shubunkin goldfish care

Shubunkin Goldfish Care and Info

Meet The Shubunkin Goldfish

Unique colorations and social behavior make Shubunkin Goldfish a popular choice for freshwater aquariums.  This fancy goldfish breed belongs to the family Cyprinidae, which also includes Carps, Chubs, and Minnows.  

Shubunkin Goldfish are classified as Carassius auratus. They are sometimes referred to as “Calico Goldfish” because of their mottled color patterns, which can be made of a wide variety of colors. What makes them unique from other goldfish is the blue hue to their background color, which is very rare in a goldfish.

Some History of the Shubunkin

Shubunkin goldfish history

Wild goldfish, Carassius auratus, are subtropical fish found in central Asia and China. They live in stagnant to slow-moving waters in lakes and rivers. The Shubunkin Goldfish, along with other varieties of pet goldfish, are not identified as threatened or endangered. They have been captive-bred for many generations and are not found in the wild.

Shubunkin Tank Setup

A comfortable environment for Shubunkin Goldfish starts with the tank. Experts on Shubunkin Goldfish recommend setting up your tank with the following:

  • dechlorinated water (normalized for temperature for 24 hours)
  • biological filtration
  • tank thermometer
  • a lid for the tank (to avoid evaporation)
  • a circulating pump
  • siphoning tube to remove debris
  • lighting may be necessary if you have live plants

These items will help keep the environment clean and aerated, which are requirements for healthy fish.

Shubunkin Goldfish can thrive in a variety of conditions but do best in a tank with fewer plants (real or artificial) as they tend to uproot them in search of food. They are hearty eaters and will eat from the surface as well as foraging through the substrate, so any medium-sized substrate is appropriate.

They also produce more waste than other types of fish, so biological filtration is preferred. Rocks and other structures in the tank should be short and smooth to protect their flowing fins.

Shubunkin Tank Size

Shubunkin Goldfish tank size

Shubunkin Goldfish tolerate cold water well, even just a few degrees above freezing, so they would do well in a roomy, outdoor pond.  If you plan to keep them in an indoor aquarium, a 20-gallon tank is a minimum size for 1 fish. As a general rule, allow 20 gallons per Shubunkin Goldfish because they are active swimmers and grow quickly.  

Experts agree that while it is possible to stunt their size by keeping them in a smaller tank, this does cause health issues. Shubunkins also consume more oxygen than most fish their size and would benefit from a tank that provides a maximum amount of water surface area, such as a longer tank rather than a taller tank.  

Shubunkin Water Parameters

Water quality is important to the health of your fish and Shubunkin Goldfish will tolerate a wide range, but in general, aim for these parameters:

  • Temperature: 65-72⁰F
  • pH: 6-8
  • Hardness: 5-19 dGH
  • Nitrates: 0 ppm
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm

Test water monthly for pH, nitrates, and ammonia. Any trace of nitrates or ammonia could indicate dirty water due to waste or byproducts. Clean the tank, structures, and flora regularly and replace ¼ of the water weekly with fresh, dechlorinated water.

Three Types of Shubunkins

Within the Shubunkin breed, there are three distinct varieties: American (also called Japanese), Bristol, and London. They are mainly differentiated by their tail shape:

  • American Shubunkins have a long, pointed tail fin with a deep fork
  • Bristol Shubunkins have a large, full tail fin
  • London Shubunkins have a shorter, rounder tail fin

Shubunkin Vs. Comet Goldfish

Shubunkin Goldfish and Comet Goldfish look very similar and it can be difficult to differentiate these two species. Both are fancy goldfish with long, flowing fins and forked tails. And both come in a variety of color combinations.  

Shubunkins, however, have a unique combination of scales that make them appear pearlescent. They also have some blue in their background color.


As with most aquarium fish, owners should be cautious of overfeeding. Feed them what they can eat within two minutes, twice a day. Shubunkin Goldfish are voracious eaters and have been known to steal food from other fish.  

If you have shyer fish in the tank, make sure they get enough to eat.  They are omnivores and can get a quality diet from flake food and occasionally brine shrimp, bloodworms, tubifex, and vegetables.

Shubunkin Tank Mates

Shubunkin Goldfish are peaceful and social and would get along well with most peaceful fish.  They are active swimmers and scavengers, so other scavenging fish may not be necessary.  

They may steal food from other fish, so use caution if housing them with shyer tank mates.  Some species that are good options as tank mates are Cherry Barbs, Glass Catfish, Ornamental Minnows, and Zebrafish.

Avoid keeping them with slower swimming fancy goldfish such as the bubble eye goldfish, ranchu goldfish and other round bodied fancies.

Shubunkin Lifespan

Shubunkin Lifespan

Healthy Shubunkin Goldfish can live up to 20 years and grow to 18 inches in a pond, or up to 12 inches and 15 years in a well-maintained tank.


Shubunkin Goldfish are moderately easy to breed.  Use a spawning tank with plenty of plants, real or artificial.  Slowly cool the water to about 60⁰F, then slowly raise the temperature to about 72⁰F.  

The increase in temperature will trigger them to spawn.  Females can produce thousands of eggs, but after spawning, the adults will usually eat the eggs, so it is recommended to remove them from the spawning tank.  

Eggs will hatch in about 7 days and the fry will need to be fed small foods or fry diet until they are large enough to eat a regular goldfish diet.  They may join the adult tank when they are at least one inch.

Shubunkin Goldfish are active, beautiful, and hardy fish that tolerate a wide range of conditions.  They are also very social and would be welcomed by a variety of tank mates.  Use caution with shyer fish at feeding time as Shubunkins may steal food.

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