Shubunkin Goldfish: Profile, Care, Diet, Tank Mates & More

Shubunkin Goldfish and Other Goldfish in a Tank
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: June 25, 2024
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The **shubunkin goldfish**, hailing from Japan, shines with its bright colors, much like the comet goldfish, making it a big hit for backyard ponds. Its stunning mix of red, orange, blue, black, and white scales looks like a gorgeous watercolor painting, making it a favorite among fish lovers. Whether an experienced hobbyist or just starting out, the shubunkin goldfish is sure to win your heart.

Article Summary

  • Shubunkin goldfish are known for their vibrant and spotted colors, created through crossbreeding.
  • Shubunkin goldfish are generally hardy but can face swim bladder issues if overfed or kept in poor water conditions.
  • They have an omnivorous diet, and a varied food intake, including flakes, pellets, vegetables, and live or frozen foods, is recommended.

Shubunkin Goldfish Appearance

These fancy goldfish are a unique and eye-catching variety of goldfish that were first bred in Japan. These beautiful fish were created by crossbreeding the calico telescope eye goldfish, comet goldfish, and the common goldfish.

One of the most striking features of these goldfish is their vibrant and spotted colors. They can display shades of red, yellow, orange, blue, white, and black in combination with metallic and transparent scales. This creates a captivating mosaic-like pattern on their bodies.

In terms of size, these goldfish can grow up to an impressive 18 inches in length. This makes them larger than many other goldfish species, like the comet goldfish. Their elongated bodies and pointed tail fins give them a sleek appearance as they glide through the water.

Another noteworthy characteristic of these goldfish is their nacreous scales. These scales have a pearly sheen that adds to the overall beauty of these fish. The combination of their colorful patterns and shimmering scales makes them a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts.

A Closer Look at Shubunkin Goldfish
A Closer Look at Shubunkin Goldfish

Whether you’re a seasoned fish keeper or just starting out, adding these goldfish to your tank can bring vibrancy and visual appeal to your aquatic environment. Their unique appearance is sure to be a conversation starter among visitors.

So if you’re looking for a visually stunning addition to your aquarium, consider getting some of these goldfish. With their diverse colors, large size potential, and mesmerizing nacreous scales, they are truly one-of-a-kind fish that will enhance any aquatic setting.

Tank and Water Requirements

To provide a comfortable and healthy environment for these goldfish, it’s crucial to meet their tank and water requirements. These beautiful fish need ample space to swim and thrive. Here are the key considerations when setting up their tank:

Spacious Tank Size

These goldfish require a spacious tank to accommodate their active nature. It is recommended to have at least 75 gallons of water per fish. This allows them enough room to swim freely and prevents overcrowding, which can lead to stress and health issues.

Well-Filtered Aquarium

Maintaining good water quality is essential for the well-being of these goldfish. These fish produce waste that can quickly accumulate in the tank, leading to poor water conditions. To prevent this, a reliable filtration system is necessary. A high-quality filter will help remove waste, excess food, and toxins from the water, keeping it clean and clear.

Optimal Water Parameters

These goldfish prefer cooler water temperatures ranging between 65°F and 75°F (18°C – 24°C). It’s important to monitor the temperature regularly using an aquarium thermometer and adjust it as needed. Maintaining proper pH levels (between 7.0 and 8.4) and ensuring adequate oxygenation are vital for their overall health.

Outdoor Ponds as an Alternative

If you have the space available, consider setting up an outdoor pond for these goldfish. Outdoor ponds offer larger swimming areas and natural sunlight exposure, which can enhance their vibrant colors.

However, ensure that the pond has appropriate depth, protection from predators, and suitable plant material for shade.

By providing a spacious tank with proper filtration systems, and maintaining optimal water conditions within the preferred temperature range, you can create a thriving environment for these goldfish.

Shubunkin Goldfish Health

These goldfish are generally hardy and resistant to diseases, making them a popular choice for fish enthusiasts. However, they can still experience health issues if not properly cared for.

One common problem that these goldfish may face is swim bladder issues, which can occur if they are overfed or kept in poor water conditions.

To ensure the health of these goldfish, it is important to regularly test the water parameters in their tank. This includes checking the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, as well as monitoring the pH level. Maintaining clean and stable water conditions is crucial for preventing health problems.

Here are some key points to consider when it comes to these goldfish care:

Regular Water Testing

Regularly test the water parameters in your shubunkin goldfish tank using a reliable testing kit. This will help you monitor any potential imbalances or issues with the water quality.

Balanced Diet

Feed these goldfish a balanced diet that consists of high-quality fish food specifically formulated for goldfish. Avoid overfeeding them as this can lead to swim bladder issues.

Proper Tank Size

Provide these goldfish with an adequately sized tank that allows them enough space to swim freely. A larger tank will also help dilute waste and maintain better water quality.

Maintain Filtration System

Ensure that you have a suitable filtration system in place to keep the water clean and free from toxins. Regularly clean or replace filter media as needed.

Monitor Behavior

Keep an eye on your shubunkin goldfish’s behavior and appearance. Look out for signs of illness such as loss of appetite, lethargy, abnormal swimming patterns, or visible signs of disease like fin rot or ich.

By following these guidelines and providing proper care for these goldfish, you can help ensure their health and well-being. Remember, a healthy fish is a happy fish!

Shubunkin Goldfish Diet

To keep these goldfish healthy and thriving, it’s important to provide them with proper nutrition. These fish are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant matter and protein-rich foods. Here are some key points to consider when feeding these goldfish:

Variety is Key

Offer a variety of foods to ensure these goldfish get all the nutrients they need. This can include flakes, pellets, vegetables, and live or frozen foods. By diversifying their diet, you’ll help mimic their natural feeding habits in the wild.

Small Portions Multiple Times a Day

Instead of feeding these goldfish one large meal, it’s best to offer small portions multiple times throughout the day. This helps prevent overeating and allows them to digest their food properly. Aim for 2-3 feedings per day, spacing them out evenly.

Flakes and Pellets

Flakes and pellets specifically designed for goldfish make excellent staple foods. Look for high-quality options that contain a mix of plant-based ingredients and protein sources like fish meal or shrimp meal. These commercial foods often come fortified with essential vitamins and minerals.

Vegetables as Supplements

A Royal Pleco Eating a Cucumber
A Pleco Feeding on Cucumber

In addition to flakes and pellets, incorporate fresh vegetables into your Shubunkin goldfish’s diet as supplements. Options like blanched peas, lettuce leaves, or spinach can provide additional fiber and nutrients. Just make sure to chop them into small pieces that are easy for the fish to consume.

Live and Frozen Foods

To add variety and stimulate natural hunting behaviors, consider offering live or frozen foods occasionally. Brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, or tubifex worms are popular choices among hobbyists. These options provide an extra boost of protein that can contribute to vibrant colors in your fish.

Remember to observe your Shubunkin goldfish’s behavior and adjust their diet accordingly. If they’re not showing interest in a particular food, try something else. By providing a balanced and varied diet, you’ll help keep these goldfish healthy and happy.

Temperament and Tankmates

These goldfish are known for their peaceful and social nature, thriving when kept in groups of three or more. These beautiful fish love to interact with each other and will often swim together in synchronized patterns.

It’s important to select fish that have a similar temperament. These goldfish have similar tank mates with the comet goldfish. Peaceful community fish like cherry barbs, glass catfish, guppies, killifish, or tetras can make excellent companions for your Shubunkins. Let’s briefly discuss the compatibility of each species mentioned with shubunkin goldfish.

Cherry Barbs

Cherry Barbs are small, colorful fish that can make great tank mates for these goldfish. They are peaceful and generally get along well with other fish. However, it’s important to note that these goldfish can grow quite large and may see the smaller cherry barbs as potential food.

Therefore, it’s essential to provide plenty of hiding places and ensure that the tank is large enough to accommodate both species comfortably.

Glass Catfish

Glass Catfish, also known as ghost catfish, can be compatible with these goldfish in a fish tank. These transparent fish are peaceful and generally get along well with other species. They can add a unique and interesting element to the tank, as they are often seen swimming in a vertical position.

However, it’s important to note that glass catfish are sensitive to water conditions, so proper filtration and regular water changes are crucial to their well-being.


Guppies are small, colorful fish that can be compatible with these goldfish in a fish tank. They are peaceful and can add a vibrant touch to the tank with their bright colors and flowing fins. However, it’s important to note that these goldfish may see guppies as potential food, especially if the guppies are small in size. Therefore, it’s recommended to keep them in a separate breeding net or provide plenty of hiding places to ensure their safety.


Killifish can be compatible with these goldfish in a fish tank, but it’s important to choose the right species. Some killifish are known to be aggressive and may not be suitable tank mates for these goldfish. However, there are peaceful species of killifish that can coexist peacefully with these goldfish. It’s essential to research the specific species of killifish and their compatibility with these goldfish before adding them to the tank.


Scientifically known as Paracheirodon axelrodi
Cardinal Tetra at The Bottom of The Tank

Tetras can be a compatible addition to a fish tank that already houses these goldfish. While these goldfish are known for their vibrant colors and active nature, tetras can provide a contrasting and visually appealing element to the tank. Tetras are small, schooling fish that come in various colors, including neon, cardinal, and black skirt tetras. They are peaceful and generally get along well with other fish species, including these goldfish.

However, it is important to consider the size of the tank and the number of fish already present before introducing tetras. These goldfish are larger fish and can grow up to 18 inches in length, so it is crucial to ensure that the tank is spacious enough to accommodate both the goldfish and the tetras comfortably.

Additionally, maintaining good water quality and providing ample hiding spots and plants for the tetras can help create a harmonious environment for all the fish in the tank. Overall, with proper consideration and care, tetras can be a compatible and visually appealing addition to a fish tank that already houses these goldfish.

Species to Avoid

However, it’s crucial to avoid keeping them with aggressive or fin-nipping species. These types of fish can cause stress and harm to the gentle Shubunkins. So be sure to research the compatibility of potential tankmates before introducing them into the same aquarium.

By carefully selecting compatible tankmates, you can create a harmonious environment where your these goldfish can thrive alongside their companions.

Breeding Shubunkin Goldfish

Breeding these goldfish can be an exciting and rewarding experience for fish enthusiasts. The process usually takes place during the spring season, when the water temperature starts to rise. Here are some important points to keep in mind when breeding these goldfish:

Spring Season Breeding

These goldfish typically breed during the spring months, as this is when they become more active and ready to reproduce. It’s essential to ensure that the water temperature is suitable for breeding, as colder temperatures may hinder successful reproduction.

Spawning Mops or Plants

To encourage egg attachment and protect them from being eaten by adult fish, it’s recommended to provide spawning mops or plants in the breeding tank. These materials offer a safe space for the female shubunkin goldfish to deposit her eggs. The eggs will stick to these surfaces until they hatch.

Separating Adults from Eggs

Once the eggs have been laid, it’s crucial to separate the adult shubunkin goldfish from the eggs. Adult fish may accidentally eat or damage the delicate eggs while swimming around. Removing them will increase the chances of successful hatching and survival of the fry.

Feeding Fry

After hatching, shubunkin fry are quite small and require proper nutrition for healthy growth. One popular food option for fry is brine shrimp. These tiny organisms are rich in nutrients and can be easily obtained or even cultured at home.

Breeding these goldfish can be a fascinating journey that allows you to witness new life unfold right before your eyes. By providing suitable conditions, such as spawning mops or plants, separating adults from eggs, and feeding fry with these nutritious shrimp, you can increase your chances of successfully breeding these beautiful fish.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do Shubunkin goldfish live?

These goldfish typically have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years when provided with proper care and a suitable environment. Factors such as water quality, nutrition, and tank conditions play crucial roles in determining their longevity.

What is the difference between goldfish and Shubunkin?

The primary distinction between goldfish and Shubunkin lies in their appearance. Shubunkin goldfish have a calico coloration with a mix of red, orange, blue, black, and white patches, while traditional goldfish often exhibit a more uniform gold or orange color. Additionally, Shubunkins tend to have a more streamlined body shape compared to some other goldfish varieties.

Can Shubunkin goldfish live with other fish?

These goldfish are generally compatible with other peaceful coldwater fish species. However, it’s crucial to consider the size of the tank and the specific needs of the fish. Avoid keeping them with aggressive or fin-nipping species. Common tankmates include other goldfish varieties, dojo loaches, and white cloud mountain minnows.

What do Shubunkin goldfish eat?

Shubunkin goldfish have omnivorous dietary habits. A well-balanced diet includes high-quality flakes or pellets designed for goldfish, supplemented with live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. Additionally, offering them fresh vegetables like lettuce or peas contributes to their nutritional needs.

How do I identify a Shubunkin goldfish?

Identifying a Shubunkin goldfish involves observing its distinct features. Look for a fish with a calico color pattern, characterized by a mix of red, orange, blue, black, and white markings. Shubunkins also typically have a slender and streamlined body, distinguishing them from other goldfish varieties. Pay attention to their tail, which is usually forked, and their fins, which may have a slightly elongated appearance.

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