Shubunkin Goldfish (Care Guide)

colorful goldfish with variegated scales

The Shubunkin Goldfish is notable for its bright colors and patterns. Its long body with a calico pattern stands out in aquariums.

This type of goldfish is hardy, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced aquarium enthusiasts.

They are popular not only for their looks but also for the practical aspects of their care, including their habitat needs and behavior in aquariums.

Understanding how to keep Shubunkin Goldfish healthy involves learning about their specific requirements, which is important for those interested in keeping them.

General Traits

Shubunkin goldfish feature a distinctive calico pattern with colors like black, red, orange, and white.

They can live over ten years with proper care.

They grow between 2.5 to 6.5 inches or larger, requiring ample space for health.


Shubunkin goldfish have slender, long bodies with a varied pattern of black, red, orange, and white colors. No two Shubunkins have the same pattern.

They are suitable for beginners and need large spaces to swim due to their potential size. They have straight tail fins, unlike other goldfish with more complex tails.

Their scales have a pearly quality with a mix of colors, including blue, making each fish unique.


Shubunkin goldfish can live for 10 to 15 years, requiring long-term care. They grow to 9 to 18 inches, and their lifespan depends on a good diet, water quality, and a natural-like habitat.

Consistent care is essential for their well-being.


Shubunkin goldfish sizes range from 2.5 inches as young ones to 6 inches as adults. They require large spaces to grow fully. Growth rates depend on diet, space, water quality, and environment. Proper care and a balanced diet are critical for them to reach their maximum size.

Shubunkins have slender bodies, straight tail fins, and unique mottled patterns. It’s important to consider their potential size and quantity when setting up an aquarium or pond for a healthy environment.

Aquarium Preparation Tips

Choose an adequately sized aquarium for Shubunkin Goldfish to suit their growth and activity.

Clean all equipment and decorations to eliminate harmful residues.

Use a high-quality filter to control waste and keep water quality high.

Tank Size

A 20-gallon tank is the minimum size required for one Shubunkin Goldfish. Due to their size and need for space to swim, Shubunkins need larger tanks, especially if housing multiple fish, to avoid overcrowding and stress.

Adequate tank size is important for their growth, health, and water quality, and also helps minimize aggression between fish.

Tank Equipment And Decorations

For the health and enrichment of Shubunkin Goldfish, the aquarium must have a strong filtration system and carefully chosen decorations and plants that offer shelter and stimulation without causing harm. The aquarium’s quality and environment significantly impact the fish’s health, combining aesthetic and health considerations. Creating an environment similar to their natural habitat benefits the Shubunkin Goldfish in captivity.

  • Robust Filtration System: Maintains cleanliness and a high oxygen level.
  • Smooth Decorations: Provide safe places to hide and avoid injuries.
  • Real or Artificial Silk Plants: Serve as shelters and improve water quality.
  • Soft or Rounded Gravel: Appropriate for digging behavior.
  • Diverse Decorations: Promote exploration and mental activity.

Husbandry Practices

Good care is essential for Shubunkin Goldfish health and life span. This includes proper feeding, strict water quality control, regular tank cleaning, and quick disease management.

Applying these methods properly creates a healthy habitat for the fish.


A balanced diet for Shubunkin Goldfish includes flakes, pellets, freeze-dried, and frozen foods to meet their omnivorous needs. As omnivores, they require a mix of plant and animal foods for optimal health.

  • Pellet Food: Provides complete nutrition; should be the main part of their diet.
  • Vegetables: Offer blanched peas or lettuce for fiber.
  • Dried and Live Food: Use brine shrimp or bloodworms for protein.
  • Feeding Frequency: Feed in small quantities that the fish can eat within 1-2 minutes.
  • Water Quality: Remove leftover food to avoid water pollution.

Proper feeding is crucial for the health, growth, and well-being of Shubunkin Goldfish.

Water Parameters

A balanced diet is essential for Shubunkin Goldfish health, but maintaining correct water parameters is also critical. Regular water testing is necessary for the fish’s welfare. Shubunkin Goldfish, part of the goldfish family, need specific conditions to thrive. Proper filtration and aeration are key to maintaining these conditions, as shown in the table below. The table provides important information for aquarists caring for Shubunkin Goldfish.

ParameterIdeal RangeNotes
Temperature65-72°F (18-22°C)A stable temperature is essential
pH Level7.0 – 8.4Prefers neutral to slight alkaline
Ammonia0 ppmMust be absent, as it’s toxic
Nitrite0 ppmAlso must be absent
Nitrate< 40 ppmShows water cycle is mature

Tank Maintenance

Regular tank maintenance is essential for the health and longevity of Shubunkin Goldfish. It is important for Shubunkin and related species, such as comet and fancy goldfish. Maintenance involves partial water changes to keep the water quality high and cleaning the filter to remove waste and debris.

It is crucial to regularly check the water’s temperature, pH, ammonia, and nitrate levels to ensure they are within a safe range for Shubunkin goldfish. Also, heaters and air pumps need to be checked for proper functioning.

Algae, uneaten food, and detritus should be removed promptly to keep the tank clean and visually appealing for the fish.

Common Diseases

Good husbandry practices are imperative in safeguarding Shubunkin Goldfish from common diseases such as ich, fin rot, and swim bladder issues. By understanding that goldfish are omnivores, caretakers can provide a varied diet that supports immune health, thus preventing many ailments that afflict these fish. Ensuring the health of the exact fish in your care involves vigilant monitoring and management of their environment and diet.

  • Regular Water Testing: Keep an eye on ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.
  • Quarantine New Fish: Prevent the spread of pathogens to established populations.
  • Balanced Diet: Avoid overfeeding and provide a variety of nutrients.
  • Tank Cleanliness: Perform routine cleaning to eliminate waste and contaminants.
  • Stress Reduction: Use proper acclimation techniques for new fish to minimize stress-related diseases.

Temperament and Social Traits

Shubunkin goldfish are known for their calm and friendly nature, often doing well with other goldfish and koi in shared environments. They are peaceful, making them suitable for community tanks and ponds. They are sometimes called ‘poor man’s koi’ because of their calico patterns, similar to more expensive koi.

These fish are social, active, and enjoy swimming. They like to interact with other fish and are known to be playful and curious. Shubunkins are adaptable to different tank conditions and are resilient to changes in water parameters and social settings.

However, it is important to watch their interactions with other fish to maintain a peaceful environment. Overcrowding can cause stress and aggression, which is not typical for Shubunkins.

Compatible Aquarium Companions

Shubunkin Goldfish are sociable and require companions with similar needs and a peaceful nature. To ensure harmony in the tank, it’s crucial to choose species that can live together without issues. Considerations for selecting companions include tank size, filtration, and swimming space.

A well-planned tank promotes the well-being of its inhabitants. The following species are compatible with Shubunkin Goldfish:

  • Common Goldfish and Comet Goldfish: They have similar requirements and behaviors, making them suitable companions.
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows: A resilient species that thrives in the cooler water Shubunkins prefer.
  • Rosy Red Minnows: Peaceful and able to live in the same temperature range as Shubunkins.
  • Rubber Lip Plecos: Prefer cooler water and help maintain tank cleanliness without disturbing Shubunkins.
  • Bristlenose Plecos: Can adjust to cooler water and are effective at cleaning the tank.

Reproduction Techniques

Reproduction of Shubunkin Goldfish requires an environment that imitates their natural breeding habitat, particularly regarding temperature and light. These factors are vital for initiating spawning. As spring or early summer nears, it’s important to keep water temperatures between 68-74°F. To promote spawning, gradually increase the temperature to within 74-76°F and extend daylight exposure to 12-14 hours per day to reflect their breeding season’s longer daylight hours.

Identifying the gender of Shubunkin goldfish is a key step in reproduction. Males are recognizable by small white spots, or breeding tubercles, on their gill covers and operculum. Females look more rounded when carrying eggs. During spawning, males pursue females, resulting in the females releasing eggs, which males then externally fertilize.

After spawning, adult fish should be removed from the tank to protect the eggs from being eaten. A separate tank is needed for the fry, which must have live food and regular water changes to ensure proper growth conditions.

While the Calico telescope goldfish may have similar breeding needs, it’s important to address each breed’s particular requirements for successful reproduction.

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