Shubunkin Goldfish

Three types of Shubunkin are recognized, the London the Bristol and the Japanese-American.

Bristol Shubunkin exhibiting typical rounded caudal fin lobes.Bristol Shubunkin

All types of Shubunkin Goldfish have similar body shapes to their wild carp ancestor.  Their coloration is calico or nacreous, with a mottled appearance of multiple colors ranging from red, orange, black, blue and white and every variation in between.

London Shubunkins have short fins similar to the Common Goldfish.  Bristol Shubunkins have finnage similar to the Comet Goldfish, but the caudal fin has rounded lobes, not pointed as seen in the Comet.

A third variant often described as the Japanese/American Shubunkin has a caudal fin similar to the Comet with pointed ends.

Shubunkins are suitable for ponds.  They are hardy active fish but tend to fade if exposed to full sunlight, so some form of shading is recommended.

The scale type is always nacreous.  The goal of breeders is to produce a fish with intense blue coloration with blotches of red, orange, yellow and brown with a stippling of black dots over all the colors.

The best specimens have few or no metallic scales present, and the gill plates are transparent, not metallic.

There is no color change in nacreous scaled goldfish.  As fry get older, colors start to appear and get more intense with age.

These Goldfish don’t suffer the digestive problems caused by poor food that can lead to balance problems in the more developed varieties with short round bodies.

Shubunkin Goldfish Characteristics

Country of Origin: Japan

Maximum size (body length): 8 inches (200mm)

Caudal Fin: Single in all types, half as long as the body and deeply forked with rounded lobes in the Bristol Shubunkin, pointed in the Japanese/American Shubunkin, similar in length and shape to the Common Goldfish in the London Shubunkin.

Dorsal Fin: Present

Anal Fin: Single

Scale Group: Nacreous, with all known goldfish colors able to be present.  Intense blue is the desired color, not slate blue as is often the case.

Eyes: Normal

Distinguishing traits: Many color combinations are possible on a single fish.

Breeding:  One of the easier varieties to breed because they lack features that hinder breeding in the more exotic varieties such as telescopic eyes.  They are quite active fish so a large aquarium or small pond is required.

Male/female differences are more obvious in the breeding season because of the slim body shape.  The female becomes much more rounded as the eggs ripen prior to spawning.

When Shubunkins are bred, all three scale groups are produced.  Approximately half the fry will have nacreous scales, 25 percent will have matt scales, and the remaining 25 percent will be metallic.

The metallic specimens often take a long time to change color, if they do change color at all.

Special requirements: Shading from full sunlight.

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