How To Tell If A Goldfish Is Pregnant: 5 Signs | Aquascape Addiction

How To Tell If A Goldfish Is Pregnant: 5 Signs

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Want to know if your goldfish is pregnant? here are the main common signs with lots of helpful information, most importantly how to care for them, and the eggs.

How To Tell If A Goldfish Is Pregnant: 5 Signs

Goldfish do not actually get pregnant as they are not live bearers, a distinction we will go into more detail about below. Either way, if you have males and females in your tank, how to tell if a goldfish is pregnant is important to know.

Some signs that a goldfish are pregnant include an oversized or chunky appearance, a lopsided belly, males chasing the females around, as well as a couple of other signs too. Let’s find out how to tell if your goldfish is pregnant and what to do if she is.

Do Goldfish get Pregnant?

One important distinction to make here is that goldfish never actually get pregnant. Pregnancy means that there are live fish growing inside of the mother, just like with humans and mammals in general.

This is known as being a live bearer, because liver bearers carry live fish and they are born living. However, goldfish are not live bearers, which means that they technically never get pregnant.

Yes, goldfish are egg layers, and carrying eggs does not qualify as pregnancy. However, there are still some things to be talked about here.

5 Common Signs of a Pregnant Goldfish

big goldfish

There are a few ways to tell if your goldfish is pregnant or not, common signs that they are pregnant. Now, let’s keep in mind that goldfish are not live bearers, but egg layers, so technically they are never actually pregnant.

However, what you can tell is whether or not a female has eggs inside of here which are ready to be laid and fertilized.

  1. The best way to tell if your goldfish is pregnant is by taking a close look at her body. When a female goldfish is getting ready to lay her eggs, she has dozens, if not hundreds of eggs inside of her. Therefore, she will get chunky, or in other words, she will look fat. She won’t necessarily look super overweight, but you will notice some chunkiness going on.

  2. If a female goldfish is full of eggs and getting ready to lay them, if you go to touch her or even pick here up, you may notice that some eggs may actually fall out of her. If there are lots of eggs inside of her, the body may barely be able to contain them, at which point they may come out.

  3. If your female goldfish is constantly being chased or harassed by your male goldfish, there’s a reason for it, and it’s because they can tell that they are about to get to fertilize some eggs and make some babies of their own.

  4. Something else which may indicate a goldfish full of eggs, or a pregnant goldfish, is if you look at her from a bird’s eye view, if her stomach is larger on one side than the other. This often occurs as a result of the majority of eggs resting on a certain side.

  5. If you see that your male goldfish have tiny white dots on their face, called breeding tubercules, it is a sign that they are ready to spawn. Now, it’s not a 100% for sure indication that the females are pregnant, but it is a good sign.

How Long are Goldfish Pregnant for?

This question is misleading because of course, goldfish are never pregnant. However, they carry eggs for a certain period of time before laying them.

Female goldfish will develop a load of eggs every few months, and this can be anywhere from a couple dozen to hundreds of eggs.

It will take roughly 3 weeks for the eggs growing inside of a goldfish to be ready to be laid. However, female goldfish will only develop eggs given the right conditions.

What Do You Call A Pregnant Goldfish?

There are a few different words that may be used to describe a pregnant goldfish.

The most common word used to describe a pregnant goldfish is a “cowl”. Moreover, although respectable dictionaries usually avoid it, some people use the word “twat” as slang for a pregnant goldfish.

How Do You Take Care of A Pregnant Goldfish?

There is honestly not too much work that goes into taking care of a goldfish that is ready to lay her eggs.

That said, there are a few things which you can do to help the female feel more at home and maybe even to speed the process along.

Spawning Mop

One thing that you can do is to create a spawning mop, or alternatively buy a spawning mop.

Yes, as the name implies, this looks like a mop, and the point of these things is to allow a goldfish to lay her eggs inside of the spawning mop.

Spawning mops are designed to be soft surfaces for the eggs to lay on.

Increase Water Oxygenation

A pregnant goldfish may become more tired due to her increased weight, and she may also need to consume slightly oxygen.

Therefore, try to ensure that there is minimal water movement in the tank and try to very slightly increase water oxygenation too.


Goldfish can live in waters between 10 and 26 degrees Celsius, and generally goldfish live in the lower end of that spectrum.

To get a female goldfish ready for her journey, you can slowly increase the water temperature to 20 degrees, increasing it by only small amounts day by day.


A pregnant female goldfish is going to require lots of energy, which is because she’s being chased by males, she is full of extra weight (eggs), and will need energy to lay the eggs.

In other words, feed your goldfish right and make sure that you are meeting her nutritional needs, if not exceeding them (more info on feeding here).

Goldfish Breeding Tips

Let’s go over some basic facts and tips that you can follow which should help you be more successful when breeding goldfish.

  • A good idea is to remove the male from the tank about 3 days before you expect spawning to happen. This will greatly increase the want and need for the males to spawn or fertilize the eggs.

  • A good idea is to always have a ratio of 2 males to 1 female. This will also help increase the chances of spawning and fertilization occurring.

  • Feed the female additional food. Feed here 1 extra time per day, and slightly increase the amount of food per feeding. Also, give her many protein heavy foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, and other such things.

  • Keep in mind that feeding your goldfish more food will lead to them creating more waste. It’s always good if the water is clean when goldfish are breeding, and therefore you will want to do a daily water change of 20%.

  • As mentioned above, the cleaner the water the better, so make sure your filter is very clean and running at full capacity.

  • Something else to keep in mind is that the optimal tank temperature for goldfish breeding is about 20 degrees Celsius. Therefore, if necessary, use an aquarium heater to get the tank water to the appropriate temperature.

  • Something you will want to do once the eggs have been fertilized, preferably before the goldfish fry hatch, is to remove all adult fish from the tank. Yes people, adult goldfish will eat eggs, even their own.

  • Keep in mind that goldfish reach sexual maturity at 1 year of age, and at that point will be ready to start producing children of their own.

  • A good idea to keep the eggs safe and to maximize hatching is to use a spawning mop, something which we discussed in the above section.


There you have it guys and gals, everything you need to know about goldfish pregnancy and breeding goldfish.

Honestly, chances are huge that if you have males and females in your aquarium, they will probably end up breeding, so be ready!

Photo credit: James Hartshorn/FlickrCC