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Fantail Goldfish Care Guide, Lifespan, Breeding & More

A goldfish becomes the center of attraction in any aquarium, and a Fantail goldfish is sure to catch every eye. An easy-to-maintain variety, even novice aquarists can keep one. They are a hardy variety of fish but are prone to a few diseases.



The Fantail has an egg-shaped body, a long quadruple caudal fin, a high dorsal fin, and no shoulders. Unlike the Shunbukin, it does not have a slender body.

Their body has either metallic or nacreous scales, and they mostly have non-telescope eyes.

This species of goldfish is very commonly found in western countries and bears several similarities to the Ryukin.

However, the fins of a Fantail are not as developed as that of a Ryukin. It has double anal as well as tail fins separated into two matching halves.

This one has fancy features that make it look different from other goldfish, like Comets. They do not have bubble eyes like the other goldfish.

This trait makes them uniquely different from other goldfish varieties. The bulbous body of the Fantail goldfish gives it a bloated look. Sometimes, they may develop distinctive telescope eyes. It happens after they are six months old.

One of the most distinguishing features of a Fantail is its paired fins. They have gorgeous double anal and caudal fins that float behind them as they swim. The caudal fins have four parts.

Their name ‘Fantail’ refers to their fin that resembles a triangle when you look at it from above and like a fan when seen from the sides.

Fantail goldfish with very long fins are sometimes also called Ribbontales. However, these long tails bear the brunt of fin-nipping by other fish.

These are a popular fancy goldfish variant and are bred all over Asia as their natural population does not exist. It is easy to procure this inexpensive species from local fish breeders, and it costs around $5.


The most common Fantail goldfish colors are red, orange, or yellow, but breeders have also developed rarer hues like white, black, calico, and white. You may even find them in the patchy Japanese Koi design.

There are patches of red, yellow, orange, black, and brown in a deep base blue background.

The preferred one among breeders is the Fantail goldfish black with black stripes on the finnage and black spots on the body.

They have three scale types: nacreous (speckled), metallic (solid reddish-orange), and matt (whitish). In the metallic shade, the color is bright and makes them look polished.


The Fantail goldfish size is 6-8 inches from head to the tip of the tail. The body is small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, and a considerable part of its size is due to its expansive fins.

Fantail Goldfish Lifespan

The average lifespan is 10 – 15 years, but if given a well-maintained environment, they can even live up to 20 years in ponds and aquariums.


A good Fantail goldfish must not have the following :

  • Too long, narrow, or drooping tails
  • Signs of a hood on the head like a Ranchu or Oranda
  • Pointed fin ends
  • The contouring from the nose to the dorsal fin without any bumps
  • Not too light blue or too bright orange color
  • Unstable swimming style
Fantail goldfish in aquarium

Tank Setup

Tank Size

Fantail goldfish love to swim around and relish large spaces. The minimum tank size is 20-30 gallons, but the more living area they get, the healthier they stay. For every Fantail, you need 8 gallons of water. A large amount of water also helps to dilute the waste.

For a Fantail to attain its full growth potential, it should not be kept in small spaces like a fishbowl. The general rule of thumb followed for fantail goldfish is 1 gallon of water for every inch of fish.

Since they sometimes swim in groups, a bigger tank is ideal. A small tank will result in stunted growth, and a reduced surface area will create an oxygen shortage. An elongated fish tank is better than an oval or round fish tank.

Tank Conditions

Fantails love to dig at the tank floor, and any large grains or sharp substance may give them scratches that could lead to infections. Add a soft substrate to the bottom of their fish tank. Try not to add any sharp-edged decorations like driftwood as it may damage their long tails.

They do not live in the wild, and they need a living environment similar to the one that a carp needs. Carps live in slow-moving rivers with dirt-lined river beds and plants in abundance. They are hardy variety of goldfish, and you can keep them in a fish pond easily.

Pick decorations that offer hiding spots but do not overcrowd the fish tank. Keep maximum space free for them to swim around. Plants can act as a shelter.

You can add hardy plants like Hornwort that keep the water clean and do not get destroyed by their nibbling or digging. Hornwort can be either planted in the substrate or kept floating on the water surface as long as it does not block the light.

If you want to add artificial plants, pick silk plants instead of plastic ones. Adding a light to the aquarium is optional, but when you keep them in a tank, you want to see them swimming in a well-lit aquarium.

Water Parameters

Fantail goldfish is a cold-water species and requires a water temperature of min 60 °F and a maximum of 75 °F. Maintain the pH levels of the water between 6 and 8. Although a filter is a must (biological filtration is even better), it is optional to add an oxygen/ water pump.

If you live in a colder climate area, you must add a heater to the fish tank as a sudden temperature drop can prove fatal to this fish. The ammonia and nitrate levels in the tank must be undetectable. It will prevent them from contracting stress-related health problems.

Tank Cleaning

Fantails are sensitive to low water temperatures, and you should keep them at a stable temperature.

The water hardness should be in the range of 4 to 20 dKH. You must keep an aquarium test kit to do regular water quality checks. Keep doing periodic checks on the water quality and its temperature.

Since they are messy and voracious eaters, multiple fantails would mean more cleaning of the water.

Hence they require regular tank cleaning as frequently as once a week for maintaining a healthy environment. You must change at least 10-15% of the water in the tank weekly.

A weekly water change will prevent a pollutant build-up in the tank and keep the fish safe from any infection.

Tank Mates

Fantails are very social and peaceful fish, and you can pair them with fish that share a similar temperament. When kept with aggressive fish, they may find it tough to fight for food. They can also be easily bullied for their slow speed by fast swimmers.

Since these prefer low water temperature and it limits the number of options to choose from as their tank mates.

You can still keep them in a community aquarium with similar fish. They like the company of other fish and are good explorers.

Most of the time, they swim in the middle of the tank but sometimes venture higher and lower to search for food.

They often dig up the decorations as they explore the base of the fish tank. Fantail goldfish spend their time swimming around peacefully, scavenging for food in the substrate, and interacting with other tank mates.

When choosing tank mates, you should keep in mind the water temperature that they need. It is crucial to protect the long fins of this fish.

Fantails prefer low water temperatures, and you must pair them with other species that also prefer similar water temperatures and are peaceful slow swimmers like them.

Fish like Tiger Barbs attack the long double fins of Fantail and are not an ideal tank mate for them. As they are slow swimmers, it is difficult to escape the attack of other aggressive and fast-moving fish that nip on their fins.

Tank Mates you can consider should be small shoaling fish, Neon Tetras, Chinese Blue Bitterling, the Northern Redbelly Dace, Zebra Danios, Rosy Barbs, Mollies, Angelfish, White Cloud Mountain Minnows, and Dwarf Gourami.

These do not shoal but often swim all over the fish tank either alone or in groups. It is the reason why you do not need bottom-feeders for their fish tank.

These fish clean up any leftover food when they swim toward the bed of the fish tank. However, if you are looking for bottom feeder options, you can consider Kuhli Loaches, Corydoras Catfish, or Otocinclus. Keeping multiple Fantails is also a good option as it will be a compatible group.

Other small invertebrates that you can add to their fish tank include Ghost shrimp, Cherry Shrimp, Amano Shrimp, Mystery Snails, and Nerite Snails. You can also add snails to reduce the algae.

Food & Diet

It is crucial to give a healthy diet to Fantails as they are prone to digestive problems because of their compact body structure. Since they are omnivorous, they can be fed almost all kinds of healthy fish food like plant matter and live frozen food.

Feed them small amounts of food twice a day to make it easy on their digestive system. The amount of food given must finish in two minutes even though the fish may look hungry. Remove Any leftover food from the tank immediately as it makes the water dirty.

Do not give dried food like flakes frequently as they are low on nutrients. The diet of Fantail goldfish should include high-quality foods only.

To increase their nutrient intake, you can feed them live and frozen foods (moist foods) that retain their nutrients for a long time. Daphnia, bloodworms, and brine shrimp are some excellent picks in this category. The protein content must constitute no more than 30% of their diet.

You can give live plant matter as it contains fiber which is great for their digestive system.

Green vegetables like lettuce and zucchini make for good plant matter and are available at home easily. If you feed them well, they nibble less on the live plants in the fish tank. Any leftover food can lead to a toxin build-up.

Common Diseases

Fantails are prone to indigestion, and any injuries caused by sharp substances in the tank can lead to bacterial and parasite infections. Ensure that the substrate in the tank is fine-grained and the decorations do not have sharp edges, to prevent any scratching.

Other ailments that afflict include swim bladder disease. It causes buoyancy problems and makes a fantail goldfish either float at the surface or sit on the substrate.

Poor nutrition, constipation, a parasitic infection, or a physical deformity are the primary causes of this disease. Feeding frozen peas (defrosted) to the affected fish helps in curing this ailment in some cases.

Do not overfeed as it could lead to indigestion. Their organs are close together, and this makes indigestion a common problem.

Before introducing any fibrous diet like that of vegetables, make them starve for 24 hours. It will be easy for their stomach to digest the food.

Parasitic and bacterial skin diseases are also quite common. These infections, poor nutrition, and mishandling can cause Cloudy eye disease.

When a fantail gets infected, there is a visible change in its color and spots. Wounds and ulcers must not be left untreated as they may prove fatal.

Other diseases that may affect are:

  • Ich- Protozoan disease that makes the fish look salt-covered
  • Costia- Cloudiness of the skin
  • Chilodonella- Blue-white cloudiness of the skin
  • Flukes- Flatworms that infest the gills or body of the fish
  • Fish lice- Argulus. Mite-like crustaceans that get attached to the body of the fish
  • Anchor worms
  • Dropsy – Kidney infection
  • Fish Tuberculosis- Hollow belly
  • Tail/Fin Rot
  • Fungus- Fungal infection
  • Black spot or Black Ich- Parasite infection

You can give over-the-counter medications to the fish in case of a mild infection. You can consult a veterinarian in case the disease persists.

Transfer the infected fish to a separate tank, but do this carefully so that their delicate fins do not get damaged. Sometimes, the body of a sick fantail goldfish becomes extra sensitive.

In case of infection being present in the tank, start the treatment in the main tank itself. If you clean the water in the tank regularly, it reduces the risk of diseases. However, Fantails are prone to falling sick.

Breeding Tips

Fantails are easy to breed, and breeders conduct a fry selection to produce good-quality Fantails. They can be mated easily in captivity, but the environment must be hygienic. For breeding them, you need a specialized breeding tank.

The water temperature of the fish tank should replicate the water temperature in spring. It creates a seasonal breeding trigger for the fish. Change the water temperature gradually so that it doesn’t shock the fish. A daily increase of 3 °F a day is ideal, and the temperature should not rise above 75 °F.

At the time of mating, the mate starts to circle the female to impress her. It is difficult to determine the sex of a juvenile fantail, but a male is generally more slender than a female.

A Fantail goldfish can lay as many as 10,000 eggs that spread around the surfaces of the tank.

The breeding tank must provide a lush environment for the fish. It should have solid surfaces for the spawning process and for the eggs to stick.

You can add oxygenating and bushy plants like Anacharis to the breeding tank. Adding fine-leaf plants or spawning mops helps the eggs cling to them.

Once the fish lays the eggs, they should be removed and kept in a separate tank to prevent the parents from feeding on them. It takes 5-6 days for the eggs to hatch.

The tiny fry hatched from the eggs must be fed small foods that can easily fit in their mouths. A good fry food option is Infusoria which is high in protein and gives them a growth boost. You can also give them dried crushed food along with fresh food.

Wrapping Up

Fantail goldfish are easy to maintain, and even novice fish lovers can venture into keeping them as pets.

As long as the aquarium is spacious and the water is clean, this fish thrives well.

They are beautiful, and they make a wonderful pet for every fish tank.