|Synonyms||Carassius carassius auratus, Cyprinus auratus, Carassius auratus, Cyprinus mauritianus, Cyprinus thoracatus, Carassius chinensis, Cyprinus maillardi, Carassius auratus cantonensis|
|Distribution||Ancestors (goldfish) were native to China, Hong Kong, Japan, Laos, Macau and Myanmar.|
|Sexual Dimorphism||Mature females fuller bodied. Mature males are leaner and show breeding tubercles on gill plates & pectoral fins when in spawning condition.|
|Maximum Size||Usually up to 30cm (12"), although larger specimens have been reported.|
|Water Parameters||Neutral to alkaline conditions preferred. pH: 7.0-8.0, dH: up to 25 degrees.|
|Temperature||Coldwater: 4-30 deg C (39-86 deg F)|
|Compatibility||Large fish community|
|Special Requirements||Avoid unfiltered bowls and small aquaria.|
First developed over 200 years ago, Shubunkin have a long pedigree as pet fish. Their colouration - calico, was inherited from fancy goldfish that were crossed with single-tailed goldfish to give the best of both forms. Their mixture of blue, red and black pigments is made possible thanks to the non-reflective scales of these fish and this trait often gives them a pink blush to the gill covers. 'Shubs' are the perfect alternative to koi for the average garden pond and these brightly coloured fish compliment other goldfish breeds such as sarasa comets and canary yellow goldfish beautifully. Goldfish should be kept in groups but these can consist of a mixture of varieties - just make sure that female fish aren’t outnumbered by the more long-finned and lightly-built males, which chase them relentlessly during spawning.
Like all hardy goldfish breeds, these are a great choice for the garden pond. Hardy and long-lived, they’ll happily live amongst pond plants and don’t place too much of a burden on filtration, even as mature fish. Not only do their colours complement other varieties but they’ll freely interbreed, with fry often showing the typical goldfish dark colouration that protects them from predators until they grow large enough to look after themselves.
In their long history as pets, it’s become common practice to keep goldfish indoors in containers that are much too small for them. As you can imagine, housing a 30cm pond fish in a bowl is not ideal and a suitable indoor aquarium should be at least 100 litres in capacity and well-filtered for young specimens. Far better alternatives are available for indoor keeping and tropical fish are far easier and a good deal less work. If your heart is set on goldfish as a pet, consider starting with small fish in a large aquarium which can then be upgraded to a spacious pond as they grow – obviously, this is only an option with pond-hardy varieties.
Goldfish are hardy and adaptable fishes, but they prefer hard water and whether indoors or out and soft, acidic conditions are to be avoided. To minimise the stresses of cold winter weather and hot summer days, a fishpond should be at least 60cm (2’) deep in places. During the coldest weather, this area should remain undisturbed by vigorous water circulation and will be used as a refuge from extreme cold.
At temperatures of 15c and above, male goldfish will start to pursue females in a spawning chase, driving them into suitable egg laying sites. Mature goldfish will breed on a regular basis in established ponds so do make occasional checks to ensure that the pond is not becoming overstocked. In larger ponds, keeping fish that will consume the goldfish eggs - such as orfe - is a natural way of keeping the population in check. Goldfish lay their eggs amongst aquatic vegetation (or on artificial spawning mops) and these usually hatch within 48-72 hours depending on water temperature. Young shubunkin are often noticeably pink compared to other goldfish types and develop colour with age. Bristol types will often revert to normal fin types and it may be fewer than 1% of offspring that show the characteristic finnage.