I don’t know about you but for the longest time, I wanted a garden pond with a display of fabulous fish? I dreamed about, planned, dreamed about, and planned, but always kind of procrastinated thinking it would be hard to do, and difficult to care for. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Finally, I built my pond, more on that later, and set about choosing the fish. It didn’t take me long to find the ideal species; it was love at first sight for the glorious Sarasa Comet (carassius auratus). They are attractive, personable, and incredibly easy to care for. Ideal for the beginner and expert pond keeper alike.
Want to know more? Then read on and learn everything you need to with this complete care guide to keeping this truly gorgeous species the Sarasa Comet.
Sarasa Comet Characteristics and Care
The Sarasa Comet is a popular and appealing species for both aquariums and ponds alike. They are graceful and lithe, intelligent, incredibly peaceful, and perfectly personable. They are also often confused with their close cousin the ornamental carp who only differs in their facial barbels, and ability to grow much larger than the Sarasa Comet.
Care wise the Sarasa Comets main requirements are an incredibly large space to reside in. This can come in the form of a pond or an aquarium but it is always worth bearing in mind that for many homes a four to a six-foot aquarium, if not bigger, is just not feasible. They also need highly oxygenated water, a healthy diet, and good aquarium/pond maintenance. All the above we will cover in much greater detail later, but first here is a useful table of information on the basics.
|Scientific Name||Carassius Auratus|
|Common Name||Sarasa comet|
|Lifespan||Average 5-10 but can live to 25 years plus|
|Growth||Up to 14 inches (1ft 2”)|
|Minimum Tank/Pond Sizes||180-gallon pond, 48 inches (120 cm) plus aquarium|
|Water Parameters||36 - 90℉ or 2.2 - 32℃, pH 6.8 - 7.2, KH 2 - 12|
Colour and Appearance of Sarasa Comets
Capable of growing up to 14 inches in length the Sarasa Comet has a brilliant red/gold body with soft white patches randomly placed on it. They have a single tail and erect dorsal fins and are slightly more slender than a common goldfish although basically the same shape. Interestingly, color does not develop on the Sarasa Comet until they are at least eight months old. Prior to this, they are a metallic brown color which is quite attractive in its own way.
Related to color but in a completely different way, the Sarasa Comets vision has been studied more than that of any other fish. This has led to the discovery that they are tetrachromats, meaning they are capable of distinguishing between four different primary colors. These are red, green, blue and ultraviolet and it is possible due to the Sarasa Comet having four kinds of cone cells.
Sarasa Comet Habitat
Normally this would be the portion of the guide to Sarasa Comets where we would discuss where the species comes from and in what kind of habitat it resides in. However, the Sarasa Comet is a variety of goldfish that has been developed by man, rather than is swimming around in the lakes of anywhere!
What we can say is that the goldfish originated in places like China, Hong Kong, Japan, Laos, Macau, and Myanmar. In fact more than a thousand years ago it was the Chinese that selectively bred them. The first records of them being kept in ornamental ponds or water gardens is also in China and occurred during the Tang dynasty of 618 to 907.
Since then the goldfish and its many variations have been distributed and bred all over the world. The majority that we purchase nowadays have come from large breeding farms with some also being bred and sold from home aquariums. The Sarasa Comet and other goldfish breed easily and frequently in many environments.
Sarasa Comet Behavior and Temperament
Sarasa Comets are incredibly active fish that love to swim around in schools searching for food. They are incredibly food orientated and everything they do, with the exception of breeding, is in the pursuit of it. This food obsession can cause problems, however, such as the digging up of plants that you have carefully rooted in their habitat to get to tasty, to the Sarasa Comet, roots. You can, however, get around this by simply surrounding plants with large rocks that this species cannot move.
Personality wise the Sarasa Comet is an incredibly friendly fish to both their own species and others. It would be very rare for a Sarasa Comet to hurt another Sarasa Comet as they enjoy each other’s company too much. They can be mixed with pretty much any other large enough species without any problems as long as the other species can compete with the greedy Sarasa Comet for food.
Interaction with humans is also very friendly with the Sarasa Comet being capable of recognizing one human being from another. They often develop closer ‘friendships’ with one of their keepers than the others but do not be fooled into thinking that it’s love! Chances are the favored keeper will be the one who feeds the Sarasa Comet, they really are all about the food!
Being so food orientated makes the Sarasa Comet a great candidate for reward-based learning which they are completely capable of. It has been proven, time and again, that this species can distinguish between different shapes, colors, and sounds. Using this and their love of food the Sarasa Comet can be trained to do tricks, respond to light signals of different colors, and even hand feed.
Please note that during winter Sarasa Comets are far less active due to the lower temperatures. They will also slow down, perhaps even stop, their eating habits. This is nothing to worry about and as the weather warms back up your Sarasa Comets will start eating again and become more active.
The first step on the road to great Sarasa Comet care is to decide on where the best place is for them to reside. It is true that they can be kept in both an aquarium environment or an outside pond and that both are as suitable as each other. However, they do need a large space in which to thrive meaning an aquarium may be ruled out for many.
If you do want to consider the aquarium root, it is no good basing the size required on the guides available for fancy goldfish. For one, most fancy goldfish grow to differing sizes, and two, the Sarasa Comet is far more active and speedy than most. This means that they also require a larger swimming space.
The smallest size recommended for a Sarasa Comet aquarium would be at least four foot in length. It would, however, be preferable and more beneficial to the fish itself for one to be six feet or over. Filtration, is also highly important, especially if the aquarium you choose is on the smaller side as Sarasa Comets produce a lot of waste and require exceptional maintenance.
This would seem to be as good a time as any to dispel one or two fish myths relating to aquarium/pond size and reveal the truth. Getting straight to the point, fish do not grow to the size of their aquarium, and an aquarium too small does not stunt nor deform them. In fact, fish are indeterminate growers that will grow until they die, unless their water quality is poor.
This revelation, that poor water quality is responsible for fish stunting and deformity should be a huge factor in whether or not you settle for a four-foot aquarium for your Sarasa Comet or you opt for a pond. This species creates a huge amount of waste and in smaller aquariums will rapidly deplete the quality of your water. In turn, this can lead to deformity or/and stunting which is something nobody wants.
Regarding a pond, you will require at least a 180 gallons water capacity to house up to ten Sarasa Comets. There are no rules as to what this pond should look like, you can use your imagination, but be careful to ensure that the Sarasa Comet will have lots of swimming space and surface area for oxygenisation.
Sarasa Comets are huge oxygen guzzlers meaning that not also should you have a good amount of surface area but also excellent filtration. An air pump (Read our review of the 9 quietest air pumps) and plants can also be highly beneficial in providing extra oxygen. Just ensure the roots of plants are well protected from the Sarasa Comet as they enjoy a tasty root or two.
Whether you choose a pond or an aquarium Sarasa Comets require regular maintenance. For an aquarium you will need to perform 30 – 50% weekly water changes and cleaning, and for ponds you will need to perform maintenance to a seasonal schedule. Please note, due to water evaporation garden ponds rarely need water changes. Rather, they require regular topping up, including the use of water conditioner to dechlorinate the water. They will still, however, need regular cleaning to remove waste that has settled to the bottom. You’ll also need a suitable external filter to cope with the size off the aquarium and the amount of waste and leftover food these fish will produce. Read our guide on larger filters.
A seasonal schedule for a garden pond would be:
- Remove leaves and debris regularly
- Deadhead pond plants
- Change Sarasa Comet diet/ stop feeding
- Prevent pond from freezing where possible
- Thoroughly clean pump and filter
- Test water parameters
- Re-start feeding/ change diet
- Add new plants and fertilize the old
- Keep algae growth under control
- Check and clean the filter regularly
- Feed regularly
- Top up water regularly during hot/dry periods
- Sweep leaves off the surface
- Prune back excess plant growth above and under the surface
Before you can provide great care for your Sarasa Comet you first need to obtain them. This is not difficult as most aquatic stores will have a good selection for you to choose from. Remember, however, that if the specimens are under eight months old, they will more than likely still be metallic brown and yet to display their patterns.
Whilst you cannot choose Sarasa Comets by the pattern you can choose them by how healthy they appear. Thriving specimens will have no white spots, swim with their fins held upright, not be afraid of people, actively swim, and have no clamped fins.
Acclimatization is an important part of introducing your Sarasa Comets to your aquarium or pond. They may be able to tolerate temperatures both high (see dispelling myths) and low but they cannot quick fluctuations. To avoid this, you should float the bag with your Sarasa Comet in it within the aquarium or pond for at least twenty minutes. Following this, open the bag and add aquarium water to it floating securely for a further twenty minutes. Repeat this step once or twice more before netting the Sarasa Comet and placing it into the water. Dispose of the water left in the bag elsewhere to avoid dirty store water getting into your pond or aquarium.
Dispelling Myths about the Sarasa Comet
The rumor that Sarasa Comets, and goldfish in general, will only grow to the size of their aquarium is not the only one associated with them. There are in fact plenty more which include:
Myth – They only have a three-second memory.
Truth – Their memory is, in fact, three months!
Myth – They only live for short periods.
Truth – The length of their lives will depend mainly on care. The oldest (goldfish) recorded lived 49 years!
Myth – They only live in cold water.
Truth – They can, in fact, live in tropical waters! (see cold water or tropical?)
Myth – They are toxic to other fish.
Truth – Not in any way are they toxic to other fish. This myth began only due to people not providing the correct maintenance and other fish dying due to poor water quality!
Myth – They are herbivores.
Truth – No, they are in fact omnivores which brings us to ……….
Sarasa Comet Diet & Feeding
Sarasa Comets should be fed a flake or pellet high-quality food that contains no more than 30% protein. For optimum health, this should also be paired with other foodstuffs such as pond sticks, and live or frozen foods. Brine shrimp, bloodworm, and krill would be good examples of the latter which Sarasa Comets really enjoy.
Kept in an aquarium the Sarasa Comet should be fed the above diet all year round, but in a pond, things are slightly different. Sarasa Comet activity will drop as the temperature decreases meaning they do not require the same high amounts of nutrition.
As a guide when the temperature is above 50℉ (10℃) you should feed the Sarasa Comet as normal. Between 41℉ (5℃) and 50℉ (10℃), you should feed a wheat germ food. Below 41℉ (5℃) and you should stop feeding altogether. Do not worry about this, stopping feeding will not kill your Sarasa Comet, they will be fine. All varieties of goldfish have the ability to hibernate and forego food for several months.
During regular feeding times, Sarasa Comets can be fed up to three times a day but only in the amount that they can eat within around two minutes. As stated previously Sarasa Comets are a greedy species that will overeat happily. This, overfeeding, can lead to gastric problems such as indigestion, constipation, and swim bladder disorder (SBD).
Breeding and Sexual Differences
The male of the Sarasa Comet can be distinguished from the female by its concave anal section and possible by a breeding spot on its head. The female, also when ready to breed will appear much fatter due to the fact she is carrying eggs.
Breeding Sarasa Comets is incredibly simple, in fact, you will not need to do anything at all to encourage them. This species will breed regularly and easily in established ponds and aquariums especially around the spring. This can lead to, despite the Sarasa Comet eating their young, ponds and aquariums becoming overstocked fairly quickly.
As befits their personality Sarasa Comets are not aggressive breeders. Rather, they will chase an egg carrying female around before gently bumping and nudging them to encourage the release of the eggs. The female can lay up to 1000 eggs at a time and will do so amongst vegetation where a natural adhesive will cause them to stick.
The period between laying and hatching is very short, just 48 to 72 hours. The emerging fry, however, are not fully formed and will take a while to become so. As stated before they also do not display the vibrant red and white coloration until they mature at around eight months old.
As also stated before the Sarasa Comet will eat their young so to address this mother nature has made them fast growing. They will only grow healthily, however, with the right nutrition and water parameters. Sarasa Comets born in poor water also stand little chance of reaching sexual maturity. To give them their best chance of thriving you should feed Sarasa Comet fry small live foods.
Suitable Tank & Ponds Mates For a Sarasa Comet
Due to their peaceful and friendly personalities, the Sarasa Comet can be placed with most other cold water species. However, you should be aware that fancy goldfish species such as those that are twin-tailed will struggle to compete with the Sarasa Comet for food. This makes them a less than an ideal companion.
In a fish tank, the Black Moor makes for good tank mates, both are very peaceful fish. Also, consider the Oranda goldfish which are beautiful fish for indoor aquariums but not suited to outdoor ponds.
Tench and Orfe are highly recommended tank mates for Sarasa Comets, especially since the Orfe, in particular, will help keep the fry population of the Sarasa Comet down. They will eat them along with the Sarasa Comet parents.
Cold Water or Tropical?
You may have noticed in the ‘useful information’ section that the temperatures compatible with the Sarasa Comet are listed between 36 – 90℉ (2.2 – 32℃). It also says in the ‘myths dispelled’ that they can live in tropical waters. How can this be?
Well, the goldfish, in general, does not come from a cold water climate. Their natural habitat is South East Asia where the waters are warm. This means that the Sarasa Comet, none the less a developed species of goldfish, still has the capabilities to tolerate warmer water.
Still, having said that warmer water is fine for the Sarasa Comet we do need to take into account that they, as stated above, are a developed variant of the goldfish, and have more than likely been developed in colder waters. This means that also as stated above, their ability to live in warmer waters may indeed just be ‘tolerance’ rather than thriving.
Then there is the debate over whether Sarasa Comet and other goldfish, are really compatible with tropical species? I personally believe this is rather a moot point as no matter the water temperature they live in there are fish that do and do not get on. There may, however, be something to the argument that they eat completely different foods! A Sarasa Comet eating tropical food certainly is not going to be getting the nutrition it needs.
The truth is, as is so very often the case, that there probably is no right and wrong when choosing to keep Sarasa Comets in either tropical or cold water environments. Rather it will be a case of trial and error and a judgment call that should be left to the individual keeper. It goes without saying, however, I should think that if you think your fish are suffering or not thriving through being in a tropical climate environment that you should make alternative arrangements for them.
It is very rare that the final thoughts in an article concerning a species of fish do not have at least one or two downsides to keeping them. However, the Sarasa Comet really is one of the species I can truly state this for. They have no special requirements, other than a large living space, are easy to care for and breed very easily too. They really are a fish keepers dream!
Like most fish, if the water quality is not good enough it can result in your fish contracting a fish disease. If this happens you will need to act fast. Read our complete guide on fish diseases here.
It would, however, reminisce of me if I didn’t ask you to think carefully before choosing the home for your potential Sarasa Comets. A request for you to stop and think long and hard about what might be best? Will a 4-foot aquarium be sufficient for example? Or do you really want to put them in with tropical?
Whatever, the answers may be, and I leave that to your best judgment, the Sarasa Comet is an incredibly attractive fish to keep. Be it simply watching them gracefully swim around their environment or getting a little more hands-on and training them, they will, no doubt, entertain you for hours. And what more could you really ask for from your favorite (I guarantee you) fishy friends?
Happy Fishkeeping Forever!