Shubunkin Goldfish Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

Caring for Shubunkin Goldfish is a rewarding and engaging hobby. It delivers a comprehensive understanding of the species, its needs, and care requirements. From setting up the perfect tank to maintaining a healthy diet, this guide’s got you covered.

shubunkin goldfish

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Shubunkin Goldfish Species Profile and Identification

The Shubunkin goldfish has a distinct style that sets it apart from other goldfish. They’re similar to common and comet goldfish but bring an enticing twist of color and personality to your fish tank.

They first swam into existence around 1900 in Japan. The breeders crossbred the calico telescope eye goldfish (Demekins), comet goldfish, and the common goldfish. Each Shubunkin carries a unique blend of red, white, blue, grey, and black scales – often extending to the fins. Of all these colors, blue is the most coveted among Shubunkin enthusiasts.

In terms of their physique, they’re streamlined with well-established, even fins. Shubunkins are calico goldfish. This means they possess nacreous scales, a beautiful blend of metallic and transparent that adds a pearly sheen to their appearance.

There are three variants of Shubunkins you should know about:

  • London Shubunkin– Known for stout bodies and short, rounded fins, similar to common goldfish.
  • American (or Japanese) Shubunkin– These slim-bodied beauties sport sharply forked and long tail fins. They also happen to be the most commonly found Shubunkin goldfish in shops.
  • Bristol Shubunkin– It’s a long, broad-bodied goldfish with a massive tail fin, moderately forked, and rounded at the end, often compared with the shape of a heart or the capital letter “B”. They’re quite rare.

A young Shubunkin won’t display the classic nacreous coloration until several months old. They can grow up to 9 to 18 inches (23 to 46 cm) and are considered adults at 1 to 2 years of age. They generally live for 10-15 years, if provided with the right care.

Shubunkin Goldfish Supplies

Caring for your Shubunkin goldfish starts with obtaining the right equipment. Gather these essentials to create an ideal habitat for your fish.

Tank: Shubunkin goldfish thrive in roomy spaces. Where possible, opt for a 75-gallon (283 liters) tank. This provides ample swimming area, crucial for the health and happiness of your Shubunkin.

Filter: A top-quality filter is non-negotiable. Shubunkins require clean water to stay healthy, which means you’ll need a powerful filter to eliminate waste and keep the water crystal clear.

Heater: Though a heater isn’t necessary, it can help maintain optimal water temperature. Shubunkins prefer water temperature between 65°F and 72°F (18°C and 22°C).

Air Pump: Adding an air pump improves oxygen levels in the tank. This is especially useful when temperatures rise, as warmer water holds less oxygen.

Substrate and Decor: Adding substrate isn’t just about aesthetics—it helps recreate Shubunkin’s natural habitat. Gravel or coarse sand, plus some decor like rocks or driftwood will make your Shubunkin feel at home.

  • Tank: Minimum 75-gallon (283 liters)
  • Filter: High-quality filter
  • Heater: Optimal water temperature 65°F-72°F (18°C-22°C)
  • Air Pump: To improve oxygen levels
  • Substrate & Decor: Gravel or coarse sand, rocks, driftwood

Bear in mind, these are just starting points. Your Shubunkin’s health and happiness should always be your priority, so make sure to continually assess its environment and needs.

It’s crucial to ensure your tank is well-maintained, and that means replacing equipment if it’s not working properly. Furthermore, as your Shubunkin grows, upgrading to larger tanks and filters might be necessary.

Shubunkin Goldfish Tank Setup

Starting with the basics, your Shubunkin goldfish requires an ample space for swimming. While a 15-20 gallon tank can sustain a Shubunkin, it is not ideal. To keep your fish buoyant in health and happiness, a 75-gallon tank comes highly recommended.

  • Choose a reliable filter for water cleanliness and oxygenation. Shubunkins are active and generate more waste than less lively fish species.
  • Avoid sharp substrate or decorations as they may damage your Shubunkin’s soft underbelly. Smooth pebbles or sand work best.
  • Consider providing plants, rocks, or small hiding spots offering seclusion if your Shubunkin feels threatened or just wants a break.

Temperature and Lighting

Shubunkins thrive at temperatures between 65°F and 72°F (18°C and 22°C). They’re not tropical fish, so a heater is usually unnecessary unless room temperature drops drastically. The lighting in the tank must mimic natural daylight and darkness as far as possible. A simple aquarium light with an automatic timer can do this job flawlessly.

Tank Position

Positioning of the tank is equally relevant. Place the tank in a spot with minimal sunlight, to avert algae growth, but with enough ambient light to brighten up the space. Rough handling, loud noises, or constant foot traffic can stress the fish, so choose an area with minimal disturbance.

Remember, setting up a healthy, sustainable home environment for your goldfish is of essence to their longevity. Following these guidelines will help ensure your Shubunkin Goldfish live a longer, healthier and happier life. Your effort invested now will pay off in satisfied fish-keeping in the long run.

Shubunkin Goldfish Water Requirements

Just as we need fresh, clean air, your Shubunkin goldfish requires clean, well-maintained water to thrive. It’s more than just filling the tank; water conditions play a crucial role in your fish’s overall health.

Water Temperature: Shubunkins have a range of what they consider “comfortable.” The water temperature should stay within the 65-72°F range, or about 18-22°C. Regular monitoring is key, as sudden fluctuations may stress your fish.

pH Levels: Shubunkins have an impressive tolerance to a variety of pH. You should keep the levels neutral, within a range of 6.0 to 8.0. Regular testing is important to prevent harmful pH swings, which could affect your fish’s wellbeing.

Water Hardness: Often overlooked, the water hardness plays an important role too. The preferred range is between 5 and 19 dGH.

  • Proper Filtration: This is a must-have to keep the water conditions optimal for your Shubunkin. Goldfish produce more waste than most fishes which means your filter needs to work a bit harder. Your filter should cycle the entire volume of the tank at least 10 times per hour.
  • Regular Water Changes: Even with the best filtration, you should still aim for a 25% water change weekly. This reduces contaminants and keeps the water healthy for your pet.

The Shubunkin goldfish water requirements aren’t overly complicated. All it takes is regular monitoring and maintenance to ensure optimal conditions. Remember, a healthy environment leads to a healthy, happy Shubunkin.

Shubunkin Goldfish Diet and Feeding

When it comes to feeding your Shubunkin, variety is key. Goldfish are omnivorous, which means they need a balanced diet of proteins and vegetables. A balanced diet ensures that they get the right amount of nutrients for optimal health and vibrant colors.

Staple Diet

In their daily diet, include a high-quality, specialized goldfish pellet or flake food. This will provide the basic nutrients they need. The amount to feed can be determined by the size of your fish. Generally, feed an amount that your fish can consume within 2 minutes.


Not forgetting the vegetable portion, you can provide fresh, blanched vegetables. This could include peas, spinach, lettuce or zucchini. Cut these into small, bite-sized pieces for easy consumption.

Protein source

Supplement their staple diet with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, or bloodworms. These can boost protein levels and improve coloration. Feed these treats a couple of times per week to provide variety.

Be wary of overfeeding. Goldfish will eagerly consume whatever food is offered and it’s easy to provide too much. Overfeeding can cause health issues over time. Always remove any uneaten food after meals to maintain water quality. Remember to feed your Shubunkins at least once or twice a day, depending on their size and age.

Adjust the diet as your fish grows and its dietary needs change. By maintaining a nutritious and balanced diet, you can ensure the health and longevity of your Shubunkin Goldfish.

Shubunkin Goldfish Care Schedule

Daily Checks should be a constant part of your schedule. Look for signs of illness or discomfort in your goldfish. Monitor their eating habits, and always check the water temperature and pH level.

  • Weekly Tasks include water testing for ammonia, nitrate, nitrite levels, and hardness.
  • Water Change is essential. About 20-30% of the water in the tank must be changed every week. This aids in reducing stress and potential diseases.
  • Filter Inspection is also part of your duties. The filter should be cleaned on a weekly basis.

Regularly scheduled Monthly Duties are non-negotiable for a thriving environment.

  • Gravel Cleaning is to be carried out once a month. This removes uneaten food and fish excrement stuck in the gravel.
  • Tank Cleaning, excluding water change, should also be done once a month.

And don’t forget the health check-ups. Annual Vet Visits will help you keep an eye on your Shubunkin’s health. Professionals can spot signs you might miss, ensuring your fish stays in prime condition.

Following this routine will provide a consistent, clean environment, which is crucial for the well-being of your Shubunkin goldfish.

Shubunkin Goldfish Health Problems

Despite their resilience, Shubunkin goldfish are prone to certain health problems. Early detection and treatment can significantly increase the odds of your fish’s survival.

  • Ich: Ich, or white spot disease, is characterized by tiny white spots all over the fish’s scales and gills. It’s a highly contagious and often lethal parasite. Quick treatments can include aquarium salt and copper-based medications.
  • Fin Rot: Fin rot, often a result of poor water quality, damages the goldfish’s fins, making them appear ragged. Treat fin rot by improving water conditions and using over-the-counter bacterial treatments.
  • Swim Bladder Disease: This disorder affects the fish’s buoyancy, causing it to float on one side, upside-down, or at the top or bottom of the tank. Prevent it by avoiding overfeeding and maintaining a balanced diet.
  • Dropsy: Dropsy, a bacterial infection, causes the fish to bloat and its scales to protrude. Though hard to treat spontaneously, it’s best prevented by keeping good tank hygiene.

To conclude, keep an eye out for symptoms and act swiftly if you observe any irregular behavior. Remember, prevention is always easier than treatment. Maintain a clean tank, provide a balanced diet, and monitor the fish regularly to ensure its well-being.

Shubunkin Goldfish Tank Mates

Choosing the right tank mates for your Shubunkin goldfish is crucial. Compatibility and similar requirements in terms of tank environments are factors to consider. Thankfuly, Shubunkins are social fish, cohabiting well with many species.

  • Other Goldfish: These include common types like Fantail, Comet, and other Shubunkins. The same genus, Carassius auratus, implies similar needs and behaviours.
  • Danios: Active and lively, Danios are resilient enough to accommodate the dynamic nature of Shubunkins. Just ensure the tank is spacious enough for all.
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows: These small, peaceful fish can sustain the same water conditions as Shubunkins, making them a sensible choice.

Avoid aggressive fish types like the Betta or Cichlids. Small, slow swimmers like Guppies or Tetras may not be a good fit either, as Shubunkins could bully them for food. Additionally, watch out for bottom dwellers like the Corydoras or Plecos; Shubunkins could unintentionally harm them when scavenging for food.

Balancing a mixed-species tank may be tricky but worthwhile. It brings diversity and vibrancy, enhancing your aquarium enjoyment. Stay aware of each species’ needs and compatibility. Happy fish keep a healthy tank.

Shubunkin Goldfish Breeding

Breeding Shubunkin Goldfish is a fascinating experience. It begins with understanding how genetics play a part in their vibrant coloration. Their exclusive color stems from black pigment within their body wall, visible as blue only if they have matte or nacreous scales.

Genetics and Shubunkins

To break down their genotype, understand that a Shubunkin’s scales are nacreous, a result of possessing genes for both metallic and matte scales. Here’s how the inheritance works in Shubunkin breeding:

  • When two nacreous-scaled fish mate, the offspring can be classified into three groups: 1/4th will have metallic scales, 1/4th matte, and 1/2 will have nacreous scales.
  • A metallic-scaled fish breeding with a nacreous-scaled one will typically produce half metallic and half nacreous offspring.
  • If a nacreous-scaled fish mates with a matte-scaled one, they will on average produce half matte and half nacreous offspring.
  • If a metallic-scaled fish breed with a matte-scaled one, all the offspring will be nacreous.

Shubunkin’s Age and Breeding

Shubunkin Goldfish reach sexual maturity around 1 to 2 years of age. Do bring patience into play, as the nacreous coloration, a significant attraction of Shubunkins, may take a few months to develop in young fry. Knowing these likelihoods can make your breeding journey more predictable, ensuring a healthy and vibrant generation of Shubunkins.

Remember, breeding goldfish should only be attempted if you’re willing to invest the necessary time and resources into providing the right care and environment for the fry. It’s a demanding process but profoundly rewarding for those who undertake it.


Caring for Shubunkin goldfish can be an enriching experience if done right. With this complete guide for beginners, you’re prepared to provide the best environment for your Shubunkin friends. We’d love to hear about your experiences, so please leave a comment below!

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