for Your New Shubunkin (Goldfish)
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Pet World Visit
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.
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).
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,
How they got into this isolated pond, we’ll 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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