Q. I have been attempting to purchase three show-quality goldfish for a small ornamental pond that I recently set up on my patio. So far I have had absolutely no success. Since all I am looking for is such a small number of show-quality goldfish, I would rather not join a society in order to accomplish the task. The cost of the fish, plus shipping, plus membership dues would be more than I could afford. I am looking for 2- to 3-inch fish of the following varieties: oranda shishigashira, calico fantail, telescope black moor and albino oranda. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
A. The problem of locating top-quality goldfish and koi in local aquarium stores is a serious one if you live outside a major metropolitan area. It just does not pay for a local aquarium store to stock significant numbers of very fancy (and expensive) goldfish given the relatively low demand for these animals compared with freshwater tropical fish.
Moreover, while most customers would not get too upset if their $2.50 freshwater angelfish died a week after purchase, many would flip out if a $75 lionhead went belly-up. Aquarium store owners do not need that kind of aggravation for the low payoff.
Nevertheless, many stores will go to considerable lengths to help customers, and special orders can be arranged. But the price can be steep. The cost of average-quality fish of the type you are talking about can run anywhere from $15 to $30 apiece. Show-quality fish may cost from $20 to well over $100 each depending on whether the seller is aware of and appreciates the quality of the animal. Shipping may cost another $40. So you are looking at a combined cost of around $150 to $200.
If a local shop cannot help you, then I strongly suggest you reconsider joining a goldfish club or society. Specifically, I would point you in the direction of the Goldfish Society of America. Contrary to what you think, the cost of membership is very small compared to the price of the fish you are interested in, and the payoff is substantial. Annual membership for the GFSA is $15 a year. For your $15 you get their monthly newsletter, which is full of helpful breeding and fish-rearing tips. You also get access to a wide variety of private breeders who are willing to part with some wonderful fish — often at very low prices.
A local goldfish club can also be a good source of high-quality fish, and advice. Fancy goldfish are not as hardy as pool comets. Meyer’s Law #3: The susceptibility of a goldfish to disease and poor water quality increases with the cube of the price paid.