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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I just got my goldfish and I don't know much about them! But I am wondering why they always are at the top of the water? They will swim to the top and sorta stick... (more)  grace

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 FishBase.org
  • 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
  • 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)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
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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

Description

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.

Availability

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

References

Author: David Brough. CFS.
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Lastest Animal Stories on Fantail Goldfish


grace - 2013-09-16
I just got my goldfish and I don't know much about them! But I am wondering why they always are at the top of the water? They will swim to the top and sorta stick their mouths out and go 'pip pip' it almost looks like they are trying to get more oxygen but I dont know! I'm sure some of that is normal, but what about all the time?

  • Jasmine Brough Hinesley - 2013-09-19
    Goldfish will often get oxygen by gulping air at the surface of the water. It sounds normal to me! Putting a bubbler in the water may help to create more oxygen and your goldfish may feel less like he needs to get it at the surface, so if you are worried he is doing it a bit excessively you could try a bubbler.
  • sally - 2014-10-06
    Fresh plants in the water also help as they produce oxygen and take in carbon dioxide :) hope this also helps
Reply
Doe - 2014-06-07
I have been fish crazy for forty plus years. Today I bought my first Shubukins/goldfish to add to a 75g previously fresh planted tank. Haven't had a goldfish in many years. I have 2 marine tanks and a Betta tank going as I type. I LOVE fish, plain and simple. Hopefully my goldfish tank will do as well as the others. Here's swimming at ya.

Reply
beverly - 2012-05-01
i bought a fancy fin goldfish at the local pet store, bout 2 days ago. this morn when i went to feed her i noticed that there are long hair like stringey stuff hanging off her.under her body and from her fins, i have read alot bout fungs, but have not seen anything that looks like it ,, what do you think? thanks

  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-05-01
    A dip or bath in Mebromin. There are other dips out there depending on fungus.
  • beverly - 2012-05-01
    i put a littl drop of primafix in her tank,, i hope thats ok, its what the pet store recomended, i will get what you suggested,, thanks for you quick responce
  • G.B - 2012-05-20
    i think you'll find thts probly their own 'fish-mess' , also i was going to quickly ask seeing as you seem confident about ur messages, can fantail goldfish and Ryukin breed/mate together? because i was thinking about getting one of each of those for my goldfish bowl, as im a beginner on them. and they seem pretty easy to look after and i just love fish and animals! Please reply, thanks! G.B
  • Matt Anderson - 2014-05-17
    Hi G.B. Although there has been an unfortunate tradition of keeping goldfish in bowls, I highly suggest you don't keep the fish in a bowl. Not only are the fish very messy and need heavy filtration, but goldfish grow to a foot long when kept in proper conditions. Unless you can get a 30 gallon tank I suggest you don't get goldfish. No fish can be kept in a bowl.
Reply
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 name...im 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
    Snowdrop
    Gobi
    Sunlight
    Moonshine
    Li'l Baby
    Sweetie Pie
    Desert
    Heatwave
  • 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:
    Flash
    Jumpy
    Zippity
    DooDa
    Robin
  • 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. :)
Reply