Do Goldfish Give Birth or Lay Eggs?

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Goldfish lay eggs. If my goal were to offer dictionary-like explanations, this article would have been 3-letters long. But it’s not, so it’s not. There’s actually quite a lot to discuss in this sense since breeding goldfish is trickier than it seems.

As egg layers, goldfish reproduce seasonally, laying their first eggs in early spring, sometimes late winter.

Goldfish may produce offspring several times per year depending on the environmental conditions, which already recommends them as excellent breeders.

Especially when considering that a prolific female goldfish can produce thousands of eggs over the course of several days.

If you aim to breed goldfish in captivity, here are some heads-up tips to take with you:

  • Control the temperature and water parametersGoldfish rely on water temperature and overall water conditions to determine when it’s time to breed. Keeping the water temperature stable at around 68 F will signal your goldfish that the time is right for laying eggs. You should also keep the water clean to provide your goldfish with comfort and stability during the process.
  • Male-on-female ratio – It’s recommended to keep a few males as possible when breeding almost every other fish species aside from goldfish. With goldfish, the situation is the other way around. You actually need several males, especially if you have a lot of females and a larger tank. The more males there are, the more eggs will get fertilized, increasing the number of potential offspring.
  • Remove unfertilized eggs – As is natural, not all eggs will get fertilized. You can tell them apart by assessing their coloring. The fertilized ones will become semi-transparent and display a blackish core, while the others will remain white and opaque and turn darker soon. Removing the unfertilized ones from the environment is essential since they will rot and alter the water’s chemistry if you don’t.

Now, let’s go into the specifics to see how the goldfish’s reproduction phase unfolds.

How Long do Goldfish Carry Eggs?

The female goldfish will carry its eggs until it can find a male nearby ready to fertilize them. Otherwise, the female will keep its eggs indefinitely, and there’s actually a good explanation for that behavior.

You see, the female doesn’t decide when or where to lay the eggs; that decision belongs to the male.

When the mating occurs, the male will literally squeeze the eggs out of the female. He will achieve the feat by pressing its body against the female’s, pressing the female’s belly against a hard surface. Other males will simply bump into the female to produce the same effect: forcing her to release the eggs.

The male will then spill its milt over them, fertilizing as many as nature allows it. Having multiple males in the same tank may increase the number of fertilized eggs.

Either way, you shouldn’t expect all of them to hatch.

What do Goldfish Eggs Look Like?

Viable goldfish eggs are small, ovular, and golden in color. The eggs will change their coloring over time, depending on what happens to them.

If they become fertilized, they will slowly become transparent, showcasing a dark spot inside. Unfertilized eggs will remain milky-white and darken with time.

How Many Eggs do Goldfish Lay?

It depends on the female’s age, genetic makeup, diet, and environmental conditions. A healthy female may produce in excess of 2-3,000 eggs during one mating season over the course of several weeks.

Some extremely prolific females may even lay up to 10,000 eggs under the right conditions.

Realistically speaking, you should expect around 300-500 eggs from a 2-3-year-old female goldfish. The number of eggs may increase over time, especially if you provide the female with protein-rich meals and optimal living conditions.

However, you should expect to lose a lot of eggs since not all of them will hatch. A lot of them won’t even be fertilized due to the males’ limited capability to produce milt.

Not to mention, adult goldfish will eat a lot of the eggs soon after the female lays them. It’s why most goldfish breeders will rely on breeding tanks to prevent the problem.

How Often do Goldfish Lay Eggs?

Female goldfish will typically lay eggs 2-3 times per year. This is standard for wild goldfish, but you can boost the numbers up by providing the goldfish with optimal environmental conditions.

When it comes to how many times the female will lay eggs during one season, that also depends.

The female goldfish may lay eggs daily for several days to a week, depending on how many it has.

This allows you to monitor the situation, identify the unviable eggs, and remove them before the next batch comes.

When do Goldfish Start Laying Eggs?

While goldfish mature between their first and second year of life, they will most likely begin to reproduce after reaching their 3rd year.

At that point, you can already begin to prepare a breeding tank since your goldfish will reproduce regularly past that point.

You can inform the goldfish that the mating season has arrived by raising the tank’s temperature gradually up to 70-72 °F. Just make sure you don’t rush it otherwise, your goldfish will experience temperature-related discomfort and even go into temperature shock.

You should increase the water temperature, preferably 2-3 degrees F every day, until reaching the optimal value.

How Long do Goldfish Eggs Take to Hatch?

Typically, between 2 to 7 days. You can speed up the process significantly by raising the tank’s temperature slightly, keeping it around 70 °F with minimal-to-no fluctuations.

This will speed up the development process considerably.


If you’ve decided to breed your goldfish, here are some essential points to take with you:

  • Consider investing in a breeding tank to prevent adult goldfish from eating the eggs
  • Remove infertile or dead eggs before they begin to decay in the water
  • Have several male goldfish available to increase the number of eggs being fertilized
  • Make sure to prevent fish stress by removing aggressive males and providing the goldfish with optimal living conditions
  • Keep the eggs and resulting fry at slightly higher temperatures, in the vicinity of 70-72 F
  • Female goldfish could use a bit more protein in their meals during pregnancy

These are must-follow tips if you’re aiming at breeding goldfish selectively, either for profit or personal use.

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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