Caring for Your New Shubunkin (Goldfish)
The scoop from Aqualand on Carassius auratus

 
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Shubunkin Factoids

Origin

Most now come from Midwest fish farms

Sexual Differences

Females chubbier and “lumpy” viewed from top

Temperature  Not picky

Attitude

Hungry

Biggest Threats

Raccoons, kids, turtles, owls, dogs

Security

Goes to bottom when threatened

Size

Over a foot in ponds

Longevity

10+ years

Foods

Not picky

Water

Undemanding

Breeding Comments

Easy breeders – thousands of eggs


LA
Some six-inch U.S. shubunkins in a catching tray.

Origin. Goldfish originally came from China.  Fanciers took them to Japan and then to England where they developed a calico version called the shubunkin (or poor man’s koi).    Many U.S.-grown shubunkins get shipped to the U.K. -- at least the best ones go there.

LA
No two shubunkins ever look alike.  Big differences in their fins also.  Look like koi, eh?

Shubunkin Types.  Standard shubunkins look like regular goldfish with a calico overlay.  “Calico” involves a mixture of blue, white, black, red, and orange colors in willy-nilly splotches.  Butterfly shubunkins develop a tail often as long as their body (like what the comet is supposed to look like).  Bristol shubunkins grow a much more developed tail with rounded lobes.  We never see these here.  We get the long torpedo-shaped guys.  

LA
Lots of colors on a shubunkin -- just like a koi.  Kinda drab out of the water.

Sparkly Scales.  Tiny shiny scales mixed in with the colored scales complete the ensemble.  These “nacreous” scales resemble the lining of a pearl oyster shell.  They carry this trait in common with the gin-rin koi.  We netted several seinesful of these sparkly guys from an Iowa farm pond west of Des Moines years ago.  How they got into this isolated pond, well never know.

Shubunkins Like Salt.  Why add salt? They need salt -- especially in new tanks or ponds.  Salt decreases the harmful effects of nitrites in the water.  Salt also helps shubunkins build their slime layer (their first defense against diseases) and decreases osmotic pressures.

 

Slime.  Goldfish crank out much more slime than other fishes.  However, you want to add more slime with a good water conditioner every time you add new shubunkins to your aquarium or pond.

Ammonia Neutralizer.  New tanks and ponds with inadequate filter systems also generate enough ammonia to stress shubunkins.  Ammonia comes from the digested food the fishes process and from any uneaten food that spoils on the bottom.  If your fish look a little wilty, use an ammonia neutralizer before their gills burn out.  

LA
Shubunkins show off nicely in clean water.

Overfeeding.  If you overfeed your always hungry-acting shubunkins, you cause stress problems.  Solution?  Add trapdoor snails.  Mystery snails will often drown in ponds because they breathe air.  Trapdoor snails eat whatever’s on the bottom, no matter how gross. This means fewer water changes and healthier fish for you.

Clean Water.  Frequent water changes prevent many shubunkin problems.  Water changes dilute any toxins and reduce the number of parasites in the water.  Filters remove many toxic substances.  Filters with built-in fountains or waterfalls also aerate the water.

 

Cool Water.  Shubunkins do not need a heater.  We call them “cold water fishes” because they can live under the ice.  You can crowd the heck out of them if you keep them in cool water.  Cold water holds more oxygen. Tropical fish cannot stand these temperature extremes.  

LA
Nice fins.  Shubunkins sport nice colors.

Color.  Reds and oranges intensify when you feed your shubunkins color foods – particularly foods with carotenes (shrimps, plankton, krill, spirulina).  They grow even more colorful when kept outside in ponds.  Algae in the water becomes part of their diet.  

LA
Shubunkins look and act better in planted tanks.

Plants.  Add some plants.  Fast-growing plants “eat” a good deal of the pollutants your fishes give off -- carbon dioxide and ammonia for starters.  Some people also like to add plants because their goldfish munch on the leaves.  Plants improve their colors.  

LA
Put shubunkins over blue and they look just like koi (without the barbels or huge size).

Last Word.  If you need more info, go to Goldfish.  Shubunkins and goldfish belong to exactly the same species.  If you need spawning info see Spawning Goldfish.  LA

© 2002, © 2003, © 2004  LA Productions

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