Fantail Goldfish

Show Goldfish, Fancy Goldfish

Family: Cyprinidae Fantail Goldfish, Fancy Goldfish, Show GoldfishCarassius auratus auratusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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y dids my fish sometime swims upside down and look like it is dying bout it not and somtime it just lay like that too y  jody

The Fantail is a show goldfish with its distinguishing feature being a split, or double, tailfin!

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 Show Goldfish, completely split caudal fin
Tailfin should be completely split to show

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.

The Fantail Goldfish and the Ryukin are both recommended for the beginner. Other good beginner fancy goldfish are Common Goldfish, Comet Goldfish, the Shubunkin, and the Black Moor. All 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

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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
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Size of fish - inches: 6.0 inches (15.24 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Temperature: 65.0 to 72.0° F (18.3 to 22.2° C)
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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 are available in three scale types: metallic, a solid reddish orange, nacreous which is speckled, and matt which is a whitish color. They are an egg-shaped variety of goldfish. The body is short and stubby and the head is very wide. The average goldfish lifespan is 10 – 15 years, though living 20 years or more is not uncommon in well maintained goldfish aquariums and ponds.

A Japanese version of the Fantail, the Ryukin Goldfish has a highly curved back and a wider caudal fin than the Fantail Goldfish. 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- 12" (25-30+ cm).

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.

  • Size of fish - inches: 6.0 inches (15.24 cm) - Average size is 6" (15 cm), but have been reported to reach 10- 12" (25-30+ cm).
  • Lifespan: 15 years - The average goldfish lifespan is 10 – 15 years, but they have been known to live 20 years of more when well maintained.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

Picture of Fantail Goldfish, Carassius auratus

Fantail Goldfish are some of the hardier species of goldfish. They are very undemanding of water quality and temperature, and recommended for the beginner. The metallic scale type (solid reddish orange) is the the most durable of this fancy goldfish group.

Many people will keep goldfish in an aquarium 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 a goldfish aquarium in a manner that will keep your fish happy and healthy is the first step to success. The shape and size of the goldfish aquarium is important and depends upon the number of fish you are going to keep. These fish need a lot of oxygen and 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 in turn helps to keep the tank clean and maintain the general health of the goldfish.

  • Tank parameters to consider when choosing a goldfish aquarium:
    • Tank size
      Ten gallons is the absolute minimum required to house a Fantail Goldfish. 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.
    • Tank Shape
      Always provide the maximum amount of surface area. 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 example an elongated tank offers more surface area (and oxygen) than a tall tank. In an oval or round shaped tank the middle offers more surface area than filling it to the top.
    • Number of fish
      For juveniles a general rule of thumb is 1 inch of fish (2.54 cm) per 1 gallon of water. But this rule only applies 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 proper growth, either buy fewer fish than the maximum number or be prepared to get a larger tank. Prevent stunted growth and other health problems by not overstocking the aquarium.

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

Provide a gravel substrate to help create a natural and comfortable environment for your fish. 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.

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.

Goldfish are freshwater fish, but they have some tolerance for slightly brackish water. The salinity level for C. auratus must be kept low, below 10% with a specific gravity of less than 1.002.

  • 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. It will have very stunted growth if it is kept in a smaller aquarium.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes - A Nano tank is fine as long as it is 10 gallons or more.
  • Substrate Type: Any - A medium sized gravel works best.
  • 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: 5 - 19 dGH
  • Brackish: Sometimes - The salinity for C. auratus must be kept below 10%, a specific gravity of less than 1.002.
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All - These fish will swim in all areas of the aquarium.

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.
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Lastest Animal Stories on Fantail Goldfish

jody - 2015-04-03
y dids my fish sometime swims upside down and look like it is dying bout it not and somtime it just lay like that too y

  • monica - 2015-05-19
    sounds like your fish has a issues of the swim bladder. make sure your water parameters stays ammonia 0, nitrites 0 and nitrates under 40ppm. also try to feed some peas 1/4 of the pea four times a day.
Abbie - 2013-01-01
I got two fantail fish for Christmas but one died, I cleaned  the tank well but now the other one just sits out the bottom do you no why? Please help x

  • Jeremy Roche - 2013-01-01
    What size tank? Filtration?  You may want to have the water tested, a local pet shop will normally do it for you if a water sample if brought in.  Was the tank cycled before adding the fish?  Air stone in tank?
  • Christopher Pope - 2015-01-21
    Keep in mind, gold fish are mostly a community fish. They love having others. I had one that was simply depressed until I bought another and he piped right up.
  • Tyrone - 2015-02-15
    I recently got a female oranda goldfish and my male fantail and black moor have been chasing her all around(they do stop sometimes)is it a mating process because they're about 6 months old or are they just playing
  • Elspeth - 2015-02-19
    I've always found fantails slightly more difficult than other goldfish, they like very clean water and lots of company. Make sure you do a 1/4 water change once a week, that there are no major temperature variations, and add a plant or two - always perks them up. You may want to invest in a larger tank with a better filtration system, you still need to make the water changes but it'll make your fish very happy! Get a few platy or danios, they're very small but also very active. They can really liven up your tank and will live happily in the same temperature as a goldfish. If your fish has floaty poo's you may be feeding it too much, they don't have stomachs so are forever hungry but it doesn't mean they need constant food. They can go quite a long time without and will become much more active in their quest for it :) Good luck!
Terri Vickers - 2015-02-10
I have new fantail gold fish, what do I do when babies are born? Do I take them out of the tank? What do I do for them?

  • Clarice Brough - 2015-02-14
    Once the parents are done spawning and the eggs are laid, the parents will start to eat them, so you will need to separate the eggs from the parents. See more about this on the page, Breeding Freshwaterfish Fish: Goldfish.
Evelyn Cable - 2015-02-05
Interest in buying fanfail and veiltail goldfish

Evelyn Cable - 2015-02-05
Interest in buying fanfail and veiltail goldfish