If you have a garden pond, you might be wondering what fish to stock. Goldfish are the obvious choice! These fish are descended from wild carp, so they do very well in an outdoor pond setting. Goldfish are also less expensive than Koi, which are also not as easy to care for as traditional goldfish.
But with over 200 varieties of goldfish to choose from, which do you go for?
One of our favorite goldfish varieties is the Sarasa Comet (Carassius auratus). These fish are beautiful, easy to look after, and can be personable and interactive with their owners, too. So, the Comet is the perfect choice for the beginner or experienced aquarist alike.
The Sarasa Comet is often confused with its close relative, the ornamental carp or Koi. Koi tend to grow bigger than Comets and have facial barbels that are lacking on the Comet.
Comets, like all species of regular goldfish, are not found in the wild environment. That’s because these fish are artificial! Goldfish originated in China, having been selectively bred during the Tang dynasty to create a brightly colored, ornamental pond fish. From there, the fish were traded with Japan and later in the US and Europe.
Since then, the goldfish has become the traditional child’s pet. Unfortunately, that has led to the fish being kept in unsuitable conditions, such as fishbowls and small tanks, often with inadequate filtration.
That said, there are a few “wild” goldfish populations in various locations around the world. These fish were most likely released into the wild environment by their owners because the fish outgrew their aquarium. However, because they’re so brightly colored, these naturalized goldfish are quickly snatched by predators and don’t generally live for very long.
The Sarasa Comet fish is unsuitable for life in an aquarium unless you have an extensive setup. That’s because these fish can grow up to 14 inches in length! Contrary to popular fish myths, goldfish don’t grow according to the size of their tank. So, that tiny 2-inch fish you brought home from the fish store will quickly grow to be a monster that’s too big for your 20-gallon tank!
Sarasa Comets are red, gold, and white. Comets have a single caudal fin and erect dorsal, being slightly more slender-bodied than the common goldfish, although they are fundamentally the same shape.
Juvenile Comets are a metallic brown color, harking back to their wild relatives and camouflaged to protect them from predators. The full variegated color of the Sarasa Comet doesn’t emerge until the fish are around eight months old.
Sarasa Comets can live for up to 20 years when kept in a spacious habitat and fed a good diet. However, the typical lifespan for this fish species is 10 to 15 years. Generally, Comets kept in a larger fish pond live much longer than those kept in an aquarium.
Like most goldfish species, Comets are incredibly food-oriented, spending much of their time foraging for tidbits.
Unfortunately, that can lead to the uprooting of aquatic plants and disturbance of the substrate. That’s not a problem in a pond, but if you keep these fish in an aquarium, their digging can wreak havoc on your aquascape. However, you can get around that by weighing down your aquarium plants with large rocks that the fish can’t easily move. Goldfish also eat certain plant species, especially those that put out tender new leaves and stems.
Pond-dwelling Comets are more active fish during the spring and summer months when the water temperatures warm up. That’s because food is more abundant, and the fish are ready to begin breeding, which they do readily and frequently.
In winter, with cooler temperatures, the fish are much less active, even losing interest in food. That’s perfectly normal behavior and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
If you keep these fish in a tank, they remain pretty lively and active all year round.
Do Sarasa Comets Get Along With Other Fish?
As with other goldfish species, Sarasa Comets are very friendly, peaceful fish that get along well within groups of their own species and other tank mates. Although they’re not schooling fish, Comets will happily swim around in groups rather than spending time alone. In fact, you should keep goldfish in small groups, as life in solitude stresses the fish, leading to poor health and failure to thrive.
These friendly fish can learn to recognize their owners, specifically whoever is in charge of feeding them! You can even train your Comets to take food from your hand.
You can keep Sarasa Comets with most other goldfish species in a community fish tank. However, some of the fantail species might struggle to compete for food with the speedy Comets. The slow-swimming fancy types of goldfish can also be injured if they can’t get out of the way of the speedy Comets.
Good pond mates for Comets include Koi, Orfe, and Tench.
If you keep Comets in a fish tank, you might be tempted to include a few temperate species, such as White Cloud Mountain Minnows. However, remember that Comets are omnivores and will eat small fish if they get the chance.
Sarasa Comet Care Guide
Although both environments have quite different requirements, you can keep Sarasa Comet fish in a fish tank or a garden pond.
As these fish grow to be around 14 inches long, you need a minimum tank size of at least 4 feet in length. However, a larger tank would be better so that the fish have plenty of swimming space.
A long, rectangular tank is a must, as Comets are very fast, agile swimmers. Also, goldfish are oxygen-hungry fish, so you need a tank with a large surface area for gaseous exchange.
You will need at least 180 gallons of water in a pond to accommodate up to ten Comets. The shape of the pond is primarily up to you, although it should have a large surface area. It’s also wise to include plenty of living plants in your setup, as they will help to oxygenate the water and take up nitrates.
Like all goldfish species, Comets produce a lot of waste, so the tank needs intensive maintenance.
Ideally, you want a powerful external canister filter system that will remove toxins from the water. Although Comets are powerful, agile swimmers, they don’t appreciate a strong flow, so you might need to buffer the water current in the tank with plants and decorations.
Comet goldfish are coldwater fish that need a water temperature of between 60° to 70°F. The water pH is not critical but ideally should be between 7.0 and 8.4.
You can include driftwood, rocks, and other decorations in your tank. However, you need to leave plenty of open water swimming space for the fish, so place any ornaments around the perimeter of the tank.
If you opt for a tank, you’ll need to carry out 30% weekly water changes to avoid poor water quality. As part of that process, remember to vacuum the aquarium substrate to eliminate fish waste, uneaten food, and plant debris.
Don’t worry too much about cleaning algae from tank decorations or rear glass panels, as goldfish will happily eat it.
Pond-kept fish should have a seasonal maintenance schedule. However, an outdoor pond is much like a natural ecosystem in that the water evaporates, especially during warm weather, being replaced by rainwater. For that reason, you don’t generally need to carry out water changes on a pond. You just need to top up the pond with dechlorinated water when required.
Like a fish tank, a pond will accumulate waste on the bottom, and you will need to remove that from time to time.
Seasonal Maintenance Schedule For A Garden Pond
Here’s a typical maintenance schedule for a garden pond.
In winter, you need to:
- Remove any debris and leaves that fall onto the water surface.
- Pond plants need deadheading and thinning out as required.
- If you live in a climate where the temperature drops below freezing, you need to take steps to prevent the water surface from freezing over completely.
- Stop feeding the fish when they become less active.
In the spring:
- Clean the filtration system and pump.
- Test the water parameters regularly.
- Re-start feeding the fish once they become more active.
- Add plant fertilizer and new plants if required.
- If necessary, keep algae growth under control.
- Check and clean the external filter system as required.
- Feed the fish each morning.
- During hot or dry periods, top up the water in the pond.
During the fall:
- Remove leaves from the water surface every day or two.
- Trim excess plant growth, remembering to attend to the plants under the water surface.
Diet And Nutrition
So, what do Sarasa Comet goldfish eat?
Although it’s often said that these fish are vegetarian, that is indeed a myth. Comets are omnivores, enjoying a diet of plant matter, algae, worms, insect larvae, and basically, anything that will fit into their mouths! So, if your Comets live in a fish pond, it’s likely that they will find a fair amount of food in their environment.
However, besides what the fish can find in the pond, you need to supplement that with high-quality floating pellets. In the aquarium, you should feed your Comets flake foods or pellets that contain no more than 30% protein.
You can also offer your fish a selection of treats in the form of frozen and live foods, such as bloodworms, daphnia, and pond sticks.
How Often And How Much Should I Feed My Sarasa Comets
If you keep your fish in a tank, you should feed them twice a day, offering only what the fish will clear in a few minutes.
Feeding pond-kept fish is slightly different. When the temperature is above 50°F, you should feed the fish once a day. When the temperature falls to between 50° and 41°F, we recommend wheatgerm food. At temperatures below that, the fish won’t need feeding at all, as they remain inactive in the leaf litter and plants at the bottom of the pond, where it’s warmer and sheltered.
Although your fish might appear hungry, Comets are notoriously greedy, so be careful not to overfeed them. Overfeeding can lead to gastric problems, including constipation, swim bladder issues, and bloat. You only need to offer your fish what they will clear in a few minutes.
Sarasa Comets are readily available for just a few dollars in most fish stores and online.
Most Comets sold in fish stores are only a few months old, so they won’t have their bright adult colors. That makes choosing the fish somewhat of a lottery, as you can’t be precisely sure of their patterns and colors. However, that’s all part of the fun of owning these gorgeous fish.
Breeding Sarasa Comets
Goldfish are pretty easy to breed, especially in a pond setting. Provided that you have a mixture of males and females, the fish will breed readily once the water warms up in the spring.
Outside of the breeding season, it can be virtually impossible to separate the girls from the boys. However, in the springtime, you can distinguish males from females by the male’s concave anal section. Males also develop breeding tubercles, which appear as a rash of raised white bumps on the fish’s gill covers. Also, female goldfish are fatter than males when they are carrying eggs.
The female fish lay up to 1,000 eggs, scattering them across the vegetation in the tank or pond. The eggs typically hatch within 48 to 72 hours. You might be concerned that your tank or pond will quickly be overrun with baby fish. However, as adult Comets eat their young, there’s no need to be concerned. Generally, enough babies survive to keep the population healthy, and enough are eaten to prevent overcrowding.
Health And Disease
Sarasa Comets are extremely hardy fish that can tolerate warm and cold water conditions, breed readily, and resist many common fish diseases. That said, you can help to keep your fish in good health by maintaining their tank or pond correctly and feeding them a high-quality diet.
Fisk keepers can successfully treat most common bacterial, parasitic, and fungal infections with over-the-counter medication if they spot the problem quickly.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-keep attractive fish that would do well in a pond setting, the Sarasa Comet could be just what you want.
Comets are beautiful members of the goldfish family that are hardy and breed very readily, too. These lovely fish mix well with other long-bodied goldfish, like Koi, Orfe, and Tench, making them ideal for a mixed community setup. You can keep Comets in a fish tank, but because they grow so large, you’ll need a large aquarium with plenty of space to accommodate a pair.
Also, these beautiful fish are very dirty, producing lots of waste and potentially digging up plants, so you’ll need to be prepared to carry out lots of tank maintenance. All in all, Sarasa Comet fish are more suited to life in a large outdoor fish pond.