Fantail Goldfish: The right way to care for fantails

Fantail Fancy goldfish are generally bred for show, although they have recently also become an extremely popular choice of a family pet.

If you’re considering buying a Fantail goldfish, you’ll need to know how to care for them. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll find all the information you need to give your new Fantail what it needs to thrive.

What is a Fantail Goldfish?

The Fantail goldfish, Carassius auratus auratus, is one of many types of fancy goldfish that originate from Asia, specifically Japan and China.

Fantails come in several variations, including some that develop telescope eyes. In Japan, there’s a version of the Fantail called the Ryukin Goldfish, which has a very highly curved back and wider caudal fin than its Fantail cousin.

All Fantail varieties are considered to be relatively easy to care for and are suitable for beginners.

What Do Fantail Goldfish Look Like?

Fantail goldfish have the characteristic egg-shaped body of all Fancy goldfish varieties. The Fantail’s body is stubby and short, and the fish’s head is very broad. In true Fantail goldfish, the body should account for roughly three-fifths of the fish’s overall length.

Show Quality Fantails

A show quality fantail has a split caudal fin (tail fin) that is slightly forked and moderate in length.

The caudal should be completely split with the two lobes of the fin held closer together at the top than at the bottom. That gives the tail a triangular look when viewed from behind. Show Fantails have a double anal fin that also has complete separation.

The caudal fin should be sturdy and rounded at the end so that when viewed from above, the tail resembles a fan, hence the fish’s common name.

Fantail goldfish have a single dorsal fin.

How Big Are Fantail Goldfish?

Many people buy a cute, 1-inch Fantail goldfish from a pet store, only to find that their little fish rapidly grows to measure a monstrous 6 to 8 inches long when it’s fully mature.

Fantails kept in very large tanks or ponds can reach 10 to 12 inches in length, so be warned!

What Color Are Fantail Goldfish?

Fantails come in a mixture of colors, including:

  • Orange
  • Blue
  • Silver
  • Black
  • Bronze
  • Red
  • Calico

The fish can be solid in color or a mixture of different shades. However, a top-quality Fantail should have well-balanced coloration on both sides of its body. Variegated colors should extend to the fish’s fins, and calicos should be predominantly blue with random patches of other colors.

The Fantail’s scales can be metallic, nacreous (speckled), or matte.

Is My Fantail Male or Female?

For most of the year, male and female Fantails look pretty much alike. However, once the breeding season comes around in the springtime, it becomes easier to tell the difference between males and females.

When viewed from above, female fish appear plumper as they fill with eggs. Males develop a scattering of small white spots over their gill covers and head. Although these spots can be mistaken for Ich, they are actually tubercles, commonly called breeding stars, and appear when the fish is coming into breeding condition.

What’s the Lifespan of Fantail Goldfish?

If given the correct care, Fantails have an average lifespan of ten to 15 years, although many have been known to live for 20 years or even longer.

Are Fantail Goldfish Suitable for Beginners?

Fantails are extremely hardy characters and are relatively undemanding when it comes to water temperature and quality. The solid reddish-orange metallic scale variant is the most robust of the Fantails.

That said, all goldfish are dirty creatures, and you do need an efficient filtration system in your aquarium to process the amount of muck they produce.

Fantail goldfish can survive at temperatures a few degrees above freezing, making them ideal for life in an outdoor pond, provided that the temperature doesn’t fall by more than a few degrees each day.

Whether you keep your fish in a pond or a tank, goldfish are highly social fish that thrive when kept in small groups of the own kind.

Fantail Goldfish Origins

Fantail goldfish are not found in nature. 

Research has shown that all modern goldfish varieties are related to Prussian or Silver Prussian carp, a species of wild carp that are found in Siberia, Central Asia.

For many centuries, the carp, known locally as “chi,” was fished as a food source, eventually being kept and raised specifically for that purpose. Then, by a happy accident, a genetic mutation produced a few bright orange fish. Those fish would soon be taken by predators, so they were rescued, reputedly by Buddhist monks, and kept as ornamental pets in a special pond in the monastery gardens.

Goldfish Trading

Those early pioneers were hybridized to produce large, flat-bodied fish whose beautiful bright colors soon made them a hit. In the 1500s, Chinese breeders began trading goldfish with Japan. In the 1600s, goldfish arrived in Europe, reaching the U.S. in the 1800s.

The first round-bodied Fancy goldfish were later developed in Asia and displayed in ceramic urns and glass vessels in wealthy traders’ homes.

From those humble beginnings, today, there are over 100 varieties of Fancy goldfish, including the Fantail. Who knew?

Fantail Goldfish – Care Guide

Although Fantail goldfish are pretty easy to care for, there are some very important aspects of fishkeeping husbandry that you must know.

Tank Size

As previously mentioned, Fantails grow to a fair size, so we recommend that you start with a 20 or 30-gallon tank, adding a further 10 gallons for each additional fish. Fantails are not fast swimmers, but they are dirty fish, producing lots of waste. So, more water volume helps to dilute the waste and makes tank maintenance easier for you.

Remember that Fantails grow quickly and can reach 8 inches in length, so bear that in mind when buying stock for your tank. Overstocking results in poor growth and health problems, so make sure that your tank or pond is big enough for the number of fish you want to keep.

Goldfish are oxygen-hungry fish, so a rectangular tank is best, as that offers plenty of surface area for good gaseous exchange. Bowls and nano tanks are unsuitable for goldfish, as the tiny surface area is simply too small, and there isn’t enough swimming space.

Water Parameters

Fantail goldfish are coldwater fish, requiring a water temperature of between 65° to 72° Fahrenheit.

The ideal pH range is between 6.0 and 8.0, and the water hardness should be in the range of 5 to 19 dGH.

Filtration

Efficient filtration is crucial to cope with the quantity of waste that Fantail goldfish produce. For that reason, we recommend an external canister filter that provides a GPH rate of at least four times the tank volume without taking up valuable space in the aquarium.

Fantails are not the best swimmers, and they struggle in a strong flow. So, you’ll need to cap the outflow pipe from an interior filter to redirect the flow or buffer the current with decorations or plants. That’s another reason why an external filter with a waterfall style outflow is preferred for these fish.

Every week, you will need to use an aquarium vacuum to remove fish waste, uneaten food, and plant debris from the substrate to prevent the water from becoming polluted. You must also carry out 30% partial water changes each week to remove harmful nitrates from the water.

Decoration

Fantails are not the best swimmers in the fish world, so you do need to keep the tank clear of clutter.

Driftwood, smooth stones, and pebbles look attractive and create a natural vibe but avoid using anything sharp that could snag on the Fantail’s fins. Arrange your décor around the perimeter of the tank so as not to obstruct the swimming space.

A smooth, medium-gauge gravel makes a good choice of substrate.

Are Fantail Goldfish Plant-Safe?

Living plants make an excellent addition to any aquarium. Plants oxygenate the water and absorb nitrates for use as fertilizer, helping to keep the environment safe and clean for your goldfish.

However, Fantails, like all goldfish varieties, tend to be diggers, and they will uproot plants that aren’t securely anchored in the gravel. Goldfish will also nibble on new, tender leaves, so choose robust plants that aren’t appetizing to the fish.

Silk plants make a good substitute for live ones, but we don’t recommend plastic plants or ornaments, as these can have sharp edges that might injure the fish.

What Do I Feed Fantail Goldfish?

Goldfish are omnivorous, eating a variety of plant matter, algae, and meaty proteins. So, you should feed your Fantails a varied diet that contains a balanced mix of those nutrients.

Choose flake food and pellets that are formulated specifically for round-bodied Fancy goldfish, and include a portion of frozen bloodworms, daphnia, or brine shrimp each day to prevent common digestive problems, such as constipation, Swim Bladder disease, and bloat.

How Much Should I Feed My Goldfish?

Ideally, you should feed your Fantails two to three times per day, offering only what the fish will eat in one or two minutes.

Can I Give My Fantails Live Food?

Fantails love live foods, but you must be very careful if you decide to take that route. Live food can harbor parasites and bacteria that might harm your fish, so we recommend using frozen foods unless you have the time and space to set up your own brine shrimp hatchery.

Never harvest live foods from nature. You could accidentally import harmful toxins, bacteria, and parasites into your aquarium.

What Tank Mates Are Best for Fantail Goldfish?

Fantails love company and should always be kept with others of their own kind, never alone. These peaceful fish are non-aggressive and spend much of their time socializing and foraging in the substrate for scraps of food or grazing on algae.

Fish to Avoid

Fantail Fancy goldfish have large mouths and will quickly make a meal of very small fish such as Mosquitofish, White Cloud Minnows, and similar. Shrimp will also be regarded as buffet items by hungry Fantails, so you can’t safely include these invertebrates in your setup.

As Fantails are slow, clumsy swimmers, it’s best to avoid keeping them with speedier species such as Common goldfish, Comets, and Shubunkins that will certainly outcompete the slower Fancies for food.

How to Breed Fantail Goldfish

If given the correct conditions, Fantails are remarkably easy to breed.

All goldfish are egg-layers, readily spawning during the spring months when the temperature increases. You can breed Fantail goldfish in small groups or mated pairs.

How to Set Up A Spawning Tank

Goldfish tend to eat their eggs, so the best way to breed them is by setting up a separate spawning tank.

A 20-gallon tank is the minimum size that we recommend for breeding goldfish. Choose only healthy fish that are free from disease, and separate the males and females a few weeks prior to breeding them.

The spawning tank needs some flat stones, spawning mops, and plenty of bushy plants that the eggs will adhere to.

Encouraging Spawning

Once the fish are installed in the tank, gradually lower the water temperature to around 60° Fahrenheit. Next, gradually raise the temperature by 3° per day until the fish begin to spawn, usually when the water is between 68° and 74° Fahrenheit.

During that time, feed the fish lots of live or frozen meaty foods, including bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp.

Breeding

When spawning is imminent, you’ll notice that the fishes’ colors increase in intensity.

In a prelude to spawning, the male Fantail pursues the female around the aquarium. Eventually, the fish vibrate against each other until the female drops her eggs onto the spawning media that you’ve put on the bottom of the tank. There can be up to 10,000 eggs released by the female over the course of a few hours.

The eggs stick to the spawning media via sticky threads, remaining there until they hatch, typically within four to seven days.

Remove the parent fish immediately after the eggs are laid so that they don’t eat the eggs.

Once the fry hatch, you can feed it commercial fry food. Once the babies are large enough, they can have crushed flakes and baby brine shrimp.

Health and Disease

Fantail goldfish are robust, hardy creatures that will thrive if you keep their tank clean and feed them a varied, high-quality diet.

That said, there are a few common freshwater fish diseases that can attack weak or injured Fantails.

Fortunately, most of these conditions can be treated relatively successfully with a condition-specific over-the-counter medication that you’ll get from your local fish store, in combination with partial water changes.

Protozoan Diseases

The most commonly encountered parasitic condition that affects goldfish is called Ich or White Spot disease and is caused by an aquatic parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.

Chilodonella and Costia are two other common parasitic infections, both of which cause cloudy patches over the fish’s skin.

Flukes

Sometimes, external parasites, referred to as flukes, get into the aquarium, usually with live food, on new fish, or hidden in plants.

You can often see these creatures with the naked eye, attached to the fish’s body or gills.

Fungus

Fungus is a very common fish disease that is generally associated with poor water conditions and dirty tanks.

If your Fantails develop white, cottony patches on their head, gills, or around the mouth, the problem is most likely caused by fungus.

Bacterial Infections

Most fish tanks contain bacteria, but these organisms usually only cause problems for your fish if the water conditions in the tank are poor or if the fish are injured or weakened by stress.

Bacterial infections manifest themselves as ulcers, red patches, or sores anywhere on the fish’s body, gills, or fins. A condition called fin rot that causes ragged, torn fins is also caused by a species of bacteria.

Swim Bladder Disease

Most round-bodied goldfish suffer from swim bladder problems from time-to-time.

The name is a catch-all term that’s used to describe a number of conditions that affect the fish’s swim bladder. The swim bladder is the organ that’s responsible for keeping the fish swimming on an even keel. Fish with swim bladder issues sometimes float to the surface, sink to the bottom, or swim on one side, apparently unable to remain upright.

The most common cause of swim bladder problems in Fantails and other Fancy goldfish species is constipation, which can be easily rectified. Simply starve your fish for 24 to 48 hours, and then offer live or frozen food.

Are Fantail Goldfish Readily Available?

Fantail goldfish are generally available in most good fish stores and pet shops. Prices vary, depending on the size and quality of the fish, starting at around $10 and rising to a few hundred dollars for a potential champion show fish.

Final Thoughts

The Fantail goldfish is an attractive, easy to keep fish that’s ideal for a beginner who is just setting out on their fish keeping journey. You can even breed Fantails at home if you fancy a fun, challenging project.

Do you keep and show Fantails? Perhaps you breed them?

Tell us about your fancy Fantails in the comments box below, and please share this guide if you enjoyed it!

4 thoughts on “Fantail Goldfish: The right way to care for fantails”

  1. my fancy goldfish is a solid orange color..but now he is loosing his orange color and changing to white?? Other than color change he is fine.
    What is wrong with him???

    Reply
  2. It’s the fecal matter… their feces isn’t always dark in color. I see this often in tilapia, also.

    Reply
  3. Goldfish are known to lose their color/turn white when there isn’t enough dissolved oxygen in the aquarium. Add additional aeration and see if this resolves the problem. If it is a larger tank, I recommend a round airstone as they tend to disperse a lot more oxygen.

    Reply

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