Selective breeding over centuries has produced several color variations, some of them far removed from the "golden" color of the originally domesticated fish. There are also different body shapes, fin and eye configurations. Some extreme versions of the goldfish live only in aquariums—they are much less hardy than varieties closer to the "wild" original. However, some variations are hardier, such as the Shubunkin. Currently, there are about 300 breeds.  The vast majority of goldfish breeds today originated from China.

The major named varieties include:

Gold or Red Fantails (Carassius auratus) are defined by the sweeping, fan-like, double tails which combine with color and graceful, beautiful movement, red fantails are a staple in early freshwater aquarium or small garden pond.

An oranda is a breed of goldfish characterized by a prominent bubbly-like hood encasing its head. The hood or headgrowth (also known as wen) encases the whole head except for the eyes and mouth.

Calico Fantails (Carassius auratus) are characterized with all the grace and beauty of the red fantail plus the brilliant, variegated coloring of the shubunkin, calico fantails have multi-colored metallic scales with a short round body and a split tail fin.

The characteristic feature of the pearlscale is its thick, domed scales with pearl-like appearance. Its body is round and similar to a golf ball.

Black Moors (Carassius auratus) are a member of the fantail goldfish family. For contrast in any aquarium, the velvety black of Moors forms a striking and beautiful combination.

Pompoms are a type of fancy goldfish that have bundles of loose fleshy outgrowths between the nostrils, on each side of the head.  

The Bubble Eye is a small variety of fancy goldfish with upward pointing eyes that are accompanied by two large fluid-filled sacs.

The ranchu is a highly regarded fancy goldfish in Japan. Compared to lionheads, ranchus have a more downturned tail and tail fin. 

Celestial eye goldfish is a double-tailed breed of fancy goldfish that has a breed-defining pair of telescope eyes which are turned upwards, pupils gazing skyward. 

The ryukin is a short deep-bodied fancy goldfish with a characteristic hump in the shoulder region.  The ryukin is a hardy and attractive variety of goldfish with a pointed head and has a pronounced hump on the back behind the head.

The telescope eye, demekin, or moor is a fancy goldfish characterized by its protruding eyes. It is also known asglobe eye or dragon eye goldfish.

The word koi comes from Japanese, simply meaning "carp". It includes both the dull grey fish and the brightly colored varieties.

The lionhead is a hooded variety of fancy goldfish. This fish is the precursor to the ranchu.  The "wen" (Chinese term for headgrowth) fully covers the head, cheeks and gill plates of the fish.

Shubunkins are a hardy, single-tailed fancy goldfish with nacreous scales, and a pattern known as calico. The shubunkins are of Japanese origin. Shubunkins are similar to the common goldfish and comet goldfish in appearance.