Fantail Goldfish

Show Goldfish, Fancy Goldfish

Family: CyprinidaeFantail Goldfish, Fancy Goldfish, Show GoldfishCarassius auratus auratusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
Latest Reader Comment - See More
I just got my fantail goldfish. I wanted a calico one but my mom said get the smallest one. The smallest one was tiny compared to the other fish. I picked him out... (more)  Sarah

The Fantail Goldfish is a show goldfish, its distinguishing feature being a split or double caudal (tail) fin!

Rather than having the long slender body of the Common Goldfish or the Shubunkins, the Fantail Goldfish is one of the more rounded or egg-shaped fancy gold fish. These fish are bred for showing and its main feature, the split tail fin is medium in length and slightly forked.

To be a good show specimen, the tail fin needs to be completely split with the two lobes being much closer together on top than on the bottom, making it look triangular when viewed from the back. Good show goldfish also have a double anal fin with complete separation. Those whose tail fins are not completely split won't win any prizes, but still make great pets.

Fantail Goldfish are available in several scale types or color. The hardiest and most competitive show type is metallic, a solid reddish orange. Other scale types include nacreous which is speckled, and matt which is a whitish color. The Ryukin Goldfish is a Japanese version of the Fantail, with a highly curved back and a wider caudal fin than the Fantail Goldfish.

Both Fantail Goldfish and Ryukin Goldfish are recommended for the beginner. Other good beginner fancy goldfish are Common Goldfish, Comet Goldfish, the Shubunkin, and the Black Moor. These fish can tolerate temperatures a few degrees above freezing, as long as the cooling drops only a few degrees a day. Their hardiness and ability to live at colder temperatures makes them ideal for outdoor ponds. The Black Moor is the only possible exception to this, not because it lacks hardiness but because of its telescopic eyes. These eyes cause it to have poor vision so it is not a good competitor for food, and they are subject to injury and infection.

For more goldfish information, see:
Goldfish Care: Fancy Goldfish and Goldfish Diseases

Geographic Distribution
Carassius auratus auratus
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Cypriniformes
  • Family: Cyprinidae
  • Genus: Carassius
  • Species: auratus auratus
Dance of the Goldfish

Report Broken Video
Fantail and Common Goldfish

Fantail and Common goldfish swimming in a 60 gallon aquarium. These fish are very graceful and like to play in the bubbles. A very relaxing scene to watch. Stress relief ala mode.

Fantail Goldfish - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L)
  • Temperature: 65.0 to 72.0° F (18.3 to 22.2° C)
  • Range ph: 6.0-8.0
  • Hardness Range: 6 - 8 dGH
Enter a Freshwater Aquarium
  • My Aquarium - Enter your aquarium to see if this fish is compatible!
Popular Searches

Habitat: Distribution / Background

The goldfish of today are descendants of a wild carp fish, known as the Prussian Carp, Silver Prussian carp, or Gibel Carp Carassius gibelio (syn: Carassius auratus gibelio) which was described by Bloch in 1782. For many years it was believed that goldfish had originated from the Crucian Carp or Golden Carp Carassius auratus auratus described by Linnaeus in 1758, but more recent research is pointing toward the former. These wild carp originated in Asia; Central Asia (siberia). They inhabit the slow moving and stagnant waters of rivers, lakes, ponds, and ditches feeding on plants, detritus, small crustaceans, and insects.

In the early 1500's these fish were exported first to Japan and then to Europe and were developed into the wonderful colors and forms of gold fish we see today. The Fantail Goldfish is one of the more than 125 captive bred fancy gold fish varieties.

  • Scientific Name: Carassius auratus auratus
  • Social Grouping: Groups
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed


The Fantail Goldfish is an egg-shaped variety of fancy goldfish. The body is short and stubby and the head is very wide. These fish are bred for showing and its main feature is its split caudal fin (tail fin) that is moderate in length and slightly forked.

On good show goldfish the tail fin is completely split with the two lobes being much closer together on top than on the bottom, making it look triangular when viewed from the back. Good show specimens will have a double anal fin with complete separation as well. The tail fin on poor show specimens is not completely split along the top.

   A Japanese version of the Fantail, the Ryukin Goldfish has a highly curved back and a wider caudal fin than the Fantail Goldfish.

  • Goldfish colors
    The Fantails are available in three scale types: metallic, a solid reddish orange, nacreous which is speckled, and matt which is a whitish color.
  • Size - Weight
    Both Fantail Goldfish and Ryukin Goldfish will generally reach about 6 inches (15 cm), though some hobbyist report their Fantails reaching up to a whopping 10" (25 cm)!es (30+ cm), with some hobbyist reporting their Common Goldfish reaching up to a whopping 18" (45+ cm).
  • Goldfish lifespan
    The average goldfish lifespan is 10 – 15 years, though living 20 years or more is not uncommon in well maintained goldfish aquariums and ponds.
  • Size of fish - inches: 6.0 inches (15.24 cm)
  • Lifespan: 20 years

Fish Keeping Difficulty

Picture of Fantail Goldfish, Carassius auratusFantail Goldfish are some of the hardier species of goldfish. The metallic scale type (solid reddish orange) is the the most durable of this fancy goldfish group. Fantail's are very undemanding of water quality and temperature.

Many people will keep goldfish in small one or two gallon goldfish bowls with no heater or filtration. But for the best success in keeping goldfish, provide them the same filtration, especially biological filtration, that other aquarium residents enjoy.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Foods and Feeding

Since they are omnivorous, the Fantail Goldfish will generally eat all kinds of fresh, frozen, and flake foods. To keep a good balance give them a high quality flake food everyday. To care for your goldfish, feed brine shrimp (either live or frozen), blood worms, Daphnia, or tubifex worms as a treat. It is usually better to feed freeze-dried foods as opposed to live foods to avoid parasites and bacterial infections that could be present in live foods.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day

Aquarium Care

Regular weekly water changes of 1/4 to 1/3 is strongly recommended to keep these fish healthy. Snails can be added as they reduce the algae in the tank, helping to keep it clean.

  • Water Changes: Weekly

Aquarium Setup

Setting up an aquarium in a manner that will keep your fish happy and healthy is the first step to successfully fish keeping. Here are aquarium parameters to consider in choosing goldfish aquariums, filtration, lighting, and decor as well as temperature and water movement.

  • Minimum Tank Size / Length:
    The shape and size of the goldfish aquarium is important and depends upon the number of fish you are going to keep. Goldfish need a lot of oxygen and produce a lot of waste. Keep the tank size and shape in mind when you are buying your fish.
    • Tank Shape
      A large surface area of water will help minimize goldfish suffering from an oxygen shortage. Surface area is determined by the shape of the tank. For the same volume of water, an elongated tank offers more surface area (and oxygen) than a tall tank. In a goldfish bowl, filling the bowl to the middle offers more surface area than filling the bowl to the top. Always provide the maximum amount of surface area.
    • Tank size
      It's best to start with a 20 - 30 gallon tank for your first goldfish and then increase the size of the tank by 10 gallons for each additional goldfish. Providing a large amount of water per fish will help dilute the amount of waste and reduce the number of water changes needed
    • Formula: # of fish per gallon of water
      A general rule of thumb, but only for young fish, is 1 inch of fish (2.54 cm) per 1 gallon of water. This rule applies only to young fish and is not adequate as they grow. Larger gold fish consume much more oxygen than young fish so maintaining this formula for growing fish will stunt them, and can contribute to disease and even death.
    • Fish: size and growth
      To allow for growth, either buy fewer fish than the maximum number of fish (based on the formula above) or be prepared to get a larger tank. Larger gold fish consume much more oxygen than young fish so maintaining this formula for growing fish will stunt them, and can contribute to disease and even death
  • Aquarium Lighting
    Most aquariums come with a cover that includes lighting. A cover for the tank is desirable as it reduces evaporation and though they are not prone to jumping, on occasion some gold fish will jump out. Lighting is not essential for goldfish, but does make the aquarium a nice show piece and lighting will help if you have live plants.
  • Filtration
    Goldfish produce a lot of waste. Good filtration, especially biological filtration, is very helpful in maintaining the water quality of the aquarium. Filtration systems remove much of the detritus, excess foods and waste. This helps keep the tank clean and maintain the general health of the goldfish.
  • Substrate
    Provide a gravel substrate to help create a natural and comfortable environment for your fish. A medium sized gravel works best..
  • Aquarium Decor
    You can add some decor, but make sure that all ornamentation is smooth with no protruding points or sharp edges. Smooth rocks or driftwood, should be used sparingly if at all.
    Aquarium plants would be the best choice of aquarium decor for goldfish, but unfortunately these fish are diggers. Consequently live plants may be uprooted. Artificial plants make a good substitute and silk plants are safer than plastic ones.
  • Temperature: Goldfish are a cold water fish and will do best at temperatures between 65 - 72° F (18°- 22° C). The Fantail Goldfish are one of the hardiest varieties of goldfish and can tolerate temperatures a few degrees above freezing, as long as the cooling drops only a few degrees a day. A quick temperature drop can kill them, so if you live in a very cold climate a heater is advisable
  • Water Hardness: 5 - 19° dGH
  • ph: 6.0 to 8.0
  • Water Movement: Moderate.
  • Water Region: These fish will swim in all areas of the aquarium
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L) - Ten gallons is the absolute minimum required to house this fish. It has high oxygen requirements, produces a lot of waste, and will have very stunted growth if it is kept in a smaller aquarium or bowl.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
  • Temperature: 65.0 to 72.0° F (18.3 to 22.2° C) - This fish will tolerate much colder temperatures, although this seems to be the optimum range for activity and longevity of Goldfish.
  • Range ph: 6.0-8.0
  • Hardness Range: 6 - 8 dGH
  • Brackish: Sometimes - Goldfish are freshwater fish, but they have some tolerance for slightly brackish water. Yet any salinity for C. auratus must be kept below 10%, a specific gravity of less than 1.002.
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All

Social Behaviors

Goldfish are very social animals and thrive in a community. Not only are they a great community fish but they are great scavengers as well. The Fantail Goldfish, along with the Ryukins, are some of the only egg-shaped goldfish that can readily compete for food with the elongated goldfish such as the Common or Shubunkin Goldfish, so can be housed with them. It is really not necessary to add other scavengers or other bottom feeders to the aquarium when you have goldfish.

Most fancy goldfish will thrive in both freshwater and tropical aquariums as long as there are no aggressive or territorial fish in the tank. Some good tank mates for fancy goldfish are the Chinese Blue Bitterling and the Northern Redbelly Dace.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Threat - Goldfish will eat many kinds of aquatic plants, and their constant search for food can end up uprooting plants that they don't eat.

Sex: Sexual differences

Although is it impossible to sex Goldfish when they are young and not in breeding season, the male is usually smaller and more slender that the female. In the breeding season the male has white prickles, called breeding tubercles, on its gill covers and head. Seen from above the female will have a fatter appearance as she is carrying eggs.

Breeding / Reproduction

Fantail Goldfish are egg layers that spawn readily in the right conditions. See Breeding Freshwater Fish - Goldfish for more information on breeding Goldfish.

  • Ease of Breeding: Moderate

Fish Diseases

Goldfish are subject to the same diseases as tropical fish. A couple of the more common problems are Ich, Swim Bladder Disease, and external parasites including flukes, lice and anchor worms. For more in-depth information about goldfish diseases and illnesses, see: Goldfish Care; Fancy Goldfish and Goldfish Diseases.


The Fantail Goldfish is readily available in fish stores and on-line, and is inexpensive.


Author: David Brough. CFS.
Available From These Merchants
Assorted Fantail Goldfish Medium Assorted Fantail Goldfish Medium
Offered By: That Pet Place
Price: $5.99
Compare products and prices!

Lastest Animal Stories on Fantail Goldfish

Sarah - 2006-03-26
I just got my fantail goldfish. I wanted a calico one but my mom said get the smallest one. The smallest one was tiny compared to the other fish. I picked him out to the lady and she squished him against the aquarium wall when she was try to get him! I felt sorry for the little guy. I brought him home and put him in a 10 gallon. He looked like he was having a party! He was kinda slow and I saw that his scales were ripped off =( atleast i saved him =) He is living well right now, he has the whole tank to himself! He looks like a pebble hes so small! Hes all orange exept for the tip of his fins are white. I named him butterscotch yesterday and today....i dont know why in the heck i picked that going to change it today when i find a good one. Most of the people on here said the names of their fish and so i might copy them...i like the name bubbles, my neon tetras name is that, but im going to keep looking =)

  • catz - 2010-08-20
    What about Cookie? That's the name of one of my fantail fish!
  • barry - 2011-03-29
    What about mr. wiggles?
  • Whoohoo - 2011-07-03
    Li'l Baby
    Sweetie Pie
  • April - 2011-07-08
    I had a cat named Butterscotch. I like it!! I called her Bud for short.
  • Jenny Rybacki - 2011-07-31
    Our once small fantail is named Princess. My 5 year old named her. Princess has doubled in size in the 2 months that we have had her.
  • Jenny Rybacki - 2011-07-31
    More suggestions:
  • Linda - 2014-03-17
    I think Butterscotch is a good name! But here are some of the names I have given my goldfish over the years.. at least the ones I kept a long time: Queenie (lived 8 years), Grumpy (lived 4.5 years), Freckle-Fish (is 2 yrs old), Klaus and Captain Kirk (both are 2), Duckie (is 2), Admimral Ackbar (my son's fish, is 2), my new babies are Shubunkin comets Necco and Smartie. I let my husband name one once and he called it Kurt Russell, lol... Enjoy your goldie... They are the only kind of fish I keep. :)
Mike - 2004-04-23
When I first got my Fantail Goldfish, I read to them. The goldfish were still in the bag. Strangly, my fish were looking at me like they were listening!! :)

  • Anonymous - 2010-05-20
    That always happens to me! My fishes name is Dory! My they're such beautiful fish!
  • Marilyn - 2010-11-28
    Hello Mike. I loved reading your comment about your Fantail fish, that they really did seem to listen to you when you read to them. Yes, I totally agree with you, I have two fantail fish, for 5 years now, & they know me. When I have visitors they swim away & hide, & every time I come indoors they swim forward to greet me at the front of the tank. Their names are Dori & Nemo`s Dad. They are lovely company & I watch them for hours.
Veronica - 2009-02-14
I love my Fantail, he/she is definitely one of my favorites, I have quite a collection of fish going right now, but my Fantail is my favorite to watch and he/she is just so gorgeous! This site was very helpful. I didn't know much about them. He/she will get very good goodies in the near future!

tashfiq - 2005-12-21
Hey I just got them for 99cents. They were on sale and they rock. I did not know much about them but this site gave me information.

Jill - 2004-05-23
Beng a beginner with aqariums,I purchased a Ryukin,and a Fantail.
I had no idea how fast these fish would grow!!!
I had originally placed each sepeately in 2 gallon tanks.Within weeks both were growing too fast and are now together in a 10 gallon aquarium.
I love them both and wish to breed them eventually.
Thanks for all the helpful info this site offered.

Jennifer - 2004-03-04
I just started my fish Aquarium it consist of tropical and freshwater fish. It has become a hobby or should I say a habit. I just bought a beautiful yellow Fantail Goldish. I have never seen one Quite like it. I also have a Large Shubunkin and a small Shubunkin, A Pink Kissing Gourami, two African Dwarf frogs,I did have some Ghost Shrimp but I think My large Shubunkin ate them they are in a 55gallon aquarium. They have become my children. by the way I love this site it is the only one I come to, to find out all my aquarium needs me being a beginner at this. Thanks Sincerly


Copyright © [Animal-World] 1998-2012. All rights reserved.