time.

It’s even possible to get in excess of 1,000 eggs with adequate care and optimal and nutritious diets.

Now combine this with the goldfish’s ability to breed several times per year, and you will understand this species’ appeal in terms of selective breeding.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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