Celestial Eye Goldfish: Useful Facts, Care Tips, Tank Setup and More

With their unusual upturned eyes, the celestial eye goldfish is so named because they’re always looking heavenward. This feature is unique among all the many different goldfish types that exist.

While this might look cute and unique, you must remember their upturned eyes are technically a deformity that’s been bred in over the years. It gives them some disadvantages — such as poor eyesight — so they do have some special needs.

Close up, top view of two celestial eye goldfish isolated on white
By Desaix83, d’après le travail de Michelle Jo [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Before committing to keeping celestial eye goldfish, consider whether you can give them the conditions they require to lead a happy and healthy life.

In this article, we take a detailed look at their breed profile and care, inclduing coloration and features, tanek setup and ideal conditions for their environment, diet, compatible tank mates and more besides.

Distinguishing Features

Their most noticeable trait is their eyes which sit mounted on the sides of their heads and face upwards.

However, that’s not their only distinguishing feature. These fish have double anal and caudal fins and lack dorsal fins altogether, giving them a slightly droopy look. While their bodies are relatively short and stubby, they’re not as dramatically rounded as some other fancy goldfish.

It’s worth noting their distinctive upward-facing eyes take a while to develop. They are born with their eyes in the normal position, and they gradually move into place over the span of about six months.

What Colors of Celestial Eye Goldfish are Available?

They are most commonly orange, but you can also find them in orange and white, black, and calico. They usually have metallic scales, but they can also have matt or nacreous scales.

Size When Fully Grown?

Their average length is 5 inches, but they can reach 6 inches in length, or even 7 inches in rare cases.

Life Expectancy

Their average lifespan is about 10 to 15 years, but they can live for up to 20 years if kept in optimal conditions.

History, Origins and Development

People have been breeding goldfish since around the 1500s, with all modern varieites haveing descended from a type of ornamental carp which was kept in ponds in China.

The specific origins of the celestial eye goldfish date back to the late 1800s. They’re thought to have been developed in China — where they’re called “stargazers” — starting around 1870. However, at this time their eyes were at least somewhat mobile, rather than fixed upwards.

Further breeding in Japan and Korea in the early 1900s gave us the celestial eye goldfish we know today, with eyes completely fixed looking upward.

Good for Beginners?

Celestial eye goldfish are quite delicate and are one of the more difficult types to keep in a home aquarium — this isn’t a fish for first-timers.

It’s important to keep the conditions in their aquarium just so, in order to keep these fish in good condition.

Celestial Eye Care Requirements

On top of normal goldfish care routines, they require a number of special considerations, mostly stemming from their unusually positioned eyes.

Since their eyes are always pointing upwards, they see very poorly. As such, you need to make sure their tank is free from obstacles, such as ornaments and exposed filters, since these fish can easily bump into them.

It’s also vital to keep the tank free from anything with sharp or rough edges since they could catch their protruding eyes, causing an injury.

To make matters worse, their absent dorsal fin makes their swimming ability even worse, so you should make sure no strong currents are running through the tank.

Their lousy eyesight and poor swimming ability also makes it difficult for them to compete for food with faster fish, but more on that later.

What do They Eat?

Goldfish are omnivorous. This means they eat animal-based and plant-based foods and ideally need a mixture of the two to thrive.

So when deciding what to feed your goldfish, start out with a high-quality flake or pellet food that’s made with their specific dietary requirements in mind.

However, to make their diet more exciting and varied, supplement this with foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, shelled green peas, lettuce, and blueberries.

They don’t have stomachs, and as a result, they can suffer from swim bladder issues if you’re not careful when you feed them.

Best practice is to feed small meals to them twice or three times a day, rather than feeding them a lot just once a day.

You should also soak pellets or other dried foods before feeding them to your fish, as they can expand in the gut and cause blockages.

Setting up Their Tank

Ensure you have the correct aquarium set-up to keep your fish in good health by taking heed of the following advice:

Tank Size and Shape

It’s crucial that you choose a tank big enough to maintain good health and an environment that encourages natural behaviors. Many people under-house goldfish, so you might be surprised at first by how large an aquarium they really need.

However, you should bear in mind their tank is essentially their entire world, so they need to have enough space to swim around and explore.

Goldfish are also big waste-producers, so a small tank would require near-constant water changes.

Start with a 20- to 30-gallon tank for a single celestial eye, then add 10 gallons to that for every additional fish you’ll be keeping in there. So, if you want to keep four together, you’d need a 50- to 60-gallon aquarium.

Rectangular tanks are best, and they should be longer than they are wide to maximize the surface area of the water. This will help ensure the well oxygenated and your fish won’t suffer from a shortage of O2.

Should you Add a Filter?

Since goldfish produce a lot of waste, you must provide a powerful filter for their tank.

Many owners favor either canister or hang-on-back (HoB) filters, but the choice is yours as long as the filter is powerful enough to deal with the volume of water in your tank and doesn’t create too strong a current.

Our celestial eye friends are poor swimmers in the best of conditions, so make sure to select whichever filtration system you prefer, but that will not wash your fish around the tank in the currents produced.

Preferred Substrate

Since they have such delicate eyes that can easily catch on sharp objects, many keepers prefer to go without substrate. However, others value its importance as a breeding ground for beneficial bacteria and somewhere for their goldfish to forage for food, such as algae.

If you do opt for a substrate, choose either fine sand or extremely smooth, rounded pebbles or gravel, too large for your fish to swallow at their full adult size.

Lighting Requirements

As long as they’re kept in a well-lit room, celestial eye goldfish don’t need to have artificial lighting in their tank.

However, some people prefer the way their aquarium looks all lit up, and choose to light it anyway.

If you do decide to opt for artificial lighting, it should be on for 12 to 16 consecutive hours per day, and off for 8 to 12 consecutive hours. Most people set their lighting with a timer to create a regular day/night cycle for their fish.

What Temperature do they Need?

The water temperature in your celestial eye goldfish’s tank should be kept between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re not as hardy as many other types of goldfish (who can tolerate lower temperatures if necessary), so you shouldn’t let the temperature fall below 60 Fahrenheit.

As such, it may be wise to invest in a basic water heater for the tank, unless you happen to live in an especially warm climate. Be careful not to place your fish’s tank in direct sunlight, as this could cause the water to overheat, and can also result in an algae bloom.

Tank Mate Compatibility

Celestial eye goldfish are peaceful, sociable fish, but you’re limited as to which other fish you can house them with due to their poor eyesight and less than stellar swimming skills.

If you keep them with fast-moving fish or fish that compete strongly for food, it’s likely they will end up malnourished due to not getting their fair share.

Ideally, you should keep them only with others of their own kind, but they can do well with other slow-moving varieties with some kind of handicap, such as bubble eye or lionheads.

Video: A Look at the Celestial Eye Goldfish

Check out the video below to see some some of these beautiful fish in action.

 

Final Thoughts

While we don’t necessarily condone the kind of extreme selective breeding that results in goldfish like the celestial eye, who have trouble with their eyesight and other health issues, there is something undeniably adorable about these little fish.

If you do choose to keep them, make sure you’re aware of their limitations an know how to keep them fit and healthy.

Happy fish keeping!

Wendy Kathryn

Hi, I'm Wendy, the owner and creator of this website, an experienced fish keeper and avid student of the art since 2010. My aim is to help beginners avoid the many possible mistakes when getting started in this wonderful hobby.

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