Shubunkin Goldfish Breeding 101: (A Comprehensive Guide)

Dazzling black, orange, and white splashes dance through your pond, each scale a miniature canvas. Are you mesmerized by the vibrant allure of Shubunkin goldfish? Then you’re not alone! These speckled jewels of the aquatic world have captivated hobbyists for centuries, and now, the secrets of Shubunkin goldfish breeding are yours to unlock.

Imagine tiny, shimmering comets zipping through your tank, a testament to your breeding prowess.

But before you dive headfirst into a sea of eggs and fry, join me on a comprehensive journey through the intricacies of Shubunkin reproduction.

breeding Shubunkins

We’ll navigate everything from selecting prime breeders to nurturing fragile fry, ensuring your tank becomes a kaleidoscope of color and life. So, grab your net (metaphorically) and prepare to witness the magic of breeding Shubunkins!

Shubunkin Goldfish: Fish Species Profile

Shubunkins are a type of single-tailed goldfish that originated in Japan. They are distinguishable by their blue, black, red, and white speckled scales, giving them a unique and eye-catching appearance. 

Can Goldfish Live Together

With proper care, Shubunkin Goldfish can grow up to 12 inches long and live for many years. These fish are best kept in a spacious aquarium with plenty of room to swim and thrive. They are generally peaceful and can coexist with other similar-sized fish, making them a great addition to community tanks.

Maintaining good water quality and providing a varied diet for Shubunkin Goldfish is essential to ensure their health and longevity. Shubunkins are a beloved goldfish species among fish enthusiasts with their vibrant colors and graceful movements.

Here is a fish species profile for Shubunkin goldfish:

Origin and Distribution: Shubunkins are a long-bodied fancy goldfish breed that originated in Japan in the late 19th century. They were created by crossbreeding the calico London Shubunkins, the comet goldfish, and the common goldfish. Shubunkins are not found in the wild but are a human-bred variety.

Physical Description: Shubunkins are characterized by their elongated bodies, single tail fins, and nacreous scales. They have a distinctive “calico” pattern with a white or iridescent base color overlaid with black, blue, red, and orange markings. Shubunkins’ specific patterns and colors can vary greatly, making each fish unique.

Size:  Shubunkins can grow 10-18 inches long when fully mature, making them one of the larger goldfish breeds shubunkin. They can live for 10-15 years with proper care.

Temperament: Shubunkins are peaceful fish generally compatible with other goldfish and pond fish. They are active swimmers and enjoy exploring their surroundings.

Diet: Shubunkins are omnivores and eat various foods, including flakes, pellets, algae, and live food. Feeding them a balanced diet that includes plant and animal matter is essential.

Water Conditions: Shubunkins are hardy fish that can tolerate various water conditions. However, they prefer cool water temperatures between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH level of 7.0-7.8. They also require a spacious tank or pond with plenty of swimming room.

Care: Shubunkins are relatively easy to care for, making them a good choice for beginner fishkeepers. However, it is crucial to provide them with an aquarium or pond large enough, as they can grow quite large. Regular water changes and filtration are also essential for maintaining good water quality.

Shubunkins are beautiful and hardy fish that make a great addition to any pond or aquarium.

Basics in Shubunkin Breeding

Shubunkin goldfish are popular ornamental fish known for their vibrant calico coloration and lively personalities. Breeding them can be a rewarding experience for aquarists, but it’s essential to understand the basics before embarking on this endeavor.

Here’s a breakdown of the essential steps involved in Shubunkin breeding:

1. Selecting Shubunkin Goldfish Breeding Stock:

  • Choose healthy, mature Shubunkins (at least 2 years old) with good body conformation and vibrant colors.
  • Select a breeding pair – ideally, one well-rounded female with two or three slimmer males.
  • Avoid inbreeding by choosing fish from different bloodlines.

2. Preparing the Shubunkins Breeding Tank:

  • Set up a separate tank of at least 40 gallons for spawning.
  • Fill it with aged, temperature-controlled water (around 70-72°F).
  • Provide plenty of spawning substrate like fine-leaved plants (e.g., Elodea, Cabomba) or spawning mops.
  • Ensure good water filtration and aeration.

3. Conditioning the Breeders:

  • Separate the breeding pair into the prepared tank a few weeks before spawning.
  • Increase their feeding with high-quality protein foods to stimulate egg production.
  • Maintain excellent water quality through regular partial water changes.

4. Spawning Shubunkin Goldfish:

  • A water change with cooler water or a slight increase in water temperature usually triggers spawning.
  • The males will chase the female, nudging her to release eggs, fertilizing them externally.
  • The eggs are sticky and will adhere to the spawning substrate.

5. Caring for the Shubunkin Goldfish Eggs:

  • Remove the breeding pair after spawning to prevent them from eating the eggs.
  • Maintain good water quality and aeration in the spawning tank.
  • Depending on the water temperature, the eggs should hatch within 2-4 days.

6. Caring for the Goldfish Fry:

  • Feed the fry infusoria or liquid fry food for the first few days.
  • Gradually introduce larger foods as they grow.
  • Maintain excellent water quality through frequent small water changes.
  • Separate the fry by size as they grow to prevent larger ones from bullying smaller ones.

Additional Tips:

  • Be prepared for many goldfish fry – a single female can lay thousands of eggs!
  • Be patient, as raising goldfish fry to adulthood takes time and dedication.
  • Cull any fry with deformities or poor health to maintain good water quality and prevent the spread of disease.

Breeding Shubunkin fish can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s essential to be prepared for the challenges involved. By following these basic steps and providing proper care, you can increase your chances of success and enjoy the satisfaction of raising your own Shubunkin fry.

Shubunkin Goldfish Breeding Habits and Natural Habitats

Shubunkin goldfish breeding behavior is similar to that of other goldfish varieties. During the breeding season, which typically starts in the summer months, male Shubunkin goldfish will chase after the female, nudging her and her abdomen to prompt her to release her eggs.

Once the female releases her eggs, the male fertilizes them, and the eggs attach themselves to aquatic plants for incubation. In their natural habitat,

Shubunkin goldfish can be found in slow-moving or still bodies of water, such as ponds and lakes, particularly in East Asia, where they originated.

They often swim near the water’s surface, feeding on algae and other aquatic vegetation. Shubunkin goldfish are social creatures that thrive in groups, and they are known for their adaptability to various water conditions, making them popular choices for home aquariums. 

Tank Requirements for Breeding Shubunkins

Setting up a breeding tank for your Shubunkins is an exciting step! To create a safe and healthy environment for your fish to spawn and raise their fry, here are some essential tank requirements to keep in mind:

Tank Size:

  • Minimum size: A 40-gallon tank is the absolute minimum for breeding a pair of Shubunkins. However, a larger tank, like 60-80 gallons, is much better, especially if you plan on keeping the fry in the same tank until they’re large enough to be separated. More space provides better water quality, reduces stress on the fish, and increases the survival rate of the fry.

Water Quality:

  • Clean and stable water is crucial for successful breeding. Perform a partial water change of 25% weekly and siphon the gravel to remove waste.
  • Maintain the water temperature between 68-72°F (20-22°C).
  • Ensure proper filtration and aeration. A canister filter or a power filter and airstone combination is ideal.

Tank Setup:

  • Provide plenty of hiding places for the fish. Plants like hornwort, anacharis, and elodea are excellent choices as they also help improve water quality. You can also add spawning mops or artificial plants.
  • Keep the lighting subdued. Bright light can stress the fish and inhibit spawning.

Breeding Process:

  • Condition your breeding pair by feeding them a nutritious diet and keeping them in separate tanks for a few weeks. This helps ensure they are healthy and in breeding condition.
  • When ready, introduce the pair to the breeding tank in the evening. A slight temperature increase and water changes usually trigger the spawning process.
  • Once the spawning is complete, remove the parents to a separate tank to prevent them from eating the eggs. Depending on the water temperature, the eggs will hatch in 2-4 days.

Raising the Fry:

  • Feed the fry infusoria or liquid fry food for the first few weeks. As they grow, you can switch to crushed flakes or pellets.
  • Perform small water changes daily to maintain good water quality.
  • Be patient! It takes several months for Shubunkin goldfish fry to reach maturity.

Here are some additional tips for success:

  • Quarantine any new fish before adding them to your breeding tank to prevent the introduction of diseases.
  • Monitor the water quality closely during the breeding and fry-raising stages.
  • Be prepared to remove uneaten eggs or fry to avoid water quality problems.

With careful planning and proper care, you can enjoy the rewarding experience of breeding goldfish Shubunkins!

Remember, breeding fish is a responsibility, so be sure you have the resources and commitment to care for the fry before you start the process. Good luck!

Goldfish Shubunkin Diet and Feeding

Like most carp relatives, Shubunkins are omnivores, which means they eat plants and animals. A healthy diet for a Shubunkin goldfish should include a variety of foods, such as:

  • High-quality goldfish pellets: These are specially formulated to give Shubunkins the nutrients they need to stay healthy. Look for pellets made from various ingredients, such as fish meal, wheat germ, and spirulina.
  • Flake food: Flake food is another good option for Shubunkins. Choose flakes that are specifically for goldfish, and avoid flakes that contain a lot of fillers.
  • Brine shrimp: Brine shrimp are a nutritious treat for Shubunkins. You can buy them freeze-dried or frozen.
  • Bloodworms: Bloodworms are another nutritious treat for Shubunkins. They are high in protein and iron.
  • Vegetables: Shubunkins love to eat vegetables. Some good options include lettuce, spinach, and peas. You can blanch the vegetables before feeding them to your fish to make them softer.
  • Algae wafers: Algae wafers are an excellent way to help keep your tank clean and provide your Shubunkins with extra nutrition.

It is essential to feed your Shubunkins the right amount of food. Generally, it would help if you provided them two or three times a day and only give them as much food as possible in two minutes. If you are still unsure how much to feed your fish, you can start with a small amount and then increase it if they seem hungry.

Shubunkin Goldfish Tank Size & Pond Stocking

Shubunkin goldfish are known for their beautiful coloration and active swimming behavior, making them popular in aquariums and outdoor ponds.

When considering the tank size for Shubunkin goldfish, it’s essential to remember that these fish can grow up to 10-12 inches in length, so they require a larger tank or pond to thrive.

A tank size of at least 30 gallons is recommended for a single Shubunkin goldfish, with an additional 10 gallons for each other fish. 

When stocking Shubunkin goldfish in a pond, the general rule is to allow for at least 20 gallons of water per fish. This means a 100-gallon pond could comfortably accommodate up to 5 Shubunkin goldfish.

Providing adequate space for these fish is essential for their health and well-being, allowing them to exhibit their natural behaviors and reducing the risk of overcrowding-related issues. 

How to Design Shubunkin Goldfish Ponds

Designing a pond for shubunkin goldfish is an exciting project that can add beauty and tranquility to your outdoor space. These hardy fish are relatively easy to care for but have specific needs that your pond design should cater to. Here are some key considerations:

Pond size and depth:

  • Shubunkin goldfish are active swimmers and need plenty of space to explore. Aim for a minimum pond size of 1,000 gallons for the first few fish, with an additional 250 gallons for each other fish.
  • The depth of the pond should be at least 28 inches to allow the fish to hibernate safely during the winter months. Include shallower areas of around 6 inches for spawning and basking.

Water quality:

  • Good water quality is essential for the health of your fish. A properly functioning filtration system is crucial to remove waste products and keep the water clean.
  • Use a biological filter that houses beneficial bacteria to break down ammonia and nitrite, which are harmful to fish. You can also add plants to the pond, which will help to oxygenate the water and absorb nutrients.

Sun exposure:

  • Shubunkin goldfish enjoy some sunlight, but too much can lead to algae growth and overheating. Aim for a pond location that receives around 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • You can shade your fish with aquatic plants, floating lily pads, or overhanging rocks.

Pond bottom:

  • The bottom of your pond should be covered with a safe substrate for fish and plants. Avoid using sharp rocks or gravel that could injure your fish.
  • A layer of sand or pea gravel is a good option. You can add larger rocks or stones to decorate and provide hiding places for your fish.


  • Aquatic plants are not only beneficial for water quality, but they also add beauty and interest to your pond. Choose a variety of plants that will thrive in your pond’s conditions.
  • Some good options for shubunkin ponds include water lilies, pondweed, elodea, and anacharis.

Additional features:

  • Once the basics are covered, you can add additional features to your pond to make it more enjoyable.
  • A waterfall or fountain can add aeration and visual interest. You can add rocks, bridges, or statues to create a more natural look.

With careful planning and execution, you can create a stunning shubunkin goldfish pond that will be a cherished addition to your home.

Shubunkin Wintering, Hardiness & Water Quality

Goldfish Shubunkin are a popular choice for outdoor ponds, and wintering can be a concern for their owners. These cold-water fish are hardy and can withstand winter temperatures if the pond doesn’t freeze completely.

When wintering goldfish Shubunkin, it’s essential to ensure that the pond is deep enough to provide a stable water temperature and enough oxygen in the water to support the fish during the colder months. Water quality is also crucial for the well-being of goldfish Shubunkin during winter.

Proper filtration and regular water testing can ensure the water remains clean and safe for the fish. Additionally, avoiding overfeeding the goldfish during winter is essential, as their metabolism slows in colder water. With proper preparation and care, goldfish Shubunkin can survive and even thrive during winter. 

Do Shubunkins breed easily?

Yes, Shubunkins are prolific breeders! With proper care and spawning cues, they readily lay thousands of eggs. However, raising the fry to adulthood requires additional effort.

How can you tell if a Shubunkin is male or female?

Visually determining a Shubunkin’s sex can be tricky, especially before breeding age. Observing pectoral fins’ shape and chasing behavior during the shubunkin breeding season offers some clues, but consulting a fish vet for a fin clip analysis provides the most accurate answer.

Do Shubunkin goldfish lay eggs?

Shubunkins, like all goldfish, are prolific egg-layers. In optimal conditions, a single female can lay thousands of sticky eggs that cling to plants or other surfaces.

How do I know if my Shubunkin is pregnant?

Shubunkins aren’t “pregnant” but “gravid” with eggs! Look for a visible rounder belly near the vent, sluggishness, and “nesting” near plants. Observing males chasing and bumping her further confirms egg-laying readiness.

How often do Shubunkins breed?

In ideal conditions, Shubunkins can spawn repeatedly throughout the year. Warmer water temperatures and increased daylight trigger breeding urges, leading to egg-laying sprees every few weeks! Remember, responsible care means managing these prolific breeders to avoid overcrowding.

What is the lifespan of a Shubunkin goldfish?

With proper care, your Shubunkin can live a vibrant life for 10-15 years in an aquarium and potentially 25+ years in a pond! Watch out for spacious habitat, clean water, and a healthy diet to maximize their golden years.

Can goldfish and Shubunkins breed?

Absolutely! Since both goldfish and Shubunkins are the same species, Carassius auratus, they can readily cross breed. Shubunkins themselves are a type of goldfish with distinctive calico markings.

What do Shubunkins like to eat?

Shubunkins are omnivorous eaters. They enjoy a varied diet of high-quality fish flakes, pellets, brine shrimp, bloodworms, and fresh vegetables like peas or lettuce.

What is the price of Shubunkin fish?

The price of American Shubunkin fish varies depending on factors such as size, quality, and location. Checking with a Shubunkin goldfish breeder USA for current pricing information is best.

What is the difference between Bristol Shubunkin and Shubunkin?

Bristol and Shubunkin are terms used interchangeably to refer to the same fish breed. There is no difference between them; they describe a type of goldfish with a calico color pattern.

What fish can go with Shubunkin?

Shubunkin Tank Mates: Stick with active single-tailers like Comets or Koi, Zippy Danios, or algae-eating Dojo Loaches. Avoid fancy goldfish & slowpokes they might outcompete or bully. 


In conclusion, breeding Shubunkin goldfish can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for fish enthusiasts. Ensuring that the breeding environment is suitable and well-maintained, with proper filtration and aeration, is essential. Paying attention to the water quality, temperature, and food is crucial for breeding Shubunkins successfully. Additionally, selecting healthy and genetically diverse parent fish is critical to producing strong and vibrant offspring. Observing the behavior of the fish during breeding is also vital, as it can provide clues about the success of the process.

Patience is essential, as breeding shubunkin goldfish may take time and requires careful monitoring. Finally, providing ample space and hiding spots for the eggs and fry is crucial for survival. Despite the challenges, Shubunkin goldfish breeding can be a fulfilling endeavor, offering the opportunity to witness the growth and development of these beautiful and unique fish.

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About Me

I am the founder of, a devoted wife and mother, and an avid fish enthusiast. My aim is to assist fellow fish lovers worldwide in understanding how to properly care for and breed their pet fish.

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