For centuries the Europeans had been lured by the miracles of the East. The caravans and ships from exotic eastern countries with spices, strange animals, jewelry, vases and fans, boxes with images of unusual fish. In Europe nobody saw those fish, for a long time they were considered the fruits of imagination of unknown artists. For centuries one of the wonders of the world - goldfish - had been hiding behind the walls of the Chinese and Japanese imperial palaces.
There's lot of legends about its origins. One of them tells that goldfish, playing and swimming in a celestial palace, fell over the edge of the cloud to the ground. The other tells about a terrible storm, during which the ocean, enraged, threw out its depths beautiful fishes to the shore. The third legend narrates about a girl as beautiful as morning dawn, who was left by her lover. She had been weeping bitterly, and goldfish arose from her tears.
There are other legends, but perhaps the most beautiful is that neither gods nor magicians, but ordinary people have created amazing fish.
Due to the enormous patience and the work of generations of ancient scientists it was managed to change shape and color of fish. This was achieved by feeding them to the specific types of food, by the selection of water reservoirs, lighting, and other techniques.
Goldfish is the first species of fish, which had been domesticated and kept in aquariums. Most likely, in the early ages, there were non-transparent vessels of different shapes and fish was observed over the top. The first information about the goldfish in China dates back to the Jin Dynasty (265-420).
The images of goldfish were found in the earliest Chinese scripts and the coats of arms of the famous families. The first knowledge on the cultivation of goldfish in artificial pools in China is attributed to the 10-12th centuries.
First, goldfish were introduced to Portugal in 1611 and then to England and other parts of Europe. Goldfish was a rarity in Europe, and was given as a precious gift to the nobility and royalty. Thus, the goldfish were presented to the Marquise de Pompadour and in Russia Prince Potemkin gave the goldfish to Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia.
In 17th century goldfish were highly regarded in Southern Europe and were known to symbolize good luck and fortune. There was a tradition for married men to give their wives a goldfish on their year anniversary, as a symbol for the prosperous years to come. This tradition died, when goldfish became more available around Europe. Goldfish were first introduced to North America around 1850 and became very popular in the US.