Shubunkin Goldfish: Care, Size, Lifespan & More

Shubunkin Goldfish have captured the hearts of fish enthusiasts worldwide with their vibrant hues, lively demeanor, and low-maintenance nature. Unsurprisingly, they’ve become such a popular choice for aquarium owners!

However, we’ve noticed a lot of misinformation circulating about these little guys online. It’s concerning to see so many recommendations that could potentially harm these beautiful creatures.

This article will provide an overview of Shubunkin goldfish care, including their ideal environment, feeding and care, and breeding habits. We will also explore the physical characteristics of these fish, as well as their behaviors and temperaments.

Whether you are a seasoned aquarium enthusiast or a beginner, this article will provide you with valuable information to help you provide the best possible care for your Shubunkin goldfish.

Key Takeaways

  • Shubunkin Goldfish can grow up to 12-14 inches in a spacious pond and have a lifespan of 10-15 years with proper care.
  • Shubunkin Goldfish prefer cooler, well-oxygenated waters with a neutral pH and require a good biological filtration system and medium-sized gravel substrate.
  • Shubunkin Goldfish are omnivores and should be fed once or twice a day, with only the amount they can consume in 2-3 minutes. They are social and peaceful creatures and thrive in a multi-species tank.
  • Shubunkin Goldfish are hardy, adaptable, and thrive in conditions other fish cannot. They are excellent pond fish and can survive in various water temperatures and conditions.

Species Summary

Shubunkin Goldfish, also known as Calico or Speckled Goldfish, are spectacular additions to any aquarium or outdoor pond. Their vibrant colors and flowing fins create a mesmerizing display that will catch your eye. These active fish have playful personalities that will keep you entertained for hours!

This stunning variety of goldfish results from selective breeding and is descended from the Prussian Carp. Although their precise origins are somewhat mysterious, it is believed that Shubunkins were first developed in Japan around 1900. Today, these beautiful fish can be found in aquariums and fish stores worldwide!

Average Shubunkin Goldfish Size

Shubunkin Goldfish are just like other species of goldfish in terms of growth. Their size is determined by the environment they live in. If you keep them in a regular aquarium, they will grow to about five or six inches long when fully grown.

But they can grow much bigger if you give them access to a spacious pond! Shubunkin Goldfish in ponds can reach lengths of 12 to 14 inches; some have even grown as long as 18 inches!

So, if you want your Shubunkin Goldfish to reach their full potential, ensure they have plenty of room to swim around and grow.


Shubunkin Goldfish can live for 10 to 15 years with proper care, including a healthy diet and suitable water conditions. However, some lucky fish have been known to thrive for over 20 years in well-maintained ponds.

Sadly, like all living creatures, these fish can fall ill or die prematurely if not kept in the right environment. It’s crucial to ensure that your Shubunkin Goldfish are happy and healthy by providing them with the best possible conditions.

In summary, if you want your Shubunkin Goldfish to live a long and happy life, make sure they have access to the right food and water conditions. With proper care, these beautiful fish can thrive for many years, bringing joy and beauty to any pond or aquarium.

Appearance & Types


The physical appearance of the Shubunkin Goldfish is characterized by its nacreous scales and a colorful calico pattern, resulting from crossbreeding different types of goldfish. The overlapping patches of red, white, blue, grey, and black colors give these fish a vibrant and unique look. Blue is considered the most prized color in Shubunkins, and it may take several months for the nacreous coloration to develop on a young fry.

Shubunkins’ body shape and finnage depend on the breed, with American/Japanese, London, and Bristol being the most common. London Shubunkins have stout bodies and short, rounded finnage similar to the common goldfish, while Bristol Shubunkins are the rarest and hardly found in stores, bred in Britain.

Breeding combinations of Shubunkins can result in different scales, patterns, and colorations. When two fish with nacreous scales breed together, the offspring will include 1/4 with metallic scales, 1/4 with matte scales, and 1/2 with nacreous scales. Shubunkins are sometimes bred with bronze (metallic) with pink (matte-scaled) goldfish to obtain good blue.

Shubunkins possess dark speckles that normally extend to their finnage and are considered adults at 1 to 2 years of age. Overall, the unique appearance of Shubunkin Goldfish makes them popular and attractive pets for those who enjoy the beauty of aquatic life.

Shubunkin Goldfish Care

Owning a Shubunkin Goldfish can be an incredibly rewarding experience! These little fish are tough cookies and can survive in conditions that would knock other fish out. But take your time; you still need to give them the best care possible if you want them to thrive.

Caring for Shubunkin Goldfish is straightforward. Just ensure their tank is in tip-top shape and monitor their overall health. To help you, we’ve compiled a list of care guidelines you need to know.

So, if you’re up for the challenge, get ready to enjoy the joys of Shubunkin Goldfish ownership!

Tank Size

Adequate tank size is crucial for the optimal health and well-being of Shubunkin Goldfish, as they require a minimum of 75 gallons to thrive and exhibit their natural behaviors. Choosing the right tank size is essential to ensure the fish have enough space to swim and explore and prevent overcrowding.

Here are some factors to consider when selecting a tank for your Shubunkin Goldfish:

  1. Tank maintenance: Shubunkin Goldfish produce a lot of waste, so a larger tank will help maintain water quality and reduce the frequency of water changes.
  2. Heating and filtration: A larger tank will require a more powerful heater and filtration system to maintain a stable environment for the fish.
  3. Stocking density: Shubunkin Goldfish are social creatures and prefer to live in groups, so that a larger tank will allow for a higher stocking density. However, it is important not to overcrowd the tank, which can lead to stress and disease.
  4. Choosing substrate: Shubunkin Goldfish prefer a medium-sized gravel substrate, which provides a natural environment to forage and scavenge for food.
  5. Decorations for tank: Plants, silk, or plastic, can be used for decorations, along with smooth rocks and driftwood. These provide hiding places and shelter for the fish and help create a natural-looking environment.

Providing a spacious and well-maintained tank ensures your Shubunkin Goldfish live a healthy and happy life.

Water Parameters

Shubunkins are one of the many types of goldfish that thrive in cooler waters, unlike tropical fish. They prefer waters that are well-oxygenated and have a neutral pH level.

What’s interesting about these fish is that they can tolerate temperatures a few degrees above freezing, which makes them an excellent choice for ponds. However, using a heater is still essential to avoid extreme temperature changes. Gradual temperature shifts that drop only a few degrees per day won’t cause any harm to your Shubunkins.

To ensure your fish’s well-being, maintain the following water parameters throughout their life. Keep the water temperature between 65°F to 72°F, pH levels between 6.0 to 8.0, and water hardness between 5 to 19 dGH.

By following these guidelines, your Shubunkins will live a happy and healthy life.

Setting Up Their Tank

Keeping Shubunkin Goldfish in a tank or pond requires a good biological filtration system. These fish tend to produce a lot of waste, which can quickly increase the ammonia and nitrate levels in the water. So, it’s important to have a filtration system that is powerful enough to cycle the entire tank or pond.

Water movement in the tank or pond is also a good idea. You can use the outlet of the filtration system for this purpose, but installing air stones can help keep oxygen levels up.

Shubunkin Goldfish aren’t picky when decorating the tank or pond. For the substrate, use medium-sized gravel. Adding plants can create a natural habitat, but these fish may uproot live plants. You can anchor them down securely or use silk and plastic plants to solve this.

You can add smooth rocks and pieces of driftwood, but make sure to stay moderate. Shubunkins need more open swimming space than decoration. So, keep the large decor to a minimum. With these tips, your Shubunkin Goldfish will thrive in its new home!

Potential Diseases

One important aspect of keeping fish in captivity is understanding the potential diseases that may arise. Shubunkin goldfish are no exception; knowing the common diseases that can affect them is essential.

One of the most common diseases is Ich, or White Spot Disease, caused by a parasite that appears as white spots on the fish’s body. Other common diseases include Swim Bladder Disorder, Dropsy, and Fin Rot.

Prevention methods for these diseases include maintaining a clean and well-filtered tank, avoiding overfeeding, and ensuring the water temperature and pH levels are appropriate for the fish. The quarantine process is also crucial before introducing new fish to the tank, as this can help prevent the spread of diseases.

If a disease does occur, treatment options include medication, water changes, and isolating the affected fish.

It is important to note that a healthy immune system can help prevent diseases, so providing a balanced diet and ensuring that the fish are not stressed can also be beneficial in disease prevention.

Food & Diet

Shubunkin goldfish are omnivorous and can consume various foods to meet their nutritional requirements. Feeding habits should be monitored to avoid overfeeding, which can lead to health problems such as swim bladder disease and obesity.

It is recommended to feed shubunkin goldfish once or twice a day, with only the amount they can consume in 2-3 minutes, to prevent overfeeding.

High-quality dried foods, pellets, and flakes are suitable for their diet, and occasional live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms can be included.

Live food can be a great way to keep your shubunkin goldfish entertained and engaged, but it’s important to remember to feed them in moderation.

It’s important to note that they tend to overindulge. They’ll happily gobble up whatever you give them, so it’s crucial to be mindful of their portions.

Behavior & Temperament

These fish aren’t troublemakers. In fact, they’re pretty harmless, aside from their love of stealing snacks. So if you’re prepared to keep a watchful eye over your food, you can enjoy swimming alongside these impressive creatures without any worries.

Shubunkin goldfish are social and active creatures that thrive in a multi-species tank. They are peaceful and prefer to stay in groups, so it’s recommended to keep them with compatible tank mates.

Personality traits of shubunkin goldfish include their fast and agile swimming patterns, which make them fascinating to watch. They spend most of their day exploring the tank, scavenging for plant detritus or leftover foods at the bottom, and interacting with their companions.

Proper care and attention to their behavior and temperament will ensure a happy and healthy life for these vibrant and attractive fish.

Tank Mates

When selecting tank mates for a community tank housing Shubunkin Goldfish, it is important to consider the compatibility of different species to ensure a peaceful and harmonious environment. Shubunkins are social creatures and thrive in multi-species tanks, making it important to choose suitable tank mates.

Some compatible options include Killifish, Cherry Barb, most Tetras, Guppies, Chinese Blue Bitterling, Comet Goldfish, Northern Redbelly Dace, Fancy Goldfish, Koi, and Amano Shrimp. It is important to note that fish with long flowing fins should be avoided as they may be mistaken as food by Shubunkins. Additionally, aggressive or territorial fish should also be avoided.

Community tanks can be a joy to watch, but it is important to consider the individual needs of each species. Proper research and planning can create a stunning and peaceful community tank that showcases the beauty of Shubunkin Goldfish and offers a healthy environment for all its inhabitants.

Providing adequate space, filtration, and a balanced diet can ensure the longevity and happiness of all fish in the community tank.



Breeding Shubunkin Goldfish can be a piece of cake if you give them the right environment. These little guys like to lay eggs in the Spring, and you can make it happen with a few tricks up your sleeve.

First, set up a separate breeding tank and divide the males and females—these social fish like to breed in groups of at least five.

It’s difficult to tell the difference between the sexes when they’re young. But as they mature, the males will develop breeding tubercles on their gills and head, while the females will plump up.

Fill the breeding tank with fine-leaf plants, spawning mops, and smooth rocks for the eggs to attach to. Drop the temperature to 60 degrees and slowly raise it by three degrees daily. This simulates the shift from winter to spring when the fish should eventually spawn.

You’ll know they’re ready to breed when their colors get more intense and the males start chasing the females around. The females will lay thousands of eggs, and the males will fertilize them.

After breeding, remove the adult fish from the tank so they don’t eat the eggs. Put them back in their normal tank and let the eggs develop. The eggs will hatch in four to seven days, and the babies will emerge from and absorb their egg sack.

Feed them powdered or liquid fry food until they can eat baby brine shrimp. The babies will look black or brown for the first few months of life until they start developing their colors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Shubunkin goldfish be kept in a tank with other types of goldfish?

Tank compatibility for shubunkin goldfish with other types of goldfish depends on behavioral differences, breeding habits, and color variations. Diet preferences are similar. Careful consideration and monitoring are necessary for successful cohabitation.

Do Shubunkin goldfish require a heater in their tank?

Maintaining a stable water temperature is crucial for the health of any fish. While Shubunkin Goldfish can survive in colder temperatures, a heater may be necessary during winter months or in smaller tanks.

How can you tell the difference between male and female Shubunkin goldfish?

Breeding behavior, color differences, fin shape, and body size are key factors in distinguishing male and female Shubunkin Goldfish. Males develop breeding tubercles on their gills and head, while females plump up with visible reproductive organs.

Can Shubunkin goldfish live in a pond year-round in colder climates?

Shubunkin goldfish can live in ponds year-round in colder climates with proper overwintering strategies. Feeding habits, water quality requirements, breeding behavior, and predators and protection should be considered to ensure their survival.

Are there any specific diseases that Shubunkin goldfish are prone to?

Shubunkin goldfish can be prone to ich, fin rot, and bacterial infections. Prevention methods include maintaining good water quality and providing a balanced diet. Treatment options may include medication or quarantine.


In conclusion, Shubunkin goldfish are a popular and attractive species that can greatly add to any aquarium or pond. Their lively personalities and hardy and adaptable nature make them relatively easy to care for, and they can live up to 10-15 years with proper care.

Providing a spacious environment, appropriate diet, and regular maintenance can ensure their health and longevity. It is also important to consider their social behavior, compatibility with tank mates, and the potential for breeding and genetic diversity.

Overall, the Shubunkin goldfish is a fascinating and rewarding species to keep and can bring joy and beauty to any aquatic environment.