The Winch Fish
by Noelene Pullen - Click images to
Legendary Australian waterlily hybridizer Charles Winch acquired
his first two goldfish in 1928 from a Chinese market gardener.
As his interest grew he obtained various kinds of coldwater goldfish
including calicos, shubunkins, fantails, moors, orandas, lionheads,
After demobilisation following the Second World War, Charlie
decided not to return to poultry farming but instead make goldfish
breeding his main occupation and so became an aquatic nurseryman.
When he first bred fish in the early 1930s it took from one to
three years for goldfish to change colour from brown to gold.
By the 1950s all his young fish turned red from six weeks to
twelve months due to twenty years of selective breeding from
fish that turned gold more quickly. As years went by, the fish
produced were closer to red than gold. Charlie gained a reputation
in Australia for breeding the deepest coloured comets.
During spawning season he at first used water hyacinths but
later transferred to willow tree roots. In the 1970s, he looked
after about sixty thousand fish in his nursery each spring. In
his early days the baby fish were fed strained boiled egg yolk,
but later he used Daphnea (water fleas). The diet of older
fish also changed as years went by from porridge to ground dog
Cleaning ponds was a major exercise. Rubber boots, fish nets,
wide hoses and sieves (square wooden boxes with mesh in the bottom
to prevent fish from being siphoned out of the pond), white enamel
dishes (later painted light blue to reduce the glare) and long
deep sieves for sorting were his tools of trade. He made all
his own sieves and nets. Charlie also became an expert in avoiding
mouthfuls of dirty water when siphoning!
Before the advent of oxygen and plastic bags, goldfish were transported
to customers in kerosene tins with wooden handles. In 1952 he
purchased an American Willys Overland Station Wagon to enable
safe delivery of his goldfish to pet shops in and around Sydney.
It wasn't fun for his daughters to be splashed with water
if the car needed to stop quickly in traffic! Charlie's longest
running customer was Nock & Kirbys department store in the
city which he supplied for over forty years. He also delivered
to Toy Fisheries at Homebush for many years.
As well as goldfish, Charlie sold aquarium plants and water
snails. His wife Beryl worked alongside him, preparing the plants
(mainly Vallisneria, Anacharis and Cabomba).
During school holidays, their two daughters helped collect water
snails and replant young aquarium plants.
Profile - Charles Winch
In the late 1960s, Charlie was one of the first people in Australia
to have koi carp, acquiring them from a friend. He bred them
for a few years but became frustrated with their suicidal tendencies
especially during storms.
Red telescope moor 1980
Koi carp 1972 >
Charles Winch Galleries
Hybridizing of Tropical Waterlilies by
Charles A. Winch
Paper presented during the Third International
Waterlily Symposium held at Denver in August 1987
Charles Winch Honored
The Winch Nurseries - A Photographic History