Shubunkin goldfish were first developed in the early 1900s from strains of telescope goldfish in Japan. They are often referred to as “the poor man’s koi."
Similar in body shape to the comet goldfish, shubunkins are characterized by their nacreous scales and calico coloring , which contains shades of red, gold, purple, blue, black and white. Shubunkins with more blue coloration are considered to be more valuable.
There are three varieties of shubunkins; American, London and Bristol. American shubunkins have a body shape nearly identical to comet goldfish, but with slightly larger tails that droop more. London shubunkins have a stockier body shape, similar to that of the common goldfish, and lack the flashy fins of their counterparts. Bristol shubunkins have moderately large tail fins with rounded edges, resembling a capital “B".
Shubunkin goldfish temperament and care
Shubunkins are an extremely hardy variety of fancy goldfish and can survive in any conditions that the common goldfish is able to tolerate. They are extremely fast and agile swimmers and make excellent pond fish. Shubunkins can also be kept in aquariums, but these should be fairly large in order to provide the shubunkin with adequate swimming space.
Shubunkins, like all goldfish, are ravenous eaters and produce a significant amount of waste. Good filtration is therefore extremely important for the shubunkin aquarium or pond. Shubunkins should not be kept with slower-swimming tank mates, as they will out-compete them for food.
Breeding shubunkin goldfish
Like comets and common goldfish, shubunkins are avid breeders and will often spawn regularly when left to their own devices in a pond. It is advisable to closely monitor pond population levels, as shubunkins can overpopulate them in a matter of months.
Choosing shubunkin goldfish
The two most important factors to consider when choosing shubunkin goldfish are the caudal fin shape and coloration.
The shubunkin’s tail, or caudal fin, should be long, flowing and deeply forked. A shubunkin isn’t considered a shubunkin unless it has a calico coloration. The principal background color should be blue, covering at least a quarter of the fish’s body area.