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Clear shubunkin.jpg
Country of origin
Single tailed
Breed standards

Shubunkins (朱文金 translated literally as "red brocade"?) are a hardy, single-tailed fancy goldfish with nacreous scales, and a pattern known as calico. The shubunkins are of Japanese origin.[1][2]

The Shubunkin was created by Yoshigoro Akiyama (ja:秋山吉五郎), by crossing Calico telescope eye with Common goldfish.


Illustration of a shubunkin.

Shubunkins are similar to the common goldfish and comet goldfish in appearance. They were first bred in Japan, from mutations in telescope eye goldfish (Demekins) c. 1900. They have streamlined bodies with well-developed and even fins. However, the shubunkins are calico goldfish; they possess nacreous scales (a mix of metallic and transparent scales that are pearly in appearance). The overlapping patches of red, white, blue, grey and black (along with dark speckles) normally extend to the finnage of shubunkins. Blue is the most prized colour in shubunkins. Calico originally denoted three coloured varieties of goldfish that did not include blue. The best blues are produced from line breeding of good blue specimens of shubunkins. Sometimes good blues may be obtained by breeding bronze (metallic) with pink (matte) goldfish, but a grey slate colour may result instead.Some Calico fish tend to have a pointy mouth.

It may take several months for the nacreous coloration to develop on a young fry (baby fish). Shubunkins are excellent pond fish because they reach a length of 9 to 18 inches (23 to 41 centimeters) at adulthood. A shubunkin goldfish is considered an adult at 2 to 3 years of age,[1][2] even though they live much longer.

American shubunkin
Male Shubunkin


An adult shubunkin, 26 cm (10 in) in length
  • London shubunkins have stout bodies and also short, rounded finnage that is similar to the common goldfish.[1][2]
  • American shubunkins (pictured in infobox) have a slimmer body shape than the london shubunkin with deeply forked, pointed tail fins, and longer finnage all around.[2]
  • Bristol shubunkins are slim bodied goldfish with well-developed finnage possessing a tail that is large, moderately forked, and rounded at the end making a shape similar to that of the capitalized letter "B".[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c d Chris Andrews, Interpet Publishing (2002) An Interpet Guide to Fancy Goldfish. ISBN 1-902389-64-6
  2. ^ a b c d e Erik L. Johnson, D.V.M. and Richard E. Hess (2006) Fancy Goldfish: A Complete Guide to Care and Collecting, Weatherhill, Shambala Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-8348-0448-4

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